Mister Rogers Fred Rogers

February 9, 2018

Wisdom from Mister Rogers: 10 Faith-Based Quotes by Fred Rogers

Fred Rogers become a beloved icon to multiple generations as host of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. He remains so revered in contemporary American culture that the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) announced earlier this month that they are releasing a stamp featuring Rogers.

The U.S. Postal Service announced its "Mister Rogers" stamp honoring Fred Rogers on February 2. The stamp will go on sale on March 23. (Photo Credit: U.S. Postal Service)

The U.S. Postal Service announced its “Mister Rogers” stamp honoring Fred Rogers on February 2. The stamp will go on sale on March 23. (Photo Credit: U.S. Postal Service)

Rogers tackled a host of life issues with wisdom and winsome words during the half-hour program over the course of more than three decades, from February 19, 1968, until August 31, 2001, not long before his passing on February 27, 2003. The USPS cited the positive influence of Mister Rogers in their media advisory on February 2 announcing the stamp: “He discussed many of the experiences of growing up, delicately covering everything from sharing and friendship to difficult subjects like anger, fear and divorce.”

This stamp news came just days after Sony TriStar Pictures revealed that it planned to produce a biopic about Rogers starring actor Tom Hanks. Production is scheduled to begin this fall.

Besides his thoughtful demeanor, fewer fans of Mister Rogers may know about his deep religious convictions. Rogers graduated from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and became an ordained Presbyterian minister. Columnist Tyler Huckabee wrote about Rogers’ Christian faith for The Washington Post on January 30: “It may sound old-fashioned, but Mister Rogers’s theology was radical in 1962 when his show debuted, and it remains radical today. That’s why it resonated. That’s why it’s still necessary.”

Surely the faith of Rogers filtered into the wisdom he communicated on air. His beliefs come into greater focus in his writings and comments off air. So in honor of Rogers, in commemoration of the 15th anniversary of his passing and just weeks before what would have been his 90th birthday, here are 10 inspiring quotes:

(1) “I believe that appreciation is a holy thing—that when we look for what’s best in a person we happen to be with at the moment, we’re doing what God does all the time. So in loving and appreciating our neighbor, we’re participating in something sacred.” (Fred Rogers, Commencement Address at Marquette University, May 2001)

(2) “I’m fairly convinced that the Kingdom of God is for the broken-hearted. You write of ‘powerlessness.’ Join the club, we are not in control. God is.” (Fred Rogers, Letter to Tim Madigan)

(3) “I believe that at the center of the universe there dwells a loving spirit who longs for all that’s best in all of creation, a spirit who knows the great potential of each planet as well as each person, and little by little will love us into being more than we ever dreamed possible. That loving spirit would rather die than give up on any one of us.” (Fred Rogers, Life’s Journeys According to Mister Rogers: Things to Remember Along the Way)

(4) “At the center of the Universe is a loving heart that continues to beat and that wants the best for every person. Anything that we can do to help foster the intellect and spirit and emotional growth of our fellow human beings, that is our job. Those of us who have this particular vision must continue against all odds. Life is for service.” (Fred Rogers)

(5) “In the external scheme of things, shining moments are as brief as the twinkling of an eye, yet such twinklings are what eternity is made of — moments when we human beings can say ‘I love you,’ ‘I’m proud of you,’ ‘I forgive you,’ ‘I’m grateful for you.’ That’s what eternity is made of: invisible imperishable good stuff.” (Fred Rogers, The World According to Mister Rogers: Important Things to Remember)

(6) “When I say it’s you I like, I’m talking about that part of you that knows that life is far more than anything you can ever see or hear or touch. That deep part of you that allows you to stand for those things without which humankind cannot survive. Love that conquers hate, peace that rises triumphant over war, and justice that proves more powerful than greed.”  (Fred Rogers, Commencement Address at Dartmouth College, June 9, 2002)

(7) “Little by little we human beings are confronted with situations that give us more and more clues that we are not perfect.” (Fred Rogers, Thoughts for All Ages)

