Indiana’s Republican Senate Candidate: Your Rape Was a Part of God’s Plan

Republican candidates should have this figured out by now: When someone asks them about rape, even if they’re pro-life, they should say “Rape bad. Jobs good.”

No one told Richard Mourdock the strategy. Instead, Todd Akin must have slipped him a page from his own playbook.

The Indiana Republican is in a tight race where he’s the slight favorite, but he may have just thrown the lead away thanks to a comment he made in tonight’s debate against Democrat Joe Donnelly (who is also pro-life):

“You know, this is that issue that every candidate for federal, or even state office, faces. And I, too, certainly stand for life. I know there are some who disagree, and I respect their point of view. But I believe that life begins at conception. The only exception I have, to have an abortion, is in that case of the life of the mother. I’ve struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God. And… even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.

I’m sure rape victims everywhere are smiling about God’s gift to them.

Church/state separation isn’t just good policy. It’s good strategy. No one gives a shit what your religious beliefs are when they’re experiencing tragedy.

For Mourdock to think anyone would feel better about his radical position on rape because he cushioned it with the word “God” is astonishing. He’s not just out of touch with his electorate. He’s out of touch with women.

How can we trust a Senator to create and support policies that will help rape victims when he considers it a part of God’s plan?

We can’t.

Donnelly, the Democrat, is pro-life. Still, he would support abortions in the cases of rape, incest, and to save a mother’s life. It’s too narrow of a position and it would warrant far more scrutiny… if only his opponent’s position wasn’t so much worse.

Mourdock thinks that God’s blueprint for our lives includes rape and incest. In a rational world, the fact that he thinks God has a blueprint for us at all would disqualify him in the minds of voters. Even in America, though, his complete lack of compassion and understanding for people who go through those events — suggesting that they should bear their rapists’ babies — ought to do the same.

***Update***: Mourdock is already trying to backtrack:

“Are you trying to suggest that somehow I think God ordained or pre-ordained rape? No, I don’t think that anyone could suggest that. That’s a sick, twisted — no, that’s not even close to what I said,” Mourdock said.

“It is a fundamental part of my faith that God gives us life. God determines when life begins,” he said. “I believe in an almighty God who makes those calls…There are some things in life that are above my pay grade.”

It is sick and twisted… and it’s precisely what Mourdock said. He still says it! “God determines when life begins” suggests that it doesn’t matter if you got pregnant on purpose or against your will.

Mourdock didn’t disavow his comments at all. He’s just angry that people are shining a spotlight on them.

Donnelly, on the other hand, gave a far better response:

“Rape is a horrible crisis, an unspeakable crime, and I can’t believe that my God, or any God, would intend it to happen,” he said afterward. “What Mr. Mourdock said is shocking, and it is stunning that he would be so disrespectful to survivors of rape.”

May the polls swing in the other direction now…

***Update***: This is several months old, but it’s also worth paying attention to if, like me, this race has been off your radar. After Mourdock won the primary, he went on TV and talked about the need for more partisanship. Not bipartisanship. He has no desire to work with members from the Democratic Party. (via @Spa_yediMonster)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • http://atheistlutheran.blogspot.com/ MargueriteF

    He later “clarified” thusly: “‘Are you trying to suggest somehow that God preordained rape, no I don’t think that,’ Mourdock said. ‘Anyone who would suggest that is just sick and twisted. No, that’s not even close to what I said.’”

    It’s unclear to me how “God intended it to happen” is different from “God preordained rape.” But apparently it makes more sense in his head *shrugs*.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

    WOW!!! Just fucking WOW!!!

  • Miss_Beara

    1. that it is something that God intended to happen.

    2. No, I don’t think that anyone could suggest that. That’s a sick, twisted — no, that’s not even close to what I said.

    Sorry, that is exactly what you said. Now join Akin, Ryan and all of the other scumbags to your caves. 

