Perhaps America’s most aggressively obnoxious atheist organization is the Freedom From Religion Foundation. Under the guise of being a church-state separation watchdog, it pursues a Soviet-style agenda of trying to drive religion from the public sphere altogether. Their latest crusade is directed at the U.S. Postal Service, according to Fox News:
An atheist organization is blasting the U.S. Postal Service for its plan to honor Mother Teresa with a commemorative stamp, saying it violates postal regulations against honoring “individuals whose principal achievements are associated with religious undertakings.”
I wonder why the Postal Service has that regulation at all–I mean, why is acknowledging the contribution of religious people doing religious stuff that benefits humanity out of bounds, as opposed to literally any other field of human endeavor? Mother Teresa, after all, didn’t win the Nobel Peace Prize because she was a nun or prayed a lot. But leave that aside, and note what the real objection is:
The Freedom from Religion Foundation is urging its supporters to boycott the stamp — and also to engage in a letter-writing campaign to spread the word about what it calls the “darker side” of Mother Teresa.
This is straight out of Christopher Hitchens’ bizarre campaign against Mother Teresa embodied in his book The Missionary Position. So it’s not really about USPS regulations, or church-state separation–it’s really about the hate directed at one of the towering religious and humanitarian figures of the last century.
Freedom from Religion Foundation spokeswoman Annie Laurie Gaylor says issuing the stamp runs against Postal Service regulations.
“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,” Gaylor told FoxNews.com.
As far as people like Gaylor are concerned, it doesn’t matter what a person such as Mother Teresa did, or how many people benefited from her work–if she committed the cardinal sin of being identified with religion, America must act as though she never existed. Heaven forfend we give anyone the idea that people with religious motivations and associations ever do any good that others might want to emulate. Of course, Gaylor would probably also dispute that Mother Teresa did good, because she adhered to Catholic positions on birth control and abortion, which cancels out everything else. But it gets worse:
Postal Service spokesman Roy Betts expressed surprise at the protest, given the long list of previous honorees with strong religious backgrounds, including Malcolm X, the former chief spokesman for the Nation of Islam, and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a Baptist minister and co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
Gaylor said the atheist group opposed 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.
Martin Luther King “just happened to be a minister,” and “Malcolm X was not principally known for being a religious figure,” she said.
“And he’s not called Father Malcolm X like Mother Teresa. I mean, even her name is a Roman Catholic honorific.”
Yeah, and King was the Rev. Martin Luther King, a man who pastored churches and preached countless sermons, whose Ph.D dissertation was “A Comparison of the Conceptions of God in the Thinking of Paul Tillich and Henry Nelson Wieman.” and whose civil rights work was inspired and informed by his Christian faith. But he “just happened to be a minister.” That calls out for a Captain Picard moment:
This nonsense wouldn’t be complete without a big dollop of anti-Catholic bigotry:
Gaylor said the foundation’s only concern is the “other things that deserve to be commemorated but are not because the people behind it didn’t have the power of the Catholic church.”
“It’s enormously difficult to get them,” she said, referring to commemorative stamps, “and people have huge campaigns, and to me this speaks of the power of the Roman Catholic Church in hierarchy.
“They want to make her a saint and this is part of the PR machine.”
Fortunately, there are atheists who recognize this for the idiocy it is:
Some atheists, too, spoke out against the group’s objections, including Bruce Sheiman, author of “An Atheist Defends Religion.” He said the Freedom from Religion Foundation is being “hypocritical” and really “stepping over the line.”
“Clearly there are a number of things that you can point to and say it’s religious and a number of things you can point to and say that it’s areligious,” Sheiman told FoxNews.com. “So it really doesn’t make sense to protest it.”
He said the Foundation’s campaign stems from concern that the abundance of humanitarian work done by believers will overshadow that done by atheists.
“Like billboards and bus ads, this is just part of the whole campaign that they’re doing to make non-belief more visible,” he said.
Good for you, Bruce.