I am about as far from the Christian Right as you can get, religiously and politically, and it’s not always apparent how closely that religious fervor is related to what I think of as the most cruel and stupid of the beliefs that the right-wing clings to.
Todd Akin, current representative and Senate nominee, said one of the most offensively stupid things I’ve ever heard. Admittedly, I am as far from him on the abortion debate as one can get, but I do have some sympathy for people who think abortion is murder without exception. I happen to think that it doesn’t matter whether it is murder or not — in all other circumstances, people have the right to use any means necessary to protect their own body from unwanted invaders and harm, I don’t see pregnancy as different.
Regardless, his scientifically illiterate justification for allowing no exceptions for rape is rather astonishing:
People always try to make that one of those things, ‘Oh, how do you slice this particularly tough sort of ethical question.’ It seems to me, first of all, what I understand from doctors is that’s really where—if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.
Todd Akin’s absurd claim that people who are “legitimately” raped can’t get pregnant is symptomatic of the larger problem of the Christian Right. When you think that there is an all-powerful God overlooking everything, it’s difficult to cope with the cognitive dissonance that bad things happen to good people and that most solutions to problems are imperfect.
The problem of evil in the world is nothing new, but it is much easier to ignore if you blame all bad things on bad actions on the part of victims rather than societal problems or true injustice. It would be too cruel for someone to get pregnant from a rape, so she must have not been raped, not really raped, only kind of raped. They aren’t saying these things to justify their positions, they genuinely believe them because not to would be so difficult to all of their other beliefs.
There can’t be systematic injustice — God wouldn’t allow it, so women and black people and poor people are all simply reaping what they’ve sewn or playing their appropriate role, not being hurt by unnecessary prejudice and cruelty. Women can’t be raped, they are always asking for it. People on welfare must be bad people, that’s why they deserve to be poor. They are different from us. That’s why when Rush Limbaugh takes government handouts, it is OK, because he’s really a good person, but when some black welfare queen takes it, it is not OK, because she’s really a bad person. Limbaugh doing drugs is someone who needs counseling, inner city kids doing drugs are criminals. Why should there be social safety nets for bad people? Because in the mind of a Christian, the world can be broken into the good people and the bad people. Somehow they miss that almost everyone is just a people people, not particularly good or bad.
To be a Christian, you must believe that God is all-powerful and good, and so you’re forced to believe that people have asked for their bad fates and that solutions to problems are simple, otherwise you have to start questioning the God hypothesis and admitting that the responsibility for making to world a better place for your fellow man is yours.