October 25th, 2012
06:00 AM ET

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

By Wayne Drash, CNN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CNN’s Eric Marrapodi contributed to this report

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Rape • Women

soundoff (4,449 Responses)
  1. Jackie

    Every women who votes for these insane sick candidates support the sick policies their spilling. Even Mitt agrees that women are nothing but property and used when needed. Mitt spoke of Ann as an employee and calls for her to clean up his mess. Notice how Tagg rushed to defend his Dad who is and was called a Liar. But Tagg and the other 4 sons along with Mitt himself said nothing to defend Ann when she was attacked it took President Obama to come to her defence. Wow the Romney men take care and support each other but women are only used and like trash tossed out after their not needed anymore.

    October 25, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
  2. budzy

    so is terrorism also GOD's will ??????

    October 25, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • bostontola

      of course, allah's will.

      October 25, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • Christian Brain

      "Duh, it's God pointing out a target to go kill and help us get our Christian jihad going..."

      October 25, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
  3. Happy Jack

    Don't forget, the GOP also has Rep. Paul Braun, who sits on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, and owner of the following quote:

    “God’s word is true. I’ve come to understand that. All that stuff I was taught about evolution, embryology, Big Bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell. It’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who are taught that from understanding that they need a savior. There’s a lot of scientific data that I found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young Earth. I believe that the Earth is about 9,000 years old. I believe that it was created in six days as we know them. That’s what the Bible says. And what I’ve come to learn is that it’s the manufacturer’s handbook, is what I call it. It teaches us how to run our lives individually. How to run our families, how to run our churches. But it teaches us how to run all our public policy and everything in society. And that’s the reason, as your congressman, I hold the Holy Bible as being the major directions to me of how I vote in Washington, D.C., and I’ll continue to do that.”

    October 25, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • Orwell prefers Guyana punch

      Don't forget for these religious zealots, it is all about the economy. Nothing but the economy

      What idiots, what intellectually corrupted hypocrites. Science is a major underpinning engine of the economy, along with education.

      We know they want to merge church and state for economic efficiency, bringing the country into God's will.

      They hate the science, but LUV the technology. Teaching creationism is their educational fix on science. Next they will try to ban mathematics to solve the national debt.

      October 25, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
  4. One one

    I find it amusing to hear believers claim they know gods will.

    October 25, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • Christian Brain

      "I must know God's will because I do things every day that I believe God wants me to do, and also avoid things I believe he doesn't want me to do, so I share my beliefs of what God wants or does not want with others and I don't find this strange or creepy at all. I talk to a little voice in my head and run things past him then try to enforce that voices reasoning on people around me telling them that its what God wants for them, becauise if it's not God i'm talking to in my head, then who is it? Well, it must be God, I know it's God, yup, gotta be God, gotta be God..."

      October 25, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  5. D0ntBlvit

    “And if men struggle and strike a woman with child so that she has a miscarriage, yet there is no further injury, he shall be fined as the woman’s husband may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges decide. But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.”
    Exodus 21:22-25

    October 25, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
  6. Rettas Vegas


    October 25, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
  7. Anybody know how to read?

    Athena teaches the women to obey the Beast and its sons the corporations. The little antichrist forgot to train them to obey their husbands. But they turned out to be masters at killin'.

    October 25, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • cedar rapids


      October 25, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  8. Feral Urchin

    What has "god" to do with any of it?

    October 25, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
  9. swanlove1551

    He is sicko and possibly himself a rapist. he loses my vote.

    October 25, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • *eyeroll*

      Yes. That's why he 'struggled with it' himself.

      That kind of vermin CANNOT be allowed to slither into congress and start making his sick twisted ideas into law, it would destroy our society.

      October 25, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
  10. Corn

    Vote MItt Romney

    October 25, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • iamgrunge

      Haha, no.

      October 25, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • Chooch0253

      not in this lifetime.

      October 25, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • The Truth

      "Vote MItt Romney" if you want to turn the civil rights clock back 50 years and undo the progress we have made on womens rights and freedom's from religion. Vote for Mitt if you would prefer living in ChristbeckIstan and think our new capital should be Mormonopolis.

