Today’s Message from Carrie Prejean, Former Miss California


It all started when she answered a politically select question with a politically inorrect answer. For that she was denied the Miss USA crown. Even her Miss California standing was in jeopardy. Then Donald Trump kindly came to her defense. More trouble surfaced, however, with the revelation of photos of Ms. Prejean, well . . . “revealed.” Yesterday her pal, Donald Trump, defrocked the beauty queen with words akin to “You’re fired!”

cprejeanToday Carrie Prejean rebounds, starting with an article for BigHollywood.com. For an article ostensibly written by her, the title is a little weird: “Exclusive: Miss California Speaks Out After Pageant Firing.” Prejean defends herself against allocations that she violated the conditions for wearing the Miss California crown. Conveniently, the professional photos go unmentiond. They are, of course, unmentionable.

The whole ordeal has turned tawdry. It doesn’t help that Prejean has expressed a dual affiliation, one in her capacity as Miss California USA and another as a firm and vocal believer in God and God’s providence. Christians with a public platform may learn from her experiences.

The Most Important Lesson

Miss Prejean says today that she’s learned a most important lesson from what she’s been through. You might find this interesting. She writes that “nothing is more important than standing up for what you believe in, no matter what the cost may be.” This is how she answers vicious attacks, to which, she maintains, she has consistently responded with integrity.

It saddens me to hear that this is “the most important lesson” she’s learned from the ordeal. Yes, she has been attacked. Yes, some attacks have been vicious and motivated by malice. And yes, Carrie Prejean acted with courage when she answered a politically-motivated question in a way that ensured that she would not win first place in the Miss USA pageant. She says she anticipated the possibility of the question, prayed it would not come up, then answered candidly when it did. I wrote about that and the fallout here.

So Ms. Prejean was not completey surprised by the verdict when the crown went to someone else. What may have surprised her is the effort that followed to incriminate her, to demonize her after so publicly taking a pro-marriage stand. As these things do, this led to the exposure of some pictures taken not so long ago. And no matter what Ms. Prejean says now in public, her photo-shoot clashes with her public image as innocent, with having traditional values and sticking to them.

Faced with the public appearance of hypocrisy, there are far more important lessons to learn than the one affirmed with such poise by Carrie Prejean. She says, “Nothing is more important than standing up for what you believe in, no matter what the cost may be.” What does it mean to stand up for what you believe in? Surely it means more than simply asserting your beliefs. Surely it matters no less whether your belief-assertions are matched by public and private conduct.

The Nature of Integrity

This is a question of truth—truth that you believe what you say you believe, the truth of what you believe, and the truth of the inner person. These are three distinct ways in which we are related to truth as individuals. Integrity is a matter of alignment among all three. First, do I truly believe what I say I believe? Second, is what I believe actually true? And third, is my life in harmony with what I believe?

These are hard questions. No one who contemplates them feels completely assured of his or her own integrity. But we are not always uncertain; sometimes we simply know that we fall short. This is why we must ask these questions of ourselves. They are a means of testing how faithful we are to our own values.

Carrie Prejean concludes her article with these words:

I am proud to be an American, and blessed to have had the opportunity to exercise my freedom of speech. I am excited and looking forward to where God leads me in the future. I know He has big plans for me. I am proud to be the strong woman God has molded me to be. I will always stand for the truth, respectfully, and never back down.

Americans have much to be proud of. Americans are blessed with the privilege of free speech. Of course, for the believer, it’s not only about freedom of speech. With freedom comes responsibility—the responsibility to speak with integrity.

Divine Guidance

Ms. Prejean speaks, finally, of divine leading. Her doctrine of divine guidance cannot be discerned in detail from the brief comments she makes. She claims to know that God “has big plans for me.” She doesn’t speculate about what those plans are. But the language she chooses is arresting. “Big plans.” But why not simply “a plan”?

Or why big plans for me? Ms. Prejean is “proud to be the strong woman God has molded me to be.” Many speak this way when talking about divine guidance. God’s leading is personal. It is special. It is large. It is for me.

Maybe we need to ask ourselves a few questions. Where do we get our ideas about divine guidance? What do they say about our view of God? And what do they say about our view of ourselves?

Carrie Prejean is a public figure. She stepped very deliberately into the limelight and became a kind of celebrity. She’s human, with human ambitions and human limitations. She has an opportunity to speak freely of what she believes and why. Today she’s declard in a very public way her values and her beliefs. She’s related them directly to how she understands God’s work in the world, how God leads individuals, and what individuals can expect from God when they use their free speech to affirm their values.

This young woman has provided believers everywhere with an opportunity for sober reflection about issues of integrity, the role of the believer in the world, and dependence on God, come what may. We do well to consider what are the most important lessons we can learn from her example.

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Betray Yourself, Not Your Sponsors—California Beauty Contestant Scorned by Her Own Handlers


Miss USA

Carrie Prejean, the 21-year-old Miss USA contestant from California, stood up for her values and stood down for the tiara that was almost hers. During the interview phase of the contest on Sunday, Judge Perez Hilton asked Ms. Prejean whether she believes in gay marriage. Prejean answered:

“We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. . . . And you know what . . . I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there, but that’s how I was raised.”

