Atheists vs. Mother Teresa

The U.S. Postal Service wants to put out a stamp commemorating Mother Teresa, who was made an honorary  U.S. citizen by President Clinton, honoring her Nobel Peace Prize and her work with the world’s poor and dying.  The Freedom from Religion Foundation, an atheist organization, is protesting the proposed stamp.  The group wants to call attention to “the darker side” of Mother Teresa’s religious activism; namely, her opposition to abortion.  Notice how being pro-life is presented as a dark, evil, disqualifying belief.

See Atheists attack Mother Teresa.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://wipfandstock.com/store/As_Though_It_Were_Actually_True_A_Christian_Apologetics_Primer Matt C.

    By all means, call attention to it! Print “pro-life” in big bold letters on the stamp, if you want. If being pro-life is inherently religious, and being pro-abortion is by extension inherently non-religious, then that just goes to show atheists haven’t yet given up their penchant for mass-murder. Let them tie themselves to yet another massacre.

    Of course, it’s not inherently religious, unless the idea that murder is wrong is genuinely imperceptible to an atheist (and I don’t see them claiming that anytime soon). The Pro-life movement does have some blame for the misconception, though; it perhaps has spent too much time arguing that abortion is wrong because of Psalm 119 rather than appealing to more common ground.

  • http://wipfandstock.com/store/As_Though_It_Were_Actually_True_A_Christian_Apologetics_Primer Matt C.

    By all means, call attention to it! Print “pro-life” in big bold letters on the stamp, if you want. If being pro-life is inherently religious, and being pro-abortion is by extension inherently non-religious, then that just goes to show atheists haven’t yet given up their penchant for mass-murder. Let them tie themselves to yet another massacre.

    Of course, it’s not inherently religious, unless the idea that murder is wrong is genuinely imperceptible to an atheist (and I don’t see them claiming that anytime soon). The Pro-life movement does have some blame for the misconception, though; it perhaps has spent too much time arguing that abortion is wrong because of Psalm 119 rather than appealing to more common ground.

  • Orianna Laun

    Does this same group protest the U.S. Postal Service putting out Christmas stamps with Mary and Jesus? Just wondering.
    It’s happening with the Focus on the Family ad during the Super Bowl too. I keep thinking, why aren’t the smoking companies making as many public statements this time of year when all the quit smoking ads are on? Why haven’t people complained about the Foundation for a Better Life ads–especially the one where the bartender talks the guy into going back to make up with his wife? The divorce lawyers probably loathe that one. It seems as though abortion is the one area people are required to believe in it or be ignorant instead of being allowed to hold an opposing opinion.

  • Orianna Laun

    Does this same group protest the U.S. Postal Service putting out Christmas stamps with Mary and Jesus? Just wondering.
    It’s happening with the Focus on the Family ad during the Super Bowl too. I keep thinking, why aren’t the smoking companies making as many public statements this time of year when all the quit smoking ads are on? Why haven’t people complained about the Foundation for a Better Life ads–especially the one where the bartender talks the guy into going back to make up with his wife? The divorce lawyers probably loathe that one. It seems as though abortion is the one area people are required to believe in it or be ignorant instead of being allowed to hold an opposing opinion.

  • Matt

    I’m surprised Lutherans put up w/such a stamp, since Mother Theresa worked under the authority of the AntiChrist, according to the Book of Concord.

  • Matt

    I’m surprised Lutherans put up w/such a stamp, since Mother Theresa worked under the authority of the AntiChrist, according to the Book of Concord.

  • http://wipfandstock.com/store/As_Though_It_Were_Actually_True_A_Christian_Apologetics_Primer Matt C.

    Matt @ 3,

    Why wouldn’t we put up with it? This is a minor temporal commemoration which is well-deserved for her temporal good works. Two kingdoms and all, you know?

  • http://wipfandstock.com/store/As_Though_It_Were_Actually_True_A_Christian_Apologetics_Primer Matt C.

    Matt @ 3,

    Why wouldn’t we put up with it? This is a minor temporal commemoration which is well-deserved for her temporal good works. Two kingdoms and all, you know?

