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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.

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. Innerspace is God's place while outerspace is for the human race

    Life endures the living no matter the what. :-(

    October 25, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
  2. Religion is a Lie

    Science will prove it!

    October 25, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
  3. Chuck

    The abortion politics of this story is insignificant, yet, leave it to CNN to make this story about the political issue. This story should be about the horror of the crime, not a 'gotcha' point for pro-lifers, or pro-choicers.

    October 25, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • Reasonably

      Actually, it's a gotcha point for leaders who have no fundamentalist-brain/mouth filter.

      October 25, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • Ben Rast

      No, it became political when a politician made this part of his platform and enunciated during a debate. CNN is reporting on a political story, not creating one.

      October 25, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @Chuck

      I agree with -Ben, and would add... the **RNC/GOP** has made the issue of abortion part of their platform, not just a few crazy right-wingers.

      October 25, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
  4. FlawedLogic

    I have a legitimate question for the pro-life supporters who do NOT believe in an abortion for a mother whose life is in danger...Would you be willing to have surgery to extract and incubate a fetus in order for it to live?

    I do not mean to be sarcastic and am simply trying to engage in an analytical discussion.

    October 25, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • Snow

      more simply, would they support the same agenda if it is their own life on the line? or their mother/wife/daughter's life on the line? of course not, those hypocrites!

      October 25, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
  5. Deanna Erickson

    Look at what happened to the virgin Mary. This is proof that Christians think it's okay to get a girl pregnant and disappear.

    October 25, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      God the absent father.

      October 25, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • Innerspace is God's place while outerspace is for the human race

      Life is the ac.c.u.mulation of the living no matter one's life they lead.

      October 25, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
  6. Anybody know how to read?

    Speaking of the caste system, a child in the womb is in the lowest caste.

    October 25, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Apart from the mother under Romney.

      October 25, 2012 at 3:18 pm |

    • Really? Children shouldn't be allowed in such places anyway. The womb may be unsafe.

      October 25, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
  7. trigtwit palin... America's favorite tard baby

    Trig Palin = pro abortion poster child.

    October 25, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • snowboarder

      that is uncalled for

      October 25, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Uncalled for: possibly.
      True: definitely.

      October 25, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • trigtwit palin... America's favorite tard baby

      *drool*

      October 25, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • James1754

      That comment is beneath contempt. I have seen very few that I find more disgusting.

      October 25, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • midwstrngrl

      why? I am prochoice within a small time frame, but that does not mean because he is less than perfect that somehow his life is worthless either. Why does it have to be one or the other? The world is not black and white.

      October 25, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • tony

      Sarah Palin, and dancing tart daughter were uncalled for by other people. But somehow they seem to want to expose themselves and their quotes to the US public constantly since.

      October 25, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • Romnesia

      Certainly Romney's son had that option in his contract. So when it gets personal, convictions are flexible – like Scott DesJarlais.

      October 25, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • BRod

      You are disgusting! And I'm am pro-choice! In fact, people like YOU are why I am pro-choice.

      October 25, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • William Demuth Sr

      Well aren't you just the wittiest little bass tard

      October 25, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • trigtwit palin... America's favorite tard baby

      Snurkkllll... blooorfff pfftttttsssssss, glarkll ssshhfffffft ?

      October 25, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
  8. Jerry

    I agree that this guy is a fool for what he said, but it's pathetic how CNN and the rest focus only on foolish things said by Republicans and give the Democrats a free pass. Why is that? Democrats never say anything foolish? Joe Biden?

    October 25, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • ;p;

      well, when the repubs say nutty things it tends to be because they're right wing crazycakes and wanting to pass laws based on their craziness.

      October 25, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • Lisa

      CNN nails Biden when he needs nailing, but what has he said lately? You're just whining, Jerry.

      October 25, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      The problem is, it was not a foolish statement, It was a moral decent, Truth that has confused those that should know better. Romney cannot take office too soon so that America can be returned to a righteous dignity. Romney / Ryan 2012

      October 25, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @Jerry

      Yeah, I'm in agreement with @ ;p; here. The right-wingers(mainly the extremely social conservatives) are so often *beyond bizarre or crazy.* 8O

      Peace...

      October 25, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • ;p;

      You have to excuse Ronald, he has the hots for Money Boo Boo

      October 25, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • MagicPanties

      Biden isn't trying to limit women's rights over their own bodies.
      Huge difference.

      October 25, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @Ronald Regonzo

      " The problem is, it was not a foolish statement, It was a moral decent. "

      It was a fvcking schizophrenic break from reality. 8O

      You are still one of my favorite *trolls* here on the blogs though, -Ronnie. :D

      Peace...

      October 25, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @;p;

      " Money Boo Boo "

      LOL ! Excellent !! :D

      Peace...

      October 25, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • itsallaloadofbollocks

      Gonzo. Wouldn't the GOP just classify the resulting single mothers as parasites and provide no assistance for the babies they insisted be born?

