Times and Seasons’ 2010 Mormon of the Year: Elizabeth Smart

MOTYelizabeth-smartTimes and Seasons has selected Elizabeth Smart as Mormon of the Year for 2010.

Elizabeth Smart has been in the public eye this year in the United States and around the world as the chief witness in the trial of Brian David Mitchell, who abducted her in 2002. And her testimony gave her significant influence, despite her apparent distance from the spotlight while serving on an LDS mission during 2010. In her testimony, Smart showed a poise and decorum that is rarely found among private individuals thrust into the public spotlight.

Central to Smart’s impact is her religion. Mormonism was part of what the public knew about her from the beginning, and was part of the story of her testimony at the trial. While Smart’s impact is rooted in her abduction, and thus in being a victim, in succeeding years she has also become known for her own actions — for her activism in favor of Sexual Predator legislation and the AMBER Alert system, and in support of kidnapping victims. More recently, she is also known for serving an LDS mission, where she is giving a very different kind of testimony.

Her impact is particularly notable because it has spread so widely around the world, in contrast to that of other nominees. Many in the public around the world not only know Smart’s story but know that she is Mormon. Her story has appeared in thousands of articles and media presentations worldwide since 2003, inspiring those in far-flung countries to create websites devoted to her character. Religious sites, from various denominations, have used her as an example of hope and final victory. The Bobby Roth’s drama-documentary “The Elizabeth Smart story” has been translated in numerous languages and is still regularly shown on foreign TV-channels.

The 2010 trial has been covered by news outlets as diverse as the Norwegian Dagbladet and NRK, the German Die Welt, Bild, and Salzburger Nachrichten, the Icelandic MBL, the Estonian Ohtuleht, the Romanian EVZ, the Danish Jyllands-Posten, the Portuguese Lux, the Polish Wiadomosci, Strefa tajemnic, and Gazeta, the Slovak Noviny, the Spanish El Mundo and El Diario, the Italian Il mio giornale and Giornalettismo, the Korean Paran, the Vietnamese Xaluan, etc. Often compared to the ordeal and miraculous escape of the Austrian Natasha Kampusch, Elizabeth Smart’s story has galvanized efforts worldwide to do the utmost to search for missing children and to never give up hope.

Unlike those we have selected before, Smart is young, and still has much of her life ahead of her. News reports have covered some possible plans and career paths. It will be interesting to see what impact Smart may have in the future.

The Mormon of the Year designation is a recognition of the effect that a person or group has had during the past year. It is not a prize or award, so nothing of value is being given to anyone as a result of this designation, and it is not necessarily meant to honor the person or persons recognized, so no effort will be made to contact or notify Smart.

We were very pleased by the interest in selecting the Mormon of the Year. Times and Seasons readers nominated 23 possibilities in addition to the original 5. We learned a lot from those nominations, especially the range of our readers’ beliefs and feelings. Some of the Mormons we learned have done significant things and deserve to be on a list of possible Mormons of the Year.

The LDS Church’s First Presidency (including the Prophet) and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles were excluded from nominations.

We also appreciate those who participated in our online vote or commented on the nominations, which taught us a lot about the passion that many people have for those that they admire. Nearly 500 people voted in our poll, including many readers new to Times and Seasons. We hope that those who dropped by enjoyed Times and Seasons and will visit us again.

Please plan on participating in next year’s Mormon of the Year nominations. I’m sure that many of the nominees will show up next year, and those of us who were unfamiliar with some of the nominees can use that time to become more familiar with them. Certainly we will re-nominate some of them next year. And, as we discovered this year, the changing nominations make the selection process very different each year.

21 comments for “Times and Seasons’ 2010 Mormon of the Year: Elizabeth Smart

  1. #1 “Good choice”

    Yeah, but why not let her know about this?

    “We hope that those who dropped by enjoyed Times and Seasons and will visit us again.”

    Doubt it. Rather boring site during the rest of the year!

  2. Charlie (2), I’m sorry that we’re not meeting your expectations. It would be nice if you could describe better what you expect from T&S.

    Our policy of not notifying those recognized is based on the idea that this is NOT an award, because those recognized could be recognized for having a negative impact — something we aren’t keen on rewarding.

  3. #3 Lol.

    Loved your comeback :)

    #4 Kent,

    I’d add a podcast and round table discussions. The ‘anti’ mob (mormon expression et al) have some so surely you ‘pro-mormon’ guys could counterattack with uplifting podcasts? Although Mormon channels conversations and BCC Zeitcast will be hard to beat. However its sure to increase traffic, maybe to BCC levels. And also why not do interviews with people like president Kimball’s son or Dr Bradshaw, who were both interviewed by Dehlin and those sessions are every bit uplifting and faith promoting. Plus people like me can listen to them driving to and from work for 3hrs a day, when we can’t read off course.

    “Our policy of not notifying those recognized …” Yeah yeah I read that in the article but Smart is also a sentimental favourite of the mormon community so I’d say you could make an exception here because this can only help her and give her more strength to go on doing what they do. (Smart and her Dad). A letter of congratulations to her mission home should be enough imho.

  4. Let’s get back to congratulating Elizabeth. It is inspiring to see that her statement “It is possible to move on after something terrible has happened” is now found in translation in many articles in the world.
    In the Portuguese press: “É sempre possível avançar depois de um acontecimento terrível», afirmou Smart à saída do tribunal.”
    In the German press: Es ist möglich, im Leben weiterzumachen, auch wenn etwas Schreckliches passiert ist!”
    Or in the Slovak press: “Chcem dat nádej aj d’alším obetiam, ktoré sa boja rozprávat o tom, co sa im stalo” (literally: “I want to give hope to other victims who are afraid to talk about what happened to them.”)

    Indeed, Smart has given hope and courage to countless people around the world.

  5. What I love about this selection is that in just the span of my lifetime, we’ve gone from a Church that told our girls that it’s better to come home in a coffin than to be raped–to one that celebrates a girl who not only faced that horror, but proudly stood up and told the world about it. Elizabeth, you are amazing!

  6. It’s a sweep! (And a well-written essay, too, Kent.)

    The Deseret News has the Mitchell trial/Smart testimony as first of the Top Ten News Stories of 2010. It also lists the story as among the DesNews’s “Top **LDS** News Stories of 2010,” as well. Meanwhile, over at the Salt Lake Tribune, the story likewise is listed as number one on the Trib’s “top 10 stories of 2010”–with Tribune also recognizing “the Smart Women” their collective designee for Utahns of the Year, as well, to join the usually esteemed company given this designation in earlier years.

  7. Elizabeth Smart is a brilliant and appropriate choice, although as an ex Mormon I should have nothing to say about who is chosen. Most of what I say about Mormons is profoundly negative, so I thought I should try to say something positive that I really believe as part of an effort to contribute to civility in the aftermath of Prop 8 and Tucson. Ms. Smart is beautiful, poised, articulate and incredibly courageous…..a great representative of Mormon people.

  8. A very nice essay; a much better job of expressing your support and justification for your selection compared to that other blog and their pick…

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