Cursed Is He That Putteth His Trust In A Former Beauty Queen

    Three Utah valley residents were charged last Thursday with three-first degree felonies including theft by receiving stolen property and money laundering says The Deseret News.  One of those individuals charged was crowned Miss Utah in 1991 and was my session director for Especially For Youth, a summer camp that seeks to strengthen the faith of young Latter-day Saints.

     I have strong opinions on EFY (as it is commonly abbreviated).  I loved attending it when I was growing up.  I'd spend a week on the campus of Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, go to dances, make new friends, and inevitably cry at some point.  I thought that when I watched the tear-jerker of a movie about Jesus, I was feeling the Spirit.  I don't doubt that I did, but after growing up, serving a mission for two years, and having deep and lasting spiritual experiences, I realized that a lot of what I would feel those summer nights was pure emotion.

     I think EFY does a lot of good for young Mormons bombarded by temptation and sin, but I can't help but view it as a disposable testimony dispenser, a one week spiritual pep assembly that fails to have much of a lasting impact.  All my thoughts on the matter were amplified when I discovered that Liz Craig, 39, the aforementioned Miss Utah and EFY session director, was busted for allegedly stealing and reselling products from a multi-level marketing company online.

     I heard Sister Craig tell her story several times in my years attending EFY.  She was a tall, awkward youth with uncontrollable hair dyed green from swimming pool chlorine who blossomed into a beauty pageant contestant.  She was the living embodiment of the ugly duckling.  She won the swimsuit competition in Atlantic City for the 1992 Miss America pageant for heaven's sakes.  When she spoke, she also liked to talk about the scene in The Lion King where Mufasa spoke to Simba in the sky saying "Remember who you are," and liken it to our relationship to God.

     I was moved by Sister Craig's words to remember God and to remember my relationship with Him.  There was truth in the message she was trying to portray, so of course it resonated.  But was she hopping online the same night she gave that talk and selling stolen products online to make a few extra bucks?

     The Deseret News reported that Craig, along with Scott Lazerson, 39, "the most philanthropic person in Utah Valley," according to Utah Valley magazine, and Brady Harper, a 40-year-old with ambitions of buying the land around Bridal Veil Falls, were accused in the alleged theft of over $1 million in products from Nu Skin. 

     Nu Skin, a Provo based multi-level marketing company that specializes in skin care products, employed Lazerson in 1994 and 1995.  Lazerson reportedly took hundreds of boxes of Nu Skin products from the company warehouse, convincing employees he was authorized to do so for a charity he was affiliated with.  The trio created a company, Nu Lite Sales, and allegedly sold the products online raking in $20,000 to $30,000 a month according to police.

     Craig was scheduled to speak at an EFY conference next month at BYU-Idaho, but that has since been canceled.  If none of this had been discovered, I'm sure she would have gone on and inspired countless youth over the summer telling her story and talking about The Lion King.

     The story of Liz Craig isn't anything new.  Charismatic people have been hiding behind religion for years while knowingly engaging in behavior contrary to the principles they teach.  Is it any wonder religious texts often warn people about the dangers of trusting in "man"?  A passage in The Book of Mormon reads,  "Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearked unto the precepts of men,  save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost." (2 Nephi 28:31)

     Religious texts give warnings like this because man isn't perfect and never will be.  Although good men and woman, some of them even charismatic, can do a lot of good strengthening the faith of others, basing religious beliefs on a person rather than God and feelings of the Spirit is dangerous.  So as parents continue to sign their kids up for EFY this summer, remember, Liz Craig doesn't convert, neither do summer church camps.  God does.


bcb said...

Interesting post... like the new layout

Jimmy Dean said...

Hey wasn't she BYUSA president too?

hun*ter said...

Haha, maybe she was.

AmyHatesPeople!YesThatMeansYou;) said...

I believe EFY is just another way the church keeps their children sheltered from the real world. and this story is an example that no matter how shelter you think you are keeping your kids the "real" world always finds them.

Anonymous said...

Interesting to me to note that, though all charges have been withdrawn entirely, you did not bother to express apology for your hasty judgments. I guess the presumption of innocence is "alive and well" in Utah, even after an acquittal. If this is the way you judge someone that is acquitted of scandalous charges, how can anyone have confidence in your judgments of any Church program?

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