Tag Archives: Integrity

Guest post: Fred Rogers, the patron saint of niceness

Fred Rogers and Francois Clemmons on the Mr. Rogers show
Fred Rogers and Francois Clemmons on the Mr. Rogers show

The following is a guest post by a friend who wants to remain anonymous. He is a Christian apologist who works in the software industry.

The marketing machine for the latest Tom Hanks movie portrayal of Mister Rogers is in full swing. And they’re trying hard to sell the movie to the Christian community. A recent Christian Post article claims:

‘Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood’ was Fred Rogers’ mission field, wife Joanne says

“One of the most important things we accept and know is that Fred was first and foremost a minister in the Presbyterian Church,” Joanne Rogers told The Christian Post.

The trouble with this is that if the show was Fred Roger’s mission field, he failed because people know him more for being nice than for preaching Jesus.

It’s telling that one of the most common “surprising facts” shared about Mr Rogers is that he was a Presbyterian minister. If we hadn’t been told this, we wouldn’t know it based on his work and legacy.

A commenter on Facebook writes:

His job was to do a kids show not to proselytize. Did Jesus go around preaching when He was called to be a carpenter? No He did His job.

I’m sure people asked Mr. Rogers what his motivation was and there’s nothing wrong with having private conversations about it and not using the television to preach. People don’t watch kids shows to be preached at. That would be a misuse of his platform! 😒

Is that true? Let’s take the case of Fred Rogers’s longtime friend and frequent show guest, Francois Clemmons. In addition to being a talented broadway actor, Francois Clemmons is proudly gay. And there’s no indication that Fred Rogers pressed Francois Clemmons to repent and turn to Jesus.

“He says he’ll never forget the day Rogers wrapped up the program, as he always did, by hanging up his sweater and saying, “You make every day a special day just by being you, and I like you just the way you are.” This time in particular, Rogers had been looking right at Clemmons, and after they wrapped, he walked over.

Clemmons asked him, “Fred, were you talking to me?”

“Yes, I have been talking to you for years,” Rogers said, as Clemmons recalls. “But you heard me today.”

“It was like telling me I’m OK as a human being,” Clemmons says. “That was one of the most meaningful experiences I’d ever had.””

Which is even more sad when you consider that Fred Rogers took a brave stand against racism

He found racism to be an important enough subject to import the foot washing example of Jesus but there’s no indication that he called Francois Clemmons to repent for his sinful lifestyle choice.

“But did Mr. Rogers ever condemn you?

No. He said, “Sometimes people do get married and they settle down, they live a different life. You can’t go to the those [gay] clubs. . .That may not be the answer for you, Franc; you have to consider something else. What, I’m not sure. But that may not be the route for you.””

I don’t expect, nor would I advocate for, Fred Rogers to do nothing but condemn Francois Clemmons. But it’s pretty telling that in all of their years working together, with Fred knowing Francois’s sexual orientation, that Fred never saw fit to tell him where his sinful lifestyle would eventually lead according to Scripture and plead with him to repent.

Fred Rogers is being lionized by popular media. You have to ask yourself why. Especially in a culture that still condemns Chick-fil-A for what its founder’s son said nearly a decade ago. The reason is not because Fred Rogers looked like Jesus. Quite the contrary. It’s because Fred Rogers was soft and effeminate. Fred Rogers is what the world wants Christians to look and act like so they can more easily push around and otherwise mold Christians.

Again, our commenter on Facebook responds:

A children’s show on a public network is no place to be preaching the gospel. Should a flight attendant spend all their time preaching and trying to convert people!? They have a job to do. If the Holy Spirit moves them to say something then fine but you’re going to turn people off if you’re acting like a salesperson and not doing your actual job! I am dead serious. The workplace is to be professional and do your job. If you want to preach be a preacher. Otherwise be careful how and when you bring it up. You have a whole private personal life on your time off to get involved in that kind of stuff!

