The Atheists Are Right: No Stamp for Mother Teresa

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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