Get away with Mourdock
The Senate election in Indiana reveals candidates’ problematic tendency to let their religious beliefs determine their stances on policy
Richard Mourdock, the Indiana Republican Senate candidate, is at the forefront of yet another controversial statement about rape and abortion, following in the footsteps of fellow congressional candidates Todd Akin and Joe Walsh. According to Mourdock, abortion should not be allowed in the case of impregnation by rape because he believes “even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.” Mourdock is against abortion in every instance, and though his stance is not uncommon by today’s standards, his comments about the will of God have brought much negative press.
Mourdock’s opponent, Democrat Joe Donnelly, is also pro-life, but supports the choice for abortion in cases of rape and incest. In response to Mourdock’s comment, Donnelly replied, “The God I believe in and the God I know most Hoosiers believe in, does not intend for rape to happen, ever.” On the surface, Mourdock’s claim may seem like it is more contentious than Donnelly’s. When really considered, though, Mourdock’s comments were just an accurate representation of his religious holdings and personal beliefs. Similarly, Donnelly’s comments also reflected his personal views. What should be noted is that both Mourdock and Donnelly’s comments reflect their respectively unsupported assumptions about God and highlight an unfortunate tendency for religious statements to carry political weight.
Mourdock’s comments were no doubt considered more controversial because he attempted to rationalize a reason as to why rape may occur. But was that really such a radical thing for him to do? Mourdock’s personal beliefs, like most Americans’, involve God. Why, then, if there is a God that ordains everything that will happen, should a pregnancy from rape not fall under God’s command?
Mourdock has since attempted to qualify his idea that rape could be something planned by God. Such a decision serves to make his views even more illogical. Mourdock went from the idea that God has control over everything to the idea that only good things are God’s doing. What is the cause behind tragedies like rape, then, if God is not responsible? It seems ridiculous to assert that God was not responsible for rape — a bad thing — but was the reason for the child — a good thing — that resulted. Nevertheless, Donnelly’s religious views are no less ridiculous than Mourdock’s, as they are equally unfounded in evidence.
The convenient thing about expressions of faith in politics is that the person asserting a particular view does not need to back it up with any proof. Donnelly attempted to gain voters by claiming that his God and the God that “most Hoosiers believe in” never wants rape to occur. What he really exhibited, however, was how absurd it is when someone claims to know God’s intentions. Not only that, but Donnelly somehow knew how God relates directly to most Hoosiers. Of course, religion is deeply personal to many people, and even Christians within the same denomination can have different beliefs about what God means to them. Despite that, Donnelly knows exactly what God has planned both for him and for a majority of Indiana’s population. In actuality, that claim is just as ridiculous as Mourdock’s.
Furthermore, Donnelly claimed that he is pro-life but that “[Mourdock’s comment] is not about pro-life.” In fact, it would seem that Mourdock’s position on abortion is the most pro-life stance possible. Since both Mourdock and Donnelly identify as pro-life, they most likely agree that life begins at conception. Thus, it is interesting that Donnelly is against abortion in some instances, but not in all cases. What this implies is that Donnelly views life conceived via rape to be less worthy than life created through intended and consensual conception. If Donnelly believes that abortion is really a violation of the sanctity of life, he should oppose it in all cases. Fortunately for Donnelly, his views on abortion are intertwined with his religious views, and therefore require less logic or reason to be supported.
The real problem highlighted by the Indiana Senate race is that a candidate’s religious views can be used for political gain. It should make no difference what a candidate’s personal religious values are; religion has no place in politics. It is disturbing that some religious statements are considered more legitimate than others. They are all equally untrustworthy. Basing and rationalizing decisions on something as subjective and widely disputed as religious interpretation has little place in political discourse.
Alex Yahanda is a senior associate editor for The Cavalier Daily. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.