When Fred Rogers died in 2003, his life was honored and celebrated everywhere by people of all ages and backgrounds. An ordained minister, musician, puppeteer, writer, educator, producer, and above all, the celebrated host of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood—which ran for an astonishing 30 years on PBS—he was an American icon.
Since his death, his stature has only grown: The Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media, on the campus of St. Vincent’s College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania (Rogers’ hometown), was established within a year of his passing. The company he founded, Fred Rogers Productions, continues to produce high-quality children’s programming for public television. He is the subject of The Good Neighbor, a recent major biography by Maxwell King, and Morgan Neville’s 2018 documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? has now earned more money than any biographical documentary in history. To top it off, this year Hollywood paid Rogers the ultimate compliment of making a major movie about him, starring its best-known A-list actor Tom Hanks. After its premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood received rave reviews, and is said to be a sure-fire Oscar contender.
With all these accolades testifying to his exemplary contributions to our society, one might wonder why anyone would want to take advantage of Fred Rogers—and even attack him. But ideologues on both the Left and the Right, for different reasons, have sadly done just that.
Voices on the Left have attempted to portray Rogers as a feminist crusader, a strident opponent of the armed forces, supporter of same-sex relations (if not a closeted gay man himself), and pioneer of gender ideology. Conversely, elements on the Right have accused Rogers of being a weak, incompetent, and overrated children’s show host who helped produce a generation of fragile “snowflakes,” young adults wholly dependent on others and believing themselves entitled to rewards they never earned.
None of these caricatures even remotely resembles the real Fred Rogers.
The Formative Years
Fred McFeely Rogers was born on March 20, 1928, in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, to James and Nancy Rogers. It was the eve of the Great Depression, yet despite the looming financial crisis, the Rogers family remained relatively secure. Fred’s mother came from a privileged background, and his father was president of Latrobe’s most successful business. Their only son grew up in a three-story brick mansion and was often chauffeured to school.
Still, even with these generous comforts, Fred was unable to avoid vexations that can affect anyone, regardless of wealth. In Fred’s case, he was shy and overweight, often bullied by classmates who called him “Fat Freddy.” Worse, he suffered from asthma, which severely limited his extracurricular activities and frequently rendered him homebound. Despite these afflictions, Fred perse- vered, thanks to a loving, supportive, and deeply Christian family—his parents, grandparents, and later, an adopted sister—who encouraged him to trust in God and be creative in finding his place in the world. This Fred did by playing the piano (beginning when he was just five) and becoming a self-made puppeteer and ventriloquist, bringing to life the stuffed animals that filled his bedroom.
His parents, however, never allowed Fred to drift too far into the world of make-believe. They made it a point to help families less fortunate than theirs, and reminded Fred how blessed he was to enjoy resources most children lacked. As Maxwell King recounts:
The Rogers family philanthropy and the religious basis for it became two of the most important strands in young Fred Rogers’ life. For Nancy, the centerpiece of her giving was the Latrobe Presbyterian Church [which] her whole family attended . . . In her role as community watchdog, Nancy Rogers could find out which families needed help. As often as not, the solution to a problem involved Jim and Nancy Rogers writing a check, which they did on an almost weekly basis.
Jim and Nancy’s commitment to the poor left a profound impression on their son. Watching his parents live out the Gospel strengthened Fred’s faith from an early age, and deepened his understanding of what Christ expected from his disciples.
After overcoming his illness and shyness—eventually becoming president of his high school student council and a member of the National Honor Society— Fred prepared for college, hoping to develop his love for music. He attended Dartmouth before transferring to Rollins College in Florida, which offered a special degree in music composition. He had planned to enter the seminary after receiving his degree, but two things delayed his religious calling: his 1952 marriage to his college love Joanne, which produced two sons, James and John, and lasted over 50 years (until Fred’s death); and Fred’s unexpected interest in broadcasting.
