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. slk

    so.........if one goes with this idiot senators belief then he will not mind when ALL the rapist are let out of jail. no need to lock them up and then they will all be told to go to this mans area.
    Does he have a wife?
    Does he have a child? Is that child female?
    He wont' mind will he? Not a problem. I am sure God will have blessed whatever takes place. NOT !!!!!!!!!!
    God does not condone this.
    Who is this person? How did he get into the senate? Who paid his way?
    What level was his education?

    October 25, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
  2. Anybody know how to read?

    The atheists can relax. Nobody can bring back the country for Jesus. History has never worked that way. 'Psa 2:1-2 Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, [saying],'.........I don't see republic there. You couldn't keep it.

    October 25, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      That was helpful. ?

      October 25, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • Sane Person

      It's hard to relax when the people who run the world are taking advice from their imaginary friends, especially when they believe in a coming apocalypse and have their fingers on the button ready to start firing nukes at each other!!!!! It's enough to drive you crazy!!!

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

      You're quoting scripture to put me at ease? I don't think you understand how this works.

      October 25, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
  3. demo Joseph


    October 25, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • Data1000

      This might surprise you, but yes, I already knew that.

      October 25, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
  4. K Hill

    Why are all these old men making decisions for women's rights. It really is none of their business. I'm sure if this were a man's issue, all this non-sense would stop...... absolutly incrediable.

    October 25, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • Anybody know how to read?

      Exactly right. Just like God the Father is nobody, same for the fathers, ya little antichrist.

      October 25, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
  5. Sane Person

    If every pregnancy is god's will, including those from rapists, then by logic the raape was god's will and the rapist cannot be held morally accountable as he was just fulfilling god's will. This is the logical fallacy that you face when you believe everything is god's will.

    October 25, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • Sane Person

      Oh, and another thing.. god doesn't exist. At least not in the biblical sense.

      October 25, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • The Lamb That Laid Down On Broadway

      You will burn in the fires of hell unless you give your soul to Godzilla!

      October 25, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • OTOH

      "God's" will causes more failed embryo implantations and abortions and still-births than any act of man.

      Otoh, medical science has facilitated pregnancy and has saved countless threatened miscarriages and premies, and even has repaired problems with fetuses in utero. They must be thwarting "God's" will, eh?

      October 25, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • OTOH

      p.s. We are on our own here, folks, and we need to make it the best world that we can.

      October 25, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
  6. palintwit

    Just think... if Sarah Palin's mother had swallowed or preferred anal there would probably be no Sarah Palin.

    October 25, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
  7. rtr

    I now understand why Ted Bundy was a Republican

    October 25, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
  8. Data1000

    In his defense, the bible does say that rapists should marry their victims. (Deuteronomy 22:28-29 NLT) says
    If a man is caught in the act of raping a young woman who is not engaged, he must pay fifty pieces of silver to her father. Then he must marry the young woman because he violated her, and he will never be allowed to divorce her.

    October 25, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • therealpeace2all


      Are you being serious or sarcastic ?

      Or... seriously sarcastic ?


      October 25, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Harry Potter says there is a platform between platforms 9 and 10 in King's Cross, London.

      October 25, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • me

      Two U.S. troops in Afghanistan were killed after an individual wearing an Afghan National Police uniform turned his weapon on them, officials said Thursday.

      Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2012/10/25/2-us-troops-killed-in-afghan-insider-attack/?test=latestnews#ixzz2AL0MBXPz

      October 25, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • Data1000

      @Realpeace2all, I was just trying to show how ridiculous it is to use bible verses as guidelines in the 21st century.

      October 25, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • AB

      And, my, what a lucky woman she would be! and eversograteful that her husband/rapist couldn't divorce her.

      October 25, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • therealpeace2all


      No problem, brother... just checking. And yes... I agree with you.


      October 25, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • Poltergiest

      Within the context of that time, marriage was not about love, it was a contract for exchanging daughters and expanding the family. A woman who lost her virginity before marriage was unmarriable. If the woman was married, the man was killed. Women hardly ever had a say about who they married. B.C. living sucked in general.

