October 25th, 2012
06:00 AM ET
When ‘God’s will,’ rape and pregnancy collide
By Wayne Drash, CNN
(CNN) - The pregnant 12-year-old girl was strung out on heroin and looked like a walking skeleton when she arrived at the hospital. The conversation that followed, said Phoenix police chaplain John South, has stuck with him ever since.
“Do you know who the father is?” South recalled asking her.
“She said, ‘Yes, it’s my biological father. He’s the one who hooked me on heroin so he could continue to rape me whenever he wanted to.’ ”
The Protestant chaplain has consoled about 50 pregnant rape victims - typically girls raped by their fathers - in his years working with the Phoenix Police Department.
South describes himself as “pro-life,” but when it comes to dealing with a girl or woman impregnated by a rapist, he keeps his personal views to himself.
“I don’t give them a lecture or preach at them,” South said. “I’ve seen crimes beyond comprehension.”
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Richard Mourdock stirred controversy during a debate in Indiana Tuesday when he said pregnancies from rape are “something that God intended to happen.” The instant reaction in political circles was predictable: Democrats decried him, and many conservative Republicans defended his position as steadfastly “pro-life.”
But theologians were quick with a more nuanced approach, saying the issue of pregnancies from rape strikes at the core of a timeless question: How do you explain evil in a world where God is loving?
That said, many expressed outright dismay by Mourdock’s remarks.
Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter
South wanted to know what Bible Mourdock reads because “what he’s saying is absolutely wrong. It’s not biblical.”
The police chaplain said pregnancies from rape aren’t meant to be politicized and said the victims suffer from physical and mental wounds and are often suicidal. About 60% of the time, South surmised from his experience, the women or girls choose to give the baby up for adoption, as long as they never see the child at birth.
“I hurt for these kids,” he said. “Rape is evil.”
Rabbi Harold Kushner, author of the best-selling book “When Bad Things Happen to Good People,” said Mourdock’s remarks were off-base: “He’s invoking the will of God where it is not appropriate."
People “should have compassion for the person whose life is messed up by this and not make her an instrument for our idiosyncratic, theological commitment,” Kushner said.
“If you believe she has no right to terminate that pregnancy, you're free to believe that,” Kushner said. “But for you to write your preferences into law and compel another person to mess her life up because of what you believe, I think you're going too far.”
“I continue to be bemused by the ultraconservative lawmakers who say they want smaller government and less government intrusion into people’s lives, except when it comes to who you can marry and how many children you should have.”
Plenty of liberal Christians bemoaned how Mourdock was being perceived by some as the face of American Christianity.
"Once again, expressions of Christian faith that honor the rights of women to choose their own health care options and what happens to their bodies are not seen or heard," wrote the Rev. Barbara Kershner Daniel, who pastors the Evangelical Reformed United Church of Christ of Frederick, Maryland, in a message that she circulated via email.
"The lack of another voice, another perspective, another vision from the Christian community leaves an impression that all Christians share this single perspective about pregnancy through rape," she wrote.
Father Tom Reese, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University, said he found Mourdock’s comments troubling from a Catholic perspective because “God does not want rape to happen.”
“Someone getting pregnant through rape simply means biology continues to function,” Reese said. “That doesn’t mean God wills it.
“If we look at the Scriptures, we see a God who weeps with those going through pain, who is compassionate for those who suffer and condemns those who do injustice,” Reese said
During the Tuesday debate, Mourdock was explaining his opposition to abortion in cases of rape or incest when he made his remark. “I came to realize life is a gift from God, and I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen,” said Mourdock, the Indiana state treasurer.
Amid the uproar Wednesday, Mourdock sought to clarify his comments, saying he was sorry if he offended anyone but said his comments were twisted and distorted for political gain. “The God that I worship would never, ever want to see evil done,” he said.
CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories
Paul Root Wolpe, the director for the Center of Ethics at Emory University, said Mourdock’s comments were the equivalent “of saying you shouldn't pull people out of the rubble because God intended the earthquake to happen or we shouldn't try to cure disease because it's God who gave us the disease,” Wolpe said.
"That perspective was theologically rejected by virtually every major religion a long, long time ago,” Wolpe added.
Mourdock has been an active member of Christian Fellowship Church in Evansville, Indiana, for nearly two decades, according to Mike Deeg, the executive pastor of the 2,000-plus member nondenominational evangelical church.
