In the News – Toronto Tourism Beauty Contest

Via Essential Saltes comes this Toronto Sun story regarding the Miss Toronto Tourism pageant. Let’s get some things straight:

“We are not a religious pageant,” director Karen Hunter assures me. She says folks of many backgrounds will be at the waterfront Radisson Admiral hotel on the big night.

“We don’t want to offend anybody.”

So, when invited judge Miss Canada Plus, Stephanie Conover, turned in her bio with dark and dangerous hobbies like reiki and Tarot readings, the Board of Directors took the most secular, non-offensive course of action they could by sending her a letter:

“Our board of directors has eliminated her as a judge as tarot card reading and reiki are the occult and … not acceptable by God, Jews, Muslims or Christians.”

Then a Biblical quote about mediums and “spiritists.”

Then: “We hope that Stephanie Conover will turn from these belief systems and will repent from her practice of them.”

Most people would just stop after they got God’s opinion, but the Board went on to ask three major world religions as well. That’s thorough!

Yet there is more to the board’s objections than this, as Hunter explains:

She tells me there were also fears Stephanie would use tarot cards to choose a winner.

I think this is the best line of the whole piece. The Miss Toronto Tourism board is arbitrarily excluding someone based on her spirituality, lest she – horrors! – arbitrarily exclude someone based on her spirituality. Papers admires the board’s policy of pre-emptive discrimination and wishes them the best. They’ll likely need it.

UPDATE: Papers intends to provide balanced coverage of this event, because the pageant comments are just funny. Check out this quote:

“We adhere to God’s principles. We’re God-fearing. I wouldn’t say we’re religious.”

UPDATE: They just keep coming:

“We never said anything bad about her,” said Warren Booth, a member of the pageant’s board of directors…

“We want to be in line with God’s word when it comes to this type of activity and this isn’t anywhere near God’s word,” he said.

Booth claims the pageant doesn’t have a religious slant but has every right to reject anyone for any reason.

And more:

Miss Toronto Tourism, which isn’t affiliated with the city’s tourism office, stands by the decision. “We (accept) all religions, all nationalities, but we would reject them if they were into witchcraft,” reaffirms pageant spokesperson Karen Murray.

UPDATE 2:  If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s not to piss off the entire pagan community.

Toronto pagans are mobilizing against a beauty pageant being held Saturday night, after one of the judges was rejected because she is a fan of the occult.

They plan to picket the Waterfront Radisson Admiral, where the Miss Toronto Tourism pageant will be held, saying organizers have violated Stephanie Conover’s human rights.

In the meantime, sponsors are fleeing in droves:

Yesterday, the Miss Toronto Tourism website had removed its list of sponsors, save for a fitness site and a limo service.

That includes Mary Kay Cosmetics, which says it was not in fact a sponsor.

That’s right!  The pageant is even losing sponsors it didn’t have to begin with!

Yet pageant director Karyn Murray reminds us that, in any such controversy, there are victims…

“The girls are gonna have to do their own hair and makeup,” says the pageant’s frazzled director, Karyn Murray.

…even in the very loose sense of the word.
And we should also remember who’s to blame for this:

“They’ve been e-mailing all their buddies, trying to raise trouble,” she tells me.

“It’s vindictiveness from that girl (Stephanie) and her society.

This can’t be about Stephanie, because she’s made it clear she’s a solitary.  Instead, it’s society’s fault.

Nonetheless, things are looking even worse for the pageant – even the representatives of other faiths are ambivalent:

Surprisingly, the protesters have an ally, sort of, in pageant host Elvis Priestly, aka Dorian Baxter.

“As a clergyman,” he tells me, “I’m not in favour of tarot cards or witchcraft.

“On the other hand, this is not a theological event. It shouldn’t be an issue at a beauty pageant.

“And Elvis himself was not the kind of person to judge anybody.”

If you don’t have Elvis on your side, you don’t have anything.

Published in: on January 28, 2008 at 6:21 pm  Comments (6)  

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Haha, that is a funny post. However that last quote ‘I wouldn’t say we are religious’ is not really a non sequitur. In evangelical circles – at least the ones I have encountered and read about – religion is a bad word, and it is totally okay to have a strong faith in God and be God-fearing and not be religious at all. Religion is something practiced by Papists and followers of other Satanic religions – don’t flame me 🙂 I’m presenting a viewpoint of other people here – and serves only to cloud the mind with all that mummery. However, the fact that the spokesperson is speaking for the organisers of a beauty pageant is totally at odds with something evangelicals would do, so maybe it was a non sequitur after all 😐 Haha.

    Here’s to World Peace!


  2. Peturabo,

    Thanks for the explanation. I’d be curious to know what’s going on in their heads. In the meantime, I’ll just make fun of them a lot.

  3. Fascinating. Not surprising, really, but fascinating. I can’t even work up a good pitch of outrage anymore.


    The whole concept of beauty pageants sucks anyway. But, darn it, if a person wants to participate in an exercise that demeans women, and puts artificial strictures on the acceptable feminine, she should be able to, regardless of religious preference!

    Is it too early for a nap?


  4. Hi guys

    I agree that pageants have quite a negative and exploitative background- which was why I was reluctant to participate in the first place. However, after participating in the Miss Canada Plus pageant ( which “celebrates real women with real curves, and accepting diversity”) I realized that sometimes these organizations can bring positivity- to young women, and to the general public, in terms of promoting acceptance and tolerance.

    Anyhow, thanks for your support.



  5. […] Dig deeper into the topic here […]

  6. I am a reiki master. I find it so disturbing that in this day and age there is such intolerance and genuine ignorance pervasive in a country that prides itself on diversity and dignity. Reiki has no religious affiliation whatsoever. It is premised on working towards the greatest good positively in goodness, white light, divine love and sound for all concerned. Reiki utilizes an infinite universal energy that persists in the universe transcending the physical, mental, spiritual, emotional and auric dimensional plains. Reiki works on the chakras which are the energy centers in the body. It brings synchronicity and homeostasis to the receiver of the energy. Karen Murray obviously lives in a unidimensional world seeing only that which is on the tip of her nose. Life becomes to an enlightened person a myriad of hues to paint the universe with rainbows as one’s peripheral vision and understanding expands to gain an understanding of life’s perspective in its totality. Karen Murray and the Miss Toronto Tourism Pageant need to be held morally and legally responsible for spreading misinformation and promoting discriminatory offensive false and potentiallly harmful consequences to those of reiki and tarot card affiliations. If some person of group out there now buys into Karen Murray’s tirade and hurts an innocent person or people, it will be too late for regrets. THe Ontario Human Rights Commission and The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms should be utilized to put and end to such archaic and unfounded abberations which cause oppression.

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