Snubbed Canadian Queen Comes Out of The Broom Closet

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  January 27, 2008 — 28 Comments

The Toronto Sun reports on a controversy within the world of beauty pageants. Stephanie Conover, who was crowned Miss Canada Plus 2007, was invited to be a judge at the Miss Toronto Tourism pageant. Everything seemed to be going fine until Conover received a letter un-inviting her because of the interests listed on her bio.

Stephanie Conover

“Upon receiving her bio,” it said, “we have decided against her being a judge. We need a judge who has an upright reputation, (who) we would be proud to introduce to the audience. She states that her hobbies are yoga, reiki and tarot card reading. Our board of directors has eliminated her as a judge as tarot card reading and reiki are the occult and … not acceptable by God, Jews, Muslims or Christians.”

The pageant, which isn’t officially affiliated with Toronto in any way, claimed that some were afraid she would use tarot cards to choose a winner. Despite this religiously-motivated snub, Miss Toronto Tourism officials claim they are not a “religious pageant”.

“We are not a religious pageant,” director Karen Hunter assures me. She says folks of many backgrounds will be at the waterfront Radisson Admiral hotel on the big night. “We don’t want to offend anybody.”

It seems a little late for that. As for Stephanie Conover, she decided to use this opportunity to out her own religious preferences.

“Oh, and she’s a Wiccan. Yep, she tells me, she’s a witch. A good witch. ‘I don’t commune with dark forces.’ So no need to hang garlic in the pageant ballroom. ‘We don’t even believe in the devil,’ says Stephanie. ‘We believe whatever you send out into the world, good or bad, comes back to you, times three.’”

So there you have it, the first openly (to my knowledge) Pagan beauty queen. One only hopes that organizers of the larger conventions and festivals in North America will take advantage of this potential public relations coup. Have Miss Canada Plus 2007 speak at your event!

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Jason Pitzl-Waters


  • Anonymous

    As a Reiki Master, I find it highly insulting to see they have lumped Reiki in with the “occult”. I can’t tell you how many of my clients are Jewish, Catholic, Pentacostal, nameyourreligion here. Reiki is a natural healing methodology having nothing to do with religion. These poor ignorant people really should do their research.

  • Anonymous

    Well, so much for freedom of religion!It would seem that the ‘burnings’ continue in the most politically correct fashion but are still fueled by simple ignorance.It is such a sad occurance when those who apparantly know nothing of the subject are in charge of decision making. I am sure that their savior would be very pleased with their ‘judgement’.

  • Hecate

    Well, they offended me.

  • LiLi LaVeau

    I’m rather offened as well.

  • Anonymous

    Kudos to Stephanie for her courage in sticking to her beliefs and using this as an opportunity to speak out in the face of prejudice. It is through the example of courageous people like her that narrow-minded thinking will change. I am embarrassed for the Toronto Tourism Pageant. For me this secures the title of Miss Canada Plus for Stephanie. Well-deserved.

  • Bina

    Amazing that there’s still so little religious tolerance in Canada, or at least in beauty pageants. Why is it only “respectable” for a beauty queen to come from one of the Big Three Patriarchies? And if she were a Buddhist, say, would there be such an uproar?And yeah, that lumping in of reiki and yoga as “occult” is absurd. They have nothing to do with either, any more than they have to do with any particular religion, although they do have a certain spiritual component in that they rely on the channeling of energy. But that’s something you can do without believing in any deity at all.It is definitely an issue of freedom of religion, and I hope she takes it up with a human-rights tribunal.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah I didn’t think that Yoga and Reiki had much to do with any Pagan religion…

  • Dyddgu

    Huzzah for Stephanie!!! We need to all stand up for our Pagan Rights!!!! Boo for the Pagent, they should be hung on an old Yew tree, strangled with their pages of the bible knotted together soaked in oil of brimstone and sulfur. (Pagan and Proud of it)

  • Anonymous

    I have already written to the pagent organizers in question. If you type in Miss Toronto Tourism, you’ll find their webpage, including a list of sponsors and charities they support. I suggest a letter writing campaign and some good old fashioned boycotting from everyone insulted by this. That’s what I’m doing.

  • byrondale

    Go get ‘em lovely lady.How, in this very dark world, inhabited by benighted christians, and the like, can they dare cast aspersions on anyone. (Period)I wish you luck on your Ontario Human Rights action, and no doubt some lawyer will take your case (pro bono) and tie these turkeys up for the rest of their purse.BTWYour are very beautiful, says a 74 year old granddaddy.LOLByron

  • avalonwomon

    Well, that’s just ridiculous. Oooohhh..she might pick a winner by using her Tarot cards? Bwaaahhahahahahahahah. Idiot.I’ll be sure to write the pagent and tell them that they have offended me (you know, since they are so intent on not offending anyone…I guess they don’t care if they offend those of us who aren’t bigoted and intolerant of religions and religious practices that aren’t our own).

  • And Little Fishes

    It’s great to see that a Wiccan won a pageant that has a broader definition of attractiveness. That’s one of our values, isn’t it? Good for her! Also great that she seems to be sticking by her guns! Cancel my tickets to Toronto…um, unless I get to meet Miss Conover.

