home
RSS
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.

Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter

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.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

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's issues

soundoff (4,449 Responses)
  1. kathy

    THIS is the policies that Romney/Ryan endorse...regardless of what they say at debates and rallies...these type of ill informed knuckleheads like Mourdock and Aitken are the policymakers who the GOP and T-people support. They (and any man) should have NO say in what a woman can do to HER body...esp since men are the ones causing the pregnancies....and then just walk away with none of the responsibilities.

    October 25, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • Milli

      Incorrect. Romney's polices are what he says they are, not what you say they are.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • sam

      @Milli and what are those, exactly? Romney doesn't seem to know. Maybe you could help him.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:02 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 ...

      October 25, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • Milli

      sam, He is exactly against abortion except for R a p e and i n c e s t.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:50 am |
  2. Jeff E.

    Atheists apparently don't realize that their belief that no God exists requires as much faith as those practicing a religion. Atheism requires faith that the human intellect and our five senses, basically the tiny mass of cells in our skull, is all seeing and all knowing. It follows that since we have observed no evidence of a giant guy with flowing robes and a white beard in outer space then God must not exist. Sounds about as preposterous as any religion if you ask me.

    October 25, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • Huebert

      Christians don't realize that it takes as much "faith" to not believe in God as it does to not believe in The Tooth Faerie.

      October 25, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • IslandAtheist

      You religionists can't all be right, but you can all be wrong.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • Milli

      Huebert, I agree with your statement. As a Christian, I do not believe it takes faith to have no faith. The question is not whether God exists, it is whether you have faith in Him.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • Topher

      IslandAtheist

      True. But that doesn't mean we all ARE wrong.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • SeanNJ

      @Milli: You said, "The question is not whether God exists, it is whether you have faith in Him."

      Do you care if what you believe is true? Is that less important to you than your faith?

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

      >> Atheists apparently don't realize that their belief that no God exists requires as much faith as those practicing a religion.

      No it doesn't.

      >> Atheism requires faith that the human intellect and our five senses, basically the tiny mass of cells in our skull, is all seeing and all knowing.

      No, it doesn't. Atheists are the first to realize the concept of "not knowing" something. That our senses are limited. Science has discovered many things that we cannot perceive. Like infrared light that we cannot see, or sound frequencies that we cannot hear. But we still believe that they exist because there is evidence that they do. It does not require any faith. You simply don't start believe anything – once there is evidence of something you believe it. It then you don't believe it. That's why I don't believe that there are little green people living on Mars. I cannot prove that they don't exist, but I still don't believe it because there is no positive evidence to support it.

      And there is no evidence for God. None what so ever.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • Milli

      SeanNJ, No. Truth is important. I am saying you already know that God exists. It is true that God exists. It is important not to deceive yourself into believing he does not exist.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • Cobra6

      You just made a terrific case for why we should all believe in Santa Claus. We can look at the North Pole, no fat guy with a beard up there making toys, but it would be "preposterous" not to believe that he exists.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • Thomas

      IslandAtheist, All atheist are illogical. You are different from agnostics that think they do not know. If you think that God could exist but you just don't know if He does, then you are agnostic; otherwise, your an atheist. An atheist wrongly thinks they can say for sure that God does not exist even though you can not prove a negative. That is illogical. You can not prove that something does not exist anywhere. You can say if it does not exist in a certain dimension, time and space if you have the capability, but you certainly do not have the ability to determine if God exists. Atheists have jumped to a conclusion.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • Thomas

      Cobra6, We can search this dimension for Santa Clause in the North Pole geographic location because we have that capability. Have you ever searched all dimensions and locations inside and outside the universe for God? No. You also can not explain how life began without highly imaginative speculation. By the way, Kris Kringle actually did exist at one time.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:48 am |
  3. JJ

    Second day this is "headline news" for CNN, while last week it was "Binders of Women". Translation – Romney has made huge gains with women vote, Obama may lose; thus, focus on these page 5 stories and maybe it will help Obama. Nice bias CNN.

    October 25, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • filthburger

      so, you support this guy? you might want to try taking your sanity pills.

