Twisted Agenda: The Left Twists the Lessons of Elizabeth Smart

May 11, 2013 at 5:00 am / by

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Elizabeth Smart: Abstinence Education Teaches Rape Victims They’re Worthless, Dirty, And Filthy‘ is the headline at uber-liberal ThinkProgress. Over at Slate, the headline reads ‘Elizabeth Smart Says Pro-Abstinence Sex Ed Harms Victims of Rape‘. Both headlines twisting her words. All across the Internet, the title screams out at you with its intended message: “Stupid Christians! We told you so!” But, those aren’t the words of devout Mormon, Elizabeth, 25. Now Elizabeth Smart-Gilmour, the kidnapping and rape survivor spends time telling her story to help women and children. At just 14-years-old, she was kidnapped from her bedroom by a monster who believed he was a prophet of God and his wife. She was ‘married’ to him in a fake ceremony and held captive for what she called “nine months of hell” before being rescued in Salt Lake suburb in Utah.

In a speech at a Johns Hopkins University panel last week, Smart talked about something she had been told by a schoolteacher.

“I remember in school one time, I had a teacher who was talking about abstinence,” Smart shared. “And she said, ‘Imagine you’re a stick of gum. When you engage in sex, that’s like getting chewed. And if you do that lots of times you’re going to become an old piece of gum, and who is going to want you after that?’ Well, that’s terrible. No one should ever say that. But for me, I thought, ‘I’m that chewed-up piece of gum.’ Nobody re-chews a piece of gum. You throw it away. And that’s how easy it is to feel you no longer have worth. Your life no longer has value.” Disgusting. I hope that teacher is out of a job.

ThinkProgress not only flat-out lied in their article by adding words that Smart never said and making assumptions.  They ended their first paragraph like this: “Smart was recovered while she and her kidnappers were walking down a suburban street, leading many Americans who followed her story on the national news to wonder: Why didn’t she just run away as soon as she was brought outside?” How demented is that? I guess they thought since she mentioned it, it would be fine to use it for their purposes. Smart said, “One of the questions that is most commonly asked of me, ‘Well why didn’t you run away, why didn’t you yell, why didn’t you scream?’” Repeating it in their article is like asking her to justify her actions, which she doesn’t have to do. The article fails to mention what else Elizabeth clearly said in the speech (and that’s mentioned on her website), that her captors had told her they would kill her family if she ran.  But of course, the whole truth didn’t fit their liberal narrative.

In regards to ‘not running away’, Smart said, “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, and that’s the way I had been raised and that’s what I had been determined to follow. That when I got married, then and only then, would I engage in sex and so for that first rape I felt crushed, I felt so dirty and so filthy I understand so easily why someone wouldn’t run because of that alone.”

It’s heartbreaking to think about the fear and shame she must have felt. Teaching abstinence should never involve shaming, and yes, our children need to know that someone evil cannot take away their value. But, websites trying to claim that abstinence can’t be taught without setting your child up to be a victim is absurd. Using a survivor of such an ordeal to push their beliefs is disgusting.

Naturally, ThinkProgress did little to hide the intent and message of their article while skewing the words of Smart. They claimed (without quoting, so it’s okay…yeah, right) “…some human trafficking victims don’t run away because they feel worthless after being raped, particularly if they have been raised in conservative cultures that push abstinence-only education and emphasize sexual purity“.

Great hit piece on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Catholic Church…all Christians that teach abstinence. Because, after all, it was Elizabeth Smart, and who would question what she says? Except that’s not quite what she said. How many people would look further to find out what was actually said? Not too many, in fact, some other articles are quoting ThinkProgress rather than watching the video for themselves! C’mon, “conservative cultures”, “abstinence-only education”?

