Dressed in a beige coat, the young woman walked quickly as she braved a phalanx of photographers and TV cameramen that would have flattered even an A-list Hollywood star. But this was no red carpet scene.
It was outside the courthouse in Salt Lake City and the woman was Elizabeth Smart, 23, plucked from obscurity and into national fame by one of the most horrific kidnappings in US criminal history.These are the opening paragraphs of "Mormon kidnap horror emerges in trial that has gripped America in The Guardian, a U.K. newspaper. Much is being made of Mitchell, Smart's kidnapper. Much of still being made of Mitchell, especially how his religious delusions have their roots in Mormon beliefs.
But, religion also seems the source of Elizabeth Smart's strength and resilience, and the strength and resilience of her family.
Usually in stories such as Elizabeth's we hear of sinking into drugs and/or alcohol, self-destruction and other maladies. Occasionally, we hear stories of recovery and people climbing back to build a new life. But, in Elizabeth's case her story only climbed higher.
For many, the brave, attractive figure of Smart represents today's Mormonism. Still deeply committed to her faith, she is resilient and was the perfect witness against her former captor. She comes from a family of hardworking Mormons, illustrating the church's reputation for strong families and high moral values.
Smart's face is one the church is proud to show off and her story of survival and enduring faith has been praised by religious leaders across the region. She is the perfect advert for one of the world's fastest-growing religions, one that is seeking ever greater political and social influence.There will always be interest in the sordid details of Elizabeth's horrific experience. But, I'm hoping at least some interest will develop in how she survived, healed and flourished. There is a profound story there too . . .