Another Beauty Pageant Contestant Who Knows Little to Nothing About Evolution… July 5, 2011

Another Beauty Pageant Contestant Who Knows Little to Nothing About Evolution…

You all saw evidence of how uneducated most of the contestants for the Miss USA pageant were — most felt that Creationism and Intelligent Design were valid theories to discuss in a public school science classroom.

It turns out the Miss America pageant has the same problem.

The latest issue of New York magazine has a profile on Miss America 2011, Teresa Scanlan and they make a note of where she’s going to college:

The grand prize of the Miss America pageant is $50,000 toward college tuition, roughly the cost of one year at a typical private school. Teresa plans to use her fund to attend Patrick Henry College, a small liberal-arts school in Purcellville, Virginia, founded in 2000 by a Christian home-schooling activist. Eighty percent of its student body comes from a home-schooling background, like Teresa. Also like Teresa, many of Patrick Henry’s students hope to work on Capitol Hill. (She plans on becoming a Nebraska congresswoman before becoming president.) In just its first five years, the school came to rival Georgetown in the number of internships its students earned in the White House. It is also distinguished by the intensity of its religious commitments. Matriculating students are required to sign a Statement of Faith acknowledging the existence of Satan, expected to seek parental approval in romantic decisions, and prohibited from dancing on campus. Scanlan tells me there was never a question in her mind about where she wanted to go to college.

In case you haven’t read it, Hanna Rosin‘s 2005 profile of that school for the New Yorker is a must-read.

What’s scary is that Scanlan could do very well as a politician in certain parts of the country. She’s attractive, she’s religious, and… does anything else really matter for her potential base?

(via Joe. My. God.)

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  • Gum smile: showstopper.

  • kdb

    it’s a miss america winner , I’d expect nothing less :p

  • Angela

    Why does this population seem to be increasing?
    I can’t wrap my head around homeschoolers. Why would any NORMAL kid want their MOM to teach them math? Oh yeah, I know why….they have been BRAINWASHED!!

  • BJD

    “The children ask things like “Are you a princess?” (“I am a kind of American princess”)”

    Didn’t you Americans just celebrate a holiday where you fought tooth and nail to NOT have royalty abritrarily rule over you?

    Gotta love the duality of American thinking.

  • twinertia

    She’s not attractive (her dishonest mind making her even less so).

  • BJD


    I can understand why an accredited college/university educated parent wouldn’t want their kid in a public school, especially if they live in a shitty country/state/town/neighbourhood.

    The problem is that most fervent believers in home schooling are not college/university grads who do it to make sure their kids get a good education.

    The most fervent believers are right wing, religious idiots who think evolution is a lie and, as we see above, dancing is a sin and courtship is any other than a horrible patriarchal throwback.

    The worst part? This girl is smiling as she signs her rights and freedom away/

  • Claudia

    You know, as much as I dislike Sarah Palin (and I really really do) I have to admit that she’s a trend-setter. She has paved the way for vaguely attractive, fundamentalist Christian women to enter politics successfully. It has to be an extremely difficult path, given that the deeper the fundamentalism, the less likely they are to be accepting of women seeking power of any kind. The kind of cognitive dissonance required to be a literal Bible-believer and yet get around the many very explicit statements noting that you as a woman are inferior and must be subbordinate to men would make Escher cry.

    Yet, it has been done. One more of the twisted “breakthroughs”. OJ Simpson showed that a rich guilty black man could get away with murder just like a rich guilty white man. Sarah Palin is showing that you don’t have to be a man in order to get political support in the absence of any qualification, capacity, intelligence or grip on reality. It’s a terrible, twisted, horribly ironic sign of progress.

