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
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.
Believe what you want to believe. Live your life according to your beliefs and mythology. Do NOT expect me to live MY life according to YOUR beliefs and mythology. I have my own. If you don't like abortion then do not get one.
martiniano..........We won't! and we won't vote for it, and their blood will be on your hands, not mine! You won't be innocent!
Likewise, don't force your views on those who believe otherwise.
Social issues are not top priority. The economy is.
Change America to Mormonville.
Ameri2010..........silly, silly atheists. God gives you economy.
Ameri, the economy is not the issue. Our outrageously high spending on military hardware is the issue. When we halve our DOD spending we will still spend more than any other nation and we will fix our economy immediately.
Ah – "Atheist Hunter", the poster who copied and pasted many lies by the "author" David Barton – the lie-maker for hire who has managed to make a living by twisting history and selling those lies to the right side of congress for pro-religion propaganda. Yes, the same David Barton (Wallbuilders) who's book was yanked by his publisher because it twisted the truth about Jefferson so badly.
== o ==....................just fer ya, Obama's a muslim!
The blood will be on our hands? Blah, blah, fvcking blah. AH and his ilk are big mouth trolls.....come on, AH.....spew some more godly threats.......we are all shaking in our boots. Your god is a vindictive litle pr1ck, and so are you. Go know yourself biblically, punk
AH. You are vermin.
ameri2010. Economy is important but it hasn't been to the Republicans. Cheney said debt was OK. The biggest % increases in the national debt have come under George W Bush, Reagan, George HW Bush. Ryan voted for most of the deficits which make up the current debt (two Bush wars, Bush tax cuts, Bush Medicare drugs, and TARP) and now he says the debt is a bad thing. Hypocrites.
Actions speak louder than words
Romney's actions choose Ryan, endorse Mourdock.
Romney words , I have no abortion issues on my agenda.
Different days he says different things. If you listen.
His entire campaign is based upon such Orwellian statements. His picture will soon be found next to definitions of double-speak.
Put Obama back in for 4 years and it won't be just the babies that are being murdered, it will be your defective children, elderly mothers and fathers, and maybe some of you big mouths for overcrowding the earth! You support murder of children, you will reap it!
I envision you on your knees rending your hair as you wail in anguish with all rational thought pushed out of your mind by pure emotional ecstatic org.asm.
the people killed in W's "crusade" in Iraq weren't anyone's children?
When I read the New Testament I hear Jesus teaching me to love. How is it that you can read the same words and learn to hate?
cats and dogs, living together!!
MarkinFL............my God can deliver you from those demons in your head!
When "Atheist Hunter" writes as "pervert alert", he says lovely things like:
"que ers the ones who gave aids to america"
and has also made posts proposing elimination of gays.
Should we really be listening to him on abortion or anything else for that matter?
"Atheist Hunter" degenerates to:
"Douglas" degenerates to:
"pervert alert" degenerates to:
"Taskmaster" degenerates to:
"Ronald Regonzo" degenerates to:
"truth be told" degenerates to:
"Atheism is not healthy ..." degenerates to:
"tina" degenerates to:
"captain america" degenerates to:
"just sayin" degenerates to:
"nope" degenerates to:
"WOW" degenerates to:
"!" degenerates to:
and many other names, but of course I prefer to refer to this extreme homophobe as
the disgruntled Evangelical Fortune Cookie Co. writer boot camp flunkie.
Obvious troll needs to up his meds.
actually, those people won't be killed by Obama but Romney and the GOP will not only make sure they die due to lack of affordable healthcare insurance, they'll make sure more of them are born only to die due to lack of coverage
== o ==..................duh, duh, duh, duh!!!!!
You should be ashamed for making up such horrible lies!!
blah, blah, blah.....
The "life begins at conception" argument is a curious one from a religious perspective, given that religious doctrine has always centered around the soul rather than its physical housing. Is there any religious doctrine that holds that a fertilized egg possesses an immortal soul? I doubt it.
