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
The best definition of life will be found in science and not in a 2000 year old book of fairy tales. This book of fairy tales has cause mankind so much pain and suffering for nothing.
The book is much older than 2000 years and without that book and its author there would be no science.
A holla for Allah.
@ cristopher hitchens
Yer obviously trolling here cuz the real hitch would hitch-slap you for even thinking such nonsense. TROLL ALERT!
Aristotle developed a wonderful philosophical system with out any aid from the bible or any of it's parts.
cris – that is an outright lie.
The real hitch? You mean the dead guy? The blasphemous drunk whose throat rotted out of him at a relatively early age that guy? Bring it on.
That is the most Truth you will see all day.
Great article, thanks for this this! Hopefully more people will pull the wool off their eyes and realize there is separation of church and state and people forcing their beliefs onto other people only creates greater divide in this country.
Sounds unAmerican. :-) :-). :-)
Murdock is an idiot and that has NOTHING to do with God or Christians. I wish people would stop trying to lump everyone into one basket. True Christians don't think like he does and those who say are just as big of an idiot as Murdock is.
He considers himserlf a true christian...so I guess you better break it to him.
derpa derpa repulblitards libtards look at me whooooooooooo!
This Guy just caused me to think hard on which direction I want to go in. Romney supports him? Come on
n 2010, Republicans used jobs to get control States and congress. Many of these states run by republicans laid off employees to boost the unemployment. All them have worked on laws to restrict abortions, voting, none worked to create jobs. Except Ohio where Obama helped Auto sector which also helped WI, MI, IN, TN,MO and PA. Primary Agenda for Republicans: Over turn Roe vs wade, kill medicare , social security and student loans, subjugate women, mandate religion, occupy middle east( exterminate muslims) for oil/Jesus, make or allow war for control resources and promote christianity. Reagan: South America/Lebanon/Afghanistan/Iran-Iraq, Bush Sr: Iraq/Bosnia, GW Jr: Iraq and Afghanistan
All I can say is politicians like Mourdock make me want to scream in frustration at how backwards the world I live in really is some days.
Let some junkies gang bang his daughters, mother and wife, and we will REALLY see where he stands
FOCUS PEOPLE... it's about the economy, record debt, record numbers on food stamps, high unemployment.
NOT these puff piece articles designed to divert your attention away from Obama's failed policies.
All of which are remanents of Bush's failed policys, some of which continue to linger today. Obama has done a fantastic job.
I will not ignore social issues that effect MOST of the population. And neither will most of the population.
President Obama 2012! Because the alternative is unthinkable
In the last 3.5 years, the GOP has introduced:
46 bills on abortion
113 bills on religion
73 bills on family relationships
36 bills on marriage
72 bills on firearms
604 bills on taxation
NOT 1 BILL ON JOBS!!!...
and... they blocked the American Jobs Act...
and every other recovery bill of the president
Focus all right. Take note that our poorest states are all Red states. Wow, must be Obamas fault.
You know what's a crime? That THIS is the top story on CNN today. Everyone already agrees to disagree with this Mourdock fellow (Republicans and Dems alike) meanwhile, the White House continues to bald-faced lie to us about what went on in Libya and why they failed to act and defend our people there – but you have to go SEARCH for that story. As if our national security is less important than some candidate's bungled debate comments. Guess what, no ONE except for Indianans are voting for/against this guy. EVERYONE is voting on election day for/against national security.
The ambassador made no request for extra security.
He worked with the Libyan people directly.
It was a poor choice and not the majority of Libyan's who killed him.
Just the way George Bush took the entire country for a ride with his 'weapons of mass destruction' in Iraq. The military lost MANY soldiers in that war and yet bush is not held accountable for the number of people killed. Instead, lets focus on when the act in Libya was declared as terror and by whom and where. Typical republican reaction.
If abortion is made illegal only rich women will get abortions.
Mormonville. Coming to a country near you.
When they came for the fetus i said nothing, i am not a fetus. When they came for the elderly i said nothing, i am not elderly. When they came for the sick and infirm i said nothing, i am not sick or infirm. When they came for me there was no one left to speak up.
I can't read you now.
Then why you still speaking?
Shoot this guy again, till he quiets down
You take the great name of Hitchens and you defile it you orc from Mordor. Get a new handle TROLL, cuz you su ck and your opinions suck and you are another dark-ager who hates America, admit it. You su ck and you are NOT anything close to the smart, erudite, and atheist Hitch...you just su ck
cris – except for the fact that no one has actually come for the fetuses, the sick or the old.
Who are "they" exactly? You yourself just said there was no one left... unless its your own group of chickens coming home to roost...
Mourdock is living proof of a lesson my civic teacher in high school taught many years ago: "In elections, it is often difficult to figure out who you should vote for; it is often much simpler to decide who to vote against."
And CNN doesn't think there are enough nut cases on th other side.
lol cnn says dont politicize it and here it is on their front page trying to take what he said out context and bash him with it for policital gain. hipocrits!
Out of context? The context is there. I've seen the video. I've read CNN's account of it and several more. I also watched Mourdock's press conference and his BS about press distortion of his comments. The only distortion I've seen was Mourdock's.
I don't know what you are thinking. It's pretty hard to take what he said out of context. He needs to mix more New Testament in with his Old Dusty Testament. He should especially read up on Jesus' views on compassion and love of your fellow man. Also, in this country, you have no right to subject your religious beliefs on another person. This is the US... not Taliban Afghanistan or Iran. This is a democracy that does not respect or penalize a religion. Says so right there in the first clause of the First Amendment.
And the point of the article was not that there was a side taken. The point is that no one should ever use something like this as proof of a religious conviction that shouldn't mean a thing when you are picking an elected official. You should pick your officials what their plans are. It shouldn't matter if they are atheist, agnostic, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Christian, or pray to the Great Arkle-Seizure. As long as the guy does a good job and governs fairly, I could care less if he prays to Nyx and sacrifices a goat to her every weekend.
If someone puts a bullet in this guy's head it would be God's will that he expires?
Like congresswoman Giffords?
Yes Chris, just like her
Either your imaginary fairy is in charge or he isn't
What this ultimately boils down to is Ego. All these folks that want to legislate their values just want to be the shepherd or judge, they don't see themselves as one of God's sheep. Let's do the best we can individually and leave the judging to greater powers.
Is it God's will for dogs and cats to have litter after litter? Do these politicians own a spayed pet? They shouldn't., let their pets breed and occupy the world wtih sad an miserable lives. Or better yet they should take care of them and be responsible for them. If abortion wasn't God's will he would have never given us the brain to know how to perform them. I had an abortion and have never regetted it. I thank God everyday that I had a choice and a better life because of it.
so some woman makes a decision she regrets or lets use the other argument uses abortion for birth control so we take away other womens right to choose and access to healthcare choices BUT some idiot shoots up a movie theater murders people YET we can't have gun restrictions?
a/k/a I make my decisions and comments based on a book of folklore
Stupid distraction for stupid people.
Yeah, how is freedom important?
Look at his smug expression in the photo. This guy would have fit right in to the Inquisition.
Were you at the inquisition? What was it really all about?
@ fake c hitch
Here's your lesson on the inquisition and don't MAKE me start dropping real Christopher Hitchens youtubes on you ridiculing your stupid belief system, it's too easy, you're too big a target. Anyway, here's a lesson from someone with WAY more knowledge about WAY more things than you...
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.