  • Claudia

    @Angela, in my experience, kids don’t particularly want anyone to teach them math. Homeschooling comes in for a terrible reputation because of all the fundies that do it, but don’t lump everyone in together. There are plenty of educated secular parents who homeschool for a lot of different reasons. Some do it because their jobs involve a lot of moving and hence no permanence in a school. Some because their kids have special needs (learning disabilities or gifted children) that nearby schools can’t cater to, some do it because there are simply no quality nonreligious schools in their area. Sure not all parents will do it right. It requires a lot of work and time, but there are lots of parents who do the work, hire tutors for subjects they feel they cannot teach, ensure their kids have outside activities that put them in contact with other children etc. The image of the pale, socially-inept, religious zealot teen is an enduring one, but all homeschoolers (even all religious ones) do not deserve to be painted with that brush.

  • Ian

    I read this article, and the NY about P. Henry. I feel a little down after reading both. How can people be so dumb? It reads like something from the Middle East. The world was made in seven days! I could make a joke about IQ tests for politicians, but this is not a joking matter.
    In the us is there a ‘liberal’ equivalent to this conservative network, which leads people into a public career? It is scary to think that these people will be influencing policy in the us for decades to come.

  • JW

    It has to be an extremely difficult path, given that the deeper the fundamentalism, the less likely they are to be accepting of women seeking power of any kind.

    If a society as a whole has generally accepted women’s equality, then right-wing groups will probably accept their own female members as equals, but will usually disparage female opponents, and argue for traditional gender roles to women as a whole. It’s a weird form of double-think, but it happens surprisingly often. Right-wing Christian groups in former communist countries will have an egalitarian view of women within their own parties that comes straight out of communism, but then these women will get elected and give speeches about how a woman’s place is in the home and pregnant.

  • @Angela:

    Additionally, some students are just held back too much by the crappy school system because they’re too smart and the teachers either don’t know how to handle these smart students or ferry them off into ineffective “Gifted and Talented” programs – which really only are programs designed to send the smart students away so teachers don’t have to handle them.

    My mother homeschooled me for that reason and because I was being tormented by bullies. It had nothing to do with brainwashing. Even though we were fundies back then, it had nothing to do with the eeeevil public school system and everything to do with being able to give me the best education for me. I challenged myself – I went with higher grades than I was – 9th and 10th grade math in 8th grade, high school science, all that stuff. I graduated from college with a 3.54 GPA and Dean’s List every semester I was in college.

    Edit: In other words, what Claudia said.

  • JD

    Supposedly 36% of home schoolers do it for religious reasons. That seems pretty low, I would have expected it to be two thirds or more.

    The smile is a bit creepy. Kind of like the smile of that prince who recently married. Just doesn’t seem natural.

  • ThorsBeard

    prohibited from dancing on campus

    The first time I watched Footloose I thought it seemed way out there as a story. The day I found out it wasn’t even a mild exageration was a sad sad day.

  • Ryan

    They prohibit dancing? Wow. What exactly counts as “dancing?” I have to ask, is she fucking stupid? Why would she willingly go to a school that TAKES AWAY HER RIGHTS? Ugh. People likes this drive me crazy.

    One of my ex-roommate’s friends goes to a Christian college and they ban you from watching certain movies. Their excuse is because they are inappropriate. Ummmm… They are adults… I looked deeper into it, apparently, they ban any movie that portrays sex, violence, vulgar language, or (you guessed it) blasphemous language/themes (usually anything with a “Messiah” character such as the Matrix or Star Wars. Yeah, they banned Star Wars. I am dead-fucking serious). -head desk-

    Another thing, she needs her parent’s permission to get into a relationship? WTF? Isn’t the point of college supposed to be to get away from your family and become more independent? What. Oh, wait, that says “romantic decisions.” Wow. Does that mean absolutely EVERYTHING to do with a romantic relationship? I foresee a massive phone bill because of all the times this dumbass will be calling her parents to get their permission to hug her boyfriend.

    To me, it has nothing to do with being religious, it’s the fact that they use their religion to take away people’s rights. I don’t understand why people like Miss America are so insanely stupid to go to a school that suppresses her freedom. Surely there must a Christian college that DOESN’T forbid from doing anything remotely entertaining.

    Okay, rant over.