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."
Judeo-Christian belief historically said this was at "quickening" or when the fetus can first be felt moving.
I understand soul food, soul music, and soul mate. Nothing in my travels has ever demonstrated that a soul is part of a human.
So do identical twins share a single soul? Are they the same person. Someone please reconcile this.
Given that all common religious doctrine, such as the Christian stuff, is mostly fabricated/made up over long periods of time, and can be adjusted and splintered ad hoc, you can probably find something that matches what you want. Or rather, some group will find an interpretation that serves their purposes. Odd too, how a "god" needs a text to establish its rules and its presence...
Atheist Hunter, you are quoting YOUR mythology. I am sure you believe your myths just as the ancient Greeks and Romans believed theirs. But they were wrong in the long run and so are you. Keep your myths to yourself. Let them guide YOUR life, not mine.
A Traveler......You just haven't traveled to the right places yet like Heaven and Hell.
the old testament (and Jewish law, which means Jesus believed this) supports a belief it is a living human being when it takes it's first breath outside of the womb
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
Yes, republicans want to destroy our country completely. Just give the guy another 4 years, he did not succeed in anything during his first term but let's hope he will in the second. I am off to have some hope for breakfast....
Ah, I see the libs and dems of CNN are out and about. LOL
Beauty is only skin deep Mark but stupid as you prove, runs clear through.
So Mark you support Mourdock's views? I have no problem with his beliefs, but it appears as those he is wanting to impose those beliefs on others.
And yet, you're here too. LOL
Keep "LOL"-ing all the way to Nov. 6.
Mark, please refrain from alienating any waterbag creatures whatever their swelling tendencies. Mittens Rmoney needs all the votes he can get if blue marble planet is to become comfort station for distressed unrelieved long distance galactic travellers from Kolob.
No man (regardless of his own personal beliefs) has the right to tell any woman what she can or can't do with her own body. In this day and age, women are educated, productive members of society who can make their own decisions regarding their own medical care and their own bodies. Period.
Rabbi Harold Kushner said it best “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.”
mess her life up? Maybe the rabbi needs to counsel women who've had abortions and feeling the guilt about killing their child. I be he's a "Sanger" planted parenthood believer.
Begging your pardon but saying that no man has any right to tell a woman what she can or cannot do with her body is very naive. The FDA has been telling people what they can and cannot put in their body for many years now. Various acts and legislation has been telling us what we can and cannot do to our bodies.
The only leg you have to stand on is that you don't believe a fetus is a sentient thing and thus you're not killing anything when you have an abortion. Only that you're removing an unwanted growth. And yet even their your definition is constrained as many abortion clinics have put a moratorium on late term abortions for "ethical" reasons.
Mark...make sure not to get an abortion for yourself. In the meantime, stay out of the buisness of others.
Brainy37 – you don't know my beliefs, please don't assume.
Comparing FDA food/drug regulations to abortion is naive.
I would never assume to tell a man what he can or cannot do to (or with) his body, I don't have male body parts, or a male brain anymore than men have women's reproductive parts or a woman's brain. A woman is just as capable of deciding her own medical care and making her own life-changing decisions as any man capable of making his own decisions about his medical care and his body.
Abortion is something I know a woman can get or do without anyone knowing. However it is NOT her body that she is touching by any stretch of the imagination. Refusing to allow a pregnancy is same as a mother refusing to feed her baby. It is same. I won't define it as a crime but it is unfortunate. If I am the father I will ask for her to give birth and leave it with me. If I am not and I had an orphanage she should give birth and give it up.
Mark. Although the issues are broader, you dogmatic types only say that a woman should bear every pregnancy but you do nothing to care for the baby until adulthood at least. So as you obviously don't have the money that your mouth is spending – you should keep your mouth shut.
