Earlier this month, Republican Representative Louie Gohmert used his position as a member of the U.S. Congress to evaluate the quality of a witness summoned to appear before the House Judiciary Committee:
Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert: 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 Christian beliefs?
Rev. Barry Lynn of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State: I wouldn’t agree with your construction of what Hell is like or why one gets there, but the broader question is yes, I’m happy to. When I speak to…
Gohmert: OK, so you don’t believe somebody would go to Hell if they do not believe Jesus is the way, the truth, the life?
Lynn: I personally do not believe people go to Hell because they do not believe a specific set of ideas in Christianity, but I have never…
Gohmert: 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. And there’s nothing wrong in our country with that — there’s no crime, there’s no shame. It should never be a law against those beliefs, because God gave us the chance to elect to believe or disbelieve, and that’s what we want to maintain is people’s chance for people to elect: yes or no. The chance that we were given. So do you believe?
Lynn: Congressman, what I believe is not necessarily what I 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 afraid to share my belief. When I spoke recently at an American atheist conference, it was clear from the very beginning in the first sentence that I was a Christian minister. I was there to talk to them about the preservation of the Constitution, and in fact I said, ‘You know, we can debate the issue of the existence of God for another 2000 years. I want to preserve the Constitution and its effect on all people, believers and non-believers, in the next five years.’ That’s what I talk about, and I never…
Gohmert: 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’?
Lynn: We could have a very interesting discussion some time, but probably not in a Congressional hearing, to talk about scriptural passages.
Hell actually has some pretty yummy snow cones, but that’s beside the point. The point is that when you vote for Republicans in national government, you get a majority that uses government power to question and judge people on the basis of their religion. If you don’t want that to continue, you probably ought to stop voting Republican.