Visiting his parents during his senior year in college, Fred discovered the new medium of television—which both fascinated and appalled him. He was fascinated by its great potential for good; but appalled that it was dominated by crude forms of entertainment like throwing pies in peoples’ faces. He feared TV would become a mindless circus and harm its impressionable viewers, especial- ly the young. Fred consequently felt an urgent mission to redeem television—at least to the extent one man could—by making it a “fabulous instrument” to nurture those who would watch and listen.1
Fresh out of college, he decided to enter the field, learning everything he could about television over the next decade, working both behind and in front of the camera at studios in New York, Pittsburgh, Canada, then finally back in Pittsburgh. What proved of immeasurable help to him during these years was becoming a Presbyterian minister—he had attended seminary classes during his off-studio hours—and studying child development with Dr. Margaret McFarland, a renowned psychologist at the University of Pittsburgh.
During his first years in television, Fred hoped to create an inspiring new program for children, drawing on his faith, musical talent, and insights from modern psychology. To his surprise, his Presbyterian elders encouraged him to pursue just that—a special ministry to children—instead of becoming a full-time preacher and pastor.
Fred’s big break arrived in the early Fifties when he was asked to help launch The Children’s Corner for WQED in Pittsburgh, the nation’s first community-sponsored educational television series. It was a daily, live, hour-long program, hosted by Josie Carey, a talented Pittsburgh native. Fred served as the show’s puppeteer, composer, and organist. Working together, Josie and Fred created an instant hit. The Children’s Corner won the Sylvania Award for the best locally produced children’s program in the nation. It lasted six years (1955-1961), and introduced many of the puppets, themes, and songs Rogers would later make famous.
At the end of its run, Fred accepted an offer from the CBC in Canada to develop a new program, simply titled Misterogers. It too was a critical success, with Fred serving as the show’s endearing host. By 1967, however, Fred and Joanne had decided to move back to Pittsburgh to raise their family, even though Fred had no immediate job prospects in television. It was a risky move, but one that payed off brilliantly, for over the next year he was able to craft, perfect, and win backing for the show that would become a national phenomenon and make Fred Rogers a household name.
The Unforgettable Neighborhood
Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood debuted on National Educational Television (soon to become the Public Broadcasting Service, or PBS) in 1968, and didn’t end until 2001, after airing nearly 1,000 episodes over its remarkable run. For those who grew up watching it, the show was an unforgettable experience; but for others it remains a puzzle: What could possibly be so extraordinary about a mere children’s program?
As it turns out, quite a lot. To begin with, unlike so many other television programs at that time—or even today—the show assumed an unhurried pace to counter what Fred called the rapid-fire “bombardment” then filling screens with so much disturbing and disorienting content.
Second, Rogers always made eye contact with the camera and spoke in a clear, direct, and gentle manner. It was as if he were talking to a single person—a child, a mother, a father or a teacher—rather than to millions of people. His approach earned him instant credibility and trust with viewers, who soon considered Fred a personal friend, someone utterly authentic. “One of the greatest gifts you can give anybody is the gift of your honest self,” he once said, realizing that ordinary people, especially children, “could spot a phony a mile away.”2
And then there was the show’s unique structure. A typical half-hour episode had three main segments:
- After the engaging opening music and images of a flashing yellow traffic light—a signal for everyone to slow down—Mister Rogers would open the door to his familiar home and sing his theme song, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” He would then exchange his suit and shoes for one of his cardigan sweaters and sneakers.
- Next, an educational outing would usually take place—such as to a factory or a bakery—during which young viewers would learn how everyday things were made and incorporated into society. In other episodes, prominent artists and celebrities would visit the set, describing or performing their best-known works and motivating the Neighborhood’s audience to pursue their dreams as well.
- Finally, there would be a trip to the “Neighborhood of Make Believe,” with its colorful cast of puppets—King Friday XIII, Queen Sara, Daniel Striped Tiger, Lady Elaine Fairchilde and X the Owl, among others—interacting with human character actors to convey an important message.