  • Elysia

    So much for not offending anyone… As a Pagan White Witch myself, I am deeply unsulted at this atrocity. SO much for freedom of speech and religion…And I live far from Canada in Australia! This link was forwarded to me by my on-line Canadian Pagan group run by my best friend who like me, is Pagan. We have over 200 members. Pagans, (including Witches) *never* worshipped the Devil we were falsely accused of worshipping. It is deeply saddening that people still think -800 years after the church started burning my people (Unoficially **Twenty million** Pagans were put to death), that we are evil – when in fact Pagans honour Mother Earth, our Gods and Goddesses, Angels, other loving spirit guides and the Universe (Whom some believe is God).The deeper meaning of the word ‘Pagan’ is ‘Earth Blessed.’ I have nothing against other faiths, including Christianity, and I believe Jesus was a wise and loving Sage who would not have condoned the atrocities comitted by the church in His name. I deeply hope that love, rather than hate will pervail, between all religions, faiths and cultures. As Cher’s song says – we need more love and understanding in this world. People need to think for themselves and live in harmony with each other, Mother Nature and the Universe and the Deity/Deities their fatith worships.I’m Big. I’m Pagan and I’m Proud.In Love, Light, Joy and Peace.Blessed Be~ Elysia ~

  • Tats


  • Titania of Elysium

    From one Good Witch to another.Congratulations on your courage and your wild, free spirit.Sending you Blessings, you Divine Goddess!

  • Connie

    Thank you for standing tall and strong – not hiding in the face of religious discrimination. You are a hero :-)

  • Jenn93

    “Amazing that there’s still so little religious tolerance in Canada”What a stupid thing to say.Amazing how such a blanket statement can be made about an entire country based on the actions of one organization. There is plenty of religious tolerance in Canada, especially in Toronto. This kind of attitude in no way the standard any more than Fred Phelps is the average American.

  • Mel

    It is deeply saddening that people still think -800 years after the church started burning my people (Unoficially **Twenty million** Pagans were put to death)Get your facts straight. Twenty million people killed in the witch-hunts? Try 40,000-100,000. I know that number makes it very difficult to cry “persecution!”, but you are making that call about the wrong group to begin with. ;) The folk that were killed tended to be other Christians, if I may be so general.I suggest looking up the medieval witch-hunts sometime using a source that contains a thorough bibliography.Forget fighting situations surrounding beauty queens – we should be fighting misinformation spread by our fellow Pagans.

  • aislingthebard

    I was shocked first, thinking of Canada, compared to the country to the south, as a bastion of tolerance. Then I became discouraged, believing that this is some kind of fundamentalist trend…and then got my sense of proportion back realizing, as another person said above, that this is only one pageant. So…am joining the leaders of several other Pagan religious organizations to write a letter to the Pageant’s organizers and also to many of their sponsors stating our non-support of this bigoted viewpoint. Hit ‘em in the pocketbook. And…Stephanie, way to go, woman! Nice work being a role model!

  • Anonymous

    And the stupidity and blantant hatred and discrimination from these people continue from the end of the news item:”Miss Toronto Tourism, which isn’t affiliated with the city’s tourism office, stands by the decision. “We (accept) all religions, all nationalities, but we would reject them if they were into witchcraft,” reaffirms pageant spokesperson Karen Murray.”

  • Corvus Munnin

    It’s clear that this is a policy of the Miss Toronto Tourism organization, and not one implemented by the government of Canada, or even the province of Ontario. My wife and myself are practicing Pagans, and we hold legal ministerial credentials here in California where we live (also valid in most U.S. states). Two years ago we traveled to rural Ontario to create and perform a handfasting ceremony for the daughter of some friends who live there, who are also Pagans. While we could not ourselves perform a legally binding ceremony in Ontario Canada, we were able to make it legal in the eyes of the Provincial govt. through the assistance of a local Wiccan Priest who does hold legal credentials in Ontario. With his signed approval of the ceremony on a legal document, our handfasting ritual was accepted by the province of Ontario as a valid and legally binding wedding ceremony; just as valid as any other religious wedding ceremony, Abrahamic or otherwise. So in my own experience, there is no official rejection of Paganism by authorities in Ontario Canada. Quite the reverse, in fact.

  • Chandra Rooney

    For a tourism group they ought to be ashamed of themselves.Good for Stephanie Conover for standing up for herself!

  • Kobe Grace

    What right does Miss Toronto Tourism have to judge someone based on religion? I mean, I guess it WOULD make sense if it were the ‘Miss Toronto Society of Way Too Fanatical Christians’, or something…

  • bondgrrl27

    I am shocked and horrified at this. This is a human rights issue for sure, we have freedom of religion in this country, goddess knows we pride ourselves on being multicultural. I have emailed Miss Toronto Tourism a letter stating my feelings, and I suggest that everyone else (who agrees with me) do the same. Perhaps we can get them to state a public apology and formal retraction of their words. Way to go Stephanie! You have showed yourself to be a great role model for women and humankind.

  • Anonymous

    Having explored the website for the Toronto Tourism Pageant I found it interesting that they don’t seem to have updated it since 2006, showing the contestants for the 2007 pageant, in which Miss Conover clearly listed her hobbies, Why were her hobbies then such a surprise to the organizers? And why were her hobbies alright for a contestant, yet not for a judge?Good luck in your court case, I hope the hate-mongers are bankruptured! Ruadh…

  • anonymous

    Karen Murray has been a yoga teacher for many years and I would put that in the same category as Reiki.

  • Yrrebredle

    Here's the pageants edict on their front page…

    "The Miss Toronto Tourism Pageant looks for young women who are intelligent, attractive and who think Toronto is a great place to live. They must have a warm personality and love people.

    Hmmm…..too bad that Karen Murray doesn't possess these qualities…..

    Ever notice that the word Pageant includes the word, Pagan? Hmmmm again eh?

    Any updates on this story? Was there a court case? Should have been an apology at least…..

  • xjimmyxshadowsx

    I am a Christian. I am deeply offended.
    As for the pageant queen… Congratz on being crowned queen, you sound like a
    sweet girl, and yes, you are quite lovely. Chin up, justice will be served.