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Unanswered Questions & Other Things
by Timothy Rollins, The American Partisan
19 March 2003

When Ed and Lois Smart gave sole credit for Elizabeth's safe return to the power of prayer, they inadvertently demonstrated insensitivity to others whose children were not returned safely.

The joyous return of Elizabeth Smart (right) to her family in Salt Lake City is indeed cause to celebrate on a couple of fronts. However, in the process of celebrating, Ed and Lois Smart were, bluntly put, pretty damned insensitive to others who have had to suffer through the ordeal of kidnapped children -- especially within the past year.

Both at the choreographed dog and pony shows that passed for press conferences and at the community bash at Liberty Park, Ed and Lois Smart were quick to give sole credit for her safe return to the power of prayer. Now I'm not one to either minimize or negate the role of prayer in the lives of people -- for it has and continues to play a significant role firsthand in my own life. Furthermore, it is my firm and unequivocal belief that as a fellow member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints -- the same religious faith as that of the Smart family -- that all prayers are heard and answered.

I do believe however, that sometimes our prayers are answered with a 'No!' for reasons that we may or may not fully understand at the time the 'No' answer is given. As people of faith -- regardless of whatever our religious persuasion may be, it is incumbent upon all of us to exercise that faith in something larger than ourselves and to heed the scriptural counsel offered in Proverbs 3:5-6 that says: "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."

In making such a blanket statement, the Smarts inadvertently demonstrated insensitivity towards others who suffered similar ordeals that could only be described as brutal. Adam Walsh never came home when he was kidnapped and later decapitated in 1981; Rachael Runyan was kidnapped and later found murdered in the Smart's own backyard of Utah in 1982 while I was an undergraduate at the University of Utah. Turning to more recent times, Samantha Runnion was kidnapped and later found murdered in Orange County, California last summer and Danielle Van Dam also suffered the same fate in San Diego County. Surely prayers were offered on behalf of these youngsters as well. What made Elizabeth Smart more protected than the other children? Certainly it wasn't her church membership as Church members are sometimes the victims of homicide on occasion just as those who aren't members of the Church. Look no further than Rachael Runyan as but one example.

Salt Lake City Police have indicated that there will be hard questions that will be asked of Elizabeth in the coming weeks about her nine months in captivity with Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Barzee. It seems that Mitchell fashions himself a self-appointed 'prophet' for the homeless and is a familiar face in downtown Salt Lake - somewhat known as not exactly being the sharpest knife in the drawer, if you know what I mean. With Barzee as his companion in that I'm not sure if they are legally married or not, you have to wonder whether or not if she's a few fries short of a Happy Meal® herself.

Given that it's been allegedly reported that Mitchell may have taken Elizabeth as a 'second wife' in a polygamous ceremony - long since outlawed in Utah, despite what critics of the Church may allege - it has only reaffirmed to me something I've long known. Now what I'm about to write may annoy some people, it may even get me in some trouble; if it does, so be it as it is stated and offered without apology and is an expression of some deeply held feelings, consequences be damned.

Each of us has had the misfortunate to go up some genuine psychos in our lifetimes. Given Utah and its predominant mix of Latter-day Saints who live there and its unique theology, which I find comforting and highly reinforcing for the good, along with it comes its own strain of homegrown nutcases. Be that as it may, I'd much rather go up against a garden variety nutcase than one with a background in any theology, as the latter is far more dangerous, formidable and comes with a far greater potential for explosive violence than the former.

How do we all know this? Look no further than Jim Jones, David Koresh, or especially al-Qaeda or any of the other nutcases out there that have committed their atrocities in the name of their Supreme Being.

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