Under God

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A postage stamp for Mother Teresa

The U.S. Postal Service's decision to issue a 2010 stamp honoring Mother Teresa may seem harmless, but a closer look shows that the agency may be violating its own guidelines.

Among the 12 rules on how and in whose honor to issue stamps is this:

"Stamps or stationery items shall not be issued to honor religious institutions or individuals whose principal achievements are associated with religious undertakings or beliefs."

So why did the Postal Service decide to include the late Calcutta nun in its 2010 stamp program?

In an interview with FoxNews.com, Postal Service spokesman Roy Betts said, "Mother Teresa is not being honored because of her religion. She's being honored for her work with the poor and her acts of humanitarian relief. This has nothing to do with religion or faith."

Nothing to do with religion or faith? Even the news release announcing the stamp noted the nun's "divine inspiration" for her charity work. Why does the Postal Service bother with guidelines if it refuses to follow them?

-- Elizabeth Tenety

Staff writers Michelle Boorstein and William Wan, "On Faith" editor David Waters and "Divine Impulses" producer Elizabeth Tenety blog regularly on religion, politics and policy at http://washingtonpost.com/onfaith.

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