Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) on Tuesday grilled a pastor who supports the separation of church and state, asking him why he did not share the “good news” that non-Christians were going to Hell.
At a House Judiciary Committee hearing about religious freedom on Tuesday, Gohmert told the Rev. Barry Lynn, who serves as the executive director for Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, that the Founders of the country — and Franklin Roosevelt — had often mentioned religion in their writings.
Lynn pointed out that he had received the Medal of Freedom from the Roosevelt Institute for his work supporting the freedom to worship.
“But that wasn’t awarded by Roosevelt himself?” Gohmert interrupted, before asking if the pastor understood that the “meaning” of being a Christian was to evangelize.
“Do you believe in sharing the good news that will keep people from going to Hell, consistent with Christian beliefs?” the Texas Republican wondered.
Lynn, however, disagreed with the congressman’s “construction of what Hell is like or why one gets there.”
“So, you do not believe somebody would go to Hell if they do not believe Jesus is the way, the truth, the life?” Gohmert pressed.
The pastor argued that people would not got to Hell for believing a “set of ideas.”
“No, not a set of ideas. Either you believe as a Christian that Jesus is the way, the truth, or life or you don’t,” Gohmert shot back. “And there’s nothing wrong in our country with that — there’s no crime, there’s no shame.”
“Congressman, what I believe is not necessarily what I think ought to justify the creation of public policy for everybody,” Lynn explained. “For the 2,000 different religions that exist in this country, the 25 million non-believers. I’ve never been offended, I’ve never been ashamed to share my belief. When I spoke recently at an American Atheists conference, it was clear from the very beginning, the first sentence that I was a Christian minister.”
“So, the Christian belief as you see it is whatever you choose to think about Christ, whether or not you believe those words he said that nobody basically ‘goes to heaven except through me,’” Gohmert concluded, ignoring the point about separation of church and state.
Watch the video below from the House Judiciary Committee, broadcast June 10, 2014.