      October 25, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • cedar rapids


      Within the context of that time, marriage was not about love, it was a contract for exchanging daughters and expanding the family. A woman who lost her virginity before marriage was unmarriable. If the woman was married, the man was killed. Women hardly ever had a say about who they married. B.C. living sucked in general."

      so why didnt god take the opportunity to put in the bible....oh by the way, women are not property, they are your equals, etc etc.

      October 25, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  9. Sane Person

    My comments aren't working

    October 25, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • Sane Person

      Now they are

      October 25, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • palintwit


      October 25, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • fred

      Looks like just provided me as much new information as I received from the last debate

      October 25, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • fred

      ok, so say something we all waiting.

      October 25, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
  10. rtr

    I wonder why Jesus said to turn the other cheek and god said an eye for an eye?

    October 25, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      I never realized how godlike Romney is!!!!! That is just like him. Wow. Vote Romney.

      October 25, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • featherknife

      Okay....let me splain it tooya. Jebus is god, but god is not jebus. God got mad because the first two people he created (out of dirt) ate an apple. He put a hex on every human because of that, because he is picky about produce. He pretended to have a son so that he could come to earth and die for our disobedience, even though he can't really die, and then forgive everyone for the apple thing. But only if we all pretend that he exists even though he has given us no real reason to believe that. He is a loving god. Everyone who doesnt say the magic words....Jebus is my savior......will burn forever in a lake of fire that he created, supervised by the devil, who he created, and thats that. If you don't believe me, just look it up in the bible, but you better b e in the correct religion, and have some guy who knows what god thinks interpret it correctly for you, or else you will burn forever in......you know. Simple! Seeya in hebbentown.

      October 25, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
  11. Rational Libertarian

    I literally can't insert the article t.itle (plus the word t.itle) into my comment. C'mon CNN, this is getting ridiculous.

    October 25, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      That would be far to ti.tillating!

      October 25, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • Athy

      Do it like this, title.

      October 25, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
  12. Kathy

    Hey GOP MEN, God loves me and quit telling me what I can and can't do with MY OWN body!

    October 25, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • therealpeace2all


      And just to be clear... it's 'not' 'just' the GOP men that are so ridiculously stupid. There are is a multi tude of GOP 'women' that believe the same things as well.


      October 25, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      The GOP doesn't have a monopoly over retardation, although they're certainly the front runners.

      October 25, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • jesus christ

      Kathy the problem is your religion: Taken from another post: (Deuteronomy 22:28-29 NLT) says
      If a man is caught in the act of raping a young woman who is not engaged, he must pay fifty pieces of silver to her father. Then he must marry the young woman because he violated her, and he will never be allowed to divorce her.

      October 25, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
  13. Noro lim Asfaloth!

    Didja all know that until ALL of the Founding Fathers were dead, early ca 1830's, the Federal government ALWAYS was in session on Christmas day if it was a regular work day, to avoid the appearance of favoring a religion? Once the FF's were dead, the religiotards took over and started doing their thing. BUT, they couldn't do it while the FF's were alive cuz the FF's KNEW better and didn't cowtow to that mania. Whatever happened to running the show the way FF's intended? Teagaggers would want to lynch the Founding Fathers, y'know? Time to stop with the fantasy superst itions in our elected officials. I can't wait to vote for an avowed atheist.

    October 25, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • ME II

      Not that it matters, but you are incorrect apparently.

      "So how many times did the House and Senate meet on Christmas Day during the first 68 years of Congress?
      Once each.
      The Senate assembled and immediately adjourned on Christmas Day in 1797; the House met on Christmas in 1802."

      October 25, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • Noro lim Asfaloth!

      @ ME II
      Thanks for the info! Since that's a statistical anomaly it kinda makes my point more than refutes it, but I sit corrected. I like being corrected, it means others are thinking too. Yay!

      October 25, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • Noro lim Asfaloth!

      Ooops, apparently I am NOT thinking! Sorry bout that I retract my last statement and will now do more research...thanks again!

      October 25, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  14. rtr

    When we allow laws to be made from religion we are no better than the terroists, we have to stop it now or we will be living under taIiban rule. Jesus said this is not his kingdom so the religious people need to stop trying to make it his.

