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October 25th, 2012
06:00 AM ET

When ‘God’s will,’ rape and pregnancy collide

By Wayne Drash, CNN

(CNN) - The pregnant 12-year-old girl was strung out on heroin and looked like a walking skeleton when she arrived at the hospital. The conversation that followed, said Phoenix police chaplain John South, has stuck with him ever since.

“Do you know who the father is?” South recalled asking her.

“She said, ‘Yes, it’s my biological father. He’s the one who hooked me on heroin so he could continue to rape me whenever he wanted to.’ ”

The Protestant chaplain has consoled about 50 pregnant rape victims - typically girls raped by their fathers - in his years working with the Phoenix Police Department.

South describes himself as “pro-life,” but when it comes to dealing with a girl or woman impregnated by a rapist, he keeps his personal views to himself.

“I don’t give them a lecture or preach at them,” South said. “I’ve seen crimes beyond comprehension.”

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Richard Mourdock stirred controversy during a debate in Indiana Tuesday when he said pregnancies from rape are “something that God intended to happen.” The instant reaction in political circles was predictable: Democrats decried him, and many conservative Republicans defended his position as steadfastly “pro-life.”

But theologians were quick with a more nuanced approach, saying the issue of pregnancies from rape strikes at the core of a timeless question: How do you explain evil in a world where God is loving?

That said, many expressed outright dismay by Mourdock’s remarks.

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South wanted to know what Bible Mourdock reads because “what he’s saying is absolutely wrong. It’s not biblical.”

The police chaplain said pregnancies from rape aren’t meant to be politicized and said the victims suffer from physical and mental wounds and are often suicidal. About 60% of the time, South surmised from his experience, the women or girls choose to give the baby up for adoption, as long as they never see the child at birth.

“I hurt for these kids,” he said. “Rape is evil.”

Rabbi Harold Kushner, author of the best-selling book “When Bad Things Happen to Good People,” said Mourdock’s remarks were off-base: “He’s invoking the will of God where it is not appropriate."

People “should have compassion for the person whose life is messed up by this and not make her an instrument for our idiosyncratic, theological commitment,” Kushner said.

“If you believe she has no right to terminate that pregnancy, you're free to believe that,” Kushner said. “But for you to write your preferences into law and compel another person to mess her life up because of what you believe, I think you're going too far.”

“I continue to be bemused by the ultraconservative lawmakers who say they want smaller government and less government intrusion into people’s lives, except when it comes to who you can marry and how many children you should have.”

Plenty of liberal Christians bemoaned how Mourdock was being perceived by some as the face of American Christianity.

"Once again, expressions of Christian faith that honor the rights of women to choose their own health care options and what happens to their bodies are not seen or heard," wrote the Rev. Barbara Kershner Daniel, who pastors the Evangelical Reformed United Church of Christ of Frederick, Maryland, in a message that she circulated via email.

"The lack of another voice, another perspective, another vision from the Christian community leaves an impression that all Christians share this single perspective about pregnancy through rape," she wrote.

Father Tom Reese, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University, said he found Mourdock’s comments troubling from a Catholic perspective because “God does not want rape to happen.”

“Someone getting pregnant through rape simply means biology continues to function,” Reese said. “That doesn’t mean God wills it.

“If we look at the Scriptures, we see a God who weeps with those going through pain, who is compassionate for those who suffer and condemns those who do injustice,” Reese said

During the Tuesday debate, Mourdock was explaining his opposition to abortion in cases of rape or incest when he made his remark. “I came to realize life is a gift from God, and I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen,” said Mourdock, the Indiana state treasurer.

Amid the uproar Wednesday, Mourdock sought to clarify his comments, saying he was sorry if he offended anyone but said his comments were twisted and distorted for political gain. “The God that I worship would never, ever want to see evil done,” he said.

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Paul Root Wolpe, the director for the Center of Ethics at Emory University, said Mourdock’s comments were the equivalent “of saying you shouldn't pull people out of the rubble because God intended the earthquake to happen or we shouldn't try to cure disease because it's God who gave us the disease,” Wolpe said.

"That perspective was theologically rejected by virtually every major religion a long, long time ago,” Wolpe added.

Mourdock has been an active member of Christian Fellowship Church in Evansville, Indiana, for nearly two decades, according to Mike Deeg, the executive pastor of the 2,000-plus member nondenominational evangelical church.

