California’s 21-year-old Alyssa Campanella took the coveted crown in the 60th Miss USA competition last night. Campanella marks a redeeming win for the state after the now-disgraced Californian Carrie Prejean dismissed marriage equality — or as she put it “opposite marriage” — in 2009. Miss USA seemed to take a breather from political controversy until this year, when the pageant decided to ask the contestants whether they believe evolution should be taught in schools in the preliminary round. A self-proclaimed “science geek,” Campanella affirmed that evolution should indeed be taught in schools because she believes in evolution of humans throughout time. This answer, apparently, won her another title last night. She and Massachusetts’ Alida D’Angona were the only two out of 51 contestants to “unequivocally support” evolution:
I was taught evolution in high school. I do believe in it. I’m a huge science geek. […] I like to believe in the big bang theory and, you know, the evolution of humans throughout time.
All of the contestants were aware of the question ahead of time. Indeed, according to one pageant veteran, the women were “scared to death” of a Prejean-like fiasco and were “concerned that there is a right or wrong answer.” In their apparent struggle, 96 percent of them either “confused the evolution of species with the origin of life (not the same) or said a variation of Miss Michigan’s line that it’s ‘silly’ and ‘ignorant’ not to know ‘both sides’ including, evidently, religious views in public schools.”
Kentucky’s Kia Ben-et Hampton, however, did her state’s Creation Museum proud by firmly rejecting evolution in schools. Believing that “scientists have their different theories,” she said, “I don’t believe it’s a good topic for school subjects. At all.” While Alaska’s Jessica Chuckran, Mississippi’s Keeley Patterson and West Virginia’s Whitney Veach at least thought evolution should be taught as “a theory” alongside religion, Alabama’s Madeline Mitchell simply declared, “I do not believe in evolution, I do not believe it should be taught in schools, and I would not encourage it.” Watch it:
While their views on evolution might disqualify them as basic scientists, it could open doors for presidential candidacy in the Republican Party. After all, Miss Tea Party and presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) recently advocated “intelligent design” alongside science in the classrooms as “there is reasonable doubt on both sides.” With that stance, Bachmann might earn herself a three-way debate with Miss USA and a 10th grader.