Originally published at Moral Low Ground

Republican US Rep. Louie Gohmert grilled a Christian leader who believes in the separation of church and state during a congressional hearing on religious freedom, refuting the notion that people won’t go to ‘Hell’ if they don’t believe in Jesus.

Raw Story reports Gohmert’s exchange with Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, took place on Tuesday during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on religious liberty.

After Lynn noted his life’s work promoting freedom of religion, Gohmert asked the reverend if he understood that he must promote and spread Christianity.

“Do you believe in sharing the good news that will keep people from going to Hell, consistent with Christian beliefs?” asked the Texas Republican.

Lynn replied that he disagreed with Gohmert’s “construction of what Hell is like, or why one gets there.”

In Christianity, ‘Hell’ is a place or state of punishment where the ‘souls’ of the wicked suffer eternal damnation and torment after death of the physical body. It is ruled by ‘Satan,’ the chief evil spirit and adversary of ‘God,’ the shared deity figure of Jews, Christians and Muslims.

“So, you do not believe somebody would go to Hell if they do not believe Jesus is the way, the truth, the life?” pressed Gohmert, referencing words allegedly spoken by Jesus Christ, who Christians believe is the son of ‘God,’ birthed by a virgin mother and resurrected from the dead after being crucified by the Romans some 2,000 years ago.

Christ, who allegedly claimed to be the “son of God,” is cited in the Bible as saying, “I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father (‘God’) except through me.”

Lynn retorted that he does not believe people go 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, the life, or you don’t,” asserted Gohmert. “And there’s nothing wrong in our country with that– there’s no crime, there’s no shame.”

To which Rev. Lynn replied:

“Congressman, what I believe is not necessarily what I think ought to justify the creation of public policy for everybody. 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.”

Gohmert has raised eyebrows and ire with his past statements about people he believes are violating Biblical tenets. Last year, he warned that same-sex marriage could lead to marriages between humans and animals, and he blamed the 2012 Aurora, Colorado cinema shooting rampage that left 12 people dead and 59 wounded on “attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs” and too few guns.