  • She’s going to have trouble at Patrick Henry if her goal is to become a congressman and then president. Patrick Henry encourages girls to drop out of public life and become stay at home moms as soon as they get married. All Patrick Henry is really good for for women is a very expensive MRS degree. I should know, I know people who went there for just that – and succeeded.

  • I’m an Atheist Princess, and I think Teresa Scanlan is a moron.

  • A nonny mouse

    I’m just more confused that ‘Miss America’ and ‘Miss USA’ are not the same thing. WTF?

  • They have to “sign a Statement of Faith acknowledging the existence of Satan”. Seriously? WTF? Satan! Seriously? So funny, I can hardly breathe for laughing.

    Do you wonder why the rest of the world sees the stereotype of Americans as stupid. This is why. Satan? I mean, honestly?

    You have so much work to do to beat that stereotype. There are over 300 million of you. There has to be another man or woman like Carl Sagan in the US somewhere. Surely they can’t all have been sent to stupid college and had their brains sucked out with a straw.

  • Annie

    The scary reality is that this woman, in the current climate, would be more electable than any atheist.

  • Hoverfrog: I grew up terrified of demons because my parents taught me that they were real, and that I might see one at any time. I was homeschooled, and almost went to the college that Miss America is going to. On demons, see this blog post:

  • Rickster

    I’d like like to apologize on behalf the state of Nebraska for putting Teresa out there. As is our state doesn’t already have enough pre-conceived notions about it’s residents out there, here comes Ms Scanlan. Some of us are normal here…… really.

    Oh and since someone else made the “footloose” reference earlier with respect to the college, I’ll also point out that the movie as set in……. you guessed it, Nebraska.

  • A Statement of Faith acknowledging that Satan exists? Odd. I would’ve thought that they would’ve wanted acknowledgment that God exists instead. I guess Satan is more popular? Powerful? Important? I don’t know.

  • The scary thing is not the Miss America or Miss USA, it’s the fact that “college” like Patrick Henry and Liberty University are using political connections to get under-qualified people into the government. These partisan jerk-offs are not political appointees but civil service. So the tons of crap lawyers from Liberty that the Bush lackeys hired are still here.

  • Molly

    Purcellville happens to be my hometown. Patrick Henry and what it stands for is scary stuff. I grew up with many friends in the homeschool community, and the level of brainwashing is frightening. The goal that these people have is that their children will not be exposed to any ideas that challenge their own beliefs. Ick.

  • SeekerLancer

    People wonder why we’re such a wreck in the United States right now even though we increasingly elect leaders who come from backgrounds like this instead of looking towards rational problem-solvers who would do more than try and pray our ills away. Unfortunately they have better things to do than run for office because politics have become such a joke.

    Unless the political climate changes I can almost guarantee we’ll see more of her in the future and that’s depressing.

  • littlejohn

    What “typical” private school’s tuition equals $50,000? Even Harvard only costs $37,000.
    I went to a pretty typical private school (but not Ivy League) and $50,000 would have covered more than half of the four-year tab, even at today’s prices.
    Patrick Henry, where this girl is going, costs a great deal less.
    I wish people would look these things up before pulling numbers out of their asses.
    Besides, who ever even implied that beauty contestants could even tape up their own boobs, much less excel at science classes? Do you really expect her to win a Nobel Prize, or merely achieve world peace?

  • Kevin S.

    That’s only tuition. Room, board, living expenses take the top-tier schools up well past $50,000. I graduated Northwestern last year – trust me, that scholarship is one year’s expenses.

  • Heidi

    I’m guessing the $50K figure was also meant to include room & board, fees, etc. In which case, if you scroll down, Harvard costs $61K/year.

  • pendragon

    I think the issue isn’t so much that Miss America is a Christo-fascist twit. It is that anyone expects a beauty pageant contestant to have opinions worth listening to.

    Yes, yes, I know that there are some intelligent beauty pageant contestant who aren’t part of the left half of the bell curve. I know that many contestants are there for the college scholarships, and are genuinely thoughtful and competent.