    His name sounds familiar. I am sure he did or said some other stupid thing this year.

    • http://atheistlutheran.blogspot.com/ MargueriteF

      “Anyone who would suggest that is just sick and twisted.”

      What he’s failing to get is that this is exactly why people are upset.

    • Dorium’s Head

      If by “stupid thing” you mean weaseling his way to a primary victory over a sitting Republican US Senator who over his last term in office:

      *Opposed Bush’s execution of the war in Iraq.
      *Influenced the US policy toward nuclear nonproliferation
      *Voiced support of the DREAM act
      *Voted in support of Justices Sotomayor and Kagan

      Then yes, Richard Mourdock did a very stupid thing.

      EDIT: To be clear, I didn’t mean this sarcastically. I’m all sorts of angry that Lugar isn’t in the running for Senate this November. Better to be defeated by a Democrat in November than to lose the primary to this right-winger and risk Mourdock’s election to Senate.

      EDIT AGAIN: I’m planning on voting for Donnelly, and have been this whole time. But I’d much rather he be running against a semi-reasonable Republican, since Indiana’s currently having a hard right turn.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Remind me again why anybody’s opinion but mine and my doctor’s matters? It’s MY BODY. 

    Whether you think it’s a life or not, I am in no way obligated to endanger myself to support it for 10 months if I don’t want to!

    • C Peterson

      If you believe that human life is of equal value at all stages of development (as these people do), their position is reasonable and consistent. If you believe what they believe, your body and your intent is secondary to the fetus in most cases. I can’t find rational grounds to argue with that.

      Ultimately, this is a philosophical question, not a matter of fact. No advance in knowledge can change that. So it comes down to the ethos of society as a whole, and the idea that human life is “sacred” from conception is not close to a consensus view. And that is the proper way to argue in support of access to abortion. It should be seen as unethical to restrict the rights of a person in the absence of a societal consensus placing greater rights on a fetus. Restricting any rights without societal consensus should be seen as wrong.

      • David

        But Mourdock also said “God determines when life begins”. So God sent the rapist so all is alright with the world?

        • C Peterson

          Not in my world. But his view is internally consistent, so I can’t fault him that, even if I disagree. Obviously, I’d never vote for somebody with views that differ so radically from my own.

      • http://profiles.google.com/julielada Julie Lada

        But their position isn’t internally consistent because the secondary nature of a person’s rights faced with the life of another person doesn’t carry over to any situation other than pregnancy. They do not support mandatory kidney transplants or blood transfusions. They don’t even support mandatory taxation or charity in order to save lives. The only instance in which they support taking away someone’s right to individual liberty in favor of life support to another human being is pregnancy. At that point it becomes very clear that it’s more about the value that they place on women than saving lives.

        • C Peterson

          I don’t think your examples reveal any inconsistency of position. Abortion represents an action which kills a fetus (a “person” in Mourdock’s world view). In the absence of action, the fetus lives. Mandatory transplants or blood transfusions describe actions required to save lives. Ethically, the situations are very different.

          If we want to examine Mourdock’s ethics for internal consistency, we’d be better off looking at his views on the death penalty, on the use of deadly force by police, or on how the military should be used. Like abortion, these all pose questions about assertive actions taking human lives. I don’t know what his views are in these areas, but I can guess…

          • http://profiles.google.com/julielada Julie Lada

            Only I don’t think your examples are more representative of a good analogy, because a fetus is a non-viable life on its own.  Conservatives may think that abortion is murder, but even they cannot argue the point that without the mother’s body the fetus cannot survive on its own. In the abortion scenario, their position would take away a woman’s bodily autonomy in order to sustain the life of another person who cannot survive without her.  Neither the death penalty nor deadly force fit into that set of circumstances.

            • C Peterson

              It doesn’t matter if the fetus is viable. If viability is the only concern, we might as well say that nobody should be on life support. So I don’t think you can make any sort of universal argument with respect to viability.