The majority of the articles don’t point out that Smart primarily talked about teaching children that they are of value and that nothing that’s done to them can diminish that. They all conveniently added comments from ‘experts’ on rape…all seemingly intent on agreeing with this fake narrative. One expert mentioned how this should be “handled by schools professionally” (yeah, no thanks!).  Another went on about how the schools were being ‘forced’ to ignore the ‘facts’ on sex ed. Perhaps the biggest eye opener was this one from Slate: “When we instruct teenagers to dress modestly, abstain from alcohol, never go out alone, and certainly never engage in sex, we’re not actually helping them prevent rape—but we are telling them that when they are victimized, they are partially to blame.” Really? So, getting drunk has no effect on if you’re raped? Being alone? There are a lot of rapists out there that didn’t get that rulebook!

While I usually agree with her articles, I was disappointed to see the title of Religion Dispatches article on Smart by Joanna Brooks: ‘Traditional Mormon Sexual Purity Lesson Contributed to Captivity, Elizabeth Smart Tells University Audience‘. Such a misleading, false title. Smart said nothing about a ‘Traditional Mormon Sexual Purity Lesson’. Some of the articles were so slanted that Smart’s father, Ed Smart, felt it was necessary to tell his local news channel, FOX13, that “his daughter was simply sharing her experiences, speaking for herself as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but she wasn’t trying to make any religious or political statements.” Will Elizabeth herself speak out about the liberties taken in her name? I hope so. These websites are devaluing her message in an effort to push their political agenda against Christians.

The Elizabeth Smart Foundation is located on the web at Her ‘Foundation Story’ reads, in part:

“Too many families experience the nightmare of having a child go missing. I know what it is like to be that child. I know what it is like to think that one false move may lead to not only your own death but the death of family members as well. Nobody can ever blame a child for their actions when they are being threatened, bullied, forced, or coerced into doing something unthinkable.”

They add, “Every child in the world deserves to have a life without abuse in any form. Children are the future.”

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Margie Wilson-Mars

Oregon PolitiChick State Director Margie Wilson-Mars is a happily married, mother of 8 children, a shockingly young grandma of 3 and mom to a chocolate lab with OCD. She is a 'conservative libertarian' who writes about politics for Gather News and occasionally, Examiner. Margie holds a degree in Early Childhood Education and is currently working on a degree in Political Science. She blogs on two leading parenting websites as an expert in Attachment Parenting, pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, and child rearing. Margie's passions are autism (3 of her sons are autistic), gun rights and the Tea Party. She enjoys reading political non-fiction and biographies, social media, crafts and spending time with her best friend, only daughter, Stephanie. You can follow Margie on Facebook:

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  1. The left, the mighty champions of women never fail to amaze me in how many ways they exploit, twist, use and abuse women to spread their agenda. They hate anything that teaches modesty or abstaining from things like pre marital sex because it makes those who willingly engage to look like, well, Sandra Fluke.
    There’s a big difference in willingly giving away the most intimate part of oneself and having it ripped from you.
    These people are vile. I’d say they ought to be ashamed, but I guess it’s hard to feel shame when you have no conscience.

  2. Progressives Rule says:

    As to be expected lies from a woman who doesn’t know anything about Family Planning. Many sites and news orgs accurately reported on Smart’s comments. You folks on the extreme religious right need to start taking stock on the real life affects your preachings have on your daughters and sons. Interesting she provides no links to support her absurd claims.

    • I’m not sure what you think I lied about in this article. I believe the FOX13 link which includes a video of exactly what Smart said is proof of what I said. I certainly don’t think any of my claims are ‘absurd’. I believe that the reports that I mentioned and linked to twisted her words to fit their agenda.

      I would like to point out a couple of things. I am not extremely religious by any stretch. I actually do know about Family Planning, thank you. My adult children were well educated on all aspects of Family Planning and my younger children are all taught at an age appropriate age.

      • Again, several sites added words meant to sound like they were from Smart when they weren’t. Same with the articles, just like you did above. There is a lot of assuming going on. Smart is LDS, I am LDS. She has not renounced the Church. I understand because of the way our lessons were handled back when she was young that it had an influence on her behavior. She did not say a word about not teaching abstinence, she said everything needed to be taught to children in a way that they never feel like they are dirty, wrong, etc. if something like rape happens to them. Is your issue that I omitted things? Did you think I should have added the entire text? Or is abstinence education your issue?

