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Elizabeth Smart

Elizabeth Smart

Yesterday in federal court, Elizabeth Smart testified about her kidnapping and captivity by Brian David Mitchell.  In 2002, Mitchell and Wanda Ileen Barzee abducted the then 14-year-old Smart from her Salt Lake City home.  Smart was found nine months later on March 12, 2003 in Sandy, Utah, about 18 miles from her home.  State courts have ruled on two different occasions that Mitchell is incompetent to stand trial.   This led federal prosecutors to file an indictment.  Yesterday’s court appearance by Smart, now 21, was her first public description of her nightmare in captivity.  According to a report by NPR, “For 100 minutes, Smart described Mitchell as a sex-crazed hypocrite who used religion to get sex, food, drugs and alcohol.  She maintained her composure when describing her first rape shortly after her abduction.  She said Mitchell raped her three to four times a day during her nine months as his captive.”  Prosecutors praised Smart’s grace and strength in her testimony. 

I cannot begin to imagine the effect of these crimes upon Elizabeth Smart and her family.  Yet she has had the remarkable courage to carry on.  I don’t know if I could.  I don’t know what kind of mess I would be emotionally if this had happened to a member of my family.  Smart has recently completed her music studies at Brigham Young University where she played the harp.  She leaves next month on a Mormon mission to Paris, France.  Young women who serve as missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints typically make an 18-month commitment, with expenses provided by themselves and their families.

While I strongly reject much of Mormon theology and practice as unBiblical, I am amazed at Elizabeth Smart’s resilience and resolve.  The most inhumane and torturous treatment imaginable did not destroy her faith or lessen her commitment to her beliefs.  Rather than blaming God for the evil she endured, her ordeal only strengthened her desire to serve Him.  Her example inspires me!  And, to a degree, it shames me!  

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October 2009