Mourdock has gone on missions trips with a group connected to the church to Bolivia and is well-regarded among congregants Deeg said.
Deeg says the church tries to remain largely out of politics. “We don’t think God is Republican or a Democrat,” he said by phone from Evansville, noting they encourage members to vote, the church just doesn’t say for whom.
The pastor said of what he has read about Mourdock’s remarks, they largely lined up with the church’s teachings on the sanctity of life and their belief that life begins at conception.
“I think rape is a horrible thing, and I think God would condemn rape as horrible,” Deeg said. “I think we’re made in the image of God regardless,” he added, “I don’t think the circumstances dictate whether God knows us and loves us, regardless of how our conception comes about.”
South, the chaplain in Phoenix, said the 12-year-old girl he met years ago opted for an abortion and her father was ultimately convicted of rape. He said he grappled often with “why she was subjected to such horrendous pain and torture, mentally, physically and emotionally.”
“Did it shake my faith? No,” South said. “Did I ask God why? Of course.”
CNN’s Eric Marrapodi contributed to this report
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.
For those of you who believe the soul is present from conception; what about identical twins? These are two individuals that developed a an embryo that splits apart after conception. Each half continues to develop into an unique individual. If the soul is present at conception; doess each twin have half a soul?
Blah, Blah, and Blah....
Like Voldemort? Ain't fiction grand????
I have yet to see that twin question answered at all. That would take logic and reason which are completely missing in the instant personhood crowd. It would also lead to the inescapable conclusion that it is ridiculous and they are just making up anything that pushes their agenda.
"Blah. Blah Blah"
exactly the response expected to a logical rational and VERY obvious question. It can't be answered because the original supposition is B S.
No, see, it split into twins because God filled that group of cells so full of soul that the soulfulness couldn't be contained in just one body.
RealTimemike - if that is the case, how did the soul fit into the embryo in the first place?
The same way the GOP wants to shrink the government down to a size that fits into a woman's va.gina. (I think they will use mirrors though)
What about conjoined twins? Is that two souls? Like in the case of, what is the name, Henkel? Where it's one body and two heads. They never even split! And what about conjoined twins that do get split – does their soul go with them?
No, no, no! See, there is a pool of emergency backup soles, er, souls. They're in like a big vat, just swimming around. When a zygote splits into dizygotic twins, Jesus flashes the giant Batman signal, and a back up sole, er, soul, jumps from the vat and into the new twin.
And when one twin absorbs the other in utero, that extra sole, er, soul, jumps from the uterus back into the vat of backup soles, er, souls. See, Jesus is in charge of heaven's "green" initiatives, so this sole, er, soul recycling really cuts down on resources used to create new soles, er, souls.
In the case of parapagus dicephalic twins, there is only one sole, er, soul, and it jumps from head to head based on which one is praying harder.
See Sean i believe that the dark one has won he won when rome took over the church and changed the rules of Jesus to fit their plans greed, conquest, pillage, hate of others who are different, all of the things Jesus was against the churches are for.
"the dark one?" seriously? darth vader?
No, Voldemort.... He lives!
GASP – you don't mean...THE DEVIL do you??
Religion has no place in politics. Lately I have to question if we should even allow region to exist anymore, they are creating more harm than good. If anything, we should start taxing them to operate since they feel they have so many rights to make choices for everyone else.
The man is delusional, just like all religious people!
@nii: it is impossible to have "free will" if you know what the furture holds.
god knows everything and creates everyone how he likes. god could have made adam or eve both smart enough to not be fooled by lilith but he didn't because he knew they would eat of the fruit.
so here is the logic problem; being that he knows everything there isn't anything you can do or change that your god hasn't ordained already, that is known as destiny. if you are destined by god to die in an automobile accident in two years there is nothing you can do about it, thus you have no free will seeing god knows all. you can't change the fact that god ordained you to die in a car wreck, or any other way he chooses.
destiny is a set path in a life.
free will is chaos, it's random chance.
god's will is final, yours is not; thus you have no free will you are merely a marrionett here for your god's pleasure until he decides to cut your strings.
i know this may be hard for you to accept, and i'm certain your mind will commit another logic loop to compensate for your fear of..........well being called a puppet, but like it or not if you believe god is all powerful all knowing then you have no choice in what he does.
Just because you believe something, doesn't make it fact.