Mitt Romney said he has no plans to push for legislation limiting abortion. Anybody who states otherwise is flat out lying. Smart women aren't buying scare tactics from the left. Smart women are educated and working. Their focus is on the economy, their careers, and family as it should be.
Which time did he say that?
What planet are you watching TV from? Mittens is in the pocket ot the fairy-tale believers and will do AND SAY ANYTHING to keep in favor with these buffoons.
And if Mitt should happen to tip the balance of the Supreme Court to pro life so much the better. Romney / Ryan 2012
"Mitt Romney says" FLIP FLOP FLIP FLOP FLIP FLOP FLIP FLOP
really you might want to reconsider starting your point with Mitt Romeny says... just sayin 🙂
Michael, he just reaffirmed it AGAIN this week. By the way, as a male – why do you care what a women does or doesn't do with her body or are you just an extremist leftist rabble-rouser?
Romney is the king of double-speak. He won't push for the legislation, he'll just remove any impediments to it being passed (by his own words several times recently) . If you know who is trying to open a locked door and you open the door for them, don't then try to claim to not support letting in whoever was behind the door.
"No plans" does NOT mean he will not. It means he may come up with a plan later. How many times has Romney flip-flopped his position in key issues? He first suggested military actions on Libya and Syria and then in the last debate he changed to "no". Smart and educated people will NOT believe what he says, period.
ameri. So if I haven't murdered or been murdered I cannot have an opinion on murder?
ameri2010. Romney may have backed off from his earlier position but the Susan B Anthony List reminded him of his committment. So hopefully he won't win so we won't need to wonder which Romney we get. My money is on him going anti-abortion as he's so untrustworthy on his positions.
And people wonder why rest of the world believes that the US has lost its collective mind.
There is nothing wrong with money, money can buy you lunch at McDonalds, Romney the best President money can buy ! Romney / Ryan 2012
Religion should never be politicized. However, some people feel a need to force their beliefs on the rest of the country.
Yes, like atheists and the extreme lefties here.
Have all the lefties and atheists bend over Nov. 7 and kiss their collective asses goodbye. Romney / Ryan 2012
@ amen2010 - so are you "thumpers".
@Ameri2010 if there is a more ignorant statement, i am unaware. However, I will wait until you open your mouth again so I may be astounded.
So, you Christians are always explaining away evil by saying it's free will so I'm confused now. Is it free will or your god's will? If you are raped it is free will but, as a result you get pregnant that is the will of your god? You have to keep creating newer absurd beliefs in order to justify your other absurd beliefs. The mental gymnastics required must make you insane. I'm so glad I'm an atheist.
love this commment!
Anyone who is pro-abortion and votes that way is as guilty for the death's of the millions of babies and the doctor who is ripping them apart. The blood of millions of babies is on you hands and God hates hands that shed innocent blood! Pro-choice is nothing but selfishness!
Boring troll is back.
No one is pro-abortion you imbecile.
Ripping them apart? Most aborted fetuses are the size of a lima bean.
AN embryo is not a baby, nor are they persons. Murder is the killing of a person. Simply because something is biologically "alive" does not make it a person. Brain dead people are biologically "alive". Skin cells are biologically "alive".
God hates hands that shed innocent blood?? Better tell that to W! How many innocents died in the Iraq War??? Oh, that's right, if they're Muslim children, they don't count.
Btw, why do you think an all powerful being, which created the entire universe, would be interested in the day to day happenings of some tiny beings on one tiny planet? Why would an all powerful, all knowing God, capable of creating anything and everything, need an ego and some tiny creatures to worship him? That just seems boring.
Do you really believe that a god like that would need human characteristics like ego, and hatefulness? If he did, then he wouldn't be a god anymore now would he?
Let's now forget. The people who love to take this stuff out of context also believe the abortion isn't murder, it's the woman's "choice".
So why wasn't what happened in Libya God's will?
What are you going on about?
Murder is a legal term defined by the courts. The courts decided that abortion is not murder.
