When Missouri representative Todd Akin commented honestly that he thought a woman’s reproductive system shuts down in the case of “legitimate rape,” the outcry from the Republican party was nothing short of stunning. Everyone who was anyone wanted his head, because that’s where his mouth is: Mitch McConnell, Sarah Palin, Christine O’Donnell, and of course, candidate Romney, and his younger-brother Handpuppe Paul Ryan.
None of these people disagree with Mr Akin. But Mr Akin spoiled their party. The idea was to run on economic issues, resuscitate the familiar once-lucky Reagan zinger (“Are you better off now than you were four years ago”), and see to the social and moral engineering repayment to the evangelical cohort that elected them later on.
That repayment would surely (or will) have included a bill to criminalize abortion in all cases, including rape and incest, and possibly even in the case of immediate endangerment to the mother. The Republicans know that there is no likelihood that the Supreme Court will revisit Roe v Wade anytime soon. And that’s a problem, especially for Catholics and Evangelicals.
But in this great and liberal democracy, there are other ways to get what you want. And the easiest way is leglislative action. It is unlikely that a Supreme Court of this complexion would find such an act of Congress unconstitutional. And it is certain that the evangelical-retro-Catholic-banking-gun-rights-and libertarian coalition that has been incubating like a wee antichrist since the 1980’s is now a fully formed person.
Too bad it could not have been aborted in its first trimester. The devil now walks among us.
It’s not that Mr Akin is merely stupid. It’s clear that he simply spilled the beans. It’s also clear that he represents a hideous, monstrous perversion of Christianity, one whose other heads are Mormonism, with its anti-contraception theology going back to the prophet Joseph Smith, Neoconservative Catholicism, which ranks the ‘right’ to life above belief in the Trinity, and fundagelical Christianity, which jumped on the anti-abortion bandwagon (it used to be the preserve of Roman Catholics) after 1972 and got louder in the 1980’s.
In the Republican monster that has been formed from this cross-fertilizing, we have at the center Mr Romney, a Mormon who has been a bishop of his church and who has five strapping boys to show for his theology. Paul Ryan, his wonkish marionette, is there for the Catholic traditionalist, rosary-saying crowd (not as ardent at Rick Santorum, who brought his wife’s miscarriage home in a bottle so that the kids might ‘get to know their brother’). And in Mr Akins, now both a knave and a fool for spilling the beans and refusing to clean them up and go home, the evangelical Jeremiah. The prophet is always the inconvenient one and Mr Akins is a prophet.
I haven’t seen much on the topic, but Mr Akins is a graduate of Covenant Theological Seminary of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (which later merged with the Reformed Presbyterian Church in North America to form Reformed Presbyterian Church-Evangelical Synod), who believed that their denomination was being infiltrated by liberal theology. Think Calvin. Now think of conservative Calvinism, and then of a movement that was to the right of that. That is Covenant Seminary.
The hydra that is now the Republican leadership thought that by chopping Mr Akins’s head off the beast would be saved and grow a new one. But that’s not likely. Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney and the platform committee of the RNC believe exactly what Mr Akin says he believes. Listeners blanched when Akins said he “had heard from doctors” that a woman’s body shuts down during a rape, thus explaining why “so few rape victims become pregannt.” But the expert whose opinion he was thinking of, Dr Jack C. Willke, wrote in 1992 that the emotional traumas suffered by a woman in an assault rape “can radically upset her possibility of ovulation, fertilization, implantation and even nurturing of a pregnancy.” By his calculations “assault” rape pregnancy is extremely rare at about four cases per state per year. Statistics are fugitive however because he does not adjust for illegitimate rape cases or women who are only partly traumatized.
Mitt Romney’s 2007 campaign embraced Willke as “an important surrogate for Governor Romney’s pro-life and pro-family agenda”, and Romney expressed his pride to “have the support of a man who has meant so much to the pro-life movement in our country.” Akins’s views cannot have been a surprise to him. They cannot have been a surprise to Paul Ryan, who co-sponsored legislation with Akin for a complete ban on therapeutic and voluntary abortion, in all cases. It cannot have been a surprise to the Platform Committee of the RNC, which even while the story flew around the internet, was setting Mr Akins’s policy in stone–indeed, even while the amazingly spongey Mr Romney was declaring that his views are “not those of Congressman Akins.” What was a surprise is that Mr Akins was honest: he let the world know what was on his mind, and in so doing let everyone in on Mitt Romney’s and Paul Ryan’s medieval understanding of sex and gender.
But as we have come to expect of Mr Romney–of any Republican politician in this monstrous new form–what would you want him to do–tell the truth? Give it to the American people straight? Or hide behind the curtain of job-creation and economic flat-lining and save the surprises until after November, when along with new-old social and ethical doctrines, they can reestablish the failed economic theories of the Bush regime. This is not the argument Romney wanted. All the more reason not to let him escape from it by chopping off only one of the three heads spewing the same poisonous ideas.
The beast in the Book of Revelation (13) has seven heads, not only three, so the Republican party has some head growing to do before is is a fully fledged tyrant who, haughtily and blaspheously “breathes deceit and is allowed to make war on the saints.” I have faith that they will grow the other four. I am not sure the saints will persevere.
I do know that what the evangelical, the Catholic, and the Mormon have in common is not just a contempt for women, not just a disdain for the Constitution–which they constantly want amended–but for the Christian religion they claim to represent.
The sickening hypocrisy of this group may be the foulest perversion of Christianity since Naziism or the Inquisition: by any other name, it is unrecognizable as Christianity, and what they preach is unrecognizable as the gospel of Jesus Christ.
They have forfeited the right ever to speak about the evils inherent in this society or the deficiencies of other faiths–for example, the degradation of women in Islam–when they advocate the degradation of women in America and are willing to enact legislation that will canonize violence against women and disallow remedies for that violence. Nevermind that what they are doing has no warrant in the gospel. But it strikes me as odd that not more people see what they are doing as a perversion of the gospel.
There is no other way to put this: these are dangerous, deluded, and (to use a word I use sparingly) metaphysically evil men. They will make America not just far worse in the eyes of the world, but essentially sicker in its soul.
Slay the beast.