              Certainly, to me, viability is part of a good argument in favor of legal abortion. But it’s clearly a philosophical view, not a matter of fact, that viability is or is not important.

              I’ll stick by my examples, which are analogous to the various ethical problems posed by people on train tracks. Most people would consider forcing somebody to give up a kidney to be unethical, because an actual action is required. Similarly, abortion is a deliberate action, and is clearly unethical if you believe that a human being is a person from conception- something that can only hang on philosophical world view.

              It is not possible to settle the question of the ethicality of abortion. That choice depends on society, and clearly there is no consensus. What that leaves is the more proper discussion of the ethicality of restricting rights in the absence of consensus. This is where I think the dialog needs to be, not the ethics of abortion itself.

              • http://profiles.google.com/julielada Julie Lada

                 “It doesn’t matter if the fetus is viable. If viability is the only
                concern, we might as well say that nobody should be on life support.”

                And that’s where we disagree. I think that viability is a very real ethical concern when trying to form analogies between abortion and other life/death considerations.

                Your argument regarding life support is very overly simplistic – prognosis is often a consideration in life support decisions. In fact, the possibility of eventual partial/complete recovery is the major deciding factor in continuation of life support, lending more weight to the viability argument.

      • phantomreader42

         “If you believe that human life is of equal value at all stages of
        development (as these people do), their position is reasonable and
        consistent.

        But they DON’T believe that human life is of equal value at all stages of development.  They believe a fetus has infinite value even if it’s already dead, while an adult woman has zero value, and a baby that’s already been born has negligible value unless they can profit from it in some way. 

  • http://nwrickert.wordpress.com/ Neil Rickert

    Their own theology should tell them that when there is an abortion, that abortion is part of God’s plan.

    • http://twitter.com/arensb arensb

       It doesn’t work that way! Here, read these 3000 pages of C.S. Lewis and Aquinas, and then you’ll see why.
      [Shamelessly stolen from Jesus & Mo.]

    • http://profiles.google.com/emasters7 Elizabeth Hiatt

      I had a conversation along the lines of- if god intended for the pregnancy to happen, he clearly must have intended the act (rape) which caused the pregnancy to occur. It was explained to me by a Christian that you cannot use human logic when thinking of god (I’m glad we’ve  dispensed with that). Apparently, he cannot possibly cause bad things like rape or deadly car accidents, his plan only includes the good things that happen as a result like babies and organ donation. I’m still a little fuzzy on how he causes the good things without by definition causing the bad things, but I am human and logical, so… 

    • http://www.youtube.com/user/GodVlogger?feature=mhee GodVlogger (on YouTube)

      Yes, by their own theology not only are abortions part of God’s plan, it gets even worse. Aborting your unborn baby results in the baby going straight to heaven (whereas if it passes through the birth canal live then that’s when it gets the cooties of original sin?)…. 
      thus…. the best way to ensure that your offspring have ZERO chance of going to hell is to abort them before they are born. 

      A few months ago I did a video on this called “Do Aborted Babies Go To Heaven?” highlighting Kate Smurthwaite’s awesome show-stopper on a British TV show when a preacher on the show asserted that “theologically all aborted babies go to heaven” and she zinged him with the comeback point that “So we would be doing them a favor then by aborting them.”

      In some ways I pity the religious as they try to make sense of and justify their trains of thought which are just totally nonsensical and non-justifiable.

      Here was the video: 
      http://youtu.be/TPImdnG0E2w

  • http://www.amazon.com/dp/1475063970 James A. Lindsay

    In saner days, like five years ago, we literally could have pronounced that this man just ended his political career. It’s a shame that they’ve made it so that we’re not all yelling for it the moment this stuff passes their lips, along with the ‘apology tour’ they would have had to make in the following days.

  • Ida Know

    I live in Indiana, and I recently saw a campaign ad that said “Richard Mourdock: Hoosier values”.  My thought is, “Then we need to get better values.”

