Not “Miss Religion USA”

Rima Fakih who recently won the Miss USA pageant is from Michigan where there is a sizable Arab-American population. Still her win caught a lot of people by surprise, and was followed by the usual thoughtless and bigoted comments.

The Lebanese-American, ‘liberal Muslim’ has a Q&A on the blog Patheos. As the faith & Reason blog on USA Today notes, she reveals “that she is — surprise surprise — pretty much like most 24-year-olds on the spiritual front.”

For many Americans, yours is a very complicated identity, given the associations many Americans have regarding Arabs, Muslims, and Middle Easterners. Do you intend to use your platform as Miss USA to educate Americans about Arabs and Muslims?

Well, I’d like to say it’s where we came from, to correct that comment. I believe that religion doesn’t define me and it does not define my family. We have an abundance of faiths, and we respect all religions. Yes, we’re a Muslim family, but we’re also very cultured and we have a mixture of different religions. For example, my brother-in-law is Catholic, and my sister converted and my nephews are baptized. I have an uncle who just graduated and currently he’s a priest. He’s going to be transferred from Ohio to New York shortly, so I can’t wait to see him and my cousins. As you can see, we have a very wide range of family. I even have two cousins here in New York City who are Jewish. As you can see, my family is just an amazing melting pot of wonderful religions and faiths.

. . .

Many press reports have highlighted the fact that you and your extended family celebrate both Muslim and Christian holidays, that a Quran and a Bible sit side by side in the family home in Lebanon. Can you tell me more about that? What is Christmas like in the Fakih family?

Who said that?

The quote about the Quran and the Bible?


The statement was made in a Foreign Policy article.

Like I said, my family is a multi-religious family. We have different religions. Yes, I’m Muslim, but we do celebrate Easter, we celebrate Christmas, and we celebrate Ramadan as well. So therefore, my point is, we’re Muslim but we’re respectful and we acknowledge the Christian faith. (I did go to a Catholic high school.)

But I’m Miss USA, I’m not Miss Religion USA.

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