Elizabeth Smart’s Courage Within the Tragedy of Mormonism

Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped when she was 14-years-old. She was held captive for nine months by Brian David Mitchell, a man who believed 1) that he was a true prophet of God, and 2) that Elizabeth was to become his (plural) wife. In March of 2003 the police rescued Elizabeth in Sandy, Utah.

Elizabeth Smart 2013On May 1, 2013 Elizabeth Smart addressed a human trafficking forum at Johns Hopkins University. She spoke of the sexual abuse she endured during her captivity and how it made her feel. Elizabeth addressed something she has been asked repeatedly during the ten years since her rescue: “Why didn’t you run away? Why didn’t you yell? Why didn’t you scream?” Her answer was two-fold.

First Elizabeth spoke of fear stemming from threats made against her life and against the safety of her family. So in an effort to protect her family and herself, she said, “I always did what my captors told me to do.”

Then Elizabeth explained that what kept her from running or screaming “goes even beyond fear.” Though she wanted to be rescued and reunited with her family, as a young Mormon girl she believed that the sexual abuse she had suffered had made her “worthless.”

During her address, Elizabeth spoke of her upbringing in “a very religious household” in which she was taught that sex was to be reserved for marriage. She had every intention of maintaining her chastity until her wedding day, but Brian David Mitchell took that away from her. After the first rape, she explained, “I felt crushed. Who could want me now? I felt so dirty and so filthy.” She felt “devalued” and reluctant to try to reenter her old life. “Can you imagine turning around and going back into society where you are no longer of value, where you are no longer as good as everyone else?” she asked her audience.

Elizabeth related a lesson on abstinence that she had been taught as a girl. In this lesson the teacher likened a young woman to a piece of gum; after sex outside of marriage it was as if the gum had been chewed; and after being chewed and passed around, the gum (i.e., the young woman) became worthless. This lesson stuck with Elizabeth, and after being raped by Mitchell, she questioned if it would even be worth being rescued since she was now a chewed-up piece of gum worthy only of being thrown away. So Elizabeth did not run or scream for help.

Chewing gum stuck to a shoe in DublinBecause of Elizabeth Smart’s courageous remarks earlier this month, Mormon women are talking about this and sharing their own experiences. While Elizabeth said her chewing-gum lesson was taught in school, other Mormon women describe lessons they have been taught in LDS meetings where similar analogies were presented including mashed Twinkies, half-eaten candy bars and man-handled roses. A woman named Cindy wrote,

“I remember my beehive teacher bringing in a beautiful red jello in a clear crystal bowl–and then dumping the contents of a vacuum cleaner bag on it. It was awful–such a visual contrast. But even then I knew that there was something wrong with the analogy–and later I realized that her analogy made no provision for repentance.”

Indeed. Elizabeth Smart, a victim of her captor, did not need to repent of engaging in pre-marital sex with Brian David Mitchell. But setting that aside, she still didn’t know that her life could be redeemed. Where would she get the idea that her situation was so hopeless?

Elizabeth was reared in a time when the official teachings of the Mormon Church were more tempered than in earlier years. But those who raised her, and those who taught her, learned their lessons in a harsher environment. Just 6 years before Elizabeth was born, an article appeared in the Ensign magazine as a First Presidency Message. It said in part,

“You will recall Alma’s teaching his son Corianton that unchastity is the most serious offense there is in the sight of God, save murder or denying the Holy Ghost… Some years ago the First Presidency said to the youth of the Church that a person would be better dead clean than alive unclean… I remember how my father impressed the seriousness of unchastity upon my mind. He and I were standing in the railroad station at Rexburg, Idaho, in the early morning of 12 November 1920… ‘remember this, my son: we would rather come to this station and take your body off the train in a casket than to have you come home unclean, having lost your virtue.’ …President Clark, in a conference address in October 1938, said: … ‘Please believe me when I say that chastity is worth more than life itself. This is the doctrine my parents taught me; it is truth. Better die chaste than live unchaste. The salvation of your very souls is concerned in this.’” (Marion G. Romney, “We Believe in Being Chaste,” Ensign, September 1981).

Consider some of the other statements made by Mormon Prophets and Apostles that have helped form today’s Mormon culture in Utah:

“Also far-reaching is the effect of loss of chastity. Once given or taken or stolen it can never be regained. Even in a forced contact such as rape or incest, the injured one is greatly outraged. If she has not cooperated and contributed to the foul deed, she is of course in a more favorable position. There is no condemnation where there is no voluntary participation. It is better to die in defending one’s virtue than to live having lost it without a struggle” (Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, 196).

“Loss of virtue is too great a price to pay even for the preservation of one’s life — better dead clean, than alive unclean. Many is the faithful the Latter-day Saint parent who has sent a son or a daughter on a mission or otherwise out into the world with the direction: ‘I would rather have you come back in a pine box with your virtue than return alive without it.'” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 124.)

“…There is no true Latter-day Saint who would not rather bury a son or daughter than to have him or her lose his or her chastity — realizing that chastity is of more value than anything else in all the world.” (Heber J. Grant, Gospel Standards, 55)

FuneralProcessionNo wonder Elizabeth Smart believed there was no hope for her, no reason to be rescued and released from the horrible captivity and abuse she suffered. If she understood that she was better off dead than sexually impure, that her parents would rather bury her than have her back in her unclean state (as she saw herself), there was no reason for her to think she could ever find peace or forgiveness in this life.