        Again, my point is that websites wrote headlines and parts of their articles to make it seem like she said things she didn’t. I included the link to the video for a reason. You included the parts of her speech that you believe discredits what I wrote, so you should be satisfied with the end result. I stand by what I wrote.

        I don’t think you needed to add the quote by Brooks when I had a link to it. No, I have not heard back from her. I will add it here if I do. But, I don’t think it’s fair to assume that she disagrees with what I wrote.
        As for what our Church teaches now, yes, they do teach abstinence and they will continue to. Maybe you should talk to Smart about her membership? In addition, it’s obviously your choice to think it’s ignorant. Personally, I don’t think it’s enough and I choose to teach my children more than that, however, I have nothing to do with their policies and I believe they have the right to teach what they teach.

        As far as how many days it’s been, I have eight children and a terminal illness, so please forgive me for not being on top of the comments, sometimes it will take me several days or much longer to respond. I would like it if you would please try to refrain from being rude and making assumptions like the ‘confession’ one, etc. There’s no need for it. I have no problem discussing this, but I don’t need for you to attack me. Thanks.

        • I wanted to add something. You wrote:

          “As anyone can plainly see, Ms Mars, you left out Ms Smart’s most important, to her, explanation as to why she didn’t try to run. Her church shamed her to think that because she was now not “pure” that she was not of any value to anyone. THIS is Ms Smart’s message and for you to try to change her words, her message, is serving YOUR AGENDA!”

          First of all, YOU don’t speak for her anymore than I do, so for you to say “to her”, or “her church” is unfair. She specifies on her website: “I know what it is like to think that one false move may lead to not
          only your own death but the death of family members as well,” AND “Nobody can ever blame a child for their actions when they are being
          threatened, bullied, forced, or coerced into doing something
          (see ABOUT section)

          My BELIEF is that she is pretty clear about both things, fear of for her family and humiliation, are both responsible for her not running. She NEVER ONCE said not to teach abstinence. I think it’s pretty clear she doesn’t think it should be taught the way it has been.

          • Wait…let me get this straight. 1. Are you a man? 2. You believe Sarah Palin faked her pregnancy with her son Trig?

            Yes? No?

          • Progressives Rule says:

            Absolutely Palin faked her pregnancy. Sound crazy? Again, absolutely. But, she did. Your bio says you have 8 children. Do you have any photos of how big your belly was at 8 months along? Compare Palin’s photos before she stuffed a pillow up her blouse and see if you believe that woman gave birth to Trigg.

            A few simple, common sense questions… Why would an egomaniac like Palin not tell people she was pregnant? Why no photos in the hospital of Palin and her new born son? Why no birth announcement? Who doesn’t put a birth announcement in the paper? Since it’s actually the hospital who puts birth announcements in the paper, why none on Trigg? Why didn’t Palin show his birth certificate to shut everybody up? After all, she was one of the biggest mouths demanding our president to show his. Why didn’t Palin’s doctor answer any questions about the birth she supposedly delivered? Why didn’t Palin ever release any medical records when she was running for VP? All she released was a letter that it was obvious a doctor did not write. There is still a $10,000 reward out there for anyone who can prove Palin gave birth to Trigg. Why would that still be unclaimed today?

            Here’s a link to a Business Insider article with three photos showing how much Palin claims her belly grew in just 5 days:

            Here’s a few videos documenting Palin’s pregnancy hoax:

            But, by far the best evidence exposing Palin’s hoax is PoliticalGates. They have nailed Palin in the lying coffin where anybody with a brain and an open mind for the truth can see for themselves that Palin is not Trigg’s mother.





            Here’s another good article trying to get the word out there.

            I look forward to see how you respond to what I’ve given you here.

          • Progressives Rule says:

            You’re still twisting Ms Smart’s words. I didn’t add anything she didn’t say. I quoted her words directly from your video link. I didn’t copy them from any other source. They were Elizabeth Smart’s very own words, and you know it! You make it sound like Ms Smart’s reasons for not trying to run were split “equally” among being threatened and feeling humiliated by her church’s, and probably her parents, teachings. She was VERY clear that her BIGGEST reason for not trying to leave was the humiliation and feeling of “no value” that her, and your, church put on her.