Ah, yes, but we do no longer live in a land where you can give an answer like that and still win a beauty contest. North Carolina’s Kristen Dalton won the crown and Carrie Prejean got “first runner-up.” Most believe it was her answer to gay advocate Perez Hilton that sunk Prejean’s chances. Some even believe it’s a travesty that she was the acknowledged runner-up after such an “insensitive” and “hateful” public statement about the definition of marriage.

Observe:

  1. Carrie Prejean gave an unpopular but honest answer. She could have been dishonest and probably won the contest. To her credit, she stood by her values. But it isn’t her answer that bothers gay rights activists; it’s her attitude about gay rights and the definition of marriage.
  2. Carrie Prejean’s attitude is that marriage should be between a man and a woman. She cannot be accused of “gay bashing.” What she said is not a form of hate speech. As she said, she intended no offense to anyone. She simply said what she believes, as asked. My view? If you’re going to ask a question like that one, you’d better be able to handle the answer. Notice, no one has objected to the question, or to Hilton Perez for asking the question. So Prejean should have been free to answer, without recrimination, the question she was asked.
  3. Carrie Prejean was not “inclusive” enough in her answer, say her critics. But if she had answered that she approved of gay marriage, she would have excluded many Americans who also disapprove, including all those from her own state who passed Proposition 8 with their vote in November.
  4. Gay rights advocates are bound to take offense even if Carrie Prejean meant no offense. Gay rights advocates are duty-bound by their cause to take offense. It is a strategic requirement in their effort to persuade others of gay rights. “Being offended” is an acquired taste. It comes natural when you’ve trained for it.
  5. A beauty pageant is a popularity contest. Because of her answer, Carrie Prejean is unpopular with certain people. Which people? Gay rights activists. Who are gay rights activists? This is an important question. Some gays are not gay rights activists. Many gay rights activists are not gay. Gay rights activists are engaged in a strategy to marginalize anyone who believes that there is no “right” to gay marriage. You may believe that marriage is between one man and one woman. But do you have a right to believe this? Do you have a right to say so? Doesn’t matter. Gay rights activists will do anything in their power to ensure that if you believe it you will be made a pariah.
  6. Perez Hilton took umbrage at Carrie Prejean’s answer to his pagaent question. AssociatedContent.com reports that the way Prejean “worded her answer seems to have infuriated Perez Hilton, who called her a ‘dumb bitch’ on his video blog, then apologized, but only for calling her a ‘dumb bitch.’ (Apparently, the ‘half a brain’ lines were still valid.)” So Hilton, in contrast to Prejean, is an intelligent and broad-minded person of good will who thinks Carrie Prejean deserved to lose the crown because of her “unfortunately worded remarks” (as they’re called over at AssociatedContent.com).
  7. Former Miss USA, now director of the Miss California USA pageant, Shanna Moekler has also made it publicly known that she’s disappointed in Carrie Prejean. As state pageant director who sought sponsors for Prejean’s participation in the pageant, Moekler was embarrassed and indignant, and said that Prejean had betrayed her sponsors. Apparently, Prejean should have betrayed herself and her own values, instead. This is very revealing about Moekler’s own moral compass. We should like to know who the sponsors are and which ones are so offended. In view of serious economic reversals in this country, it’s become imperative that Americans know more about the moral compass of corporate leaders. So tell us, Ms. Moekler, which sponsors are embittered by Prejean’s integrity?
  8. In the general election of November 2008, Californians voted to approve Proposition 8, affirming traditional marriage and prohibiting gay marriage. So it is especially poignant that Miss California defied gay rights activists’ opposition to Proposition 8. Talk about an embarrassment to the prickly denizens of the entertainment community in our state. I’m betting that future California contestants will be vetted for their views on gays rights issues.
  9. I admire Carrie Prejean’s courage. She knew she might be asked about gay marriage, and she hoped she wouldn’t be. She knew it would be risky to answer with honesty. She now says she would give the same answer over again. The test she passed may be much more significant than she realizes. Prejean’s courage will be rewarded with greater courage. That’s how growth in virtue works.
  10. She didn’t win the crown, but Carrie Prejean may now have more of a platform to inject greater judgment into public discussion of the gay rights debate. Greater judgment is sorely needed. But it won’t be enough to explain traditional convictions by saying only “this is how I was raised.” Prejean was pressed for time to answer a serious question tossed off by a cynical activist. Tender-hearted people need to ask the gay rights activists tough questions. Carrie Prejean is a tender-hearted person. May she and others equip themselves with knowledge of the sober facts about gay rights strategists and the plight of the gay community, and marshal these facts in the public square for the public good. For this purpose, I commend the work of Voddie Baucham on this sensitive topic.

Coming Post: Are you a Gay Rights Advocate?

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