In Newsweek's new multi-story, multi-page package on the LDS Church and its members, Elizabeth Smart provides as much a face of the Mormon faith as the likes of the Osmonds, Glenn Beck and Stephen Covey — and maybe almost on par with cover-boy/presidential hopeful Mitt Romney.
As part of its special coverage of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the weekly news magazine featured Smart, who as a 14-year-old in 2002 was kidnapped at knifepoint by religious fanatic Brian David Mitchell and held captive and repeatedly raped over a nine-month period.
Mitchell was sentenced in Salt Lake City last month, at which time Smart — now returning as a senior at Brigham Young University after serving an LDS mission in Paris, France — told her assailant, "I want you to know that I have a wonderful life now."
The title of Newsweek's feature on Smart: "Saved by her Faith."
She explained how she considered her missionary work as a service of gratitude and recompense for those worldwide who prayed for her safe return and how she dealt with being rejected as a missionary and helping others with their doubts.
Newsweek quoted Smart drawing on her past experiences in arguing that an abuse of faith does not discount faith's preponderant good.
"People aren't perfect; people do things wrong all the time," she said, explaining the LDS doctrine of God-given agency that allows the natural byproducts of sin and abuse but that also empowered her to progress beyond her victimhood.
"I know that no one can tell you that God called them to force you to do something. That's really important to me, knowing that everything I do in my life is a choice."
Smart was featured in one of the three sidebars accompanying Newsweek's current cover story "Mormons Rock!" the weekly news magazine's in-depth look at the LDS Church
The Deseret News looks here at Newsweek's main feature.
A second accompanying offering, titled "Everyday Saints," is Newsweek's print equivalent of brief soundbite-type comments from nine Latter-day Saints on how their Mormon beliefs and practices help shape their lives.
The nine featured range from JetBlue founder David Neeleman and the Utah politico trio of Sen. Orrin Hatch, Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. Jason Chaffetz to young Brooklyn, N.Y., mother Amy Shull and 26-year-old Filipino entrepreneur Vince Aryan Molejon.
The third of the three LDS-oriented sidebars in Newsweek's "Mormons Rock!" package, "Mormons Take the Stage," deals with the current Broadway musical "The Book of Mormon."
Rather than provide insight or perspective on the church, its tome of sacred scripture or its missionary efforts, the "South Park"-style production is considered by some a profane, vulgar lampooning of beliefs and Mormon missionaries.
A family-friendly, religious-themed treatise like "The Sound of Music" (the Catholic Church) or "Fiddler on the Roof" (the Jewish religion) it ain't.
Editor's note: Hal Boyd, who contributed to Newsweek's Elizabeth Smart feature, is a Deseret News staff writer.