      October 25, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • Friend of Freedom

      You can vote for Romney and see our Country die drip by drip, or vote for Obammer and see our Country die quickly. Both great choices huh?

      October 25, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • jeff

      I'm no huge Romney fan, but he will be getting my vote. How sweet it would be to see a Romney win, just to see the reaction from the godless party.BTW, people died and Obama lied.

      October 25, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • D0ntBlvit

      I'm sure he will win. And I can't wait to see the utopian society that results therefrom. Jobs! Prosperity! No health care laws! No welfare! Higher interest rates on savings only (not loans)!

      October 25, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • budzy

      Vote Ron Jeremy !!!!!

      October 25, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • winning777

      to Truth: You could not sound more ignorant.. it is because of people like you I sometimes feel regret affiliating myself w/ my fellow Americans...meaning you

      October 25, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • Rettas Vegas

      You give no reason why to vote for Mitt-Rob Me, is that because there are no good reasons to vote for him that come to mind,,,,?

      Independent, woman voter in the swing state of Nevada, STILL swinging towards OBAMA!

      October 25, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      jeff: So obviously gay/lesbian rights mean nothing to you; nor do the rights of women; nor do the rights of the middle class down...what a pathetic man you are!! Obama took out the biggest terrorist threat to the USA; Obama saved your country from a severe depression that the previous dolts had your country near; Obama saved the auto industry and thousands of jobs; Obama stands by the constitution-too bad more people didn't.

      October 25, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • The Truth

      @winning777 – ah, the old "You're dumb" defense. You aren't able to refute my comment so you just get angry. If you had half a brain you would know what I am talking about. You use three 7's in your name refering to perfection but you are far far from it sir. And if you thought 7 only had a gambling reference then you are even dumber than I thought. Mitt Romney would be the worst thing for this country since... well since GW Bush, he does have 70% of Bush's cabinet on his team...

      October 25, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
  11. bostontola

    If you believe in an omnipotent/omniscient god then the guy is right. An omniscient god knows all that will happen, and an omnipotent god makes it happen.

    So, is your god omnipotent/omniscient?

    October 25, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • dafuq

      My god is STEM.

      October 25, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • bostontola

      I'm partial to the FSM.

      October 25, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • Andrew

      "Make" and "Allow" are two different words with two vastly different meanings. Don't make a complex issue simpler than it really is, you will make false statements.

      October 25, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • dafuq

      SO.. MUCH.. WIN! Bravo bostontola... BTW do you know what time does the narwhal bacon?

      October 25, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • bostontola

      If you believe god created the universe and is omniscient, he knew all that would come of his creation at the moment he created it (i.e. he made it happen).

      October 25, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • glogg

      You spelled "impotent" wrong. Get God some of those little blue pills.

      October 25, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • bostontola


      October 25, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Ax

      After all in the Bible, God impregnated Mary. I don't recall her saying "yes"

      October 25, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
  12. Kat

    What the hell is wrong with these fools lately? Insert foot in mouth disease.is spreading wide in the Republican party.


    October 25, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
  13. palintwit

    The type of deviant behavior described at the beginning of this article is typical in southern, white trailer trash families. It's also a safe bet that the wives of republican members of congress diddle each other.

    October 25, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • Anybody know how to read?

      Don't you mean Darwin and his close relative wife? What was he thinkin'?

      October 25, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • U mad Brah

      sounds like Wincest

      October 25, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
  14. dafuq

    Religion has NO place in government and should in no way influence laws or regulations. In order to become a peaceful whole society, religion must be removed from the equation completely.

    October 25, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • Anybody know how to read?

      Kill another temple of God.

      October 25, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • jeff

      Perhaps you need to brush up on your history, of course living in denial is always an option.

      October 25, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • U mad Brah

      How many people have been killed in the name of a god.

      October 25, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • glogg

      Agreed. Religion has itself become the antichrist.

      October 25, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • FlawedLogic

      Absolutely right! Almost every major argument by the right is abruptly ended with 'because god wills it' i.e. gay marriage, abortion, womens rights, everything they claim is because of god. Which is weird since i thought a fundamental of America was the separation of church and state. But i must be mistaken; it is only separate that the govt cant tell the church what to do, the church can still tell the govt what to do.....

      Religion–the cause of war.