The Mormon Church does teach that one can repent from sexual sin, and that those who are forced into sexual relations are not guilty of sexual sin, but Elizabeth Smart didn’t get that message. Instead, she got the harsh and graceless message that one’s worthiness and eternal hope is anchored in one’s ability to perfectly obey the rules as set forth by the Mormon Church.

This is one of the tragedies of Mormonism: False prophets teaching harmfully false ideas under the guise of speaking for God. Elizabeth Smart was a victim of more than just the abuses of Brian David Mitchell.

My friends, there is no circumstance in which a person’s sin or life situation is beyond the reach and redemption of Jesus. “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—crownnailsbut God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” (Romans 5:6-11)

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.

This entry was posted in Forgiveness, Mormon Culture, Worthiness and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

76 Responses to Elizabeth Smart’s Courage Within the Tragedy of Mormonism

  1. Brewed says:

    I should clarify I meant to say most Utah teachers are LDS.

  2. Mike R says:

    faithoffathers, you don’t seem to listen very well , and you’re still guilty of resorting to some false
    acqusations towards others here . It seems you’re stuck on rape , what you cited from sources
    concerning the rape survivors emotions is something most here have heard I’m sure . So why
    don’t you re-read my last comment to you , especially the part about what MJP stated .
    If not , I personally don’t have time to listen to any more of your reasoning.

  3. faithoffathers says:

    MikeR,

    Yeah- I get what MJP is arguing. He is claiming that the church teachers over-the-top punishments for fornication. And he says that this leads to mental states that are “unhealthy.”

    What are those punishments? You can’t say, can you? What punishments that are taught by the church?

    And what evidence that the church’s teachings lead to “unhealthy” mental states? There is no objective, reproducible data to suggest that the church’s teaching about chastity result in unhealthy mental states. Sure, I do not doubt you can post links to former members of the church with their personal stories and criticisms. But that is not anything approaching objective, scientific evidence for this supposed “mentally unhealthy state”

    And of course there is the claim that we don’t really teach forgiveness, or at least forgiveness that is good as your forgiveness. Every lesson or talk about chastity includes a message about forgiveness, the atonement, and the cleansing effect of Christ’s sacrifice, and the forever present choice to be perfectly clean through Him.

    So, yeah- I don’t really get excited about engaging with a person who is going to misrepresent my church and makes claims that he can in no way back up.

    The problem with this is that there is the up front assumption here that the church’s teachings somehow negatively influence Elizabeth Smarts response to her trauma. And there is absolutely no evidence for that. None.

  4. MJP says:

    For, this will be a simple question:

    What does your church say about forgiveness? What must a child who has lost chastity do to regain salvation? Is it simply asking forgiveness, or are there other steps involved?

  5. grindael says:

    The problem with this is that there is the up front assumption here that the church’s teachings somehow negatively influence Elizabeth Smarts response to her trauma. And there is absolutely no evidence for that. None.

    Except what she herself said, of course.

  6. Mike R says:

    faithoffathers, for a church leader to tell his teen son or daughter who are leaving on a trip
    that he would rather have them come home in a casket than come home alive without their
    virtue /virginity : I find that to be disturbing counsel , and it does’nt take a trained professional
    to tell me that that would only add to the emotional stress of a young person after they fell .
    If you can’t see this teaching as ridiculous then you probably would’nt accept any proof of it’s
    harm if it was presented to you , and you actually prove that point when you said :
    ” Sure I do not doubt you can post links to former members of the church with their personal
    stories and criticisms . But that is not anything approaching objective scientific evidence….”

    Those blasted ex-members , can’t trust them ! Listening to their side of the story is certainly
    not objective ? Sorry , but your reasoning is very flawed .
    Not much more I can say on this thread .

  7. MJP says:

    FoF, I’ll add another thought. If Jesus told us to forgive 70 times 7 times, what does that mean?

  8. faithoffathers says:

    MJP,

    The church teaches that forgiveness is freely available for every person. It is obtained through the process of repentence. And it is possible because of the atonement of Jesus Christ. Repentence includes feeling Godly sorry, confession, a turning away from the sin and turning to God, and asking forgiveness from God.

    But that is completely beside the point. Elizabeth Smart did not choose to be raped and abducted. Repentence is not needed when losting one’s virginity is not a person’s choice.

    Grindael,

    Elizabeth Smart said that she had grown up in a religious home where she was taught to save herself for marriage. She had decided wholeheartedly to do just that. What is shocking is that you find that wrong or offensive or somehow damaging to a child. You guys sound like planned parenthood staff or some other modern liberal “advocates.” Smart clearly attributed the chewed gum analogy to a school teacher. You have absolutely no evidence to put any further words in her mouth or read any more than that into the story.

    MikeR,

    The problem with your claims is that they are based entirely on your opinions and theory. There is absolutely no objective data to back your claim up. It is simply nothing more than your opinion, and nothing more.