Mourdock has gone on missions trips with a group connected to the church to Bolivia and is well-regarded among congregants Deeg said.

Deeg says the church tries to remain largely out of politics. “We don’t think God is Republican or a Democrat,” he said by phone from Evansville, noting they encourage members to vote, the church just doesn’t say for whom.

The pastor said of what he has read about Mourdock’s remarks, they largely lined up with the church’s teachings on the sanctity of life and their belief that life begins at conception.

“I think rape is a horrible thing, and I think God would condemn rape as horrible,” Deeg said. “I think we’re made in the image of God regardless,” he added, “I don’t think the circumstances dictate whether God knows us and loves us, regardless of how our conception comes about.”

South, the chaplain in Phoenix, said the 12-year-old girl he met years ago opted for an abortion and her father was ultimately convicted of rape. He said he grappled often with “why she was subjected to such horrendous pain and torture, mentally, physically and emotionally.”

“Did it shake my faith? No,” South said. “Did I ask God why? Of course.”

CNN’s Eric Marrapodi contributed to this report

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Rape • Women

soundoff (4,449 Responses)
  1. Jasmine Kelland

    "“I continue to be bemused by the ultraconservative lawmakers who say they want smaller government and less government intrusion into people’s lives, except when it comes to who you can marry and how many children you should have.”
    Well said, Rabbi Kushner!!

    October 25, 2012 at 7:01 am |
    • Tina

      @ Jasmine,
      Thank you. I heartily agree!

      October 25, 2012 at 9:33 am |
    • MockingCathy

      I agree wholeheartedly. This is what confuses me with my former party. I don't understand why they think this is their business. Women carry heavy burdens, and it would make for a toxic society that would be this cruel to over half the population. Roe v. Wade resolves this issue. Women with a personal belief in not having an abortion, simply should not have one. It is not up to them to speak for others, and it is especially revolting to have men of political power make this type of speech.

      October 25, 2012 at 9:42 am |
    • Voter

      The comments and replies and counterattacks on this blog are very interesting. There is a lot of devisiveness in the electorate and these comments bear witness to that.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • nonbeliever

      CCN interrupts its regularly scheduled Romney bashing program to bash some other conservatives. The regular Romney bashing will continue at its scheduled time.

      On page two other stories include: Ambassador killed President lies about it to the nation, Millions still looking for work, Gubment spending a couple of billion dollars every few days and most of the money is borrowed ...

      Remember vote early and often, your new gubment phone is in the mail.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • Argh999

      nonbeliever...you feel this a other than Romney bashing? This thinking is so deep seated in fiction and fantasy, it defies explanation. Remeber, these pathetic bass turds - including Akin and his inbred band of witch hunters - are dangerous for policy making in the US. This is not a political controversy or conspiracy, this is the real deal - really frightening that we have Taliban mentality in our elected officials - permeaeting into the party platform.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • ljh1234

      Voter, actually i find the discourse more civilized on the cnn message boards. If you want to see right ring vitriol visit yahoo politics

      October 25, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      TEST.

      October 27, 2012 at 2:25 am |
  2. Spirit42

    Mourdock makes me wonder what he does to children...

    October 25, 2012 at 6:56 am |
    • Reasonably

      Brainwashes them into his cult.

      October 25, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  3. Peter

    Once one believes that conception is a literal act of God, then the ultimate extension is that the woman must not interfer with that act of God and thus is God's slave to carry that fertilized egg until it leaves the womb as a human life. Of course it is wrong, it is an act of biology that happens in all life forms in literally countless instances each day. Only a fool, a male fool – actually a party of male fools, who want to define God's acts for their own benefit, would craft such a demeaning role for women. It is pretty much the same treatment of women as what we see in the strict Muslim countries. And each day we see more what kind of vicious, dominating idiocy makes up the Republican Pary.

    October 25, 2012 at 6:54 am |
    • T-Max73

      Or another possibility (and vastly more likely) is that there IS NO god, and people simply use this idea to control others and build wealth for themselves.

      "In nature, there are neither rewards nor punishments–there are only consequences." ~Bertrand Russell

      October 25, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • Argh999

      ...agree....And there the women who obviously agree with this point of view as well. Or maybe, like "good" women, they are "barefoot in the kitchen" and keep silent around their husbands...geesh...

