If Only Mourdock Were Rare

I wish that what Indiana GOP Senate candidate Richard Mourdock said this week, that pregnancy as a result of rape is “something that God intended to happen,” was so rare and out of the ordinary that I had to write something new in order to respond thoughtfully to it.

It’s not.

Here’s some of what I wrote on this blog after Todd Akin suggested there was such a thing as “legitimate rape” and note that it wasn’t new even then:

In June, I wrote the following in a longer piece over at TheReligiousLeft.org:

“The GOP war on women is entirely about protecting male power.  Specifically, the power of white Christian men to create and control life as well as prevent women from exercising power.  

Protecting male power to create and control life (ala the classic Monty Python song “every sperm is sacred!”) is most egregiously illustrated by the fact that criminalizing abortion and making contraception inaccessible and illegal protects the power of even a male rapist to determine that life begins.  Without safe and legal contraceptive options and morning-after back-up, without access to safe and legal abortion, life begins when any man and his seed says it does.  Even the rapist.

We need to name those waging this war, those whose power is in fact being protected:  the male politician, the male husband, the male sperm-producer, the male rapist, the male god.”

Sally Steenland, Director of the Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative at the Center for American Progress, wrote the following over at ThinkProgress on Wednesday:

“Mourdock’s views are harsh and extremist — and they represent an attempt to impose his unforgiving theological views on millions of Americans who hold very different beliefs. Religious leaders, including clergy and faith experts at CAP’s Faith and Reproductive Justice Institute, are weighing in to condemn his views.”

Steenland goes on to quote six clergy and faith leaders, responding to this, including me.  Do check out these compassionate and thoughtful people’s words.

Here’s what else is interesting about this.  In a response to ThinkProgress’s tweet of this piece, @IN3BlueHorizon, the Twitter feed for Democrats in Indiana’s Third District, asked, “Who are the faith leaders that do support #Mourdock insane ideas?”

If only there were none.

If only the Catholic bishops, Paul Ryan, and so many other conservative Christians didn’t in fact completely agree that there should be no access to safe and legal abortion for women who are raped.

If only they didn’t share a worldview that enabled Sharron Angle in Nevada to suggest that rape victims make lemonade out of the lemon that their rape is.

The last word on Mourdock here belongs to my friend and fellow participant in the Faith and Reproductive Justice Leadership Institute, Rev. Victoria Ferguson, chaplain at the Women’s Resources Center to End Domestic Violence, in Atlanta, as quoted in Steenland’s piece:

“This statement has nothing to do with God but everything to do with acquiring a dangerous controlling grip on the lives and decisions of women.”

 Picture via

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About Caryn Riswold

Caryn D. Riswold is a feminist theologian in the Lutheran tradition. She is Professor of Religion and also teaches Gender and Women’s Studies at Illinois College in Jacksonville, Illinois, where she has worked for over a decade teaching undergraduates to think critically and creatively about religion. She earned her Ph.D. and Th.M. from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, holds a master’s degree from the Claremont School of Theology, and received her B.A. from Augustana College in her childhood hometown of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.


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