As soon as the U.S. Postal Service announced plans for a new stamp of Mother Teresa, the atheists started crying foul. They claim it would be a violation of U.S. Postal Service regulations. I think it’s a stupid thing to get upset about, but they’re right on the legal issue. There are 12 qualifying criteria for who can be on a U.S. postage stamp. The ninth one 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.”

As the Freedom from Religion Foundation’s (FFRF) spokesperson pointed out to Fox News, “Mother Teresa is principally known as a religious figure who ran a religious institution. You can’t really separate her being a nun and being a Roman Catholic from everything she did.”

So, what about someone like Martin Luther King, Jr., or Malcolm X, you ask? Weren’t they religious figures? Both Mother Teresa’s humanitarian efforts and MLK’s non-aggressive civil rights activism were informed & inspired by their Christian convictions based on New Testament teaching. How did King pass the above test and get his own stamp (1979)? Whereas Mother Teresa is “principally known as a religious figure”, perhaps the powers that be/were determined that King (like X) is principally known as a socio-political figure whose religion was more… circumstantial. Something like that, anyway. (Or, maybe criterion #9 wasn’t in place in 1979?) This is along the lines of the FFRF’s position: “Gaylor said the atheist group opposed [Boys Town orphanage founder] Father Flanagan’s stamp but not those for King and Malcolm X, because she said they were known for their civil rights activities, not for their religion.” Of course, it still doesn’t explain why or how Jesus and His mother Mary passed muster to get their own stamps.

Personally, I think it’s a stupid guideline, probably put there for “politically correct” reasons meant to appease those (like the FFRF) who consistently twist the whole “separation of church & state” issue. But, it’s the law. If Mother Teresa is to be legally given the honor of having her own postage stamp, then the official postal regs need to be changed. Call your Congressperson!

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Comments
  1. pastorjeffcma says:

    I completely agree with everything you said with one small addition. There are numerous rules, regulations, laws, etc., whose sole purpose are as convenient justifications whenever needed.

  2. sirrahc says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised….

  3. wken says:

    To be honest, I just find it difficult to work up this much passion over stamps.

    I can’t imagine protesting who’s on a stamp, and so I really can’t work up the energy to complain about a stupid rule that keeps Mother Teresa off of a stamp. Heck, she’d probably rather not be put on one, anyway.

    This is one of those many fights that make me step back, look at both sides, and shake my head.

  4. betabob says:

    wken is right. The only reason I like issues like this is becuase it will attract the loonies on both extremes, and only them. Helps to identify them later on when a real issue pops up and the dialogue gets crowded.

    Good post though.

  5. Jay says:

    @Ken – I think looking beyond the obvious surface issues here and pondering WHY a group would want to prevent such an innocuous thing as a Nobel Prize winning nun being on a stamp is the better course of action. If you can’t accomplish a goal all at once, what do you do? You split it up into smaller goals to accomplish the whole.

    Really, how would a stamp with a picture of a nun, ANY NUN, endanger this Nation? Is it an endorsement of one religion over the other? Any religion at all? The mere lunacy of this is enough to say, “There is more here than meets the eye.”

    Mother Theresa should be revered by all religions and faiths and peoples. She was a saint not just in Christians eyes but in the THOUSANDS of people of all faiths that she touched.

  6. Elric66 says:

    If the Post Office can put Eid on a stamp, why not Mother Teressa? Why do these religious atheists always happen to ignore islam?

  7. […] you may recall a post I did back in February about a controversy over whether it was legal to put Mother Teresa on the face of a U.S. postage stamp. Sounded reasonable, given the decades of humanitarian work and self-sacrifice given by the woman. […]

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