    The continual conflation of issues by the critics seems absolutely intentional. Elizabeth Smart demonstrated and demonstrates all of the typical responses from a girl who experiences this type of trauma. All of her feelings and responses are very appropriately explained by the Rape Trauma Syndrome which has been clearly studied and described. Instead, you guys insist that her emotional and psychological response was the result of church conditioning, something for which you have absolutely no evidence. But since you don’t like the church and you set aside a portion of your time to publically criticize the church in forums like this, this is your natural take on these events. It is all explained by bias, conjecture, and prejudice.

  9. Brewed says:

    FOF you said,
    “And of course there is the claim that we don’t really teach forgiveness”

    LDS.ORG said,

    “Salvation from the Second Death. The scriptures sometimes speak of salvation from the second death. The second death is the final spiritual death—being cut off from righteousness and denied a place in any kingdom of glory (see Alma 12:32; D&C 88:24). This second death will not come until the Final Judgment, and it will come to only a few (see D&C 76:31-37). Almost every person who has ever lived on the earth is assured salvation from the second death (see D&C 76:40-45).

    Eternal Life, or Exaltation. In the scriptures, the words saved and salvation often refer to eternal life, or exaltation (see Abraham 2:11). Eternal life is to know Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and dwell with Them forever—to inherit a place in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom (see John 17:3; D&C 131:1-4; 132:21-24). This exaltation requires that men receive the Melchizedek Priesthood, and that all Church members make and keep sacred covenants in the temple, including the covenant of eternal marriage. If the word salvation is used in this sense, no one is saved in mortality. That glorious gift comes only after the Final Judgment.”

    To be exalted, we first must place our faith in Jesus Christ and then endure in that faith to the end of our lives. Our faith in Him must be such that we repent of our sins and obey His commandments.

    He commands us all to receive certain ordinances:

    1. We must be baptized.
    2. We must receive the laying on of hands to be confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ and to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
    3. Brethren must receive the Melchizedek Priesthood and magnify their callings in the priesthood.
    4. We must receive the temple endowment.
    5. We must be married for eternity, either in this life or in the next.
    In addition to receiving the required ordinances, the Lord commands all of us to:

    1. Love God and our neighbors.
    2. Keep the commandments.
    3. Repent of our wrongdoings.
    4. Search out our kindred dead and receive the saving ordinances of the gospel for them.
    5. Attend our Church meetings as regularly as possible so we can renew our baptismal covenants by partaking of the sacrament.
    6. Love our family members and strengthen them in the ways of the Lord.
    7. Have family and individual prayers every day.
    8. Teach the gospel to others by word and example.
    9. Study the scriptures.
    10. Listen to and obey the inspired words of the prophets of the Lord.

    Now to me, the LDS version of forgiveness/salvation is not the same as the one Christ has promised us. And yes, Christian Salvation/Forgiveness is way better and more complete.

  10. MJP says:

    Brewed, this is precisely my understanding of salvation and forgiveness in the LDS faith. I am very curious FoF to explain his concept of forgiveness in LDS doctrine. Apparently, he is hesitant to do so.

  11. faithoffathers says:

    You guys are equating forgiveness with exaltation. Again- you guys are conflating things.

    Forgiveness come with repentance. It is possible through the atonement of Christ. We must have faith in Christ, have Godly sorry for our sins, confess if necessary, turn from the sin, and plead for forgiveness from God (and man if restitution is appropriate).

    That is the process of repentance. Forgiveness come from atonement through that process. What more is there to say?

    I am impressed with the extent to which you guys are extending your faulty logic. Are you really claiming that according to our doctrine, 1) Elizabeth Smart is guilty of sin as a result of her rape and abduction; 2) forgiveness of that sin can only come from receiving all the ordinances of the gospel, including temple ordinances, and to eventually be exalted after this life?

    Otherwise, why in the world is this even a part of the conversation about her story? I think you guys are deflecting from the topic. The topic is the supposed contribution that the church had in the abduction and serial rape of Elizabeth Smart.

    And my contention is that there is absolutely no evidence that the church had any contribution to the abduction or serial rape of Elizabeth Smart or her not making a more aggressive attempt to escape.

  12. grindael says:

    Elizabeth Smart said that she had grown up in a religious home where she was taught to save herself for marriage. She had decided wholeheartedly to do just that. What is shocking is that you find that wrong or offensive or somehow damaging to a child. You guys sound like planned parenthood staff or some other modern liberal “advocates.” Smart clearly attributed the chewed gum analogy to a school teacher. You have absolutely no evidence to put any further words in her mouth or read any more than that into the story.

    Um, You have a real problem with comprehension. I NEVER said I had any “problem” with anyone who wanted to “save herself for marriage”. Please quote me. Feel Free in the TWO comments that I have made, to show where I said that. And yes, Smart did attribute the ANALOGY to a school teacher. (who was probably Mormon) But it is obvious that you are ignoring the REST of her comments, which I posted earlier. Please reread them. Then go and LISTEN to the interview, where she says:

    after she was raped she felt so “crushed” so “dirty” and “filthy” because of her religious upbringing and then said it AGAIN, “who would want me now?” She said she didn’t run “because of that alone“. Who would she run to? Her parents. She said that the “most special thing” had been “taken” and that it “devalued her”. She then gives the chewed gum analogy and said that why would it do any good to be rescued because her life now had “no value“. She then said that young people should be taught that they would ALWAYS have “value”. Obviously, she felt she had NOT been taught this. Why don’t you listen to the interview before you go making inaccurate statements and putting words in people’s mouths? http://foxbaltimore.com/news/features/raw-news/stories/elizabeth-smart-speaks-at-johns-hopkins-human-trafficking-forum-486.shtml#

    And you are still doing it.

