Faith Counts, a multi-faith initiative that represents more than 100 million Americans, is celebrating the release of a new video. The compelling YouTube video that features kidnapping survivor Elizabeth Smart is the 14th video produced by the group.
“Faith has been an integral part of my life,” said Smart. “It has sustained and comforted me during trying times, given me courage to overcome adversity and has helped to heal my mind, body and spirit. I hope that by sharing my story as part of Faith Counts that it might inspire others to have greater faith, especially in times of trial and uncertainty.”
Smart was kidnapped from her Salt Lake City home on June 5, 2002 at the age of 14. Her story received international media attention. “For me as a mother, I’ll never forget listening to her talk about what helped her literally survive was the memory of her mother telling her that God will love her no matter what,” explained Kerry Troup, spokeswoman for Faith Counts.
“And it was that faith and that knowledge in God that He would always love me that helped me survive the next nine months, and it continues to help me survive to this day,” said Smart in the short video. Her story can also be found on the Faith Counts website.
“We have many partners, from Catholics and Mormons and Seventh-day Adventists and Sikhs and Jewish people, and we’ve all come together because we all believe different things theologically and doctrinally, but we all agree on the power of faith,” said Troup.
Faith Counts is a nonprofit, nondenominational organization comprised of many religious communities to promote the value of faith. Current partners include Hillel International, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Franciscan University of Steubenville and the 1st Amendment Partnership.
“Although we practice different faiths, we are united by our personal commitments to becoming better human beings,” added Jasjit Singh, executive director of the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund. “When we recognize that we have that common purpose, I think we can achieve really, really great things. In fact, this country was founded on the idea of religious freedom for all. And so beyond our commitment to our own faiths I think it reflects a commitment to our country when we unite and protect each other’s faiths.”
Troup said Faith Counts was launched as a social media campaign in October 2014. The partners of Faith Counts come together to create a variety of content meant to inspire respect for the value of faith to empower viewers to share what faith means in their own lives. “Unfortunately in today’s increasingly secular society, we’re seeing faith and people of faith being marginalized and faith being portrayed as a bad thing, especially among young people who are more and more not affiliating with any sort of religion or faith,” she said.
Students at Brigham Young University are among those collaborating on content and have been involved in the Faith Counts video production. “I’m amazed at the ideas they come up with to share in this world where a lot of people don’t know if they’re supposed to share what they believe,” said Jeff Sheets, director of the Laycock Center for Creative Collaboration in the Arts.
Faith is what compels us to show compassion to our neighbors, love to our enemies,” said Julio Muñoz, associate director of communications of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. “You see people of different faiths come together to show love and compassion, and love and compassion are always going to defeat hate and evil. Faith is what compels people to serve their fellow men and women in their communities.”