According to a Boston.com news report, 2003 Miss California Nicole Lamarche is now a Protestant pastor. Initially, several congregants left the church she presided over when word of her past came out via some Google searches on her name.
More recently, however, the congregants seem to have accepted Nicole Lamarche as a legitimate pastor, even throwing a party for her when she married.
Should a person’s past of any kind, innocent or not, be held against them when it comes to a position of clerical leadership such as pastor, reverend or bishop? Is it God’s will or the will of the people that such things should even matter?
Fame in Other Religions: Famous Members and Leaders in LDS Church
Having a member of the clergy with some type of famous past is par for the course in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS/”Mormons”). There are probably more famous Mormons than most people realize. A few famous members of the LDS church include Steve Young, Danny Ainge, Dale Murphy, Kathryn Heigl (non-practicing), Aaron Eckhart (non-practicing), Glenn Beck and Gladys Knight. Both Danny Ainge and Dale Murphy have served in clerical leadership positions as bishops (equivalent of pastor), among other callings.
While women cannot be in clerical leadership positions within the LDS church such as Bishop, Stake President and President of the Church/Prophet, women do have other positions of leadership such as Relief Society President, Primary President and General Relief Society President. Regardless of gender or leadership position, fame would make no difference to me or most members when it comes to church attendance and gospel beliefs.
The Trouble with Fame
The only time a famous past (or present) would be a problem is if the press were present and being disruptive or if the teachings of the LDS church were twisted into a form of self-promotion. Otherwise, anyone with any past of any type is welcome to be a member of clergy as far as I and most are concerned. Forgiveness is a key point in the gospel as is the fact that none are perfect/all are sinners.
Who are we, the congregants, to be critical of the past of someone God has appointed to be an instrument in His hands in bringing us closer to Him? Someone with a past of any type is bound to have personal stories of inspiration and faith that can only serve to teach, inspire and strengthen others.
Why Fame and Past Just Don’t Matter
One of the key components of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that all are equal in the eyes of God. This is symbolized in sacred Temple ordinances in which all are dressed in special Temple clothes that are simple, white, and give no indication of social or financial status. In the Temple, as in the eyes of God, all are equal.
The bible relates stories of those with ‘a past’ being appointed or fellowshipped by Jesus. One such story is the calling Jesus gave to Matthew the much-hated tax collector to become an apostle. Though some people were uncomfortable with the calling, Jesus saw Matthew’s heart and potential. So it is in modern-day leadership callings across the span of religions.
If God can heal a leper, make a blind man see, and raise up the victim of an attempted murder to be the leader of a people and salvation of those who would have seen him dead (Joseph – coat of many colors), surely He can make a beauty queen into a pastor.
Why Attend Church: Message or Messenger?
Would I attend church just because a beauty queen or famous person was speaking or leading the meeting? Perhaps once out of curiosity if I was a huge fan of that person. However, it would feel weird to attend something that is supposed to be about drawing closer to God in order to be closer to someone who is famous.
In the end, when it comes to which church I regularly attend, for me its about the message – not the messenger. If all are sinners/imperfect but beloved in God’s eyes, isn’t that really the point, anyway?
From swimsuit competition glamour to parish pulpit clamor – Beauty queen is now a pastor. Silvia Spring, Globe Correspondent. March 10, 2009. Boston.com/news. http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2009/03/10/from_swimsuit_competition_glamour_to_parish_pulpit_clamor/
Famous Mormons. http://www.famousmormons.net/