  13. faithoffathers says:

    Grindael,

    What you posted is not a quotation of Smart. It is a summary and analysis from the news organization in Baltimore.

    “Because of her religious upbringing” were not her words. That is an interpretation. And that interpretation continues with the statement from whoever the writer was, who says, “obviously, she had not been taught that” she had value.

    Ridiculous spin of an article of spin.

    Smart gave two main reasons she didn’t make a more aggressive attempt at running. The first reason was that she was told by her captors “every day” that if she tried to run or did not do exactly what she was told to do, they would kill her or kill her family. She goes on to say that she very much believed them- after all, they had abducted her from her house and had raped her. Why couldn’t they also kill her family? That is the first reason she gives for not running.

    She then talks about how we need to prepare children at younger ages to be prepared for this type of situation and how to respond. She says that we should teach more than just “don’t look for lost puppies,” or talk to strangers, or get into strange cars, etc.

    Later, she again refers to the question- “why didn’t you run,” and she says “I think it even goes beyond fear, especially in sex trafficking.” And she then states that she was raised in a religious home where she was taught to keep herself for her marriage. After the first rape, she “felt crushed” and wondered, “who could want me now. I felt so dirty and so filthy. I understand why someone wouldn’t run for that reason alone.” Notice she does not say that she felt “dirty and so filthy” because of her religious background. The article is completely taking her words out of context. She simply says that she felt so dirty and filthy after the first rape. And she didn’t say that it was for that reason alone that she didn’t run. She says she understands why a person would not run for that reason alone. Again, her first reason for not running was fear.

    You do realize the short phrases in the paragraph above are the only actual words from her, and that the other words are taking those phrases from her completely out of context?

    This is total spin. And it is totally dishonest.

    Her feeling dirty, crushed, filthy, and wondered who would want her after that. That is perfectly consistent with the Rape Trauma Syndrome. And that syndrome has nothing to do with a person’s religion or lack of religion.

    You have absolutely no evidence that the church and its teachings contributed to Smarts response to her trauma.

  14. MJP says:

    Fof, no, I am not conflating anything. Unless, of course, you view our very doctrine as conflating the two ideas.

    Exaltation and forgiveness go hand in hand in our faith. We are glorified when we ask Christ to forgive us. We need not “have faith in Christ, have Godly sorry for our sins, confess if necessary, turn from the sin, and plead for forgiveness from God (and man if restitution is appropriate)” to receive forgiveness.

    Now, everything you list in here is good to do as a Christian, but it is not necessary to be saved. But I use this process to demonstrate the very different beliefs in our faiths concerning the idea of forgiveness.

    Its interesting to see how you take the story. I see it through Sharon’s last line: “My friends, there is no circumstance in which a person’s sin or life situation is beyond the reach and redemption of Jesus.” This is about forgiveness and acceptance, and ultimate exaltation. In other words, Christ can do all no matter the sin or the circumstances.

    Is this not very different from what you outlined?

  15. Mike R says:

    faithoffathers, again you resort to the pot calling the kettle black type of behavior .
    You throw out words like ” bias”; “conjecture” ; ” and prejudice ” , towards others here
    yet you also are guilty of the same . You are one who sets aside a portion of his time to
    appear on Christian ministries sites like this one and criticize their efforts to warn the
    Mormon people and investigators about spiritual deception in these latter days . After
    all you’re the true christian , a member of the only true church so you must criticize
    ministries like this one because after all those that run it and the christians on it are part
    of what constitutes the church of the Devil today according to Mormonism !
    Never have I said that Elizebeth Smart was responsible in any way for the terrible act committed
    against her by Mitchell , I also have heard of the emotions that girls can go through after being
    victimized like she was . The spotlight belongs on certain “counsel” by her leaders which
    would only add to any girls emotional turmoil . That’s where I’m coming from. Now this type of
    counsel ( i.e. your dad would rather have his young son or daughter come home in a casket
    rather than alive without their virginity etc ) is , I’m sure , not confined to just leaders in the
    Mormon church . But this thread concerns Mormonism . Now I have to say that the few points
    which you brought up that were worthy of consideration , they were overshadowed by your
    inane comments to me and others here . Look at what you said to Grindael about Elizebeth
    saving herself for marriage : You said it is shocking that he would find that wrong or offensive or
    somehow damaging to a child ! What ??? . It’s conjecture . Now look at what you stated to
    me about lack of evidence that the counsel in question by Mormon leaders would only add to a
    young person’s emotional trauma after losing their virginity : you said there was no evidence
    of that, yet you refused to consider the testimony from any former Mormons because that is’nt
    objective or scientific. Well that attitude suggests bias and I might add prejudice also —-just the
    thing that you accuse others here of .
    Now I’m about through going back and forth about this with you .