    I already intended to not vote for him, but now I’m even more sure.  What a douchenugget.

    • Reginald Selkirk

       Are you really going there? Are you going to apply “Hoosier daddy” to his comments on rape-induced pregnancy?

      • Ida Know

         Um, what?  Going where?  Where do you get “Hoosier daddy” from my comment?

        I have no idea what you are talking about.

        I was opposed to Mourdock before, and I’m even more opposed to him now that he has made his execrable position clearer.  I don’t see how I could have said that any more plainly.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    I believe in an almighty God who makes those calls…There are some things in life that are above my pay grade.

    I suppose that means there are some things that you are incapable of doing. Like honoring the public’s trust, or showing compassion and respect for women, or practicing intellectual honesty and integrity, or making clear statements that you don’t later try to weasel out of when people call you out for the lying, pandering, sexist hypocrite that you are.

    In fact, you’re overpaid now.

  • ortcutt

    Well, at least he didn’t argue that the rapist should pay the victim’s father 50 pieces of silver and then marry her.   

  • http://www.everydayintheparkwithgeorge.com/ Matt Eggler

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – conservative Christians are the Great Anchor holding back civilization.

    • Blacksheep

      I hear this a lot but I don’t think it’s at all accurate, I think it’s just an emotional response. How are the counntries that have very few conservative Christians doing? Is there a great society somewhere or great science coming from a nation that I haven’t heard of? I suppose you could look at China as a successful civilization not burdened by conservative christians, but many feel that they shouldn’t steel IP, make counterfit products, manipulate currency, and put dissedents in prison. There’s Scandinavia, but it’s not a fair comparison since the collective population is under 26 million people, Norway has tons of oil, etc. But even still, it’s not like civilization has made any quantum leaps there. Russia? That should serve as a perfect case study for a civilization that focused on science with absolutely no burden from conservative Christians. But that didn’t work at all! 

      • C Peterson

        I’d argue that western European civilization is substantially advanced over American civilization, at least as most humanists would see things. And I think a big part of that stems from the loss of religion as an important element in those societies.

        (Russia has never focused on science, and indeed, from an intellectual standpoint has had all the hallmarks of a conservative religious society over much of its modern existence- just not Christian.)

      • David

         Dear Blacksheep,

        I come from across the pond and can asure you that what Mourdock said is just jaw-dropping to me, and I am certain all my friends.

        If a politician in UK said such a think he would need to resign within hours; that may or may not be good – you can decide – but that you think that it is not that different over in Europe is remarkable.

        From our perspective it is remarkable that a man is running for president who has such extra-ordinary views on religion, i.e. a Mormon, whose God lives on Zolob. It is also unclear why this has not become THE major issue.

        How can the most powerful man on earth have views that are so out of line with main-line thinking and still be trusted to make rational decisions?

        Evangelical nearly majority Chritianity, death penalty, lack of social care, murder rate, rich-poor split, lack of univeersal health care etc. etc. mean that culturally we are split by the pond in a way that many Americans fail to grasp.

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/A37GL7VKR3W6ACSIZPH7EID3LI rlrose63

          I want to live where you live… your entire post makes total sense to this American.  I don’t understand it either.

        • Deven Kale

           Just for the sake of accuracy, the planet which the Mormon god is supposed to live on is actually called Kolob.

      • Reginald Selkirk

         All I can gather from Blacksheep’s comment is that he equates “civilization” with “great science.” Is there really no more appropriate standard by which to judge civilizations? And Russia “focused on science“? We”ll wait here while Blacksheep reads up on Lysenkoism.

      • Baal

         Blacksheep – consider the US States.  You can pick nearly any demographic statistic you like and it’s better in the blue States and worse in the red States.  Which States take more federal $$?  The red ones.  Which States have the highest teen pregnancy rates?  The red ones.  Which have the highest per capital income (and disposable income)?  The blue ones. 

