Mother Theresa is about to be honored by the United States Postal Service by proposing to issue on her 100th birthday, this coming August 26, a commemorative stamp bearing the diminutive nun from Albany who had served the poor of Calcutta, India from 1950 to 1997 and the poor all over the world through her various charity missions.
The atheists and the Freedom from Religion Foundation were up in arms and vexed with the idea that federal funds would be spent to favor Mother Teresa’s Catholic faith and therefore infringes the first amendment and demolishes the wall between State and the Church. It has long been laid to rest that government money cannot be spent to favor one religion unless the activity has a secular purpose. Mother Teresa who was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2003, was not overly partisan over her faith as she found compassion and had lived with Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist in India. She has not called members of the other faith “infidels”.
She would be honored for her humanitarian efforts and for touching the lives of millions of underprivileged children and adults all over the world and not for her being a Catholic, though it was her faith or her misgivings about it that made her persevere through the darkness of apathy in our midst.
Her service to humanity dims whatever religious faith she may have. It is very easy to find secularism the way the postal money would be spent in this regards.
Postal officials though had expressed surprise at this protest considering that the USPS has a long list of previous honorees with strong religious backgrounds, including Malcolm X, the former chief spokesman for the Nation of Islam and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a Baptist Minister and co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
It seems that there is only a constitutional breach of the “first amendment” if a Catholic believer is about to be honored by the State and not when other members of the faith would get the accolade.
While the issue of separation of State and Church was enshrined in the first amendment only as safeguard against the State’s dispensing undue favor to a particular faith over another, the atheists have read it to mean that the State can favor other religious groups other than the Catholic faith.
Love, compassion and justice which are the basic tenets of almost all religions on earth should have been the bedrock of every government. It is in our effort to detach these lofty principles from the government that makes our bureaucracy evil and corrupt.