  16. MJP says:

    Mike R, you are right to focus on the aggressive language re coming dead as opposed to losing chastity. We appear to focus on different aspects of it, but I think both show problems with it.

    I tend to think it shows an intolerance for some sins more so than others, which leads to certain problems that manifest themselves throw the appearances. It’s as if they can simply avoid some sins, everything will be alright.

    Our God has tolerance for no sin, but he views them all the same. All of them keep us from his glory. But the amazing thing is he is waiting there for us to come to him. He’s. There with open arms, willing to forgive for anything we might do. Our God is an awesome god indeed.

  17. grindael says:

    What you posted is not a quotation of Smart. It is a summary and analysis from the news organization in Baltimore.

    Obviously, genius, you never went to the actual website. It is ONLY a video of Elizabeth Smart’s speech. That summary was MINE, from listening to the tape, which it is OBVIOUS you never have.

    I took those words DIRECTLY off of the video of her (which link I provided). Or did you miss that? It was not a “summary” of some article. I IMPLORED you TWICE to WATCH the video. Those were her ACTUAL WORDS. The summary I provided was from watching the tape. You do know that they actually provide the tape of her entire speech? Here is the relevant times and what she EXACTLY SAID:

    Time on Video 8:30

    I’m worthless. That is what it was for me the first time I was raped. I was raised in a very religious household one that taught that sex was something special that only happened between a husband and a wife who loved each other. That’s the way I was raised, that was what I was always determined to follow. When I got married then and only then would I engage in sex. And so for that first rape, I felt crushed, who could want me now I felt so dirty and so filthy. I understand all too easily, all too well, why someone wouldn’t run. BECAUSE OF THAT ALONE.

    I mean if you can imagine the most special thing being taken away from you and feeling like that (not that that was your only value in life) but something that devalued you, can you imagine turning around and going back into a society where you are no longer of value, no longer as good as everybody else.

    So genius, what is Smart talking about. A “society” that she felt she could not return to because she felt “dirty, filthy,” and of “no value.” Why? Because of her religious upbringing and it’s teachings about sex. She says it. Those are her words.

    She then gives the stick of gum analogy at 9:53

    Then she says,

    “And that is how easy it is to feel like you no longer have worth. You no longer have value. Why would it even be worth screaming out, why would it even make a difference if you are rescued your life still has no value. “

    She then says that we really don’t have the right to ask the question why didn’t you run. Then she says,

    “But the best thing we can do is educate young people. As young as we can reach them. I know math and science and reading are important but when it comes down to it, being able to do your times tables, is that going to stop you from being trafficked? Is that going to stop you from being kidnapped? Is that going to stop you from being hurt and abused and maybe even murdered? Probably not.

    But if you are given choices, if your given skills, if your given permission to fight back, to know that you are of value, and to know you don’t have to live your life that way, that you don’t have to do what other people tell you, that you have value and you always will have value and that nothing can change that, then that’s what we should be doing.

    What “other people” is she talking about? Her community. Where she was raised. You can say what you want, but Smart’s own words say something different. Couple that with this:

    “For behold, many of the daughters of the Lamanites have they taken prisoners; and after depriving them of that which was most dear and precious above all things, which is chastity and virtue“

    And this,

    ‘Please believe me when I say that chastity is worth more than life itself. This is the doctrine my parents taught me; it is truth. Better die chaste than live unchaste. The salvation of your very souls is concerned in this.’”

    No wonder she felt “filthy” and “dirty” and of “no value”.

  18. faithoffathers says:

    Grindael,

    You are still misrepresenting her speech. You are cutting and pasting. Why didn’t you include the first part of her answer as to why she “didn’t run?” You left out the primary reason she offered. Why did you do that?

    This is what you said two posts ago at 2:18 p.m.:

    “after she was raped she felt so “crushed” so “dirty” and “filthy” because of her religious upbringing and then said it AGAIN, “who would want me now?” She said she didn’t run “because of that alone“.

    You are totally cutting and pasting and misrepresenting her words. You did not include her primary reason for not running. And then, you claim she said that she didn’t run “alone” for the reason of her religious upbringing. You are totally manipulating her speech.

    The “alone” reference was, “. I understand so easily all too well why someone wouldn’t run for that reason alone.” SHE WAS NOT SAYING IT WAS FOR THAT REASON ALONE THAT SHE DIDN’T RUN. SHE SAID SHE UNDERSTAND WHY SOMEONE WOULDN’T RUN FOR THAT REASON ALONE. UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENCE?

    Here is the full explanation of the question “why didn’t you run.”

    “I have to tell you that one of the questions that is most commonly asked me is “well, why didn’t you run away? Why didn’t you yell? Why didn’t you scream? The answer is very simple. I was scared. I was petrified. I had been told every day while I was kidnapped, “if you try to run away, or if you scream, or if you yell, or if you do something we don’t want you to do, we will kill you. And if we don’t kill you, we will kill your family.”

