Todd Akin, the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate from Missouri, made headlines with his strange and offensive remarks. He said women have natural immunity to pregnancy if it is the result of a legitimate rape.
He has apologized for what he called a poor choice of words. But he is staying in the race, even though Mitt Romney and other Republican leaders have advised him to quit.
Mr. Akin opposes abortion under any circumstance, including rape, incest, and danger to the mother's life. Under such circumstances, many conservatives would allow termination of pregnancy. Yet Mr. Akin believes he is on a mission from God, and that in this mission there is no flexibility.
God does not speak to mankind in a resonant voice that everyone can hear, except when He is portrayed in movies such as The Ten Commandments. Anyone may claim that he or she hears Him in his or her heart.
Anyone may project his or her prejudices, intolerance, and shortsightedness as God's word. But that would be invoking the name of God in vain. The Bible offers a clear injunction against doing so. The God-fearing Mr. Akin ought to know that.
In his holier-than-though mind-set, Mr. Akin is not alone. A wave of Christian orthodoxy that at times borders on fundamentalist leanings and even militancy is sweeping the land.
Defending one's beliefs is one thing; condemning others for not accepting them is another. In politics, that fine line gets blurred. Our politicians stoke the fires of xenophobia against those who may not agree with their religious views.
Many Republicans on the extreme right support Mr. Akin. Not for what he said, even though I reckon quiet a few would agree with his bizarre and pseudoscientific understanding of human anatomy and physiology. Rather, they emphasize his subsequent apology for his gaffe.
Former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is among that group. He is not only standing by him, but also is fund-raising on Mr. Akin's behalf.
Ours is the only industrialized country in which faith and science clash. Thumping Scripture has replaced thoughtful introspection toward the sacred texts to understand the world we live in and our place in the universe. A prevailing anti-science fundamentalism is becoming fashionable and acceptable.
This fundamentalism keeps exhuming the ghosts of people who are long dead to give them a public whipping. Poor Charles Darwin has had more than his share of figurative lynching by this mob.
Some 87 years after the famous Scopes monkey trial, the naysayers have challenged evolution at every opportunity and from every possible angle. In 2009 in Pennsylvania, a group of parents demanded that their local school district teach intelligent design along with evolution. A federal judge, a conservative Republican, threw out their case, remarking that intelligent design was merely a rehash of the creationist argument.
We must credit Mr. Akin for his convictions, even if they are contrary to those of mainstream America. His track record is replete with efforts to drag religion into the public arena.
Using pseudoscience to augment one's religious beliefs is not new. People such as Mr. Akin will continue to claim that God speaks to them.
Men have waged wars against each other in the name of God throughout history. Time, reason, and tactics might change, but invoking the name of God remains constant.
After World Ware I, where all sides invoked God to justify their positions, Sir John Collings Squire, an English poet, wrote:
God heard embattled nations sing and shout
'Gott strafe England!' and 'God save the king!'
God this, God that, and God the other thing.
'Good God!' said God, 'I've my work cut out!'
Dr. S. Amjad Hussain is a retired Toledo surgeon whose column appears every other week in The Blade.
Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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