Soon after it went national, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood became must-see public TV, not just for youngsters but for parents, whom Fred never sought to replace but only to aid in raising their children. At its peak in 1985, almost ten percent of U.S. households tuned in to watch the show—an astounding audience for any PBS program.
Each episode was painstakingly scripted by Fred and his collaborators, notably Dr. McFarland, who gave Fred expert advice from a psychological and emotional standpoint on how to reach his young audience. There were moments of rare sensitivity, and even genius. After receiving a letter from a blind girl who wanted to know when he was feeding his aquarium fish—something he would quietly do during the show—Fred started announcing the feedings so she could hear when they were happening.
One time in the “Neighborhood of Make Believe,” Daniel Striped Tiger wondered aloud in a song if he had been a “mistake.” Lady Aberlin (played wonderfully by Beverly Aberlin) sang back to him that he emphatically was not. But just when you expected Daniel to be put at ease by her response, he joined Lady Aberlin in a duet and continued to express his self-doubts, even as she tried to reassure him. The dramatic juxtaposition was Fred’s way of acknowledging how difficult it could be for children to overcome their fears and inhibitions, even as they appreciated being affirmed by their elders.
Above all, what Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood provided to generations of children was a sense of security and stability, even when their own families were breaking up and the world seemed to be falling apart. As Focus on the Family’s Paul Batura perceptively wrote:
Mister Rogers lasted for so long and still means so much to so many because he provided his young viewers what their hearts long for and still do—love, unconditional acceptance, respect, kindness, forgiveness, and an unjaded wonder-filled approach in a world seemingly gone mad. Fred Rogers was medicine for the mind then and a prescription we desperately need now—and not a moment too soon.3
In a career as rich and varied as Rogers had, it is difficult to rank its greatest highlights. But if one had to reduce them to just a few, one might select these two:
Mister Rogers Goes to Washington
In 1969, just a year after Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood premiered on public television, the Nixon Administration sought to slash half of public broadcasting’s federal budget—a huge $10 million hit. This would have had a devastating impact, not only on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, but on other important federally funded programs. Two days of Senate hearings were held, chaired by Senator John Pastore of Rhode Island. Known as a crusty conservative Democrat, Pastore had expressed skepticism about the benefits of public television throughout the hearings. Then came Fred Rogers, the last witness to make the case for renewed financing.
“What happened next,” as one analysis put it, “is the stuff of rhetorical legend.”4 Sensing the urgency of the moment, Rogers put aside his prepared remarks, asking Senator Pastore to read them later, which Pastore promised to do. Then Rogers began by seeking common ground with the senator, trusting Pastore’s good faith and sense of fairness. “One of the first things a child learns in a healthy family is trust—and I trust what you have said: that you will read this,” Rogers said of his written testimony. “It’s very important to me; I care deeply about children.”
Rogers acknowledged the cost of public television, but pointed out that far more money was being wasted on frivolous children’s “entertainment”: Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood had a budget of $6,000 per episode at the time, whereas $6,000 paid for not even two minutes of an animated cartoon. “I am very concerned—as I know you are—of what’s being delivered to our children in this country,” Rogers said to Pastore, hoping to motivate him. His show, Rogers explained, didn’t have to “bop somebody over the head” to keep a child’s attention, but only to speak constructively to their real-life issues and concerns. Rogers then provided a heartfelt summary of his program, and why he believed it was worthy of continued public support:
This is what I give. I give an expression of care each day to every child, to help him realize he is unique. I end the program by saying, “You’ve made this day a special day by just being you. There’s no person in the whole world like you. And I like you just the way you are.” And I feel that if we in public television can only make clear that feelings are mentionable and manageable, we will have done a great service for mental health.
