Our Views: Looks like our prayers were answered

Robert Root, girlfriend Tracy Harbeck, and fellow runner and president of the ShadowChase Running Club, Chad Johnson.
Robert Root, girlfriend Tracy Harbeck, and fellow runner and president of the ShadowChase Running Club, Chad Johnson. dnoda@modbee.com

One of the first notifications that came to The Modesto Bee concerning the disappearance of distance runner Robert Root last week was a request from a friend to say a prayer for his safe return.

A few weeks ago, we also were asked in dozens of roadside signs to “Pray for Rain.” Many people, it’s clear, believe in the power of prayer.

In the case of Root, no particular kind of prayer was specified. And we hope that prayers to God, Jehovah, Allah or Shiva were equally appreciated. Same with the rain. When it falls from the sky, we all get wet no matter what deity we prefer – even if we prefer none at all.

To echo runner Root, we are thankful he found his way out of woods near Placerville. That Root apparently suffered no lasting injury is amazing. Such ordeals so seldom have happy endings, this outcome seemed almost like a miracle. And if people want to offer thanks, we’ll cheerfully leave it up to them to find the right address for the delivery.

The same is true in Newman, where we’re happy to learn that Rajan Zed, a Hindu cleric from Nevada, will offer a prayer before the City Council meeting Tuesday night. He’ll speak in ancient Sanskrit, saying (translated into English), “Lead me from the unreal to the real; lead me from darkness to light, and lead me from death to immortality.” We can’t imagine anyone having a problem with such sentiments.

Unfortunately, that hasn’t always been the case. Zed was the cause of “disappointment” from the American Family Association and protests from something called Operation Save America when he was invited to be a guest chaplain in the U.S. Senate in 2007. Zed has been as a guest chaplain for the Nevada and California senates and state legislatures of New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Oregon and even Arizona. He’s also offered opening prayers at Modesto, Waterford and Hughson council meetings.

Zed has his own website, and religious freedom is a topic, as is his work against oppression of the Romani people (i.e., “gypsies”) in Europe. “Freedom comes from within. But we must all be free to practice our faiths regardless of location or beliefs,” he writes there.

We’re not entirely sure, but with his prayer concerning “leading” people from darkness to light, that sounds like something Robert Root would appreciate.

It is troubling that Arturo Serrano sat in jail nearly a year charged with murder he didn’t commit. The Stanislaus County’s DA’s office said last week that new evidence made it clear that Serrano’s guilt “could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.” The DA’s office wouldn’t tell us what that evidence was, so we’re left with the defense team’s version – which was that the DA’s office didn’t follow up on evidence Serrano’s attorney had supplied during the “early days” of the case that would have exonerated him.

We understand the DA’s reluctance to release a suspect when someone else involved in the case has fled the country. The point is that more should have been done to either confirm or refute the evidence provided by the defense. A year is too long.

Tammie Calzadillas of Merced Union High School District will be a guest as the Maddy Report takes on Common Core this week. Also joining host Mark Keppler will be the state board’s Nancy Brownell and John Fensterwald, editor of EdSource Today. Hear it Sunday morning at 10 a.m. on KMJ (AM 580) or anytime at www.calchannel.com.