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    I find it odd (foolish even) that a body of atheists would take a position of moral outrage against a woman for standing against the murder of unborn children, while ignoring her self-sacrificial service to the lowest members of society. Then again, Darwinism presumes survival of the fittest, so in both acts, Mother Teresa was violating their worldview…

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    I find it odd (foolish even) that a body of atheists would take a position of moral outrage against a woman for standing against the murder of unborn children, while ignoring her self-sacrificial service to the lowest members of society. Then again, Darwinism presumes survival of the fittest, so in both acts, Mother Teresa was violating their worldview…

  • Matt

    Is it fair to call Mother Theresa a Christian?

  • Matt

    Is it fair to call Mother Theresa a Christian?

  • Jonathan

    Matt, this may shock you, but, yes, the RCC is chuck-full of Christians. Do you know something about her confession of faith that we don’t know?

  • Jonathan

    Matt, this may shock you, but, yes, the RCC is chuck-full of Christians. Do you know something about her confession of faith that we don’t know?

  • Rose

    Remember when the Clinton administration outlawed the Madonna and Child Christmas stamp in 1995? Then they were forced to reverse themselves, but chose black-background stamps for many years that looked very gloomy.

  • Rose

    Remember when the Clinton administration outlawed the Madonna and Child Christmas stamp in 1995? Then they were forced to reverse themselves, but chose black-background stamps for many years that looked very gloomy.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    My take is similar to that of Matt C; if militant atheists want to demonstrate that militant atheism comes out against human life and as petty little tyrants who cannot see that we can honor a religious person who has done a TON of good things in this world, let them do so.

    And I will rightly point out that they’re demonstrating that militant atheism is apparently not compatible with basic standards of morality shared by almost all non-psychotic people.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    My take is similar to that of Matt C; if militant atheists want to demonstrate that militant atheism comes out against human life and as petty little tyrants who cannot see that we can honor a religious person who has done a TON of good things in this world, let them do so.

    And I will rightly point out that they’re demonstrating that militant atheism is apparently not compatible with basic standards of morality shared by almost all non-psychotic people.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in 21st Century

    Who really cares if Mother Teressa is commemorated on a stamp. Nobody is being forced to buy it. Maybe their time would be better spent trying to get Richard Dawkins commemorated.

    I do find it interesting they are basing arguments on her pro-life stance. But then I am reminded of the Luther statement, “they call the bad, good; and the good, bad.” (or something like that ;) )

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in 21st Century

    Who really cares if Mother Teressa is commemorated on a stamp. Nobody is being forced to buy it. Maybe their time would be better spent trying to get Richard Dawkins commemorated.

    I do find it interesting they are basing arguments on her pro-life stance. But then I am reminded of the Luther statement, “they call the bad, good; and the good, bad.” (or something like that ;) )

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Okay, I can’t believe I just read an entire WND article, but, that being done, doesn’t the Freedom From Religion Foundation have a point when they note USPS rules?

    “It is against … postal regulations to ‘honor religious institutions or individuals whose principal achievements are associated with religious undertakings or beliefs,’” the group said.

    “Mother Teresa … is a bad fit to appear on a stamp based on other postal criteria. The fact that Pres. Clinton made her an honorary citizen in 1996 gets around one obvious objection, but criterion No. 6 also should have been a stumbling block: ‘Stamps or stationery items shall not be issued to honor fraternal, political, sectarian, or service/charitable organizations,’” said the foundation.

    The referred-to rules can be found on the USPS Web site. I mean, I don’t know if there are other rules that mitigate them, but assuming they’re right, the situation does seem fairly clear, FfRF’s wrongful attitude towards abortion notwithstanding.

    Also, what’s up with WND’s bizarre editorial choice, by which Skopje is made a city in “[Albania]“, and not, as is commonly acknowledged, in (the Republic of) Macedonia?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Okay, I can’t believe I just read an entire WND article, but, that being done, doesn’t the Freedom From Religion Foundation have a point when they note USPS rules?