By then, Senator Pastore appeared genuinely moved. “Well,” he said, “I am supposed to be a pretty tough guy and this is the first time I’ve had goosebumps for the last two days.” The audience laughed, but Rogers was not yet finished. He asked if he could share one of the Neighborhood’s most instructive songs, “What Do You Do?” It is a song as simple as it is profound—exhorting children to refocus their feelings of anger into something positive, maintain self-control, and grow up to be the best woman or man they can be. Then Mister Rogers, just as if he were on the set of the Neighborhood, sang—without music but with utmost sincerity:
What do you do with the mad that you feel When you feel so mad you could bite?
When the whole wide world seems oh, so wrong . . . And nothing you do seems very right?
What do you do? Do you punch a bag? Do you pound some clay or some dough?
Do you round up friends for a game of tag? Or see how fast you go?
It’s great to be able to stop
When you’ve planned a thing that’s wrong, And be able to do something else instead And think this song:
I can stop when I want to, Can stop when I wish
I can stop, stop, stop any time. And what a good feeling
To feel like this
And know that the feeling is really mine. Know that there’s something deep inside That helps us become what we can.
For a girl can be someday a woman And a boy can be someday a man.
When Rogers finished singing, Senator Pastore exclaimed, “I think it’s wonderful. I think it’s wonderful!” Then, after a slight pause and a mischievous smile, he told his new friend, “Looks like you just earned the $20 million”—to spontaneous and raucous applause.
Rogers had spoken for no more than six minutes, but every moment of his testimony was mesmerizing. When the crucial vote subsequently took place, Congress increased public broadcasting funding from $9 million to $22 million. Almost single-handedly, Fred Rogers had saved public television. It was like something out of a Frank Capra movie—with Rogers playing a version of Jimmy Stewart’s role in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington—except this was real life, with real consequences, and demonstrated the power Rogers could evoke through gentle persuasion.
Mister Rogers Embraces a Special Needs Child
Among the most memorable episodes of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was Jeff Erlanger’s visit to the show in 1981. Jeff was but ten years old at the time, and a quadriplegic, having suffered severe spinal problems since he was an infant. He needed the assistance of a heavily equipped electric wheelchair to move around.
After undergoing one of his many surgeries, Jeff’s parents asked him what he wanted as a reward. He immediately said, “I want to meet Mister Rogers.” When Rogers was informed of Jeff’s request, he had the ingenious idea of bringing him on the show during a week when the Neighborhood was talking about electronics. It was Rogers’ way of allowing Jeff to speak about his mobile wheelchair first, not his disability, assuming he wanted to talk about that at all. Although the show was usually tightly scripted, Rogers left this one more fluid, so Jeff would be as comfortable as possible and not feel boxed in by any expectations. Before the episode was taped, neither Jeff nor Rogers knew what would transpire, other than that they would talk about electronics and sing together.
At the beginning of the episode, Jeff, in his wheelchair, is seen outside Mr. Rogers’ house, taking the initiative in calling out, “Mr. Rogers!” The host immediately opens his front door and walks over to Jeff, welcoming him as a cherished friend.
Rogers begins by asking Jeff to describe and demonstrate the functions of his special wheelchair, which Jeff enthusiastically does. Then, to Rogers’ delight, Jeff practically takes over the show, freely and eloquently speaking about his disability, his parents, doctors, recent surgeries, and what it’s like to feel sad— and to overcome those feelings.
At this point, Fred appears so affected by Jeff’s courage and determination that he says, “We have to all discover our own ways—don’t we?—of doing things when we’re feeling blue. I’m not feeling blue right now, though”—
“Me neither!” Jeff exclaims. Mr. Rogers then sings “It’s You I Like,” with Jeff joining in.
Years later, Hedda Sharapan, associate producer of the show, would call this the Neighborhood’s most “treasured moment,” the one everyone remembers. Rogers himself said that his visit with Erlanger was his favorite of any episode. As it turned out, it was not to be the last time the two saw one another. Nearly two decades later, when Fred was being inducted into the Television Hall of Fame, Jeff Erlanger, by then in his late twenties and looking more robust, albeit still in a wheelchair, was introduced as Rogers’ secret presenter. “When Jeff rolls onstage to surprise him,” writes Maxwell King, “Rogers runs up to the stage and hugs him as if they are the only two people in the auditorium. ‘On behalf of millions of children and grown-ups,’ says Jeff to Fred Rogers, ‘It’s you I like.’ There wasn’t a dry eye in the well-dressed house.”