      October 25, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • sam

      I'm sorry that idiot repubs keep making stupid remarks that make the news. Maybe you should ask them to shut the hell up.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:01 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 11:05 am |
    • SweetonGeeks

      Huge gains with what women? The over 60 post menopausal crowd who parrot their grumpy racists husbands who blather on about how they won't fly their American flags again until that Kenyan disgrace is out of office? Most women know Romney is a pig from hell and if we want to maintain control over our lives, our bodies and our daughters bodies then he is the last person any sane woman would vote for.
      He tortured a dog.
      He has INSANE religious beliefs.
      He believes women should only work if they can get home in time to make dinner.
      He personifies the very worst of the 1% with his offshore accounts, outsourcing and car elevators.
      Handing the keys back to the people who crashed the car while the nation is still in ICU is nuts.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:07 am |
  4. michaelkeating

    I'm sorry, but how one sided did you intend to be in this article?

    October 25, 2012 at 10:54 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 ...

      October 25, 2012 at 10:59 am |
  5. read

    Reading 1 John 5;19
    W e learn that the whole world is under the rule of the Evil One Our blessing is our belief in God and that eternal life is waiting for us,this explains the Love of God and for now we have to deal with the Evil One.

    October 25, 2012 at 10:54 am |
  6. Gandar

    I think it is Zeus's will this guy is a m0ron

    October 25, 2012 at 10:54 am |
  7. michael

    Mourdock is a bufoon to make such a statement...and i am not twisting any facts

    October 25, 2012 at 10:54 am |
  8. Milli

    Romney approves of abortion in the case of R A P E

    October 25, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • Dirk

      How can you tell? During the primary when he needed the conservative vote to beat his fellow Republicans for the nomination he said what he thought people wanted to hear which was no abortion - ever. This is why Democrats have such an easy time calling him a flip flopper.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:06 am |
  9. Mark

    No wonder CNN is in last place in cable news, you guys are in the tank for Obama America will vote Romney!

    October 25, 2012 at 10:54 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.

      October 25, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • Mike

      How does this article have anything to do with Obama? You are a moron.

      October 25, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • Dirk

      CNN ratings are down because people want to hear partisan opinionated and one-sided responses. They like blood and guts news reporting. CNN tries to be neutral in that regard and it has cost them ratings for that reason.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:03 am |
  10. ArthurP

    You see this is what makes me a better person than God. I would never, under any circu.mstance, force a woman to bare the child of her rapist. I would never even cross my mind to do so.

    October 25, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • heidiprinze

      THANK YOU lol its NUTS!

      October 25, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • Topher

      But you are willing to murder an innocent life because of someone else's crime?

      October 25, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • ArthurP

      @Topher:

      No but I am ready to remove a clump of cells so that the victim can return to the life 'she' has chosen of her own free will.

      October 25, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • Topher

      At what point is it no longer just "a clump of cells"?

      October 25, 2012 at 11:02 am |
  11. fintastic

    r*a*pe and pregnancy are real.... "god's will", not so much

    October 25, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • Milli

      What if your wrong and God does exist?

      October 25, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • filthburger

      If god exists, then he is an @$$h0le for being omnipotent and omniscient while allowing atrocities like this to happen. logic dictates the god is cruel, and most of your religion is wrong, god does not care, making most of your religion wrong, or god does not exist, making most of your religion wrong. happy Thursday.

      October 25, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • Milli

      filthburger, Or you are imperfect and unable to see God's plan.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • filthburger

      I'm completely imperfect. If this is gods plan, it's pretty messed up. the difference is that i don't presume to understand what the "creator" of the universe thinks. seems like most religious people do. I believe i'm better to my fellow man, and work harder to take care of the planet "god" created, than most people that profess to believe in him.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:06 am |
  12. PopeOnARope

    U would think god might have told him, not to say this because it is political suicide.

    October 25, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • Rationalintn

      Reasonable people can hope that his statement was political suicide. Unfortunately, there seems to be a few weeds in this year's crop of political candidates. Hopefully, they will be picked off in the election. It will be interesting to see the number of people who agree with these dopes by voting for them. Those are the real numbers we should be concerned about.

      October 25, 2012 at 10:57 am |
  13. Ben

    Obama is in trouble...CNN to the rescue!!!

    October 25, 2012 at 10:52 am |
    • john

      you nailed it

      October 25, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • filthburger

      if this guy is the type you support, then you are quite insane.

      October 25, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • Cobra6

      Funny, I didn't realize that Richard Mourdock's initials are CNN..

      October 25, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • Pete

      Yeah, it is totally CNN's fault that this guy said something completely stupid, and not only that, after they make him say it they have the audacity to report what he said. How dare them.