    “It is against … postal regulations to ‘honor religious institutions or individuals whose principal achievements are associated with religious undertakings or beliefs,’” the group said.

    “Mother Teresa … is a bad fit to appear on a stamp based on other postal criteria. The fact that Pres. Clinton made her an honorary citizen in 1996 gets around one obvious objection, but criterion No. 6 also should have been a stumbling block: ‘Stamps or stationery items shall not be issued to honor fraternal, political, sectarian, or service/charitable organizations,’” said the foundation.

    The referred-to rules can be found on the USPS Web site. I mean, I don’t know if there are other rules that mitigate them, but assuming they’re right, the situation does seem fairly clear, FfRF’s wrongful attitude towards abortion notwithstanding.

    Also, what’s up with WND’s bizarre editorial choice, by which Skopje is made a city in “[Albania]“, and not, as is commonly acknowledged, in (the Republic of) Macedonia?

  • Joe

    I don’t think reg. No. 6 reallys fits this situation. The stamp honors a person not an organization.

    Reg. No. 9, which states: “Stamps or stationery items shall not be issued to honor religious institutions or individuals whose principal achievements are associated with religious undertakings or beliefs.” seems to be the controlling regulation.

    As I read this, it seems to give the USPS discretion to make a finding of whether the individual’s achievements are associated with religious undertakings or beliefs. I would think a challenge to that determination would be pretty hard – regardless of what the USPS found. Courts cannot overrule discretionary findings just because it would have reached a different result – instead it must find that the USPS’ decision was arbitrary and capricious. This is a high standard of review – if there is anyway to read the facts to support the decision of the USPS, it will stand.

    That said if I were the USPS I would not issue the stamp. Likewise, reading this regulation on its plain text I would not issue a stamp for Martin Luther King, Jr. He made it pretty clear that his stance was based in his faith. His organization was called the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Thus, no stamp for him either.

    The bigger question is, should this be the rule?

  • Joe

    I don’t think reg. No. 6 reallys fits this situation. The stamp honors a person not an organization.

    Reg. No. 9, which states: “Stamps or stationery items shall not be issued to honor religious institutions or individuals whose principal achievements are associated with religious undertakings or beliefs.” seems to be the controlling regulation.

    As I read this, it seems to give the USPS discretion to make a finding of whether the individual’s achievements are associated with religious undertakings or beliefs. I would think a challenge to that determination would be pretty hard – regardless of what the USPS found. Courts cannot overrule discretionary findings just because it would have reached a different result – instead it must find that the USPS’ decision was arbitrary and capricious. This is a high standard of review – if there is anyway to read the facts to support the decision of the USPS, it will stand.

    That said if I were the USPS I would not issue the stamp. Likewise, reading this regulation on its plain text I would not issue a stamp for Martin Luther King, Jr. He made it pretty clear that his stance was based in his faith. His organization was called the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Thus, no stamp for him either.

    The bigger question is, should this be the rule?

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    @Joe
    I think the issue for Mrs. T and MLK is the same – they were motivated by their religious beliefs, but what they did was not “religious” per se. Mrs. T was feeding and clothing the poor, not administering the eucharist, and MLK was advocating civil rights. He was also involved in much more “religious” things than Mrs. T, but that is not what he is being commemorated for. Where does the FFRF reasoning lead us? That we can only celebrate people who accomplish good and are secular? All we’ll be left with are those lame “life-time” flag stamps and a few Sesame Street commemorative stamps. Why, we won’t even get those nifty Star-Wars stamps…

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    @Joe
    I think the issue for Mrs. T and MLK is the same – they were motivated by their religious beliefs, but what they did was not “religious” per se. Mrs. T was feeding and clothing the poor, not administering the eucharist, and MLK was advocating civil rights. He was also involved in much more “religious” things than Mrs. T, but that is not what he is being commemorated for. Where does the FFRF reasoning lead us? That we can only celebrate people who accomplish good and are secular? All we’ll be left with are those lame “life-time” flag stamps and a few Sesame Street commemorative stamps. Why, we won’t even get those nifty Star-Wars stamps…


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