    October 25, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • What

      He is an American taIiban. Stop right here in your own country, and leave other alone

      October 25, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
  15. paul

    Has anyone noticed that all of the articles in the CNN election center are incindiary and are all pro Obama. How do they really call themselves a news organization. Perhaps they should be transparent and refer to themselves as a PAC for the DNC.

    October 25, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • drinker75

      Most newspapers have always aligned themselves with a particular candidate and openly endorsed their chosen candidate. Nothing new here.

      October 25, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Has anyone noticed that the articles on Fox News are all pro-Rebublican?

      There is no law stating that the fourth estate is free of perception bias and it's not really possible. Fox's blatent role as the trumpet of the right creates a vacuum on the left that other news agencies fill.

      October 25, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • rtr

      CNN – Obama FOX – Romney one feeds the other. The problem with America isn't the people it is the "Party" the needs of the party has become more important than the needs of America. The party wants and needs a world order they have sold out Americans.

      October 25, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • james

      Yes you are correct CNN has slid way over to the seft though they would not admit it. Conversely FOX news is way over to the right. Unfortunatelly where do you go for accurate political news?

      October 25, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • therealpeace2all


      You can listen to all of it and then... 'fact check' the areas that you are concerned about.


      October 25, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • What

      Surprise huh???? the same way with GOP

      October 25, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • thornbro

      Right", My kingdom is not of this world".This world is a horrible place. A father raping his daughter.HE also said, "Let anyone among you without sin cast the first stone."

      October 25, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      Have you ever notices that the right wing-nuts in this country are completely incapable of seeing all the articles that are critical and unflattering of Obama from any news source other than Fox. It seems they have bought into the B S line that the media is a liberal conspiracy.
      There may well be a slight bias at CNN, but it is VERY slight. They only look left by comparison to the extreme right-wing FOX. Somke people are so far right that anythin normal seems left-wing to them. Its all relative. To the far left, CNN is anti-Obama.

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

      BTW, your best bet is the BBC if you want to remove the most bias.

      October 25, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
  16. pugilist1

    Whatever arguments are made, Mourdock is deranged, and if the people of Indiana elect him, they lose my respect.

    October 25, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
  17. Rajan

    This is not God's doing. All good & bad that each living-being expereinces is because of karmas/deeds from his or her past life/lives. The true Divine-Being (call it God or whatever) does nothing because he is accomplished and uneffected. Doership or any action only occurs when one is unaccomplished and unsatisfied. If you are free from desires then you should also be free from actions and therefore, actionless.
    If there is such thing as "eternal afterlife", then in order for a person to experience that eternal afterlife, his own Soul must be eternal (neither created nor destroyed) to experience that eternal after-life. Thus, the Divine-Being(s) is not the Creator or Doer of anything. Only the Knower of everything.

    October 25, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • Data1000

      Ok, I guess I'll just have to take your word for it.

      October 25, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • Noro lim Asfaloth!

      Sorry Rajan, that's also crap. No afterlives, no beforelives, no karma from past actions etc, that's also just a fantasy.

      I will say that I think there is value in meditation since if you meditate and can get all thoughts quieted until the only sound/thing in your mind is "om", it's a calmative. If you then remove "om" do you know what you are left with? You! Without the stories that you think make "you". So, that's kinda cool. Calming.

      But no, using past-lives/karma is another excuse for actions you wouldn't make without superst ition as the reason for those actions. Rational, free thought is better for humanity. Remove the hocus pocus cuz it's all lies.

      October 25, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
  18. Patricksday

    Maybe if you get Cancer its Gods will and you should live with it. Or you can use the brain God gave you to make those decisions on your health on your own. If men got Pregnant the laws would be much more balanced. Lets see Ron Paul's son carry a rapist baby or a baby from a relative.

    October 25, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  19. Robert G. Shircliff

    How can we screen these people before it gets this late in an election.

    October 25, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  20. elle2

    " I have a solution that might work for everyone"...Truth, that sounds like the original American way of doing things...hmmm...kinda like "For the People and By the People". By God, I think you've got it !...pun intended, People.

    October 25, 2012 at 2:26 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.