Miss (Christian) America
- Thursday, May 01, 2003
Harold had no qualms. "Christians swim and they wear swimsuits," she says. "The outfits worn in the competition are far more modest than ones at the beach."
Some Christians are opposed to the entire concept of a beauty pageant, yet Harold draws a parallel to Esther in the Old Testament. While humans picked Esther as queen because of her physical attributes resulting from six months of beauty treatments, God designated her to stand up for virtue in a hostile society. "I am under no illusion that I won because of beauty or talent," Harold says. "God has creative ways of using people to make a difference. We should never limit him to the traditional ways we conceive of ministry."
The Miss America organization has vast control in determining Harold's schedule until she relinquishes her crown, but she strives to attend events that are important to her, especially where young people are present. As she continues her reign, Harold is trying to ignore the criticisms about her beliefs and focus on helping young people.
"Certainly there are going to be people who disagree with me on every issue," the future law-school student reasons. "If I get sidetracked debating and trying to change opinions, then I become less effective. But I won't endorse agendas that run counter to my belief system."
Harold has found her newfound fame to be a tremendous training ground for political life, noting the daily interaction with media and being subjected to public examination. But for the moment, she's enjoying the national spotlight and the opportunity to boldly proclaim her Christian values.
"If you're a Christian it needs to be manifest in every aspect of your life," she says. "If you encounter any adversity in life, God can use it."
Vonda Van Dyke Scoates, 1965
She was the first Miss America to speak about her faith on national television. An accomplished singer and speaker, her first book, That Girl in Your Mirror, sold over 1 million copies. Her late husband, David Tyler Scoates, was a well-known minister in Southern California.
Terry Meeuwsen, 1973
Today this wife and mother of four is best known as co-host of Pat Robertson's
Cheryl Prewitt Salem, 1980
At age 11, Salem's face was scarred and her left leg crushed in a near-fatal car accident. Doctors said she would never walk again, but she was miraculously healed five years later after attending a revival meeting. An inspiration to many, she has written several books, including
Heather Whitestone McCallum, 1995
Profoundly deaf since she was 18 months old, McCallum was the first woman with a disability to be crowned Miss America. Today she says the biggest handicap in the world is negative thinking, as she shares her message of faith and inspiration. Last year, she received a cochlear implant, which she hopes will restore some of her hearing. Her latest book is
Erika Harold's message on sexual abstinence places her in a long-standing Christian traditon. For a quick history of the abstinence message in the church, click here.
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