    “Now to me, I had watched them kidnap me. I had watched them chain me. I had watched them rape me. I had watched them abuse me for so long that… what was going to stop them from killing me. What was going to stop them from killing my family? And my family is my biggest weak spot. I think it’s everybody’s biggest weak spot. You ask the majority of people what is most important to them. They will tell you it is their family. So I couldn’t stand to think that because something I did or something I didn’t do, my family had suffered for it. So I always did what my captors told me to do. And that’s why I never ran or yelled. I never screamed. There were a couple of times I did try, but they were unsuccessful. But looking back, I don’t regret a single decision I made. I don’t regret not speaking when, yes, I was confronted with policemen.” She tells of her captor lying to police and they believed him. “I don’t regret not yelling or not screaming. Do I wish that I had been rescued? Absolutely. If I had shortened my captivity, my kidnapping by anything, I certainly would have done that. But I don’t regret not screaming because I did what I felt I had to. I think one of the most important things we can talk about is prevention because I think there are things we can do to prevent that. For me, if I had been taught earlier in school more than just don’t get into strangers with cars or don’t get in strange cars or don’t take candy from strangers or don’t look for lost puppies, if I had been taught more, I think perhaps I would have been a little more prepared. And I think the younger we can educate children, the better it is.”

    She tells of an Ohio man executed for raping and killing a 6 month old girl. “We can’t start young enough…”

    “But back to my question, ‘why didn’t you run or why didn’t you scream?’ I think it goes even beyond fear for so many children, especially in sex trafficking. Its feelings of self-worth. Its feeling like who would ever want me now? I’m worthless. That is what it was for me when I was … .. the first time I was raped. I was raised in a very religious household, one that taught that sex was something special and something that only happened between a husband and a wife who loved each other. And that’s what I have been raised. That’s what was what I had always been determined to follow. When I got married, then and only then, would I engage in sex. So for that first rape, I felt crushed. Who could ever want me now? I felt so dirty and so filthy. I understand so easily all too well why someone wouldn’t run for that reason alone. I mean, if you could imagine the most special thing being taken from you, and not that that was your only value in life. But something that devalued you. Can you imagine going back into society where you are no longer or value.”

    I have watched the video three times over the last week. And you are still taking things out of context.

    You skipped her first and primary reason for not running. And she did not say that “that reason alone” was her religious upbringing as you stated above.

    So you are not only manipulating and cutting and pasting her words, you are adding words with all the references to past statements to prophets, etc. She never says anything about those statements and gives no reason to think they were a consideration. Every one of her words are explained simply by being raised in a home where she was taught to save herself for marriage. And her feelings and response are perfectly explained by the most consistent response demonstrated by girls who are raped- Rape Trauma Syndrome.

  19. grindael says:

    You skipped her first and primary reason for not running. And she did not say that “that reason alone” was her religious upbringing as you stated above.

    If that were her PRIMARY reason for not running, then why did she say,

    ““But back to my question, ‘why didn’t you run or why didn’t you scream?’

    And then go into the quote I used which was:

    I was raised in a very religious household one that taught that sex was something special that only happened between a husband and a wife who loved each other. That’s the way I was raised, that was what I was always determined to follow. When I got married then and only then would I engage in sex. And so for that first rape, I felt crushed, who could want me now I felt so dirty and so filthy. I understand all too easily, all too well, why someone wouldn’t run. BECAUSE OF THAT ALONE.

    She explicitly states here, Because of THAT alone, the THAT being her religious upbringing and teachings about sex. It’s right there in black and white. If “I was scared” was the ONLY, PRIMARY reason, then why does she state what she does above? You are totally ignoring it and tying the “because of that alone” to a part of the story she had already finished with. I’m not manipulating her words, you are. It’s obvious you have Mormon Bubble Syndrome.

  20. faithoffathers says:

    Grindael,

    You have been caught. Either that, or you do not know how to read for comprehension.

    Just after she says “Back to my question…..,” she says, “I think it goes even beyond fear for so many children, especially in sex trafficking.” In other words, in addition to the primary reason she gave- fear for her life and the lives of her family- there were other reasons for not running.

    And then she goes into her religious upbringing.

    And you are placing a period where it does not belong. You incorrectly quote her as saying, “I understand all too easily, all too well, why someone wouldn’t run. BECAUSE OF THAT ALONE.”

    That is not how that sentence(s) is structured. And you have changed her meaning. What she actually said is, “I understand all too easily, all too well, why someone wouldn’t run because of that alone.” She is saying that it is understandable why a person would not run away from that situation for the reason of feeling dirty, filthy, and worthless. But she is not saying it was for the reason of her feelings of worthlessness alone that she didn’t run.

    And you are misrepresenting my words too. I never said that fear was her “only, PRIMARY reason” for running. And I think you know that. Something that is primary means there is something that is secondary. And I stated that she had two stated reasons for not running pretty clearly.

    Why spin something like this?

    It is still very clear that you are either intentionally misrepresenting Elizabeth Smart’s words and my words to smear the church or you have difficulty with reading comprehension. Either reason should give you second thoughts about going on a public forum and criticizing people and their church.

  21. Kate says:

    The sad thing is that Mormons are taught it’s better to be dead than lose their virtue even if by rape. Here are a couple of links that relate to this topic. Notice what the BYU rape victims say in the deseret news article. This goes way beyond Elizabeth Smart. It’s church wide.
    http://www.i4m.com/think/sexuality/mormon_sex_purity.
    http://www.deseretnews.com/article/515039389/90-of-Provo-rapes-not-reported-to-police.html

  22. MJP says:

    Thanks for sharing, Kate. Context is always good.