      October 25, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • Mary

      It's fascinating how much in common the Republican agenda has with many Muslim principles. Both are very adept at using religion to maintain a certain status quo, and abdicating responsibility for selective and specific behaviors to God's will. If the behavior doesn't correspond to their agenda, then it is labeled satanic, and deserving of ridicule at best, and abolishment at worst. And, their overall view of women's place in the world and their access to decision-making is so similar, it's scary.

      October 25, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
  4. joep222

    It is never right to murder an defenseless child for the crimes of the father.

    October 25, 2012 at 6:50 am |
    • kuubajean

      so you want to explain to the child who his/her father is?

      October 25, 2012 at 7:04 am |
    • Nicholas Cahill

      But it's ok for them to be murdered by someone who 'has a plan' via miscarriage?

      October 25, 2012 at 7:14 am |
    • martin

      abortion stops a beating heart, and to kill the baby for the crime of another is wrong. Adoption is always an option. Will the mother have problems that can't be cured? I don't know but murdering a unborn child is not the solution

      October 25, 2012 at 7:17 am |
    • Kristine

      And some believe it's never right to stop a beating heart for a steak on the grill. It doesn't mean they get to the make the decision for you.

      October 25, 2012 at 7:26 am |
    • slim

      It is not God's will to have a defenseless child strung out on heroin and pregnant at 12 by her earthly father. That LITTLE girl has a right to live the life of a child. What kind of life would that baby have if it were to be brought into this world. Got one question for you Joe. What if that was your daughter? Would you want the heroin strung out baby to care for because a 12 year old cannot take care of themselves let alone a baby.

      October 25, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • John Sharp

      The only reason you are calling a child a human being at conception is because you want to impose your child like religious beliefs on the rest of us.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • Argh999

      Funny (sadly) how som many people get righteous over abortion...the same thinking that opposed stem cell research (with real promise of attacking Alzheimers disease), and cloning, (with the real promise of advancing medicine that grows and replace defective bodily organs). Nope, the conservative viewpoint for religious purposes is it is God's will to have you suffer. Well, it is just as much a sin not act and stretch your God-given talents to pursue and develop cures and improve the human well-being What a bunch of nutty hypocrites....

      October 25, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • Wow1234

      It's not murdering a defenseless child, it's aborting a fetus the size of a peanut. It's also not your right to make that decision for someone else.

      October 25, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • Jaimie

      Um hello RETARD
      You don't abort children
      You abort embyos

      It's people like you that give more ammo to the pro choice people LoL

      October 25, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
  5. Norman

    Leave it to politicians, especially the GOP, to transform a 21st century society into a dark age of irrationality in direct collision with the best of humanity by examining values, keeping what enhances the greatest good of greatest number, discarding what does not fit the laws of reason bettering society.

    October 25, 2012 at 6:49 am |
    • Gary

      Could not have said it better myself Norman. Cheers!

      October 25, 2012 at 9:58 am |
  6. J

    Scary stuff is all I got.........

    October 25, 2012 at 6:49 am |
  7. Mary

    Ohhhhh, I get it. Instead of locking up rapists, women who are blessed enough to have been impregnated during their henous ordeal should, instead, be THANKING them for promoting God's will by depositing their uninvited semen during "that" time of month. It was all part of God's plan. I hope this disintegrates the Republican party one and for all. What a horrible, self-serving, evil platform these sanctimonious hypocrites espouse. If you're going to chalk everything up to God's will, then why do we do anything at all? What's the point of aspiring to be better human beings, making an effort to legislate behavior that is universally agreed to be wrong, punishing the wrongdoers.

    October 25, 2012 at 6:48 am |
    • thomasfrank

      Perfect response...thank you

      October 25, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • yogi

      Excellent post. I hope that all republicans will read your comments and do some introspection, but I am afraid those two activities might be too much to ask for.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • T-Max73

      "I hope this disintegrates the Republican party one and for all."

      But it won't, any more than Darwin's discovery and the advancements and discoveries of science have killed religion. People still insist on believing (and believing IN) ideas that are comfortable and familiar and offer "hope."

      October 25, 2012 at 11:45 am |
  8. zerses

    Talk about no freedom of speech... Between Fox News and CNN no comment postings are allowed from me unless they are one liners...

    FREEDOM OF SPEECH CNN!!!!

    October 25, 2012 at 6:46 am |
    • Peter

      I am not sure what you are talking about here. Many have fairly long comments. You might be interested to note that when the Murdock scandel broke around he world last year, the Murdock news websites did not allow the words Ruppert or Murdock to appear in any blog posting. If you included those words the entry went off to the "editors for review" and never appeared. I tried it on numerous sites. That might tell you a lot about that organizations concept of free speech.