            I repeat, Elizabeth said..

            “Back to my question, ‘Why didn’t you run? why didn’t you scream?’ I think it goes even beyond fear (!!!!!)… For so many children, especially in sex trafficking , it’s feelings of self-worth. It’s feeling like, ‘who would ever want me now? I am worthless!’ That was, 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 that only happened between a husband and a wife who loved each other (!!!), and that’s the way I had been raised and that’s what I had been determined to follow that 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 so easily, all too well why someone wouldn’t run because of that alone. I mean, if you could 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 society where you’re no longer of value? Where you’re no longer as good as anyone else? ”

            Her exact words, taken directly from the video you linked to:
            “I think it goes even beyond fear.” !!! THAT was her greatest reason for not running. She felt humiliated by her church’s teachings. And for you to lie in an attempt to make it seem anything other than that goes against even the Mormon church’s teachings of being honest.

            You didn’t even mention Elizabeth’s strongest reason for not trying to escape. You only cared about taking part of what she said and making it sound like her church’s teachings about “purity”, LDS website quotes, not mine!, made her feel worthless. You lied and you need to see and admit you lied. This is what religious extremists do, you twist the truth with lies of omission.

            I’m very sorry you are sick. However, that does not give you the right to lie even on a dishonest blog like this. Listen to that video. And if you want to be honest with your god, it seems to me like this would be a good time to do so.

          • P1. She did not say that was her biggest reason. She’s said it many times, including in person twice, to me. I will not argue about what I know for a fact.

            Did she not say “she understands WHY SOMEONE wouldn’t run “because of that alone”?

            Did she not say “People have asked me, why didn’t you run away … why didn’t you scream?
            The answer is very simple, I was scared. I was petrified. I was told
            every day, if you try to run away … we will kill you and if we don’t
            kill you we will kill your family. To me, I had watched them kidnap me
            … abuse me for so long, what was going to stop them from killing me
            … from killing my family? My family is my biggest weak spot … so I
            couldn’t stand to think that for something I did or didn’t do … they
            would suffer for it. Looking back, I don’t regret not speaking … I
            don’t regret not screaming … I had to do what I had to.

            (sorry for the messed up paste job)

            As I said, if I do hear back from her and she wants any corrections, I will absolutely do them. I admire her and her family means a lot to me on a personal level.

            I will leave you with this. Sorry if you’re still not satisfied:

            In light of what has happened with Amanda Berry, these are good words
            to hear from someone who can express them better than anyone. Of
            course, liberal news outlets (Slate, MSNBC, ThinkProgress)
            are picking up the Smart speech and pigeonholing it as an attack on
            abstinence education. They’re “reporting” that Smart is saying that
            “Abstinence Education Teaches Rape Victims They’re Worthless, Dirty, and

            I’m not sure if that is what Smart was actually saying.
            Her emphasis seemed to be on reinforcing to children that they have
            value no matter what and that her purpose was not to attack abstinence
            education (however, she might have been—I’ll let you be the judge of

          • In the context of Smart’s speech, the chewed-up gum analogy was one expressing how worthless and dirty she felt after being sexually victimized. The comment comprised 30 seconds of a 13 minute presentation. Smart spent nearly five times as long pleading for compassion toward survivors and education of potential victims. Her emphasis was clearly on the need to teach young people that “you have value, and you always will have value – nothing can change that.”

            At no time did Smart say that her religious education or affiliation with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints made her somehow particularly susceptible to sexual exploitation – though Jon Krakauer did imply as much in Banner. Smart rather drew on an analogy
            from her childhood to explain her (very common) feelings of
            self-loathing following sexual exploitation and abuse.