        The policy difference that underlay the statistics are telling.  For the teen pregnancy one – abstinence only education is more common in red States and correlates with higher teen pregnancy rates.  That abstinence only model comes out of the conservative christian mindset.  These sorts of things are known and the conservative christian answers on public policy are pretty much backassward.

      • Pascale Laviolette

        Uhhh… anyone heard of Canada?

        • Reginald Selkirk

          Uhhh… anyone heard of Canada?

          No. So go back to your igloo and take your Bieber with you.

        • Tim

           “One nation under Canada” should be the US motto.

          or “Canadians are our control group”

      • smrnda

         The bulk of the Russian populace were backwards peasants, whoever ran the USSR was a tiny thin shell of educated folks and opportunistic politicians whose mindsets were probably very different from an average person. Look at the resurgence of the Russian Orthodox church – it’s obvious that idiotic peasant superstition never died out, and that the taste for it is still very strong.

        Overall, Western Europe, which has become pretty much the most secular place on earth, does way better than the US. As someone else said, the more religious parts of the US are doing worse than the less religious ones.

        Another good question is WHO is making all the big leaps? Christian intellectuals are laughable in most of the time, and fewer and fewer educated people are religious.

    • Willy Occam
  • loopsyel

    It’s like we don’t even have to try anymore.

  • Piet Puk

    Lets hope, for his sake, that noboby decides to  give him the gift of rape.

    • Baby_Raptor

      Wouldn’t matter if they did…He can’t get that “wonderful gift from god.” He’s male…He’ll never worry about pregnancy and forced birth. 

      • http://twitter.com/arensb arensb

         What if he got infected? Or do bacteria not count as new life? What about HeLa cells?

    • MariaO

      A Mary Stopes clinic has just opened in Belfast and the xians of both sorts like it – NOT. There have been several debates on BBC. In one a woman debated an older man with the attitude of “pat, pat on your head little misguided girl”. When she got enough she said:
      “If you don’t like abortions, don’t have one.”
      The guy was genuinely confused: “I don’t understand…” That was obviously a statement he in his complaisent certainty had never encountered before.

      Here is the whole debate:
      http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/northernireland/ethics/ethics_20121014-1054a.mp3

    • Antinomian

      I can hear the shekels jingling in their pockets..

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

    Excuse me, I’ll be in the Angry Dome, being angry.

  • sam

    May all Romney-voters become part of god’s plan very soon, preferably on election day.

    • Antinomian

      That’s the scary thing about these apocalyptics. In their fantasies, their god is on his way back to destroy our world and they believe he is coming soon.

      With that kind of thinking, not a one of them can have a long term vision for this country and world. They all believe that they are part of their god’s plan.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    That’s a really stupid argument against abortion, on several levels. Here’s one:
     If you believe in an omniscient, omnipotent God, a broken leg is also part of God’s plan. That doesn’t keep you from going to the doctor to have that broken leg fixed. Likewise, a God-planned rape pregnancy shouldn’t keep you from getting medical care, including emergency contraception and an abortion.

    • http://twitter.com/cr0sh Andrew Ayers

      Not only that, but that self-same medical care, emergency contraception, abortion, etc – every single little action, cause-and-effect – EVERYTHING – would have to be a part “God’s Plan”, if such a being existed, and was omniscient, and omnipotent. In other words, the concept of “free will” could not exist. Actually – I would tend to wonder whether such a being itself could have “free will”. The whole thing is absurd; I am honestly dumbfounded that there are supposed adults in positions of great power, put there by other supposed adults – who all believe this kind of nonsense to varying degrees. Boggles the mind!

  • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

    Not to criticize an omnipotent being, but his plan kind of sucks.   If I were in charge and had to come up with a plan, I would do things slightly differently.  You know, a little more cure-for-AIDS, and a little less, you know, rape.    But that’s just me.  I work in rational predictable ways, and not the mysterious ways of God.  .