      October 25, 2012 at 7:08 am |
    • John Sharp

      I agree two of my posts, never showed up

      October 25, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • Argh999

      Sometimes my posts get lost in the "ozone" of the COMMENT pages, but by and large, they do show up. I WOULD like to know where you can find a place to post comments at FAUX NEWS. Seems like there used to be a forum, but no more. I guess they truly espouse the Ultra-onservative point of view - "seen but not heard" approach. That is, they dictate the news, but cannot stand up to criticism and debate as we enjoy on so many CNN articles...this one included.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:51 am |
  9. skeeter

    This is why America is doomed. When the people can't understand what is happening in front of their eyes, and start blaming others for what they don't know, and the supposedly learned and trusted "news' organizations around the country blatently misconstrue facts for readership, the government owns you and your old, inept brains.

    You pathetic screamers of discourse desereve what you get.

    October 25, 2012 at 6:45 am |
    • mcp12

      What is misconstrued here skeeter? The ignorance of this individual or the religion he follows?

      October 25, 2012 at 7:03 am |
    • skeeter

      I don't get into religion, not my thing usually, but if you even watched the video of Mourdock before you read anything, it is clear that the issue is fabricated. No, I am not politically affiliated either.

      Democrats are stupid
      Republicans are idiots

      I don't know Mourdock, but if he is ignorant, this particular line is not the cause of it, when VIEWED by yourself.

      October 25, 2012 at 7:18 am |
    • steve harnack

      how it is relevant is that it shows that someone who is asking for the responsibility of making and deciding on laws that will affect every American has such a bizarre thought process that they shouldn't even be in the same room with thoughtful people.

      October 25, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • skeeter

      Unlike all the elected democrats, huh harnak? I am glad that you have all honest politicians, without a bizzar one amongst them. Oh...enjoy your "recovery".

      October 25, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • Jaimie

      skeeter

      Di you watch the same video as me?

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5n1KzTVXuA&w=640&h=390]

      Please explain your logic to me, I really want to try and understand why you people say the stupid crap you say.

      October 25, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
  10. zerses

    I'd like to know why I am not allowed to comment....

    October 25, 2012 at 6:45 am |
    • James Huffer

      The simple answer is that big brother has spoken and you don't like what he said. Not to worry, He doesn't like me either, I criticized a Bush with real facts and thats a no no where republicans are concerned.

      October 25, 2012 at 7:08 am |
    • Jaimie

      Did you say W T F with no spaces or S T F U or something like that ?

      October 25, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
  11. algeriatouchshriek

    The problem, Tom, is that Romney says he has not rescinded his endorsement - which leads one to believe he either implicitly supports Mourdock's position OR thinks it is simply unimportant.

    October 25, 2012 at 6:45 am |
    • steve harnack

      It was explained that although his comments closely resemble those of Akins which caused many in the GOP to renounce him, Ohio is too important for the GOP for them to take a stand on Mourdock. So much for any real ethics, eh? Plus, with one explanation they manage to insult woman and everyone in Missouri by implying that Missouri is so much less important than Ohio that they could appear to have rational beliefs in respect to Akins that they just can't have in Ohio. Nice folks, eh?

      October 25, 2012 at 10:29 am |
  12. frosty

    To this Murdouk's thinking, I suppose everything is god's will; everything good and everything evil. So is his god just good, or is he also evil? Oh, right, there's a devil that's responsible for evil so how is an evil act the will of god? Murdouk and people like him have no conscience and no compassion even though they profess the opposite.

    October 25, 2012 at 6:45 am |
  13. robt55

    AAAAAAAAAAAamazing........

    Record Unemployment
    Record Deficits
    Record Foreclosers
    Record Personal Bankruptcies
    Record Corporate Bankruptcies

    ............and CNN still wants to put some other politicians words in omney's mouth. How about you so called journlist report on what you know rather than the biased drivel that you hope for?

    October 25, 2012 at 6:43 am |
    • minnie

      tell that to all the right wing nuts. We have so many bigger issues and all these future reps want to talk about marriage and gay rights and what a woman should or should not do with their body. sheesh

      October 25, 2012 at 6:46 am |
    • sayhi2yourmom4me

      Republicans get MOST of the blame for all those things. You would know that if you spent any time at all doing your own honest research of those topics. You probably get your "news" from pundits. You probably think it IS news.