  23. faithoffathers says:

    Yes. Context is indeed good.

    So the point of that article is that most rapes in Provo are not reported. Yes. That is terrible. But is that different than other places?

    No. Rape is one of the most unreported crimes in America. In fact, most rapes go unreported.

    http://www.rainn.org/get-information/statistics/reporting-rates

    You guys keep harping on the idea of something more valuable than life. Is there anything worth dying for? But I think you are getting all these statements from leaders wrong.

    Please, anybody, please provide one statement that suggests it is better to be killed than to be raped.

    Voluntarily giving up one’s virtue and chastity is different than rape. I would agree that it is better to stand one’s ground and suffer death as a result than to give in and follow the crowd. Otherwise, do you also claim that Peter, Stephen, and the other martyrs got it wrong? Should they have not stood up for truth? Should they have compromised and followed the crowd rather than die for their beliefs and principles?

    Hmmm. Do we support our troops who risks their lives to protect certain things? What is it that they are willing to die for?

  24. shematwater says:

    I think most people are missing something, or intentionally ignoring it. Grindael especially, but it seems most people are so focused her rather brief comments of feeling devalued and dirty that they miss everything.
    Let us look earlier in the speech. She mentions that the thing that got her through this experience, that gave her the strength to survive was that she knew her parents would love her, no matter what happened. She knew they would welcome her home. Notice how it was her upbringing that gave her this assurance.
    Speaking on the whole argument between FoF and Grindael, I would say that upbringing, which was highly religious, is precisely why she does not list these feelings as her primary reason for not running. Actually, she doesn’t really say they contributed that much at all; rather she relates feeling this, and after experiencing that understanding how it alone could cause others to not run.
    I have said before, I don’t think people here understand her message and the reasons she says what she says. Her intent is not to blame the church for anything, or to blame its doctrine. Her intent to bring understanding to people and to advocate a different way of teaching. She is not advocating that we teach different standards, but that we teach the same standards in a better way.

    A few personal comments.

    Brewed
    I have read a miracle of forgiveness. Maybe you missed this when you gave the quote, so I have singled it out. “There is no condemnation when there is no voluntary participation.” He states very dirrectly that a woman who does not willingly participate is guilty of nothing. Read this entire quote again and you might actually see his meaning in this.
    Virginity cannot be restored. Thus, no matter the circumstances, the person who looses this has been injured. In the case of rape this injury has still taken place, and since it was not done voluntarily it is even worse. In such a case the victim is in a more favorable condition, not because being raped is a sin, because they do not add to the outrage of loosing virginity the guilt of sin against God. They are in a more favorable condition in the view of eternity.
    Of course, this book is written more to those who willingly commit sin, and thus, as far as I know, does not address those things that do not constitute sin. As such abuse or other acts against a person are not a part of its context. For that let us turn to the book “True to the Faith” where we read the following:
    “Be assured that you are not to blame for the harmful behavior of others. You do not need to feel guilt. If you have been a victim of rape or other sexual abuse, whether you have been abused by an acquaintance, a stranger, or even a family member, you are not guilty of sexual sin. Know that you are innocent and that your Heavenly Father loves you.”
    http://www.lds.org/bc/content/shared/content/english/pdf/language-materials/36863_eng.pdf

    This has always been the churches teaching regarding abuse.

    As to forgiveness, I have to say that our doctrine if far grander than yours. After all, we know that Christ will even forgive those who reject him, bringing them into heaven and crowning them in a kingdom of glory. His mercy is truly astounding. He does reserve his most precious gifts for those who are faithful and repent, but he will forgive the vast majority of all men, for, as you have shown in your quotes, only a very few will be cast out forever and not enter heaven.

    Grindael said, a while ago, “She never ever said the word “unconditionally”.
    This shows how he either twists her words or misunderstands them. While she did not say this specific word she did say they would love her “no matter what” which is a term that is synonymous with unconditionally.

    Kate

    Great. You have problems in Utah. Every state and every country has problems. Why not compare the murder rate, or the rate of armed robberies, or all the other multitud of things that could be done.
    However, your clear intention is to insinuate that the church has these problems, despite your denials of this. There is no other reason to mention them.

  25. Kate says:

    Shem,
    The church does have these problems. It’s you who believes your church is perfect and your leaders are never wrong in what they teach or reveal. You are the one denying that Mormons have issues such as pornography, plastic surgery, anorexia, depression, etc. All is not well in Zion. Mormons are no better in the sin department than anyone else even though they/claim to be. You Mormons can’t even take Elizabeth Smart at her word, and your gross explanation of what Spencer Kimball “meant” in the Miracle of Forgiveness shows more denial from your Mormon bubble. As it has been pointed out over and over, this blog addresses Mormonism not other religions, so if you want to discuss something other than the Mormonism you may want to participate elsewhere.

    FoF,
    My point in the Deseret News article was not that 90% of rapes go unreported in Provo, it was to bring attention to the 2 rape victims and what they told this officer.

    “You guys keep harping on the idea of something more valuable than life. Is there anything worth dying for? But I think you are getting all these statements from leaders wrong.”