What makes your belief more valid than mine when both are based in and subject to the same amount of fact, hearsay evidence and interpretation?
@424: what makes my pondering more logical is that it is based in logic. that is what makes sense not "god knows everything, yet does nothing."
it is impossible to know everything, set up a whole life for something, then give it freedom of choice. it doesn't work like that, if i created you from conception to death then everything choice you thought you were making was already made by me when i constructed your life.
that is the logic failing in "omni-everything"
omnipotent:having virtually unlimited authority or influence
omniscient: actually knowing everything that can be known.
omnipresent: present everywhere at the same time
god's powers eliminate the possibility of freedom of choice.
this question is only relevant to the victim. no other opinion is germane.
only the victim can decide if they wish to be saddled with a continual reminder of a brutal crime.
Exactly! It is the woman's choice. I understand both decisions and support her right to choose. However, We need to change ALL laws that give rapists ANY rights to the child and we need to do it now!
Just common sense.
Religion is to big a liability to allow to run unhindered. It's like trying to insure a building right next to a fireworks factory, either no one wants to take that risk or the cost of doing so would be to high. More and more people are already realizing this and distancing themselves from organized relgion as the new polls have shown. The religious will claim it's all prophecy that they are losing ground, but the reality is that it's been inevitible for quite some time now. Now that the common man has access to far more information then ever before it has become harder and harder for organized religion to pull the wool over their parishioners eyes and are losing support faster then any time in history.
I want Mitt to fully endorse every far right-wing extreme nut-job cause between now and 11/6 so that people won't forget for 1 second how far back into the stone ages he would take us.
If any of you bible thumpers had an education you would know that before it's even a fetus, it's a zygote. How many orphans have you adopted? You and the Republican party just want to tell people how to live their lives. Typical hypocrites.
Repost from earlier.
Actually I created life by my own free will. Twice! It is biology and can be broken down into very specific actions and parts. Scientists can tell you exactly what elements and particles compose those first several cells. You would find that they are very common and well known and most certainly do not have a soul, feelings or a brain. All they want to do is replicate in the hopes of one day becoming an organized living creature. I'm not proposing late term abortions out of simple convenience, but early on it is just a glob of cells and there is no more life there than a weed growing in my yard. Your religion turns fact into harmful fantasy and guilts people into doing silly and often dangerous things.
Ain't demobocracy wunnerful?
Humanist11, your belly has spoken! It must be true.
humanist – the only correction i would make is to not attribute feelings like "hope" to a bunch of cells. these cells replicate by biochemical process without knowledge or forethought of the product.
There's science describing what a soul is and when it comes into play? That's news to me.
" There's science describing what a soul is and when it comes into play? "
Yes. The Journal of Modern Cobbler is a quarterly journal published by the International Society of Cobblers. It's peer-reviewed, and indexed through PubMed. Every issue they have "Master Cobbler" article that focuses on sole reconstruction, and if necessary, sole replacement. Quite lively reading.
What? Soul? Not sole?
(God I miss GILDA)
From a previous entry:-
The people who should be pitied are the ones who haven't seeked him out. What a terrible, lonely, empty existence. Find God. It is the only way.
Now, I'm neither Democrat or Republican or particularly religious, but I don't need or want to be pitied just because I don't believe in any particular God (there are so many to choose from I would not know where to start). What really irks me is that I have free will, and because of that I can make my own decision as to the existence of any God, but the theist comments and statements apparently take that free will away from me by threatening eternal damnation in the pit of hell if I don't believe, and that my life is empty and meaningless. As a doctor, I don't get to choose who I should and should not treat, I have an obligation to fulfill, and it does not encompass any religious doctrine, nor do I make any decisions based on my beliefs or those of others. I do take umbridge to the fact that numerous Republicans are trying to make those decisions for me though, and in the event that the life of a woman is severly at risk if a pregnancy is carried to full term, I would not hesitate in saving the life of that woman, irrespective of what laws Republican leadership may enact should they win the election. We have so many more problems to deal with in this country, yet Republicans and religious individuals just don't want to look at the real issues that affect EVERYONE! I for one will be voting Democrat this time around. I can't in all good conscience do otherwise.
it is an ignorant fallacy that a belief in mythology adds meaning to ones existence.
someone espousing such beliefs is hopelessly brainwashed.