          • Progressives Rule says:

            This discussion is about your so-called article here and the video of Elizabeth’s speech. It is NOT about any personal discussions you may or may not have had with her.
            After Elizabeth talked about the threats made against her, she said, ” I think it goes even beyond fear ” and then described how her church’s teachings made her feed she had no value. So, YES she is saying that was her BIGGEST reason for not running.
            Have you listened to the video that you linked to? The quotes I attributed to Ms Smart were in fact in her video. I listened to it and wrote them down. Maybe you should listen to what she actually said before you embarrass yourself saying that she did not say what I said she did. You will see my quotes follow her word for word.
            What Elizabeth said does indeed show that the Mormon’s abstinence and purity teachings DID have a big impact on making that poor little girl feel she had no value. Can’t you read?
            Her EMPHASIS was on how devalued she felt.

  3. Thank you for writing this story. I’m so tired of the left hijacking what people say to mold it to their agenda.

  4. Chuck Long says:

    Have you tried to contact Mrs. Smart-Gilmour to get her personal reaction to these pieces on the record? I’d love to hear her address them directly.

    • Yes, I did send an inquiry to her but I haven’t heard back. She’s been very busy since the women in Cleveland were rescued. Hopefully, I will hear back and be able to add a note on the article.

      • Yes, of course I would!
        Why did you write “Come on now, you’re a Christian, remember? The truth is the truth”? Are you assuming I wouldn’t? Why?

        Please stop being so inflammatory for no reason. I have no problem talking to you about this but your responses and comments are getting mean for no reason.

        • Progressives Rule says:

          It’s not for “no” reason. You lied and I want you to see your lies. We all do. No, I don’t think you’ll come on here and tell us if you hear from Ms Smart and she corrects you. In fact, I don’t even believe you wrote to her in the first place. You’ve already proved what a liar you are, why should we believe you now?

          • Enough. Find something else to do. You are getting nowhere. Take all of your lies and go away.

          • Progressives Rule says:

            If you choose to lie to people you shouldn’t be surprised or feign hurt when people challenge you on your lies. The Mormon church damages and hurts people, as do all religions. Elizabeth Smart and you are the proof.

  5. SactoSteve says:

    It’s really sad that you have to turn absolutely everything–including the words of a real survivor and role model–into an attack on liberals. Here is her response:

    Rather than retracting her point about abstinence education, however, Smart has taken steps to expand upon the issues at the heart of her statement about “purity culture”. In an interview in the upcoming issue of the New Yorker, Smart explains that abstinence-only education is one piece of a bigger puzzle. She notes that’s just one of the multiple factors that contribute to a society in which rape victims are shamed instead of supported:

    Smart said she wanted to clarify her point. She had been lamenting that victims of sexual abuse often feel that they are “no longer as good as everybody else.” Nobody should have the power to take away another person’s self-worth, Smart told me.But abstinence education was hardly the only way that victims of sexual assault could be shamed. A girl could be humiliated through social media — Smart and I talked about the incident last year in Steubenville, Ohio, in which high-school students recorded an assault with cell-phone cameras and mocked the victim on Twitter. Smart told me, “I can’t tell you how many women I’ve met who say, ‘When I was your age, I was raped, but it was kind of my fault, because of X, Y, or Z.’ And I just want to pull my hair out.”

    Ultimately, she’s describing rape culture — the term for a set of attitudes that assume rape is inevitable, consent is invisible, and victims are to blame for the crimes perpetrated against them because they “asked for it.” Thanks to high-profile rape cases like Steubenville and Maryville, rape culture is becoming a more mainstream concept. But it’s still constantly reinforced, particularlythrough the media.

    Since Smart is currently speaking to the press to promote her upcoming book “My Story,” which details her journey from a victim to an advocate, she’s had a lot of recent opportunities to speak out about rape culture. When she talks about what motivated her to write a memoir, she typically brings up many of the deeply-ingrained societal issues that continue to plague survivors of sexual assault. She wants to help teach society to treat rape victims with compassion.

    “After being raped, I felt completely worthless. I didn’t even feel like I was human anymore,” Smart told NPR in an interview earlier this week. “And it is just so important to let these survivors know that they are not any less of a person. You don’t love them any less. And that to pretend like it never happened, or to pretend like rape doesn’t exist or that it only happens in the wrong parts of town — you’re doing that survivor a disservice.”

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