      October 25, 2012 at 6:51 am |
    • skeeter

      Forget it robt55. America hs lost all sense of reality.
      Insanity is a rational adjustment to an insane society, insanity becomes the norm, and sane becomes insane.
      It was nice to actually have lived in the old USA, where most people accepted accountability and responsibility.

      October 25, 2012 at 6:51 am |
    • minnie

      sayhi...

      i never said republican i said right wing nuts. you are saying all right wing nuts are repubs not me.

      October 25, 2012 at 7:08 am |
    • steve harnack

      And now we have 3 straight years of recovery from those things while the rest of the world still flounders! Want to talk about that?

      October 25, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • gladiatorgrl

      what party spent its time passing voluminous bills restricting womens access to healthcare, while our country had bigger problems?? and NOW you want to deflect from that?

      October 25, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • John Sharp

      Well of course you idiot. The next president will probably nominate two supreme court justices. If we allow these Republicans to get elected women could lose the right to make their own reproductive choices.
      This is a HUGE issue. Our economy is coming around from when the Republicans screwed it up last time.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • John Sharp

      I love that you mentioned foreclosures. That was the result of removing banking regulations, Romney thinks there is too much regulation, that had been in place since the Great Depression, and for good reason.
      So no we don't want to go back to that horrible mess. We are moving on.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:28 am |
  14. Tom

    “what he’s saying is absolutely wrong. It’s not biblical.”.....Neither is marrage but it does not stop people from making it so. For those that believe marriage is biblical, explain this: 1) why do you need a license 2) if biblical, how is it possible for someone to get married and the church (gasp) is not involved at all. It is a LEGAL status and this idiot is just another out-of-touch politician. He will fit right in both the D and R parties as they are all out-of-touch politicians. This November will be like all others. The rich politicians will be rewarded and the American people will lose.

    October 25, 2012 at 6:38 am |
  15. Jeb

    I wonder what he would say or do if he became pregnant after such an evil event ?

    October 25, 2012 at 6:38 am |
    • CP in FL

      Jeb – I would think that as a man, if he got pregnant that he would have some explaining to do about his gender.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:15 am |
  16. sierra

    Thats gross a parent don't ever do that to there child what's the world coming too

    October 25, 2012 at 6:36 am |
  17. JohnWV

    Richard Mourdock may be the first out of the closet "Romney Republican Taliban."

    October 25, 2012 at 6:36 am |
  18. Herb

    Whenever Romney appears to be getting the upper hand, he does something to shoot himself in the foot. Now he is endorsing this idiot Murdock, an endorsement that will cost him women's votes all across the nation in a close election. Endorse a candidate and you endorse his views as well. Who in hell is "advising" Romney anyway? Gnewt Gingrich?

    October 25, 2012 at 6:35 am |
    • Tom

      in fact, Romney has come out publically and said he does not support this position.

      October 25, 2012 at 6:39 am |
    • Jasmine Kelland

      This is not a case of Romney doing something new to shoot himself in the foot. This is Romney at his core, the Romney that keeps peeping out at regular intervals, however hard he tries to hide it. This is Romney's ultra-conservative chickens coming home to roost.

      October 25, 2012 at 6:58 am |
    • asm_ith

      Romney may have come out and said he doesn't support Mourdock's position. But he has kept his endorsement of Mourdock to be in the Senate. So even knowing Mourdock's thinking, Romney wants that guy making our laws. Granted, Romney can't come out and endorse the Democratic candidate, but the whole incident shows how party affiliation will trump even hideous ideology.

      October 25, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
  19. Nick

    Finally, I have been waiting for the second shoe to drop, it always does. This will finish Romney. And, tho it should surprise no one, the public should wake up to the kind of direction the Republican party would take this country.

    October 25, 2012 at 6:29 am |
    • PS

      Or better yet, the have the second shoe thrown at him, like W had happen to him in Iraq – that was classic. I give him props for the good reflexes, though. I guess all the naps and biking finally paid off for him, I hope Wrongney has a similar regimen :)

      October 25, 2012 at 10:31 am |
  20. Ameen

    So cheap CNN!

    October 25, 2012 at 6:11 am |
    • jim

      God made CNN this way!

      October 25, 2012 at 6:25 am |
    • mcp12

      how is it cheap to discuss what this guy said and how ignorant you religi-nuts actually are?

      October 25, 2012 at 7:10 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.