VERY well put 🙂
Today's gop is a cult full of ideological & religious extremists that HAVE NO PLACE IN THE 21st Century!!!!
You say my god is number 1 and they want to say their is never wrong
its a conspiracy
you pray for forgiveness cause your sinning
scared to death so your money you'll be giving.
I am a woman, live in Indiana, and will vote for Mourdock. Don't be so quick to judge the man on one stupid statement. And honestly, anyone is better than Donnelly....
How about Hitler?
ML, that one "stupid statement" is very telling. Difficult to trust someone who comes off with such a remark, regardless of what his position is on other matters.
One stupid statement ?!?!?!?!??!
Its a belief that is scary beyond all reason. It shows how this man thinks. He supports the government forcing women to bear the child of any man that can overcome her and have forcible intercourse with her.
My loathing of such people knows no bounds. It is the most morally repugnant thing to come out of politicians in a long time!!!!!!
He and his kind makes me sick.
Prey that this guy if elected doesnt sit on the health and science committee in congress, though unfortunately many of these individuales do
Im no democrat, but The only people dumber than the GOP candidates are the idiots willing to vote for them.
Personally im Writing in Ron Paul on the ballot box, and Obamney can suck a lemon.
The mere fact that you can ignore a statement borne in ignorance and zealotry demonstrates that the GOP appeals to "low-information" voters.
ML how dare you say it is a stupid statement?
You would be a fool against Christ if you did not vote for him.
Voting for him is like voting for Jesus.
He speaks the will of God, just like Akin, Bachmann, Broun, and the other chosen.
How can God's will be stupid? He only said what was the true way of God, manifested upon man and his rib.
Be more careful in your choice of words.
Sounds like you would vote for kim jong, Pol Pot & Bashar al-Assad as well.
PS: There is NO way you are a woman
I too live in Indiana. This is by far not the only stupid thing this cretin has said. He is a typical fundiot tea bagger nutter. This asshole is a perfect example of why these tea baggers are so dangerous. His idea of compromise, and working together, as he's stated, is to force others to follow his bidding and make them do as he wants.
In Indiana and 30 other states, the rapist has some rights to the child he's fathered. If the victim is forced to have contact with him in this way, how can she ever heal? God help all of us, but especially girls and women of child bearing age.
That is true, and it is one of the most disturbing things I can imagine
Sickening. I have daughters and these people make me ill to think of the power they may have over their lives. We fight the Taliban overseas, what about right here?
Please tell me this is not true... Who makes your policies... the Taliban?!?
The word "inappropriate" hardly expresses the incredulity experienced by the average reader of Mourdock's remarks.
What is inappropriate is such a person running for public office where his twisted theology could be included in laws affecting all of us.
Frankly, his remarks are so outrageous, only other twisted GOP politicians would dare to defend them, or him.
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 he can force into submission can have a child without the woman's consent with the full backing 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. Read the bills Ryan co-sponsored and read the official GOP platform as endorsed by Romney. Romney may or may not personally believe in it but he has pledged to fight anything that blocks any law that restricts a woman's right to an abortion even under the circ.umstances of r.ap.e. Romney still supports this guy and is featured in this guys campaign ads.
Must be a lot of rapin' going on with 1/3 egg bearers getting an abortion.
Shut yer hole, 'anybody'. Shut ALL your holes
hide yo kids, hide yo wife
Sounds outrageous? It should but it is exactly what the laws these people want would create. Exactly.
Even I understand the comment to mean that the concieved baby should not be punished for the manner in which he/she was created,dont punish the baby for someone else's sins.
Just punish the victim and reward the r.apiist. Now I get it.
That's fine...but I don't see a problem in terminating it before it's even a baby
It would be aborted before it is considered a baby. After that, I agree.
When is that? That's where the discussion is.
A clump of cells that can't survive outside the womb? A lima bean sized thing that looks like it could turn out to be almost anything from a dolphin to a sloth? I think late term abortion is only ok for extreme emergencies, but really, if it's not even human yet it's crap to scream about its welfare
Markin-you said punishment,not me,and where do you get off saying I want to reward the rapist when I'm defending the right of the baby to survive abortion holocaust.
@howdy and;p;-a baby is a human being from the time of conception,you might be fooling yourself so you can proceed with child destruction but man's evolution never i ncluded abortion in the plan,not another crweature on earth aborts unplanned pregnancies,maybe MAN is the only true "animal" on earth.
ok but what if that mother ends up punishing the child because they happen to look like the rapist, and the mother can deal with it because it is a constant reminder of a horrible personal violation. Now this child has to have a mother that hates it. Real Family Values at work here.