(8) “Love is like infinity: You can’t have more or less infinity, and you can’t compare two things to see if they’re “equally infinite.” Infinity just is, and that’s the way I think love is, too.” (Fred Rogers, The World According to Mister Rogers: Important Things to Remember)

(9) “One of my wise teachers, Dr. Orr, told me, ‘There is only one thing evil cannot stand, and that is forgiveness.’” (Fred Rogers)

(10) “It’s a mistake to think that we have to be lovely to be loved by human beings or by God.” (Fred Rogers, You Are Special: Words of Wisdom for All Ages from a Beloved Neighbor)

9 Responses to Wisdom from Mister Rogers: 10 Faith-Based Quotes by Fred Rogers

  1. We loved Mr. Rogers! Thank you! One day in Winter Park, Florida, where they said he stayed in the winter months, he came out of the house which was next door to our Methodist Parsonage. What a thrill to see him in his gray sweater and I quickly said to him, “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, Mr Rogers.” And he smiled and went on his way to the library where the pastor told me he spent much time while in Winter Park. We watched the program in Erie, PA and sometimes the Public Television Station would have his ‘characters’ as guests.

  2. Paul W. says:

    I’d be interested to know whether he ever said anything explicitly Christian? All of the quotes listed, while there’s nothing wrong with them, are fairly generic love and justice comments that we hear frequently even from non-Christians, e.g., Oprah. Can you delve deeper into his Christian beliefs, i.e., did he ever talk about Jesus, the cross, salvation, or evangelism? If he truly had deep religious convictions, what were they?

    • J says:

      He never discussed anything about Christianity, because to be a true Christian means you love and forgive all, regardless if they believe in another God or no gods at all. That is, he was not good because he was Christian, he is just a good human being.

      • Patrick says:

        Wrong, that’s human decency, which many lack today sadly, especially towards Christians. No, if you’re a true Christian, your heart bleeds for the salvation of others and you like to see the name of Jesus preached for that very reason. However, we will agree Mr. Rogers was our era’s teacher of human decency.

        • Adrian says:

          Loving our neighbor, the Kingdom of God, forgiveness, love over hate, peace over war, and an infinitely loving and merciful God. That’s the essence of Christianity. It’s all there in his own words.

        • Nick says:

          Your first word says it “all.” Your “right” and anyone who doesn’t think what you think is the word you used.
          As an ordained pastor, Mr Rogers lived and reflected the “heart of Jesus” which he understood through his Christian study and discernment. He articulated Jesus’ heart in his books, written wisdom and his show.

  3. Dennis says:

    I believe that Fred Rogers purposely avoided mentioning Jesus because he wanted to be inclusive of EVERYONE in the neighborhood. Not just Christians.

    • Erik says:

      I agree. After seeing the movie on him and his acceptance of the postman character and his sexuality, it’s enlightening. I wish all people would include everyone and not condemn people they do not know. Unfortunately some have taken over their interpretation of their holy scriptures to use for evil.

  4. Cathy Stritt says:

    My favorite story of Mr. Rogers is entwined with a story about President George H. Bush. My son was three at the time and watched Mr. Rogers every morning with me while I was in bed rest with my twins. This was early 1990 and George H. Bush was then president. My son loved watching Mr. Rogers. President Bush gave his State of Union address in 1990. His message was having a “kinder and gentler nation.” Oh if our president now could only send this message to our country, but I digress. After President Bush’s speech my son leans over to me and says: “He looks and talks like Mr. Rogers, mom. He’s just like him!” It was the sweetest comparison. I jotted off a note to Mrs. Barbara Bush because I thought she would appreciate my son’s sentiments more than President Bush may and it had a better chance of reaching her than President Bush. Lo and behold a few weeks later we received a note back from Mrs. Bush, with a warm reply stating she would pass along my son’s thoughts to President Bush and that my son’s comparison to Mr. Rogers brought a smile to her that day. What a wonderful memory. And what a wonderful tribute to President H. Bush to be likened to Mr. Rogers.

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