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The runner-up in the Miss USA beauty pageant says her outspoken opposition to same-sex marriage cost her the title. Miss California, Carrie Prejean, said she believes “a marriage should be between a man and a woman.” She had been asked for her views on the subject by one of the judges, celebrity blogger Perez Hilton, a 1996 graduate of Belen Jesuit Prep in Miami. “We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage,” said Miss California in a televised section of the show. “I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman,” she continued. “No offense to anybody out there, but that’s how I was raised.” The remarks drew a mixture of booing and applause from the audience. Hilton said he had been “floored” by Prejean’s answer, which, he added, “alienated millions of gay and lesbian Americans, their families and their supporters.” He told ABC News (Apr. 21): “She lost it because of that question. She was definitely the front-runner before that.” The crown was won by Miss North Carolina.
An Italian lap-dancer-turned-nun was selected to perform in front of a group of Catholic cardinals and bishops at Rome’s Holy Cross in Jerusalem Basilica. Thirty-eight-year-old Anna Nobili, who gave up years of pole dancing in Milan after a 2002 visit to the shrine of St. Francis in Assisi, joined an order of nuns called the Sister Workers of the Holy House of Nazareth. Sr. Nobili, as she is now known, said she practices a form of “mystical” choreography she calls “Holy Dance” (The Daily Telegraph, Apr. 4). “I was wasting my life dancing for men in clubs. The nights were filled with sex and alcohol. It was an empty life but I liked it because I was the center of attention,” she admitted. “But now my life has been transformed.” That may be, but it appears Nobili is still the center of attention. The men now just happen to be high-ranking Catholic clergy.
The United Church of Christ (UCC), the religious denomination of President Barack Obama, has issued a statement promoting the distribution of condoms inside its houses of worship. The statement, which was delivered during a presentation to the denomination’s Wider Church Ministries Board, also advocated making condoms available at “faith-based educational settings” — church schools and youth-group meetings. A UCC executive explained that condom distribution is “a matter of life and death” and that condoms should be made available to save the lives of young people. Calling it the denomination’s “moral responsibility” to make condoms available, the UCC’s executive for health and wellness advocacy said, “People of faith make condoms available because we have chosen life so that we and our children may live” (OneNewsNow.com, Mar. 31).
More than 100,000 Britons have recently purchased “certificates of de-baptism” to renounce their Christian faith. The initiative was launched by a group called the National Secular Society (NSS) in part to prevent a form of what they call “child abuse” — baptizing children before they can give their informed consent. De-baptism organizers say the initiative is a response to what they see as increasing stridency from churches, citing Pope Benedict XVI’s comments about AIDS and condoms on his trip to Africa. “The Catholic Church is so politically active at the moment that I think that is where the hostility is coming from,” said NSS president Terry Sanderson. “In Catholic countries there is a very strong feeling of wanting to punish the Church by leaving it,” he claimed (Agence France-Presse, Mar. 29).
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