For our inaugural Faith Not Fear Person of the Month, we have chosen Fred Rogers, known to many as the iconic Mr. Rogers. Known for his educational children’s program Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, which aired from 1968 until 2001, Rogers spread positivity and kindness throughout his life.
Rogers was known for valuing hard work, commitment to one’s family, and helping others, much of which is attributed to his faith.
Rogers graduated magna cum laude from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in 1962, receiving a Bachelor of Divinity, and became ordained as a minister of the United Presbyterian Church in 1963. Rogers felt that he was able to serve as a minister to children through his work on television.
While Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood had little mention of religion directly, Rogers taught faith based messages of empathy, compassion, kindness, and more on his show for decades. He believed that “you don’t need to speak overtly about religion in order to get a message across.”
As Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood aired during many times of social unrest and change in the United States and the world, Rogers had a unique ability to offer a sense of comfort and positivity through difficult events.
In 1983, Rogers aired a series of five episodes addressing conflict between nations and warning of the dangers of war. At the end of the episode, the text of the verse Isiah 2:4 was shown on the television screen, saying “And they shall beat their swords into plowshares, And their spears into pruning forks; Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, Neither shall they learn war any more.”
Using faith to guide him, Rogers preached peace and loving thy neighbor, teaching viewers to let faith, not fear, guide our lives.