Rep. Louie Gohmert, in a congressional hearing, challenged a minister who is president of the Americans United for Separation of Church and State, to clarify his Christian beliefs — especially because the group is frequently at the heart of atheist-type attacks on public shows of faith.
"I'm curious, in your Christian beliefs, do you believe in sharing the good news that will keep people from going to hell, consistent with the Christian belief?" Mr. Gohmert asked the Rev. Barry Lynn, during a House Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice hearing, The Blaze reported.
Mr. Lynn's reply: "I wouldn't agree with your construction of what hell is like, or why one gets there."
Mr. Gohmert then asked for more clarification, saying: "So you don't believe somebody would go to hell if they do not believe Jesus is the way, the truth, the life?"
Mr. Lynn said those who don't hold fast to "a specific set of ideas in Christianity" aren't necessarily slated for hell. Mr. Gohmert, however, pointed out the Christian-based fallacy of that belief, the Blaze reported.
"No, not a set of ideas," the Texas Republican said. "Either you believe as a Christian that Jesus is the way, the truth or life, or you don't. And there's nothing wrong in our country with that — there's no crime, there's no shame."
Mr. Gohmert also made clear that he wasn't judging, or trying to judge, those who believed differently — and that God grants free will for individuals to believe how they want.
But Mr. Gohmert said he was trying to discern how Mr. Lynn — who just spoke at an atheist gathering and is central to many of the arguments that have pushed to remove mention of God from the public arena — claims Christian beliefs and continues to refer to himself as 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,' " Mr. Gohmert summarized, The Blaze reported.
Mr. Lynn's group, meanwhile, bills itself on its website as an organization that's dedicated to "preserving the constitutional principle of church-state separation as the only way to ensure religious freedom for all Americans."
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.