* * *
If the adage “no good deed goes unpunished” is true, it’s been magnified in the wake of Fred Rogers’ passing. For notwithstanding all his good works, and all the good will he generated and left behind, Rogers has been the subject of bizarre rumors, irresponsible claims, and baseless allegations.
The Progressive Effort to Appropriate Mister Rogers
In 2015, an article by Michael Long entitled “The Radical Politics of Mister Rogers” appeared in The Huffington Post. Echoing many others like it, the article claimed that Rogers was “an uncompromising pacifist,” “embraced feminist values,” and “was spiritually progressive.” Long, however, failed to provide any convincing evidence for these assertions; when he tried doing so, in his book Peaceful Neighbor: Discovering the Countercultural Mister Rogers, he undermined his own case.
Start with the statement that Rogers was an “uncompromising pacifist.” When journalist Tom Junod asked Rogers how he would have responded to World War II had he been old enough to fight, Fred replied (as Long acknowledges), “I have no idea how I would have responded to a call to the War”—which is not something a convinced pacifist would say. “I may have had to do alternative service,” Rogers continued. “I have a friend . . . who was in the Ambulance Corps. I would have probably been good at something like that. I would not have been good at shooting people, though; I don’t think I could have done that.”
This is a nuanced reply, which many Americans would sympathize with, as it falls far short of absolute pacifism. Anyone who has seen the true-life film Hacksaw Ridge—about a heroic American soldier who served in World War II as a medic and saved many lives without once firing a gun—understands how one can support a major war effort without personally attacking the enemy.
In depicting Rogers as a modern-day feminist, Long makes even greater mistakes. After his book appeared, the Associated Press published a piece that summarized the reasons Long gives for Rogers’ alleged feminism:
He wore an apron and ironed clothes on a mid-day broadcast set in a house, when most men would have been at work, modeling a revolution in gender roles. The puppet Lady Elaine Fairchilde anchored a newscast long before Barbara Walters did, and she rocketed into space a decade before Sally Ride broke the glass stratosphere. Rogers even referred to God as female in a prayer, which wasn’t lost on writers of protest letters.
The superficiality of these statements is breathtaking. Men have cooked and worn aprons (especially if they were chefs) for centuries. Barbecues with dads wearing aprons were as prevalent in Fred Rogers’ day as they are in our own. Male collegians, soldiers, and bachelors have been ironing their clothes for generations. Women of all backgrounds, including conservatives like Clare Boothe Luce and Alice von Hildebrand, were making strides in the public square well before Lady Elaine Fairchilde was doing so in an imaginary puppet world; and this is not even to mention the power exercised throughout history by female monarchs and saints like Catherine of Siena and Joan of Arc. None of which is to diminish Fred Rogers’ elevation of women, which is highly admirable—only to point out that he was building on a long tradition, not fomenting a feminist revolution.
Long does concede that Rogers “did not use his program to support all the policy demands of the women’s rights movement. Understandably, he never addressed a woman’s right to abortion.” But there is no evidence that Rogers ever believed in any such “right” to begin with; and while Long’s book does note that one of Rogers’ favorite charities was the L’Arche movement, founded by Jean Vanier, it fails to mention that Vanier was an outspoken defender of the unborn and a hero of the pro-life movement.
As for Rogers’ views on gender, as early as the third episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood Fred sang the song “I’d Like To Be Just Like Mom and Dad,” which is as strong an endorsement of traditional gender roles within marriage as songs get. Furthermore, the claim that Rogers “referred to God as female in prayer” is grossly misleading. First, it was not Fred, but his show’s character actress Lady Aberlin who briefly referred to God as “She” in the song “Creation.”