Do we expect Christians to be sharing their faith all the time they are at work? No. Like every other profession the flight attendant has certain required duties to perform. But we are told to work as if for the glory of God (Colossians 3:23). At the very least that means that there is a mode of working that marks us as Christians. Part of that is the joy and peace that Fred Rogers displayed, yes, but that inevitably leads to others wondering about the source of that joy and peace (1 Peter 3:15). And that’s when an opportunity arises to explain to nonbelievers who Jesus is and why we should _want_ to pay the greatest price (Matthew 13:45-46) of giving up our own lives, characterized by sin (2 Timothy 2:25), to follow him.

If Francois Clemmons never felt judged by Fred Rogers then that is a serious condemnation on the ministry of Fred Rogers. It means, at the very least, that Fred Rogers was not doing his job in calling Francois to repentance so that he could come to a knowledge of the truth. The only truth that has any hope in saving anyone.

Is it better to be liked than respected?

Étienne Prosper Berne-Bellecour - The wounded soldier
Étienne Prosper Berne-Bellecour – The wounded soldier

As soon as I saw the title of this post from Cold Case Christianity, I knew it would be significant to me.

J. Warner Wallace writes:

Popularity often requires agreement. It’s easy to like people who hold the same opinions and values. It’s not really surprising, therefore, that many of us, in an effort to be liked, try to find a way to come to agreement with the people around us. And that’s where the trouble usually starts. There are two ways to form agreement:

1. Influence others toward our position, or
2. Simply embrace the positions of others

We can try to move them toward us, or we can simply move toward them. One of these strategies will ensure our likability but the other is the path to respect.

[…]We want our kids to influence others rather than allow their friends to influence them, don’t we? While it may be easy to embrace the beliefs of others to gain approval, we know the courageous path requires us to point others to the truth, even when it’s inconvenient or unpopular. It’s time for the Church to take this second path. We’ve spent far too much time trying to become like the world in order to win its acceptance, rather than having the moral courage to make the case for what we believe. Only this second way will win the respect of those around us. I want to hear people say, “Jim, I don’t agree with you at all, but I respect the fact that you’ve tried to be thoughtful about your position and you were kind to me along the way.” That’s the kind of reaction I’m looking for.

Recently, I had to make a hard choice about whether to agree with someone else, or tell her the truth. I found myself discussing education, career and finances with a young lady. I was telling her about the likely consequences of some of the choices that she was making that were related to one of the two areas that I actually know something about. (The other area is apologetics, and she already knows lots about that)

I gave her some advice based on my understanding of these things – from my experience. There was no doubt that when it came to these areas, I had more experience than she did, and more results to show for my past decisions in those areas. But I could feel her slipping away the more evidence I showed her. She preferred to listen to people who agreed with what her feelings were telling her. Eventually, I lost her. But there was nothing else I could do. I spoke the truth based on what I knew and experienced myself in those areas. I wouldn’t have given her advice in many other areas where she knew much more than I did – just in this one, where I actually knew what I was talking about.

Fortunately other young people do take my advice in those areas, and it does work out well for them. But for me to tell them what they don’t want to hear does take courage. And sometimes, you end up losing someone close who just doesn’t believe that you know what you are talking about. So I would say that telling the truth and pointing to evidence does not always get you respect for what you know about. It gives you a chance of being respected.

By the way, I could still be proven wrong with that lady I was advising. It’s happened before. I think I told her the truth, and I hope one day she will see that.

150 evangelical leaders agree to endorse Rick Santorum after two-day conference

Rick Santorum Iowa Caucuses
Rick Santorum Iowa Caucuses

From Life News.


After a Friday-Saturday meeting with more than 150 leaders and representatives of evangelical, pro-family and pro-life groups, the organizations have declared consensus support for Rick Santorum’s Republican presidential campaign.

Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council and a participant in last night’s private meeting, addressed a press conference call today to provide additional information about the decision and expected endorsements from some of those attending.

Perkins said the leaders of the evangelical groups came to the meeting each supporting the various different GOP candidates seeking to replace pro-abortion President Barack Obama. Participants engaged in a question and answer session with representatives of each of the campaigns, except for former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, who did not send a spokesman to the event.

After the session, the leaders discussed the presidential race amongst themselves and then undertook a three-round ballot process. Perkins said the discussion culminated in an agreement that the groups and leaders each have “an overriding passion and desire to defeat Barack Obama” this November. Although the leaders of the various organizations strongly support various candidates, they eventually decided to support Santorum.

