Republican U.S. Senate candidate Richard Mourdock started a firestorm of controversy during a debate in Indiana Tuesday when he said pregnancies from rape are “something that God intended to happen.”
When rotten theology goes political, there is more than just politics involved. When a politician makes pronouncements for political gain, they end up messing with how people make meaning out suffering. It is certain to come back to bite them.
Wayne Drash at CNN interviewed clergy, chaplains and theologians for his report: :
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?…[A] 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.”
The Rev. Canon Susan Russell, writing in the Huffington Post, framed the question in terms of the political right of individual to believe and for the government not to create laws based on narrow religious precepts:
There are many things at stake in this presidential election, but choosing between faith and freedom is not one of them. Protecting the freedom of others to believe what they choose to believe about what “God intends” protects not only our own freedom to believe what “God intends” but defends our democracy from the very real threat of theocracy embodied in the policies of candidates like Richard Mourdock. And that is a battle worth fighting — no matter what you believe or don’t believe about God!