      October 25, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  15. The Truth

    Well, the Christians have been r.aping my ear hole with their religious lie's for as long as I can remember, no wonder they believe it's God's will...

    October 25, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
  16. rtr

    So Mourdock thinks rapists are instruments of god? I guess that makes sense for a mo ron

    October 25, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
  17. annieL

    The happiest people are the ones who don't question their fate, who live today and don't worry about tomorrow, and who care more about others than about themselves. When you get right down to it, that is what Jesus teaches. Some arrive at that happiness without religion and many with religion never arrive.

    October 25, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • Closet Atheist

      Well said. If only they could understand...

      October 25, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • andreybar

      Please, do not care about me, religiose person. Care about your self.
      Let me to be free of you.

      October 25, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
  18. prisha

    the first thing ob-gyn's caution when you concieve is, it might not go to term and many times even loving, god fearing couples face the tragedy of loosing the baby so does it mean god did this and allowed abortion. so when god is willing to do it does GOP find fault the god and sue him and preach against him. vote for these buffoons and end up in a theocracy.

    October 25, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • Activists for Christ

      I bet you don't think a business owner has the right to hire and fire people at his pleasure either do you?

      October 25, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • A Traveler

      @ Activist4... And I'll bet you don't know the laws regarding employees. Not some silly fairy-tale laws but the actual employment laws of these United States.

      October 25, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      "I bet you don't think a business owner has the right to hire and fire people at his pleasure either do you?"

      at his pleasure? heck no.

      October 25, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • Activists for Christ

      In Texas, you can hire and fire people with no explanation. Called an "At-will-employer" state. Hopefully all states will adopt these standards!! Ie, the smart people that risked their money to start the companies call the shots, not the minimum wage high school dropouts.

      October 25, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • FlawedLogic

      Activist for Christ....This is the other half of who is running our country.....

      October 25, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      "Activists for Christ

      In Texas, you can hire and fire people with no explanation. Called an "At-will-employer" state. Hopefully all states will adopt these standards!! Ie, the smart people that risked their money to start the companies call the shots, not the minimum wage high school dropouts."

      ah ok, we get it now, you are a troll, because you certainly arent a christian.

      October 25, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • Primewonk

      Activist wrote, " I bet you don't think a business owner has the right to hire and fire people at his pleasure either do you"

      Terrible analogy. A more apropos analogy would be, " I bet you don't think a business owner has the right to murder his employees at his pleasure either, do you.'

      October 25, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
  19. James

    There is no "god"; but yes, Ms Coulter, there are "retards".

    October 25, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • SkepticalOne

      And a lot of them are Republicans running for office.

      October 25, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • Right4life

      It takes more faith to be an atheist. Nature declares the glory of the Lord.

      October 25, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      "It takes more faith to be an atheist. Nature declares the glory of the Lord."

      er, no, no it doesnt, to both statements.
      which bit of nature? the bit david attenborough likes to mention......the worm in africa slowly burrowing into a childs eye, that will eventually leave him blind? oh the glory, just look at that glory

      October 25, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  20. Ayatollah of Rock and Rollah

    God sends rapists to brutally assault and terrorize women so that they can have babies that Republican lawmakers will refuse to help support. Mitt Romney approves.

    October 25, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • prisha


      October 25, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • Seriously?

      Ayatollah of...You're disgusting. You're comment is disgusting.

      October 25, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • krussell

      God requires rapists to pay the father 20 silver pieces and mary the girl.
      Read your scripture.

      October 25, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • rossyvonne85

      Well put my friend.

      October 25, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • The Truth

      You know you hit the nail on the head when you get "You're disgusting. You're comment is disgusting." as a response.

      October 25, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      Disgusting but accurate. The GOP officially supports government coercion of women to have babies with men that successfully coerce them into se.xual intercousre.
      Any man at any time with any girl/woman he can force into submission can have a child without the woman's consent by full will and force of the U.S. government.
      THAT is what Ryan personally believes and what Romney will allow to happen if he is given the chance. THAT is irrefutable and quite provable by their own current statements.

      October 25, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • Ax


      That is only if the rapist is caught. And only if the girl was a virgin, otherwise it's OK.

      October 25, 2012 at 5:56 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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.