One can question whether such sentiments would be appropriate, or welcome. That would obviously depend on the victim and her own personal religious beliefs. But to posit the notion that believing in a Calvinist doctrine of a providential God should disqualify someone from holding office is absurd. And that seems to be the dishonest line of attack being used from Obama on down. This was not a Todd Akin moment. Mourdock did not seek to define rape, but rather the sacredness of life — all life, regardless of how it originated. One would think even someone drunk with partisanship would understand that.
The essence of religious monotheism is that everything comes from one God, which naturally leaves humans befuddled when “Bad things happen to good people.” The faithful nevertheless persevere in their faith, believing that God is unknowable to human minds. This is the essence, for example, of the Book of Job, which I felt compelled to reread this afternoon. (It is a deeply disturbing story precisely because it raises these fundamental issues about the nature of God, good and evil, etc.)
It is fundamental to Christian thought that God only intends the best for us, regardless of what evil is perpetrated against us. One is reminded of the aftermath of 9/11 when liberals and conservatives alike were saying that something good must come out of this evil. One might even claim that this secular attitude, based on Protestant beliefs, is a distinctly American one. Our ability to rise above tragedy to create something new and wonderful has defined our country since colonial times. Surely there can be nothing controversial in this idea, regardless of whether you’re a believer or non-believer.
I happen to be a non-believer but found no trouble in recalling teachings from my youth that buttress Mr. Mourdock’s argument. The rank dishonesty of the attacks against him should be countered by anyone who values free and open debate about abortion or any other issue. Mourdock and many pro-life Christians who deny exceptions to abortion are not in the mainstream — even of the Republican Party. That may be more problematic for him than his comments on rape. But disallowing Mourdock’s point of view by twisting his words into a disgraceful political attack that puts words in his mouth and sentiments in his heart that aren’t there is despicable — and it should stop.