The r.apist is being rewarded with a child that he has some rights to in 30 states. Either way he wins life's biggest accomplishment. A child.
People dream of meeting someone they love and making a child together. You would have that happen by coercion at the choice of the ra.pist. Even if it is a 13 year old girl, by her own father.
Also, it is simply your uninformed opinion that a fertilized egg is a person. There is nothing about a zygote or fetus that makes it a person.
You have simply decided to give more rights to a bunch of cells without a functioning brain than to all the women in our country.
God is the greatest abortionist ever anyway since almost half of all fertilized eggs never make it past being a fetus. Been to any miscarriage funerals lately? Why not?
@55 – oh, ok. Sure. Then I scrambled two chickens this morning for breakfast, you loony. And I ate a whole field of sunflowers for a snack.
"not another crweature on earth aborts unplanned pregnancies"
actually i dont think that is true, maybe not 'unplanned' as animals have no such concept, but some animals do indeed practise abortion.
However, there is also no concept in the animal world of r ape or r apists so following your argument to its logical conclusion we must therefore also remove the concept of r ape and no longer prosecute r apists.
@markin and ;p;-you two guys are real losers
You've come a long way, baby, when you kill your own. The ultimate in bullyin'. Where's mom and ye olde apple pie?
Phoenix police chaplain John South, is an interesting person. Im not sure what his qualitfications are. But to say he keeps his personal views to himself ,while being a chaplin are interesting.
What is he a chaplin of? Not Christ. He does not have any faith or knowledge of Our Heavenly father. With such doubt and confusion.
there is evil in this world, brought on by the ever increasing loss of faith.
I serve Christ and my thoughts are irrelevant to God. so long as they line up with his. God permits evil to those who deny him.
Evil occurs to those who deny God, you have no protection when you are of this world.
If you have faith and believe in God then you know God with your faith can help the 12 year old girl. You know that Christ will heal her body and soul.
If you prefer to sit there and riducule your creator, you might find yourself joining the millions on Earth who lie in dispair.
Renew your mind in a way that lines up with the word of God. Turn away from sin and flesh and find your spirit.
be a blessing to those in need and watch Christ Glorify the father before your eyes.
the Just shall live by faith. Hallelujah!
people like yourself honestly scare me. Im guessing the devil buried all those neanderthal and dinosaur bones too?
Craaaaaaazy! Take your meds pls.
Sean, you must be new to Christianity...
Good tings do happen to bad people. There is even a whole book in the Bible about it: Job.
God does not will evil to happen to us. He does; however, watch closely to how we react when evil does happen to us.
What about the nun's who were slaughtered down in central America? Did they not have faith? Were they not trying to spread the word? Did evil happen to them? Yes, evil things do happen to to people who have faith and accept God, not just ones who deny God.
I wonder what Jesus was saying when he said you donot know my father, i wonder how a god who said do not kiII sent his sprit upon Samson and slew innocent people for their clohes to pay off a bet, i wonder why the angel who wrestled with abramham had to stop when the sun came up, i wonder why the Romans tried so hard to stop the religion of Jesus then took it over and made it their own, i wonder how christians can say we believe then judge and condem others for their lifestyles, i wonder just who is the god of the old testament who says one thing and does other things(do not kiII unless in my name), i wonder how churches have their rules for years then all of a sudden god changes his mind and change their rules to fit the times. Just some of the things i wonder about
@Sean-dont let these folks bother you,they are just trying to convince themselves that their sins against children aren't sins so to ease their conscious
Shame your mama did not terminate you. She should have. We have enough hate in this world as it is. Thank the lord stupidity is not sin; you’ll be dead by now.
@fiftyfive55 Holier than thow is a one way morality
i think your shallow faith isn't based in reality
you dont like how we live?
we're simple and obscene?
WHY ARE YOU JUDGING ME!
@Sean-dont let these folks bother you,they are just trying to convince themselves that their sins against children aren't sins so to ease their conscious"
so his condemning a chaplain is ok but people having a go at sean isnt? way to pick and choose.
Or maybe the chaplain is being strategic. He knows that being outspoken on this subject will only drive people away. I think you could learn from him.