      October 25, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • PMD

      Name one thing that Democrats see as foolish as what this guy Mordouch said.

      October 25, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • What

      Poor baby, please don't cry. go to h ell

      October 25, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • TR6

      @ Ronald Regonzo: “Romney cannot take office too soon so that America can be returned to a righteous dignity”

      Ronnie must be smoking some good stuff because Bush sure didn’t “ return the country to a righteous dignity” What makes him think Romney will be any different?

      October 25, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • sassysticks53

      Biden's not trying to pass laws based on his beliefs/religion! That's the difference. Next.

      October 25, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
  9. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    October 25, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • Deanna Erickson

      Reflection and logic make things better. Meditation clears the mind to improve the results of reflection and logical understanding.

      October 25, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • FlawedLogic

      Is change automatically good in all cases?

      October 25, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • Me

      Only in a fantasy world.

      October 25, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • midwstrngrl

      this idiot only says one thing over and over

      October 25, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • tony

      Thousands and thousands of us have been praying for your early demise and ascent into your heaven for a coupla years now . . . What's it like up there???

      October 25, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • Am I doing it right?

      I prayed for an abortion... Am I doing it right?

      October 25, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • just sayin

      The only prayer God would hear from those thousands would be the sinners sincere prayer of repentance. Once you are born again you will be free to talk to God on many subjects, objection to prayer will not be on the agenda. God bless

      October 25, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • TheSchmaltz

      It has the same success rate as not praying. Maybe slightly less because some of us quit begging to nobody and fix things ourselves.

      Blasphemy is a victimless crime.

      October 25, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • QuizziCal

      Just look at any amputee to see how well prayer changes things. Prayer can cure cancer, disease, etc. But it just can't seem to regrow a limb, or even a digit. All those lofty promises the bible makes about prayer and for some reason it doesn't apply to amputees.

      October 25, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • What

      You are so sick, scared the hell out of me. Please check in memtal hospital for the sake of my kids have to live with people like you, on this earth

      October 25, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • truth be told

      It is always amazing that some genius always thinks it knows everything about every amputee that ever lived. What kind of a sick mind would prey on the disabled to make its point and not even be able to prove if its contentions were true or just imagined?

      October 25, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • Reasonably

      Prayers to which god? Only yours or any god? Ganesh? Allah? Odin? Gilgamesh? Cthulhu?

      October 25, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • fReAkYmOnKeY

      You are exactly wrong. If you were raised Atheist and then hear yourself or anyone as misguided as you speak this garbage, you would either laugh or cry. Religion has been a boil on the butt of humanity from it's beginning. There is a reason for separation of religion and state... you are a perfect example why. worship your own god and keep it to yourself, you just sound ignorant. You're the problem not the answer!

      October 25, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
  10. Gino

    When this mental eunuch isn't demeaning women with his incredible stupidy and vacuous drivel, he's sitting at home cleaning his guns on top of his open bible while watching Fox Nausea for the little amusement he finds in the vast wasteland of his life.

    October 25, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
  11. Reality

    Only for the new members of this blog:

    Mourdock, the "not too intelligent" politician, should have said, "the morning after pill and ra-pe kits basically vitiate any pregnancy results of ra-pe with said ra-pist getting 20 to life if convicted. " In the case cited in the topic, the "father" should have been given the death penalty.

    And a prayer just for Mourdock and a-nalogous red-neck Christians:

    The Apostles' Creed 2012: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
    Jerusalem.

    Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
    many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
    and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    Amen
    (references used are available upon request)

    October 25, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • ....

      IF IT IS FROM REALITY IT IS ALL BULL SH IT

      October 25, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
  12. Aradan

    Religious beliefs often don't make sense – but we are stuck with a large portion of human civilization that still has either a desire or need to cling to beliefs from Bronze Age religious texts that can be abhorrent and destructive in modern society. What can we do?

    October 25, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • Anybody know how to read?

      Man having a god is the default position. Choose wisely.

      October 25, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      How is it default?

      October 25, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • snowboarder

      read – man used his imagination to answer the questions to which he did not possess tools to answer by creating gods. that is the default position.

      October 25, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • Deanna Erickson

      We can start by making churches pay taxes and STOP tolerating religious views being imposed upon us politically.

      October 25, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • TheSchmaltz

      "Man having a god is the default position."

      Only because our parents force this idea on us from childhood. Brainwashed from an early age before we can defend ourselves. Raised to think it makes sense with many never considering otherwise.

      October 25, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • Anybody know how to read?

      Deanna Erickson, you're a little late to the party. Your gubmint god is in charge of everything already. Hope the caste system works out for ya.

      October 25, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • Deanna Erickson

      Just trying to work with what I've got. Trying to accept what I CAN change vs. what I can't change. I'm also open to supporting other ideas which don't promote violent revolution.

      October 25, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
  13. us_1776

    Google: ActBlue

    Go there and you can support all your Dem candidates.