Suggested reading: Roe v. Wade
really you think any argument anyone has on this blog wasn't thought of by the attorneys who argured against abortion rights? they just stook there like potted plants?
your opinion based on a book of folklore is not a valid legal argument in a society based on NO STATE SPONSORED RELIGION
@Feral, speak for yourself, plenty of people have received proof, people just don't believe them.
Maybe someday he'll be arrested for something and gain first hand experience
These idiotic politicians are really who you want in office? I hope his head gets rap.ed by aliens...after all, its what g0d wanted
Ryan believes exactly the same as Mourdock, and Romney said he would "absolutely" sign a personhood amendment.
Romney/Ryan – a ticket back to the dark ages.
Ah. The cult of Mormon.
Romney / Ryan the moral repentance and restoration America needs ! No more catering to whiners, no more abortion, no more ho mo se xual agenda just a pure America land of the free (Republicans) and the brave(Republicans). We are a Republic , one nation under God. No more Coke or Pepsi just tea. Romney / Ryan 2012
To all the Republicans here pretending that he is a minority voice in the GOP, here is the official GOP platform statement on abortion that Romney has agreed to support.
“Faithful to the ‘self-evident’ truths enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, we as.sert the sanct.ity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed,. “We support a human life amendment to the Const.itution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children.”
This means in ALL cases, including ra.p e by a girl's father.
I am a Republican and I think the GOP platform position on this issue is wrong. I also think politicians like Todd Akin and Mourdock are morons and worse and I hate that idiots like this are ever seen as representative of what the majority of conservatives believe. However, I also think the chance of Roe vs. Wade being overturned is slim to none. And I also think we have way more important issues than abortion in this election. America can't afford four more years like the last four years. So, I'm voting for Mitt Romney, and so is the rest of my family.
Your support for the Republicans, no matter what, is the problem.
You believe we cannot afford 4 more years of an improving economy?
You have bought in to Republican scare tactics.
Sometimes I secretly wish Romney wins. I will laugh my head off when you finally discover that he has been lying all along. He has no magic pill to improve the economy. You are going to pay more under Romney or Obama because our nation's debt and deficit is unsustainable.
You've bought into the lie that your taxes will go down and jobs will be plentiful. It would almost be worth the laugh. Almost.
I'm am so sick to death of republicans preaching what "God's will" is. No one understands the will of God, least of all these cretins.
We may not fully understand "God's will", but we certainly understand that killing completely innocent babies is not a good thing.
JC, wrong when you say no one understands the will of God. Those who are His do know and understand, because by His Spirit He reveals His will to them. But to carry the baby of hideous, perverted ba'stard it is NOT the will of God.
Prism, while I agree with your opinion on r.ap.e. Your statement about knowing god goes for everyone who believes and there are thousands of different beliefs. Who is correct? How can that even be proved?
Markin, in order to understand what I will try to explain to you, you must come to realisation that there is ONLY one truth/reality, and that it exists unchangeable, without being affected by any man's opinion. I will leave you with this statement, so you could think about it. I must go now, but I will be back later.. If you can grasp that there is ONLY ONE truth/reality, then I will explain further HOW do we know, and how we can find it.
MarkinFL: I don't think that killing babies is considered good in ANY religion or belief system. It is not a religious belief, it is a HUMAN VALUE.
Markin, I'm sorry you didn't respond. So I gather, I should not go into further discussion...
PRISSY!! Did Samuel Barber go to heaven even though he was gay?
Larry, FYI, dummy: if you see anyone "killing a baby" you should IMMEDIATELY CALL 911.
Oh, wait. you're so stupid you actually think a "baby" is involved in abortion. Never mind. You're too moronic to matter.
Bravo to Rabbi Kushner and a swift and painful kick in the behind to this idiot Mourdock. I wonder if his beliefs would change if it were his wife/sister/daughter?
See: Republican Scott DesJarlais to see how noble and honest these religious conservatives are.