The original lyrics written by Fred clearly described God as “He,” so it was a later insertion, and one that didn’t stick, because after that “God” became “Love.”5
Though Long’s book doesn’t mention the latter change, the author claims that after the episode referencing God as “She” aired, “many” of Rogers’ conservative viewers “wrote letters accusing him of heresy.” Long summarizes only three such letters (out of an audience of millions) and not one is directly quoted using the word “heresy.” Rogers generously wrote back to those concerned, explaining that “Since God is all, both fathering and mothering aspects must be included in God’s being.” This is very close to the teaching in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (which no one accuses of sanctioning gender ideology): “God transcends the human distinction between the sexes. He is neither man nor woman: he is God.”6
Even so, Long insists, “Rogers would have understood . . . all who embrace identities and roles not typically associated with their genders. For Rogers, gender-bending is ultimately a spiritual practice” (emphasis added). This is fantasy. As Stella Morabito has written, “There is overwhelming evidence that Fred Rogers repeatedly made a point of helping children affirm the sex into which they were born.”7
But certain progressives just can’t let go of the idea that Fred Rogers was one of them. Nowhere is that clearer than in their effort to depict him as having secret and unconventional sexual desires. Rogers is said to have told a friend (the story comes to us second-hand) that if sexuality were measured on a human scale, “I must be smack right in the middle. Because I have found women attractive, and I have found men attractive.” No sooner had this alleged—and rather innocent—quotation been publicized than a slew of articles came forth with sensational titles like “Was Mr. Rogers Gay?”, “Was Mr. Rogers Bisexual?”, and “Fred Rogers Celebrated as ‘Bisexual Icon’ after His Comments on Sexual Attraction Resurface.”
No one who has read about Rogers’ beautiful courtship of his wife Joanne and their marriage would accept such wild conjecture about his sexuality. In Neville’s documentary on Rogers, Joanne expressed her gratitude for Fred’s respect for feminine values, then clearly described her relationship with Fred, knocking down all the lurid rumors: “It was really a very, very good relationship. I’ve heard people say that men and women can’t be friends and lovers. We really were friends, and I know we were lovers.”
The documentary also notes that a prominent actor on the Neighborhood, Francois Clemmons, who played “Officer Clemmons,” was gay, and that Rogers welcomed him as a contributor—but tried, compassionately, to steer him away from the homosexual lifestyle, and never allowed any mention of homosexuality on the Neighborhood.
The “Conservative” Attack on Mister Rogers
If the progressive distortion of Rogers’ life and legacy is disappointing, the conservative critique is no less so—if only because Rogers exhibited qualities so many conservatives profess to espouse.8 Since his death, Rogers has been remembered, more than anything else, for saying one thing: that human beings are “special” just for being who they are. Rogers’ conservative detractors, however, have tried to use these words against him.
In 2007, after the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed entitled “Blame It on Mr. Rogers: Why Young Adults Feel So Entitled,” the hosts of Fox and Friends ran with it, actually calling Fred Rogers an “evil, evil man” who had supposedly ruined countless children by telling them they were special, filling them with artificial self-esteem and causing them to deny any obligation to work and assume personal responsibility. That Rogers’ whole life and legacy contradicted these claims mattered little to the overexcited Fox hosts, who cited a study that purportedly vindicated their attack on Rogers. But when the fact-checking website Snopes investigated the story, it was discovered that there was no such study, and the college professor who had been quoted in association with it repudiated Fox’s claims, declaring, “Mr. Rogers was a great American. I watched him with my children and wouldn’t hesitate to do so again if I had young children.”9
But the best response to the conservative critique of Fred Rogers came from informed conservatives themselves. Rebuking the claim that Rogers was meek and mild, Wesley Smith wrote:
I protest most vigorously the implication . . . that Mr. Rogers was weak. Mr. Rogers was not milquetoast. Rather, he exhibited and taught children the meaning and power of unconditional love. It is difficult to watch clips from his children’s program without being deeply moved. Love is the most powerful force on the planet. It is our only real hope. In that regard, Mr. Rogers was one of our strongest and most effective leaders. It is a profound mistake to use his name as a metaphor for weak or ineffectual, because he was exactly the opposite.10
And, regarding the charge that Mr. Rogers created a generation of selfish, entitled children, Nick Olszyk wrote in the Catholic World Report:
This charge is, frankly, infuriating, because after watching even a few episodes of his show, it is clearly not his message. Fred was uniquely tailored by God for his evangeli- zation because he, more than most adults, remembered what it was like to be a child.
