This week, we at have conducted a diligent and thorough national search to find the most qualified nominee for Theocrat of the Week. We are proud to announce that we have found that person:  Karen Stewart, the Mississippi state director of Bethany Christian Services.

Stewart captured the attention of Our Judges by making national news with her dramatic micro-demostration project to show Catholics what sectarian protestant theocracy looks like.

Bethany, an evangelical protestant adoption agency receives funds from the State of Mississippi through a “Choose Life” vanity license plate program advocated by antiabortion groups, many of them Catholic. Unbeknownst to the advocates of this program, using choose life program funds would be limited to those who choose a life that is evangelical and protestant and, umm, not Catholic.

Bethany routinely declines to allow Catholics to adopt children, because, as Stewart put it in a letter to the Jackson Clarion-Ledger newspaper, “It has been our understanding that Catholicism does not agree with our Statement of Faith,” Bethany’s state director Karen Stewart wrote. “Our practice to not accept applications from Catholics was an effort to be good stewards of an adoptive applicant’s time, money and emotional energy.”

One Catholic couple that Stewart turned away asked their priest about the Bethany Statement of Faith. The Clarion Ledger reports that the priest told them “it did not conflict with Catholic teaching.”

But wait a minute! Should a Catholic priest get to determine for a state-funded evangelical Protestant agency whether the evangelical Protestant Statement of Faith is consistent with Catholic teaching?

Our question is moot, of course, because Stewart did what a good theocrat does: She interpreted the state funded statement of faith and made a decision. That’s why Stewart is our Theocrat of the Week.

We here at feel that this micro-demonstration project is particularly notable because there are those who think that all Christians, and all creedal statements are the same.  Karen Stewart has made clear that there are important distinctions — and that state funded religious agencies will act on them. We are glad that this matter is now clarified. (Jews, Muslims and heaven forbid, Unitarians would have known better than to seek to adopt from a state funded evangelical Christian agency. No doctrinal interpretation to be done there!)

Of course, if Dr. Albert Mohler, the president of Southern Baptist Seminary was making these decisions, things might have gotten complicated. The Wikipedia listing for Mohler states that even tho he told talk show host Larry King, “I believe that the Roman church is a false church and it teaches a false gospel…and indeed, I believe that the pope himself holds a false and unbiblical office,”  Mohler maintains that much of Catholic doctrine is compatible with his views. Hmm. So if one parent was a Catholic and one a Southern Baptist, maybe that would pass the Mohler test for adoption.

But we digress.  

We  also admit we find this whole area rather confusing.

Its a good thing there are people like Karen Stewart who know how to make theocratic decisions.

One matter that in no way affects our selection of Karen Stewart as Theocrat of the Week, nevertheless warrants attention. Our Judges think that Bethany Christian Services should update the About Us section of its national web site. It states in part: “Headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Bethany is a not-for-profit, pro-life, Christian adoption and family services agency. Bethany’s support comes through reimbursement for services, and from gifts received from individuals, churches, corporations, and foundations…”  

In the interests of transparency and full disclosure, please add:  “the State of Mississippi.”  

Thank you.

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