    .

    October 25, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
  14. Bob

    We'd be stuck in the Dark Ages if everyone just went with "It's God's will". That's a lazy answer. That's an ignorant answer. The doctor who noticed that children who worked on farms tended not to get small pox didn't say "clearly God favors those children by not giving them small pox". No, he used his brain and figured out that these children all had contracted a disease called cow pox that was relatively harmless but gave them immunity to small pox and thus the modern vaccine was born. Most societal advances have happened in spite of organized religions best efforts. The church had jailed Galileo because he dared to prove that the earth orbits the sun. They made the greatest mind of his day recant and warn off other "dangerous thinkers" and set back science by centuries. We'd probably have cities on Mars and hoverboards by now if it weren't for the church's meddling. If that isn't an argument for separation of church and state, I don't know what is.

    October 25, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • Proactive

      Bob,

      I agree. God never said we should be slaves to religion nor expect us to be, which is why he gave us intellect and brain for us to use it wisely and be able to distinguish right from wrong.

      October 25, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Proactive

      However, if you're a christian, then man apparently was never supposed to know the difference between right and wrong.

      October 25, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
  15. Dude

    There is no god. There is no god's will. There is only stuff that happens.

    October 25, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • Belgar

      Amen, Brother....Amen.

      October 25, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  16. us_1776

    .

    Your choices are simple:

    D) A COUNTRY THAT WORKS FOR *ALL* AMERICANS

    R) A COUNTRY THAT WORKS FOR ONLY BILLIONAIRES and RELIGIOUS EXTREMISTS

    -----

    Please register to vote.

    Push 'D' on all congressional and senate races.

    Obama | Biden 2012 4.5+ million new jobs and still growing...

    .

    October 25, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • us_2012

      D) A government that is paid for by the billionaires and millionaires.

      R) A government that is small enough that it can be paid for by *ALL* Americans.

      October 25, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      The "billionaire option" works for me. Romney / Ryan 2012

      October 25, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • ;p;

      Ronald

      quit sucking Romney's dick, you're not getting any special prize if he wins

      October 25, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • itsallaloadofbollocks

      us_2012. Except Romney/Ryan have no plans to reduce military spending or anything else for that matter. Republican administrations always increase the size of government – Reagan and both Bushes did. Reagan and W increased the debt by running huge deficts to pay for their unbalanced approach.

      October 25, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
  17. Soda

    Embrace science, there is no god.

    October 25, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • cristopher hitchens

      Without God there would be no science.

      October 25, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • Yep

      "Without God there would be no science."

      And without the human mind, there would be neither.

      October 25, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • itsallaloadofbollocks

      fake hitchens. Even if you were able to prove that there is a god, it could only be a pre-Big Bang entity. So as you can't prove that, there is no basis for your statement.

      October 25, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • TheSchmaltz

      "Without God there would be no science."

      How do you figure? Science is a means of making statements about the way the world works and verifying those statements with repeatable experiments. None of that requires us to believe in a higher power.

      Oh, you probably mean that nothing is possible without God. Prove it.

      October 25, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • cristopher hitchens

      I am therefore God is and God is the giver of life wisdom and science. Nothing fake here.

      October 25, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • tony

      Without humans, there is no god. No such thing as evil either.

      October 25, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • TheSchmaltz

      "I am therefore God is and God is the giver of life wisdom and science. Nothing fake here."

      You are. I believe that part. The rest is baseless assertion.

      October 25, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • B.

      Mythology is so much more comfortable than the truth of science.

      Evolution of the truth takes a very long time and humans are not known to change much as witnessed by our past.

      October 25, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • Athy

      Without fools there would be no god.

      October 25, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
  18. Socrates

    Murdock is a funny ignorant religious man. I will never stop wondering why all these insane people land in the Republican Party, it looks as fatal attraction. The sad part of this never ending story is that there are people who vote for these insane politicians. Amazing..

    October 25, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
  19. B.

    I am beginning to think that the Republican party is aligning itself to a Theocracy in which Government feels it now has the right to control peoples personal lives all the way to their most personal decisions in life !!

    They have chosen to ignore separation of church and state!

    It is time to Draw the line on a takeover of Christians in the Government of the United States and let them know that this is still a Free and inclusive society and The GOP can stay OUT of our personal lives and stop trying to destroy personal freedoms!

    October 25, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • TheSchmaltz

      Yes, except they've chosen to believe that the seperation of church and state is a lie not intended by the Founding Fathers, despite evidence to the contrary. Then again, if they were bothered by evidence to the contrary, they wouldn't be religious.

      October 25, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
  20. zandhcats

    Will he change his position if his female family member gets the God's will someday? Like Scott Brown of MA senator criticized Obmacare until his daughter lost her job and health insurance, she needed to enroll in Romneycare. Sentor Brown imm changed his tone abt the Obmacare.

    October 25, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
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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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.