. . . The essence of Christianity is the idea that every person has an inherent dignity that does not come from society or an ideology or even a loved one, but from God. God does love us “just the way we are,” and that gives us reason to become even better” (emphasis added).11
The irony of the “conservative” attack on Fred Rogers is that Rogers was a life-long Republican who graciously accepted the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush in 2002, just a year before he died. President Bush’s words should serve as a reminder of who Fred Rogers really was, and who he always will be in the hearts of those who understand him best:
Fred Rogers has proven that television can soothe the soul and nurture the spirit and teach the very young. “The whole idea,” says the beloved host of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, “is to look at the television camera and to present as much love as you possibly could to a person who needs it.” . . . It is impossible to count the number of lives you have touched, but you’ve made a huge impact on thousands and thousands of children. And there are thousands and thousands of parents who are grateful for your service to the country.12
Yes, and given his decades of service to humanity, and his model Christian behavior, it is difficult to believe that Fred Rogers did not hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant” when he entered eternal life.
Quoted in “Fred and Me: An Appreciation,” by Henry Schuster, CNN.com, February 27, 2003.
Quoted in “Happy Birthday, Mr. Rogers,” by Gail Fashingbauer Cooper, Today.com, March 20, 2012.
“Tom Hanks’ ‘Mister Rogers’ Movie Shows Us 7 Virtues that Lead to a Better Life,” by Paul J. Batura,
Fox News Online, Opinion, September 16, 2019.
“The Wonder of it All: Fred Rogers and the Story of an Icon,” by Margaret Mary Kimmel and Mark Collins (Fred Rogers Center, PDF) p. 20.
For the original lyrics and changes, see, “Creation Duet,” at “The Mister Rogers Neighborhood Archive,” online.
Catechism of the Catholic Church, section 239.
See Morabito’s well-documented article, “How Mr. Rogers Would Have Helped an Eight-Year-Old Drag Queen,” The Federalist online, July 5, 2017.
After Rogers died, conservative commentator Jonah Goldberg admitted that he “was never a huge fan of Mr. Rogers,” but had changed his mind: “I was listening to him on NPR in an old interview. He had some profoundly conservative ideas about how children are and should be raised. First, he explicitly confirmed that children ape what they see grown-ups do—one of the chief arguments for censorship. Second, we have a great explanation of why kids need rules . . . he said that if a kid runs away from you down the street and you don’t yell, ‘Stop! Come back!’ that kid will reasonably assume that you don’t care if he runs off. Children respond to limits on their behavior—and test those limits—because it is one of the most concrete ways we have to teach them that we love them.” (“Mr. Rogers,” National Review online, February 27, 2003).
See, “Did ‘Fox and Friends’ Call Fred Rogers an ‘Evil, Evil Man?’” by David Mikkelson, Snopes.com, August 12, 2019.
“Mr. Rogers Taught the Power of Love,” by Wesley J. Smith, National Review online, September 18, 2016.
“Who Was This Man’s Neighbor?” by Nick Olszyk, Catholic World Report online, July 9, 2018.
Quoted in “Fred Rogers Gets Presidential Medal of Freedom,” by Ann McFeatters, Pittsburgh Post- Gazette online, July 10, 2002. For an excellent book about Fred Rogers from a traditional Christian perspective, see Amy Hollingsworth’s The Simple Faith of Mister Rogers (Thomas Nelson, 2005).