  • Sue Blue

    What do you expect from people who believe that their God, in the form of a ghost, knocked up a teenage virgin living in a society where a lack of virginity and/or an illegitimate pregnancy could get her stoned to death?  These amoeba-brained patriarchs believe that a woman is nothing but a receptacle, incubator and household appliance you screw on the bed to get the housework done.  They are completely confused when a woman gets upset over what they consider to be her reason for existence and only natural function, no matter how the itty-bitty baby got in there.

  • kalimsaki

     I should say from Risalei Nur collection by Said Nursi (26.th word, p:478)

    Divine Determining and the power of choice are aspects of a belief pertaining to state and conscience which show the final limits of  belief; they are not theoretical and do not pertain to knowledge. That is to say, a believer attributes everything to Almighty God, even his actions and self, till finally the power of choice confronts him, so he cannot evade his obligation and responsibility. It tells him: “You are responsible and under obligation.” Then, so that he does not become proud at his good deeds and his achievements, Divine Determining confronts him, saying: “Know your limits; the one who does them is not you.” Yes, Divine Determining and the power of choice are at the final degrees of belief and Islam; the former has been included among the matters of belief to save the soul from pride, and the latter, to make it admit to its responsibility. Obdurate evil-commanding souls clinging to Divine Determining in order to clear themselves of the responsibility of the evils they have committed, and their becoming proud and conceited on account of the virtues bestowed on them and their relying on the power of choice, are actions totally opposed to the mystery of Divine Determining and wisdom of the power of choice; they are not matters pertaining to knowledge which might give rise to such actions.

    For ordinary people who have not progressed spiritually there may be occasions when Divine Determining is used, and these are calamities and disasters when it is the remedy for despair and grief. But it should not be used to justify rebellion and in matters of the future so that it becomes a cause of dissipation and idleness. That is to say, Divine Determining has not been included among the matters of belief to relieve people from their obligations and responsibility, but to save them from pride and conceit. While the power of choice has been included in order to be the source of evils, not to be the source of virtues, so that people become like the Pharaoh.

  • Sharon Hypatiia

    Is being murdered by a mugger also part of god’s plan and, therefore, killing him in self-defense, also wrong?
    Or is all this god’s plan stuff only for things that will never happen to to us people who aren’t women?

  • The Captain

    Once again the pro-choice crowed misses the bigger picture so as to scream over gotcha “rape” stupidity. Yes, what he said was stupid, but the bigger point is that his belief on when he thinks life begins comes from his religion. So it really does not matter if one wants an abortion in the case of rape, or the case of consensual sex, that’s his religious belief and as such he has no right to use the force of law to force others to practice his religion no matter what the circumstances.

    Just like every other stupid right wing comment, the pro-choice crowed is freaking out over abortion in cases of rape, but ignoring that it doesn’t matter if it’s rape or not, Mourdock’s reasons do not hold up for any case of abortion. Once again the nut job has managed to frame the debate.

  • Tim

    If God is all-powerful, then by definition rape is part of his plan.  So is all the other bad shit that happens.

    Either an all powerful god does not exist or he exists but he is an asshole and no moral person would worship him.

  • HughInAz

    So that explains why when God legitimately raped Mary, her uterus didn’t shut it down.

  • tutor

    Hey, why is this guy wrong for denying that his god planned for  Joe, Jack, Julie and Janet to be born, but didn’t plan for Jimmy to be born, because Jimmy was conceived as part of a rape?

    I guess we should tell rape victims that their god planned their friends to be born, but never planned them to be born. That’s called ‘liberal Christianity’.

    We can watch their faces crumble as they realise that their god never planned them to be born, because they were born as the result of a rape.

    • Deven Kale

      Who are you to claim to know the mind of “God”?

      • tutor

        I don’t. It is the people who claim that their god planned for Joe and Jimmy to be born, but did not plan Jack to be born, because he was born as part of a rape so was not part of God’s plans.


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