Miss Calif. Shares Story “We Haven't Heard”

The beauty contestant, who became the lightning rod of the Miss USA pageant when she told a judge gay people shouldn't marry, is addressing the subject back in San Diego.

Carrie Prejean appeared at the Rock Church during Sunday services to “share the story behind the controversy that we haven’t heard,” Senior Pastor Miles McPherson said.  “Prejean is a member of the Rock family and actively serves in church outreach ministries.”

The San Diego Christian College student has drawn a lot of attention for her comments against gay marriage at the Miss USA pageant, where she was first runner-up last weekend.

In response to a question from celebrity blogger Perez Hilton, the beauty queen said she believes marriage should be between a man and a woman.

Prejean said Sunday that her state sponsors urged her to apologize afterward but she rejected the advice and says officials from the Miss California USA pageant were worried that her comments would cost their contest financial backing and tried to prepare her for a string of post-pageant media interviews by discouraging her from discussing her religious beliefs.

"You need to apologize to the gay community. You need to not talk about your faith. This has everything to do with you representing California and saving the brand,'" Prejean recalled being told. "I was representing California. I was representing the majority of people in California."

If anything, Prejean has solidified her stance in the last week. McPherson, who preaches against homosexuality, has been acting as her adviser and encouraging her to use her newfound fame to persuade other evangelical Christians to share their views even if they are unpopular.

"I knew I had to stay true to my beliefs and not let them intimidate me into taking back what I said because I don't take back what I said," she remarked.

The 21-year-old Prejean has been a member of the San Diego mega-church The Rock for four years.  The evangelical Christian congregation was founded by former San Diego Chargers defensive back Miles McPherson and was active in the campaign to pass a constitutional ban on gay marriages in California last year.

The San Diego Christian College junior, model and member of the San Diego Padres "Pad Squad" received a heroine's welcome from fellow members of the Rock, where she was the guest of honor at morning services.

Seated onstage across from McPherson, she recalled resisting multiple opportunities — from her appearance on the "Today" show to a performance with Miss USA pageant owner Donald Trump — to edit, explain or expound upon her remarks.

Janell Lewis, who attended an 8 a.m. service, described it as wonderful.

“To sum it up for me would be ‘wow’, she talked about things that you haven’t heard in the news media. She was very frank with everybody and candid,” Lewis said.

McPherson said he spent time with Prejean in the hours following the pageant after she said she got a call after her interview on Miss USA and was invited to go to New York to talk to Matt Lauer about her answer.   She couldn’t believe all the hype because she thought she was just being honest with herself and expressing her beliefs.   She didn’t know if she should do the interview with Matt Lauer – but then divine intervention stepped in.

“So she’s on a plane to go to New York to do this interview with Matt Lauer and it turns out the pastor of the Rock Church, Miles McPherson, was on a separate plane flying to New York,” Lewis said.

The pastor found out that Prejean was a member of the Rock Church and was heading to New York to do the interview. 

“He wanted to reach out to her and pray for her and make sure that she was knowledgeable about everything that had to do with gay marriage,” Lewis said.

So he did. It was at that point that Prejean said she knew that she needed to speak her mind, so they met up and then she did her interview on the Today Show.  She said it was divine intervention -- and a very spiritual moment for her.

"I learned that God has a bigger crown than any man can give you," she said.

Lewis said Prejean touched hearts Sunday.  “She had people at the church in tears talking about her experience and talking about things you haven’t heard in the media. It was a wonderful moment, she was very candid, she was laughing, she was smiling and she said wouldn’t change anything.”

More services were planned for 10 a.m., 12 p.m., 5: p.m. and 7 p.m. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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