      October 25, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  14. heidiprinze

    If you say its gods will then anything can be gods will. You have cancer, you are dying let it take its course its gods will. You can bend religion to favor anything way you want. But let me tell you if men were to get pregnant instead of women, you better believe there would be abortion clinics on every street corner. I shouldnt have to bend to YOUR religious doctrine. Freedom first. You have a choice, good don't get an abortion, however, I am being forced to live under your religious rules. That is not democracy.

    October 25, 2012 at 10:52 am |
    • Jen

      The problem that pro-life people have with abortion is that it is murder. It is taking the life of a human for the convenience of another. When abortion became legal, the selfish choice of a woman became more important than the life of another human being. They see it is a human rights issue. Not a democratic one that should be left up to an individual.

      I understand that may sound harsh, but when you understand where they are coming from, then you can agree to disagree while knowing they are fighting for a cause they believe in rather than trying to take your rights. They are simply fighting for the rights of the unborn.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • Nathan

      Yep, that's the wonderful thing about the "god's will" claim. It doesn't mean anything and even if there is a god, there isn't a human being alive who truly knows what that will is.

      You get cancer, god's will. You pray and die? It was god's will to call you home. You take medicine and live, it was god's will the medicine should work and you survive. You flip a coin and it is heads, that was god's will. You flip a coin and it's tails? God's will as well.

      It is a cop out to avoid personal responsibility and a sick way of avoiding reality.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:13 am |
  15. How

    We have an enormous economic and political issues in our country and those politicians try to distract us by rising these private personal human issues in the most disgusting way you can imagine. They are trying to steal away our liberty by telling us what us should think about this private issue. If we "believe" what they say, we are giving up ourselves to thought control.

    October 25, 2012 at 10:51 am |
  16. No Romney

    We can't have this. No Romney. no republicans. Until they get off their obession of crapping on women, I'm not voting for a single republican. It's gone way too far.

    October 25, 2012 at 10:51 am |
  17. Chris

    God's Will...it's over used today and is a cop out. These people just throw up our hands and say it's "God's Will". Bull...it was some psychopath's will, not God's. You make an idiotic statement like that you belittle what the woman went through. These people get elected how?

    October 25, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • Humberto

      They can't count the votes twice and come up with the same number.

      October 25, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • Pat in IL

      And don't forget that Romney endorses him. Anybody who either is a woman or cares for a woman (wife, mother, sister...any woman) would absolutely not vote for Romney and his gang who would be more than happy to set women back a century and make them completely dependent upon and subservient to men.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:00 am |
  18. MarkinFL

    This was the logical conclusion of becoming dependent upon the right-wing nuts to win elections. Now the inmates are running the asylum.

    October 25, 2012 at 10:50 am |
  19. Name*partypeanut

    Now there's a guy who assumes to be the spokesperson for our Lord.....why don't these morons keep their lunacy to themselves?........

    October 25, 2012 at 10:50 am |
  20. nonbeliever

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

    October 25, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • mama k

      Hey – cnn can't help it if a Republican sticks his foot in his mouth so frequently in this country.

      October 25, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • MarkinFL

      I guess the strategy of pandering to the right while claiming to be moderate has some problems when the media pulls back the curtain. Also, now they are not just a source of votes, they are getting voted in and you are now going to have to live with the fact that most of the country cannot relate to these nuts. It helped the GOP rise but will ultimately be its downfall.

      October 25, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • MarkinFL

      I guess the strategy of pandering to the right while claiming to be moderate has some problems when the media pulls back the curtain. Also, now they are not just a source of votes, they are getting voted in and you are now going to have to live with the fact that most of the country cannot relate to these n.uts. It helped the GOP rise but will ultimately be its downfall.

      October 25, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • mama k

      Hey – cnn can't help it if a Republican sticks his foot in his mouth so frequently in this country.

      October 25, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • MarkinFL

      I guess the strategy of pandering to the right while claiming to be moderate has some problems when the media pulls back the curtain. Also, now they are not just a source of votes, they are getting voted in and you are now going to have to live with the fact that most of the country cannot relate to these nuts. It helped the GOP rise but will ultima.tely be its downfall.

      October 25, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • mama k

      Hey – cnn can't help it if a Republican sticks his foot in his mouth so frequently in this country.

      October 25, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • MarkinFL

      I guess the strategy of pandering to the right while claiming to be moderate has some problems when the media pulls back the curtain. Also, now they are not just a source of votes, they are getting voted in and you are now going to have to live with the fact that most of the country cannot relate to these n.uts. It helped the GOP rise but will ulti.ma.tely be its downfall.

      October 25, 2012 at 10:56 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68

Post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Advertisement
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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.