“I think it was vigorous discussion of who they felt best represented the conservative movement and who they think had the best chance of succeeding,” he said, but adding that there would not be a “coordinated effort” amongst the groups and leaders to endorse Santorum.

“There is a hope and expectation that those represented by the constituency will make a difference in South Carolina,” he said, adding that some in attendance threw their support behind Santorum to avoid having a repeat of 2008 where conservative candidates split the vote.

Perkins indicated Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry but only Gingrich and Santorum made the final ballot. There were 114 votes on the final ballot, as some leaders had to catch returning flights home, and Santorum emerged with a majority (85) of those voting, the FRC president said.

[…]The names and groups participating were not released, but Perkins mentioned former Republican presidential candidate Gary Bauer as another organizer of the private meeting. He said the names of organizations and leaders participating will become public as they begin making endorsements.

[…]Last week, the pro-life group CatholicVote issued an endorsement for Santorum.

Bauer has already endorsed Santorum. I agree that Gingrich is definitely the runner-up, and would be a fine choice for conservatives, but Santorum really is the best overall. My biggest concern about this is how younger evangelicals are so apathetic when it comes to politics and have no idea how to think carefully about things like free market capitalism, abortion, marriage and peace through strength. The young evangelicals are largely illiterate, making their decisions based on emotions and intuitions, because they think that Christianity is about being “nice” so that more people like them. Oh well.

What I find interesting is when even moderate conservative bloggers – ones who are not evangelical – are beginning to notice that there is an integrity argument for Rick Santorum.

Look at this comment from Jeff Goldstein – he’s replying to some Ron Paul person, I guess:

BMoe –

We’ve talked at length about this here, so if you haven’t already done so, I’d say go back and look at the various riffs on how Santorum’s ideas of family as the unit of individual autonomy is tied to his Catholicism / Thomism. Also, how family communitarianism is not at all like collectivism.

My own belief — and James Pethokoukis took this up, as well (I believe I did a post on it), is that Santorum is reacting in the excerpt on individualism you cite, to the Objectivists — those whose ideological foundation is Rand. That is, the libertarians. You may disagree with Santorum — and there’s plenty of room to do so — but it does no good to caricature the belief. Santorum is not a collectivist. And his ideas about the family — and government’s role in nurturing that unit — amount to things like increased tax credits for producing new citizens, or increased credit for charitable giving, so that charity is taken away from the state.

And he tries to balance his own views with the constraints placed on elected officials by the Constitution, which for Santorum includes the 9th and 10th Amendments.

These are often difficult waters to traverse. But with Santorum, he tells you what he thinks and believes. For me, that’s a net positive.

Romney mouths platitudes about limited government, and yet it’s clear he doesn’t believe a word of it. Santorum believes in a social safety net for the truly disadvantaged and indigent, but he tempers that with an animus toward those who would game the system — and toward programs that have the net impact of institutionalizing dependence on government.

What I liked about Cain — he didn’t have all the answers, because he hasn’t studied every question — I like about Santorum. You can see his thinking. He shows his work.

And a bit later, same guy:

Also, BMoe, I think it pretty obvious by now I’m not a social conservative. I’m just far less bothered by them then I used to be back when I was given to accepting the caricature of such creatures.

Nowadays I see that it is the “liberal” secularists who are far more dangerous, because their God is the State, and they therefore serve their God by granting that ever more power comes from the State.

The religious folk simply want the state to leave them the f**k alone, often times. And me and my spaghetti bulbs tend to commiserate.

I think that’s right. I am not thrilled with Santorum’s blue-collar worker economic plan. I’m an investor and a white collar software engineer. I’m chaste and have no children and no plans to marry, so Santorum’s tripling of the tax deduction for children won’t help me. But what is appealing about the man is his vision: he wants more working families and he wants them to face less financial pressure if they have more children, and more choice in education. I get that. It’s not applicable to me, but I get it. I get what his vision is.

Rick Santorum at the Values Voters Summit

Here’s a 3-part speech by Rick Santorum at the Family Research Council:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

The Family Research Council is my third favorite think tank, behind the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute.

Here’s something to read if you can’t see the speech.

Related posts