By Jessica Ravitz, CNN
In a courtroom in Utah this week, Elizabeth Smart revisited the darkest days of her life's journey. But her testimony came during a short break from a spiritual journey - one that has shielded her from reminders of her abduction, the nine-month ordeal and the attention that's followed her.
For more than a year, Smart, who recently turned 23, has been in the midst of her LDS Church mission, a rite of passage hallowed by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Serving in Paris, France, she is among the 52,000 Mormon missionaries - most of them young adults; the others retired couples - who are knocking on doors and speaking 107 different languages in 180 countries, according to Lyman Kirkland, a church spokesman.
Those overseeing Smart’s mission didn’t return a call to CNN to discuss her missionary work. But if her time in the field is typical, here’s a glimpse into how she’s been living.
Three of the largest Sikh advocacy groups in the United States are opposing airport passenger screening measures they say require hand-searches of turbans, despite the use of electronic imaging technology.
The Sikh Coalition, United Sikhs and the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund are lobbying members of Congress in an effort to pressure federal transportation authorities to re-examine a policy they say unfairly scrutinizes members of the Sikh community.
"Sikh Americans are already looked at differently in this country," said the Sikh Coalition's director of programs, Amardeep Singh. "Once you start pulling Sikhs aside for extra screening, it sends a message that the government is suspicious of them for the same reasons [other passengers] are suspicious of them."
Editor's Note: This report comes to us from CNN's This Just in Blog.
Workers in Poland finished erecting the world's tallest statue of Jesus over the weekend, a 170-foot (52-meter) giant that towers over the countryside near Swiebodzin.
"This is the culmination of my life's work as a priest. I felt inspired to fulfill Jesus' will, and today I give thanks to him for allowing me to fulfill his will," Father Zawadzki said after the head was attached by a 700-ton crane, according to a report from the Warsaw Business Journal.
A crane places the head on the world's tallest Jesus statue this weekend in Poland.
The height of the plaster and fiberglass Polish statue surpasses the 40.4-meter (133-foot) Cristo de la Concordia in Cochabamba, Bolivia, and the 39.6-meter (130-foot) Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, according to news reports.
Read the full story here.
Editor's Note: CNN's Andy Saputra files this report from Jakarta, Indonesia.
Muslims staged rallies across Indonesia on Sunday to protest U.S. President Barack Obama's planned visit to the southeast Asian nation this week.
The protests - organized by Muslim group Hizbut Tahrir - included women and children.
"We don't see the differences between Obama and Bush, they both oppress Muslims, they both have blood on their hands," said Ismail Yusanto, a spokesman for the Muslim group in Indonesia.
"That's why we reject Obama and we don't believe that he's reaching out to Muslims."
The spokesman said about 20,000 people attended the rallies.
With about 205 million Muslims, Indonesia is the world's largest Muslim country, according to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life in Washington, D.C.
More than one in 10 of the world's Muslims live there.
Read the full story here.
Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church, said Saturday that death threats and continued worldwide controversy about his selection contributed to his decision to retire in January 2013.
Robinson's announced retirement surprised many of those attending the annual diocesan convention in Concord, New Hampshire.
The bishop, who has served in the post in New Hampshire since early 2004, said he is energized about his next two years of ministry and support of clergy and congregations as the process of naming his successor moves forward.
But turning 66 in 2013 and the "constant strain" from the church schism were factors in his decision, Robinson said in prepared remarks. The bishop said he is in his fifth year of sobriety after receiving treatment for alcohol abuse.
"The fact is, the last seven years have taken their toll on me, my family, and you," he told those attending the convention. "While I believe that these attitudes, mostly outside the Diocese, have not distracted me from my service to you, I would be less than honest if I didn't say that they have certainly added a burden and certain anxiety to my episcopate."
Editor's Note: From CNN's Richard Allen Greene
Britain's Islam Channel broke broadcasting regulations by condoning marital rape, encouraging violence against women, and promoting an anti-Israel, pro-Hamas line, the country's broadcast regulator Ofcom ruled Monday.
One violation came during an advice program in which a female caller asked if a woman could hit her husband back if he was beating her. The host, as part of his answer, said the most a husband could do was hit her with a stick the size of a pen "just to make her feel that you are not happy with her."
The same host said in another program that for a woman to wear perfume when praying in a mosque made her a prostitute in the eyes of the Prophet Mohammed.
Editor's Note: CNN Producer Gena Somra brings us this report from Yemen on CNN's Inside the Middle East Blog.
I've always been curious what life must be like for women who live behind the veil.
But I never thought I'd be in a position to experience it first hand.
As our team ventured out of Seiyun, Yemen, on our way to Tarim, I found myself pulling out my newly purchased niqab, and looking for help from my bewildered male teammates as to the proper way to adorn this thin and delicate piece of cloth.
After several unsuccessful tries to assemble it myself, our local fixer stepped in to assist. Soon I was looking at the world from a new (and somewhat uncomfortable) perspective.
September in this dry and dusty desert valley is scorching hot.... and being covered from head to toe in all black with only a tiny space for my eyes to glean the sun, seemed to draw the rays directly into me and intensify the already sapping heat that was bearing down on all of us.
The fabric was stretched and tied so tight that it cut across my lower eyelids and when I would blink I would feel its chiffon gently scratching my lashes. And even though I could breathe just fine, somehow this fabric over my nose and mouth made it feel like I could not. It was an unusual sensation to say the least.
Editor's Note: From CNN's Chris Welch and Jim Spellman
As more states consider whether or not to legalize gay marriage, church leaders have been forced to examine their theological position on homosexuality. They find themselves asking the question about gays and lesbians: What would Jesus do?
And they are coming to very different conclusions.
Some churches have decided to take the "hate the sin, love the sinner" approach by actively lobbying against gay marriage. Catholic leaders in Minnesota have turned to mass mailings as part of a media blitz to try to keep marriage between a man and a woman.
In Denver, an evangelical Christian pastor has split with his former church and started his own evangelical church that fully welcomes gays as worshipers and leaders.
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.