    But intelligent contestants should be treated with the response, “Wow! This one isn’t a moron! What an aberration!”

    Instead we get the assumption that we should care what these women who are judged on appearance think about complex issues critical to society. “Let’s get Miss State Fair’s views on nuclear power!” What are her qualifications that we should care?

  • Anna

    It scares me to think that we have colleges out there creating a christian army to run our government according to their religion. That article is from 2005 and Bush is now out of office, so I wonder how many internships Patrick Henry is getting these days.

  • Rickster: I’d forgotten that Footloose was set in our fine state. Thanks, I guess. 😛

    I suppose I’m not surprised that someone like Scanlan emerged from something as outdated and problematic as a beauty pageant. She seems genuinely driven and gregarious; I really don’t think you can “fake it ’til you make it” with social skills. But I wish we could throw more national attention on young women for being super-intelligent (and liberal 🙂 and not for just being a perfect generic value of “pretty.”

  • No name because I want to keep my job

    Just a little info for most of you. Scanlan was home-schooled through 10th grade. She attended Gering Public Schools (where I work) for 11th grade and then transferred to Scottsbluff Public Schools for her senior year. She did this so she could have the experience of public schools.

    If you want to know, she switched schools because Scottsbluff has a far better arts and music program, something she was really interested in.

    Everyone around here fawns over her as if she’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. She plans on attending Oregon Trail Days, and the parade that goes with it, at the end of the month, which is sure to be a spectacle.

    It’s not really surprising to me that she has picked Patrick Henry College as the place she wants to attend.

    As of now, Adrian Smith, another Gering graduate, is our Congressman. People only vote for him because he’s not a Democrat. I would suspect that, when she’s done with college, she’ll come back here and folks will blindly vote for her.

    Trust me, if she runs for office here in her hometown, she’s going to Congress for sure.

  • LeAnne

    yup, that’s ms. nebraska for you… -_-

  • David Waldock

    “You all saw evidence of how uneducated most of the contestants for the Miss USA pageant were — most felt that Creationism and Intelligent Design were valid theories to discuss in a public school science classroom.”

    Two problems with that:

    1) dismissing people’s opinions as uneducated simply because you disagree with them – even if they do have lower a lower standard of educational achievement – is so condescending and offensive as to be astonishing. Simply assuming that if they were better educated they’d agree with you is surely somewhat ridiculous – do you not know people with advanced degrees who hold conservative views?! In the science communication field, this is known as the deficit model.

    2) the evidence (largely from Europe where we’ve been studying this for a fee years) actually suggests that the more people know about the science of a topic, the more sceptical they are of scientific knowledge (and rightly so).

    So not only is the assumption arrogant it also fails when examined in the real world. This is a real issue we need to address: simply assuming people are ignorant is unhelpful and doesn’t helping image of atheism.


  • Dr J

    Does anyone else find it ironic that for such a crazy conservative girl, she looks NAKED in the picture!?!?!

  • littlejohn

    It specifically says the $50K is “toward college tuition.” I stand by my comment.

  • John

    @David – Are you a plant? I thoroughly disagree: belief in whackadoodle notions such as God roaming the earth with dinosaurs and that he created it in 7 days, and that it is flat, if not evidence of of under-eduation, is at least evidence of miseducation. Scientists have spent the bane of the fields existence trying to dock the prehistoric tail that is creationism. Who are these Euro scholars and from whom are they collecting data? These students have been kept out of public schools because of their parents religious, among other, convictions. Young people like this Miss America may be able to pass standardized tests and earn Texas stars, but their world-views are incredibly skewed, and they are essentially being mobilized. They truly are ignorant of a great many things.

  • Seek

    Even scarier, Alexander Payne’s 1999 movie “Election,” the one where Reese Witherspoon’s high school character, “Tracy Flick, is an amoral nightmare — that  was shot in Omaha, Payne’s hometown.  This real-life Tracy Flick, Theresa Scanlan, wants to be president.  Egad.  Everyone now must see “Election” when it comes on the tube.  It’s our patriotic duty. 

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