By Amber Giles
Erika Harold, Miss America 2003, and Deseret Book C.E.O. Sheri L. Dew double-teamed to present an interfaith conference on the family.
At the conference on “Defending Marriage & the Family: By Faith & By Reason” at the Washington D.C. Temple Visitor”s Center on Feb. 28, Harold addressed the topic “Abstinence Education: Affirming the Faith, Life, and Marriage.”
“I am issuing a national call to action. … As a role model, I will encourage young people to abstain from drugs, sex and alcohol and explain how this commitment helped me to protect, respect and define myself,” said Harold, after winning the title of Miss America 2003.
When Harold made a bold stand for abstinence in her platform, pageant officials encouraged her to limit her public views to campaigning against youth violence. However, conservatives came to her defense.
“In an age where beauty queens are regularly disqualified for inappropriate behavior, who would have thought a virtuous one would be silenced for her virtue?” said Sandy Rios, a representative from Concerned Women for America.
Harold stood her ground and stayed consistent with the platform of “Respect Yourself, Protect Yourself.” Soon she was speaking to packed conferences of individuals who supported the cause. She refused to back down in her efforts to persuade young people to commit themselves to sexual purity.
At the conference, Harold centered her comments on making an early decision to have morals and to have the courage to stay loyal to them.
“As youth face challenges, they are more likely to forget the standards they set for themselves,” she said. “We must encourage them to stay loyal to the standards that define them. They will show respect to others if they gain respect for themselves.”
Dew joined Harold in speaking at the conference. In her address, Dew echoed Harold”s thoughts. Dew discussed the individual, unique missions of mortality that remind us who we are and who we have always been.
“We each possess divine potential,” she said. “Once we sense it in ourselves, it is much easier to recognize it in others.”
Dew stressed the importance of treating one another according to their divine potential. She emphasized the necessity of strengthening our families and fortifying our homes in our own unique ways.
“Nobody can take your spot in your family, wards or future families,” she said. “You have a unique obligation to lift those around you and strengthen your own families.”