Reprinted with permission of Charisma News Service.

October 9--Pageant officials have ordered Miss America, who is a Spirit-filled Christian, not to talk publicly about sexual abstinence. But Erika Harold, who advocates premarital chastity, resisted efforts yesterday by Miss America officials to silence her pro-abstinence opinions at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., "The Washington Times" reported. "Quite frankly, and I'm not going to be specific, there are pressures from some sides to not promote [abstinence]," said the 22-year-old Urbana resident, who was crowned Miss America last month. "I will not be bullied." George Bauer, Miss America's interim chief executive officer, and other pageant officials reportedly had sternly directed Harold to talk only about the issue of youth-violence prevention and to say nothing about sexual abstinence. Since 1990, Miss America and affiliated state pageants have required contestants to adopt an official "platform" issue. Harold won the Miss Illinois contest in June with her platform of "Teenage Sexual Abstinence: Respect Yourself, Protect Yourself." But state pageant officials instead selected "teen violence prevention" as her Miss America contest platform because they deemed it more "pertinent," her father told an Illinois newspaper. According to the Assemblies of God News, Harold and her family have been attending Urbana First Assembly of God for more than 10 years. Her parents, Bob and Donna, are cell group leaders at the church, and Harold has been involved in the youth and college groups. "Erika is a wonderful Spirit-filled Christian young lady," senior pastor Gary Grogan said. "She's as real as they come."
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