Officials of the Miss Toronto Tourism pageant had better watch out or they could find themselves carrying a curse - and not just the curse of ignorance, bigotry, and religious intolerance that Karen Murray, Miss Toronto Tourism pageant director shamefully displays. As The Star reports today, Stephanie Conover, winner of the Miss Canada Plus Pageant last year, was first invited and then uninvited as a judge of this year's pageant. The reason? Over to you, Ms. Murray: "We just got her bio a week ago and we don't agree with it," said Karen Murray, Miss Toronto Tourism pageant director. "We want someone down to earth, not someone into the dark side or the occult. We need a judge who has an upright reputation and we would be proud to introduce to the audience," noted a Jan. 24 letter to the Miss Canada Plus group from Murray and another official with the Miss Toronto Tourism pageant.
"Our board of directors has eliminated her as a judge as tarot card reading and reiki are the occult and is not acceptable by God, Jews, Muslims or Christians. Tarot card reading is witchcraft and is used by witches, spiritists and mediums to consult the dark world."
The letter went on to quote a couple of passages from the Bible, including one from the book of Leviticus that warns, "Do not turn to mediums or seek out spirits for you will be defiled by them. We hope that Stephanie Conover will turn from these belief systems and will repent from her practice of them," the letter reads."
Turn from these belief systems? Repent? Repent?!!
Since when did Toronto turn into the Bible Belt? Since when is it the place for Toronto officials an independent group representing themselves as promoting Toronto tourism (Update: according to Torontoist, this group has no affiliation with any Toronto officials) to pass judgement on someone else's belief system (besides which, doesn't their good book claim that judgement belongs exclusively to the Lord? Look it up, Ms. Murray).
Ignoring, for the moment, the fact that Wicca is as valid a belief system as any of the Abrahamic religions, Tarot cards are a relatively harmless practice right up there with reading one's horoscope in the paper, or attributing personal traits according to the annual Chinese association with various animals. And reiki? Give me a break.
As much as beauty pageants are somewhat retrogressive, and don't quite rank with garbage as an issue, this bonehead move by Karen Murray, or any group claiming to promote Toronto tourism, is not only unacceptable, it is shameful, and brings ridicule and disrepute to Toronto. Mayor Miller, if you have a few minutes to spare after bringing down your first balanced budget (congratulations, by the way), please help Ms. Murray see the light, as it were. Anyone else is free to encourage Ms. Murray and her cabal to... ummm... repent for their own evil intolerance. And contacting their sponsors isn't a bad idea, either. And do the charities that this group claims to support really want to be affiliated with such intolerance?
After all, let she who is without fault cast the first stone.
[Technorati tags: stephanie conover | karen murray | toronto tourism | beauty pageant | tarot | reiki | wicca | religious intolerance]