    The point is, Jesus is there to help us through anything. His Sacrifice covers all sin, loss of virtue is NOT more serious than any other sin and loss of virtue due to rape is NO sin at all on the victims part! Your church leaders teach that it is more serious and that it’s better for a girl to be killed than raped.

  26. grindael says:

    I think most people are missing something, or intentionally ignoring it. Grindael especially, but it seems most people are so focused her rather brief comments of feeling devalued and dirty that they miss everything.
    Let us look earlier in the speech. She mentions that the thing that got her through this experience, that gave her the strength to survive was that she knew her parents would love her, no matter what happened. She knew they would welcome her home. Notice how it was her upbringing that gave her this assurance. Speaking on the whole argument between FoF and Grindael, I would say that upbringing, which was highly religious, is precisely why she does not list these feelings as her primary reason for not running. Actually, she doesn’t really say they contributed that much at all; rather she relates feeling this, and after experiencing that understanding how it alone could cause others to not run.
    I have said before, I don’t think people here understand her message and the reasons she says what she says. Her intent is not to blame the church for anything, or to blame its doctrine. Her intent to bring understanding to people and to advocate a different way of teaching. She is not advocating that we teach different standards, but that we teach the same standards in a better way.

    We’re not missing anything. We are focusing on all of her comments. The fact is, Ms. Smart said she wouldn’t run because of three reasons, fear of her life, fear for her family, and because she felt “devalued”.

    She used the devalued reason last, and tied it to her religious upbringing and said that this reason ALONE would have been sufficient for her not to run, in addition to the others. That is why she used the phrase “This reason alone” in the same paragraph as her religious upbringing. Shem here, isn’t going by what she said, he is making up his own interpretation of her reasoning. Here she is once again,

    **I** was raised in a very religious household one that taught that sex was something special that only happened between a husband and a wife who loved each other. That’s the way **I** was raised, that was what **I** was always determined to follow. When **I** got married then and only then would **I** engage in sex. And so for that first rape, **I** felt crushed, who could want me now **I** felt so dirty and so filthy. **I** understand all too easily, all too well, why someone wouldn’t run. BECAUSE OF THAT ALONE.

    I UNDERSTAND ALL TOO EASILY WHY SOMEONE (INCLUDING HERSELF – BECAUSE SHE UNDERSTANDS THIS) FOR THIS REASON ALONE. This was important to Smart. She says I felt dirty and crushed, that I felt filthy and devalued. Devalued as what? As a pristine, chaste, Mormon girl ready for temple marriage. I even quoted another Mormon blogger, Kristine, who said,

    When I read this article about Elizabeth Smart, I was, as always, impressed with her courage and wisdom. I was also disheartened to learn that she had heard the chewed gum analogy (and I’m willing to bet it was from a seminary or church teacher, or at least a Mormon school teacher). Generally I think we are (finally!) abandoning the chewed gum, licked cupcake, wilted rose object lessons–I can’t recall ever having been taught them and I feel reasonably certain that my daughter will not hear them. That’s why I allow her to attend church! However, the very first scripture girls are required to study in their Personal Progress work on the value of Virtue is Moroni 9:9, which describes young women as having lost their virtue by being raped. That scripture reference needs to go, NOW. And we need to start explicitly teaching that this scripture reflects a cultural mistake among Book of Mormon peoples in their understanding of virtue, one which fails to properly apply the principle of agency and denies the power of the Atonement. The chastity in which the Lord delights (Jacob 2) is not merely virginity, and cannot be taken away by another person, especially not by violence or abuse. Take this reference out of the Personal Progress manual. Do it now.

    This evidence is not good enough for the Mormons here. “Who cares about an anonymous blogger” they said. “Who cares what individuals say” they said. Not only does the Mormon blogger bring up the exact points that Sharon does, but this “scripture” that rape takes away “chastity” and “virtue” is in the Mormon Standard Works.

    We “understand” the message all too well. That is why even some Mormons have a problem with it. But nothing anyone says here will ever get through to those who are still trapped in the Mormon Bubble of denial because Smart is blaming her religious upbringing for making her feel “devalued” because she was raped.

    Grindael said, a while ago, “She never ever said the word “unconditionally”. This shows how he either twists her words or misunderstands them. While she did not say this specific word she did say they would love her “no matter what” which is a term that is synonymous with unconditionally.

    No genius, she did not use the word. And here IS what grindael said,

    She never ever said the word “unconditionally”. She said she knew she would still be loved by them. She said in her interview, “I felt like how could ANYBODY love me”, then said that she was sure that even though what happened to her her parents would still love her.

    And you are the one twisting words Shem because my response was to this comment, “Are you challenging her own words that she knew she would be unconditionally accepted by her parents”. I simply said that she did not use the word “unconditionally”. She did not. She said she was sure that her parents would still LOVE her, whatever happened. But then you have to take into account her last comment, that because of feeling devalued ALONE, it was a reason NOT TO RUN back to her parents. So she obviously had issues with being accepted, because she said also, “I mean if you can imagine the most special thing being taken away from you and feeling like that (not that that was your only value in life) but something that devalued you, can you imagine turning around and going back into a society where you are no longer of value, no longer as good as everybody else.” That “society” included her parents.

    As with everything else, Shem just can’t comprehend what people say when he can’t accept that they are saying it.

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