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The controversy that has erupted around Republican Richard Mourdock's comments about abortion and rape has been fascinating and - like many of you - I'm eager to see how the dust up actually affects Hoosiers' views as they vote in the Indiana Senate race.
We'll learn the latter soon enough. The election is Nov. 6 - and we might get a preview next week when the Howey/DePauw Indiana Battleground Poll releases its final survey results, which will include a measure of the race between Mourdock and Democrat Joe Donnelly.
What makes the storm most interesting to me is that the position Mourdock expressed about abortion was no surprise. He has consistently spoken out against abortion and he supports just one exception for the procedure - when the life of the mother is at risk if she continues her pregnancy. He does not make an exception for the victims of rape and incest.
That view is in line with many Republicans and consistent with statements Mourdock has made throughout the campaign.
Where Mourdock created real controversy is when he opted not to simply state his opinion on the public policy question about abortion and instead veered off into the religious philosophy that underpinned that view. That's a risky thing for any politician to do.
Here's what Mourdock said at a televised debate last Tuesday night in New Albany:
I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God. And, I think, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.
Mourdock probably could have stopped after the phrase "gift from God" and let that explain his reasons for opposing abortion in nearly every situation. The idea that life is God's gift is not a new thought or phrase in the abortion debate and is a sympathetic point of view even by some who believe government shouldn't make the choice.
But when Mourdock said that pregnancies that occur after a rape are "something that God intended to happen," well, he raised questions that the next day even he could not fully answer.
The problem is that explaining one's own faith is highly difficult. An individual who worships God in whatever faith has come to a set of values and beliefs typically formed over years through life experiences, religious teachings and mentoring, and sometimes - but not always - in depth study and reflection.
Each journey is unique and an individual's resulting belief system is complex and often evolving. For many, religious views - and their intersections with public policy - transform as their lives, the world and their faith leaders change.
And so when Mourdock struggled on Wednesday to explain how he could believe that God could intend a pregnancy resulting from rape and not intend the rape itself, many of those listening just did not understand. It did not square with the views of God and faith they had established through their own lives.
During a long and often emotional press conference, Mourdock was asked again whether he believed that God "intended" a pregnancy after rape to occur. This time, Mourdock said that called for an answer "above my pay grade."
Then, in my view, Mourdock further complicated the situation when he said that, "I believe God controls the universe. I don't think biology works simply in an uncontrolled fashion."
I have no doubt that these are Mourdock's beliefs as he felt them in the moment. I found him to be sincere in his words as well as his effort to help voters understand those views. I think that I even felt him struggling a little with the concepts he was trying to convey.
I know there are plenty of Hoosiers - and people nationwide - who applaud Mourdock for standing up for his religious beliefs and call him courageous for sharing them publicly. This is not an insignificant number of people and they are certainly an important part of the electorate.
But they do not make up the majority of voters that Mourdock needs to be elected.
That's the problem with bringing faith overtly into a campaign. Laying out a religious argument may work when trying to win over a friend to your position and can be effective from the pulpit. However, faith is in so many ways just too personal and the journey too distinct to be effective as a campaign strategy.
After all, among any group of anti-abortion voters, you will find varying personal reasons for their strong opinions on the issue. Many will be driven by faith - but not all. Some people who seemingly share religious philosophies may have different nuances on their pro-life views - such as whether to allow abortions for people who are victims of incest.
Similarly, those who profess to support a woman's right to choose are a disparate bunch as well. They include those whose own religious views might prevent them from personally having an abortion but who oppose government intervention in the area. And the group includes those who worship no God and have little, if any, moral opposition to abortion, viewing it instead as just another medical procedure.
Candidates debating these difficult issues may be best to tie their arguments to a public policy position. Venturing into explanations of the religious philosophy that brought them to that view is risky and often just unnecessary.
It's something Richard Mourdock has now experienced firsthand - and it's something that could cost him votes he needs to win the election.
Lesley Weidenbener is managing editor of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news service powered by Franklin College journalism students and faculty.