Religious Leaders Turn Against Rep. Todd Akin After His ‘Legimate Rape’ Controversy

Our guest blogger is Jack Jenkins, researcher for the Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative at the Center for American Progress.

GOP Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) is banking on the support of Christian conservatives to help him weather his “legitimate rape” controversy, but it doesn’t look like the rest of America’s faithful are going to let him off that easy.

After refusing to bow out of the Missouri Senate race despite intense pressure from Democrats and Republicans alike, Akin has attempted to use the dispute as an opportunity to energize his longtime supporters — many of whom are anti-abortion Christian conservatives. His campaign launched a fundraising drive last week to “Help Todd Fight Back Against the Party Bosses”, and recently released an ad in which Akin apologized for his statements by saying, “I have a compassionate heart for the victims of sexual assault, and I pray for them.”

But while some conservative Christian groups and evangelical leaders like Mike Huckabee have come to Akin’s defense, dozens of Christian pastors, authors, and activists have published statements decrying Akin’s remarks. Here are just a few:


Covenant Theological Seminary: Akin’s former seminary, which otherwise claims to be doggedly anti-choice, issued a press release rebuking Akin’s claims that a woman’s body can automatically prevent pregnancy in the event of a rape, noting “Covenant Theological Seminary has never taught, and in no way affirms, that the female body is capable of preventing pregnancy caused by rape.”

Episcopal Women’s Caucus: The Episcopal Women’s Caucus expressed outrage at Akin’s comments in a press release last week, saying they were “appalled” by “the current political discourse regarding reproductive justice.”

Rev. Harry Knox: The president and CEO of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice accused Akin of misunderstanding scripture, saying, “[Akin] apparently doesn’t realize that true [Biblical] justice requires that a woman who has been raped have every resource available to her as she rebuilds her life after trauma. One of those resources must be the option to end a pregnancy caused by her rapist.”

Rev. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite: Thistlethwaite, former president of Chicago Theological Seminary and senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, wrote in the Washington Post that she was unsettled by Rep. Akin’s remarks and unimpressed with his attempts at apology, saying “Theologically and politically, saying ‘I’m sorry’ has become a form of ‘cheap grace’ in our American public life. And in the case of Akin, it seems very cheap indeed.”

Rose Marie Berger: Catholic peace activist and poet Rose Marie Berger wondered how the son of a minister “could debase himself in such a way that he has no qualms about putting his political agenda ahead of the truth and well being of women” and asked “As Christians, don’t we hold ourselves to a higher standard?”

Rev. Joanna Harader: Harader, a Mennonite pastor who otherwise touts an anti-abortion stance, questioned Rep. Akin’s claim to spiritual authority, adding she is “appalled that, in the midst of these discussions, those expressing the most disrespectful attitudes toward women tend to do so in the name of God.”

Akin might be getting the forgiveness he’s hoping for from conservative Christian groups, but other believers don’t seem ready to let America forget about his comments anytime soon.