Racy photos of Miss California that have recently surfaced may cost the 21-year-old her crown.
But as pageant officials review the photos and look into other possible violations of Carrie Prejean's contract, one Christian professor who specializes in sexuality issues is wondering why conservative and Christian groups are not proceeding with the same caution and instead giving her the platform.
"Prejean's pictures are the kind that normally would elicit disapproval from pro-family groups," Dr. Warren Throckmorton, associate professor of Psychology at Grove City College in Pennsylvania, told The Christian Post. "However, some groups (Dove Awards, Liberty University, Values Voters Summit, NOM) have given her a platform simply because she said she believes marriage between a man and a woman, apparently discounting the harm to family values from her risqué modeling work."
In the weeks following the Miss USA pageant – where Prejean famously said she believes marriage should be between a man and a woman – family groups and Christians have reached out to Prejean applauding her courageous response and for standing by traditional family values.
Many have gone further in their support by offering her the stage at Gospel Music Association's Dove Awards last month; inviting her as a speaker at the upcoming Values Voter Summit – a conservative political forum sponsored by Family Research Council; allocating a television spot for her famous response in a National Organization for Marriage ad; and offering a scholarship for her to attend Liberty University.
"Is anyone else puzzled by the response to our new family values spokeswoman?" Throckmorton posed in a recent blog post. "For taking a position against same-sex marriage in a beauty contest, she gets invited to the Dove Awards and offered a scholarship to attend Liberty University during her senior year by Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr."
Throckmorton commends the Christian beauty queen – who finished as first runner-up in the Miss USA pageant – for her honest answer on gay marriage, but has concerns over religious conservatives informally instating her as the voice for family values.
"[U]nless religious conservatives have some kind of answer to our girls about how they can lionize a Miss USA contestant and stress modesty at the same time, I do not see the virtue in giving her the platform," he stated.
Celebrity gossip website TMZ reported that it has seen four photos of Prejean posing semi-nude. They were taken when she was 17. Prejean has insisted that there was only one such photo but the second one was leaked Thursday.
In a statement released Tuesday by her publicist, Prejean said in defense, "I am a Christian, and I am a model. Models pose for pictures, including lingerie and swimwear photos.
"I am not perfect, and I will never claim to be. But these attacks on me and others who speak in defense of traditional marriage are intolerant and offensive."
"[M]y comments defending traditional marriage have led to intimidation tactics that seek to undermine my reputation and somehow silence me and my beliefs, as if opinion is only a one-way street."
Also defending Prejean, Maggie Gallagher, president of the National Organization for Marriage, commented, "Of course Carrie is not perfect. On a personal note, as a former unwed mother, I want to say to Americans: you don't have to be a perfect person to have the right to stand up for marriage."
Pageant officials say Prejean has breached her contract by keeping her semi-nude photos a secret. When signing the pageant contract, participants are asked to state whether they have conducted themselves "in accordance with the highest ethical and moral standard" and disclose whether they have ever posed nude or semi-nude.
Other possible violations of a 12-page contract include several interviews she has given in recent weeks and the marriage commercial she was involved in. The contract requires her to obtain permission from pageant officials before proceeding with such public appearances.