Rabbi Reminds The World About Mr. Rogers Radical Theology In Viral Twitter Thread

There’s no doubt about it, Mr. Rogers continues to be a legendary icon in the United States. The trailer for a new movie about him, called ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’, just arrived. In it, acclaimed actor Tom Hanks stars as Fred Rogers, the beloved American TV personality, Presbyterian minister, musician, puppeteer, writer and producer. Mr. Rogers truly was a man of many talents, the greatest among which was his ability to love his neighbors unquestioningly.

After the trailer’s release, the internet was overcome with a serious case of ‘the feels’. Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg, an influential author, lecturer and religious leader, used this occasion to remind the world what values Mr. Rogers stood for. His philosophy of life was all about compassion, inclusiveness and loving others just as you love yourself.

More info: Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg | FacebookTwitter

Tom Hanks (63) will be playing Mr. Rogers in the upcoming movie, ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’, to be released in November, 2019


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In an interview with Bored Panda, Rabbi Ruttenberg explained why Mr. Rogers was, and still is, such an important icon: “He offered unconditional love. He told children that who they were already was good [enough]. That it was OK to be sad or scared or hurt or angry. He took them and their needs seriously. So few people in most children’s lives were doing that. People love him because he offered them something they desperately needed.”

After the movie trailer premiered, Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg reminded the Internet what Mr. Rogers’ teachings were all about

Image credits: TheRaDR

She also agreed with the idea that the world would be a better place if everyone followed Mr. Rogers’ teachings. “Our society has long treated people as only valuable if they are useful in some way, and we are trending towards increased polarization, increased us/them rhetoric, increased use of dehumanizing language and policies. If we built a society based on the inherent worth and worthiness of every person, things would be very different.”

Image credits: TheRaDR


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Rabbi Ruttenberg further added that the one thing taught by Mr. Rogers that modern society has the most difficulty accepting is “that human beings are valuable inherently; they don’t have to “earn” their value by being useful to capitalism or the ruling powers.”

Mr. Rogers is best known for hosting the preschool TV series ‘Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood’, which aired in the United States in 1968 and ran for a stunning 895 episodes. On the show, Mr. Rogers openly spoke about various important issues and interviewed people from the neighborhood about what they do.

Image credits: TheRaDR

Mr. Rogers cooling his feet in a kiddie pool with François Clemmons sent out a powerful message about inclusiveness

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One of the episodes featured Mr. Rogers cooling his feet in a kiddie pool, alongside those of François Clemmons, the African-American who played Officer Clemmons on the show. Mr. Rogers then dried off Clemmons’ feet. The message, with clear religious undertones, was powerful, and one of inclusion during an era of racial segregation. The episode aired in 1969, when many community pools in the US prevented African-Americans from sharing the water with white people.


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Image credits: TheRaDR

Image credits: TheRaDR

On Twitter, Rabbi Ruttenberg drew attention to the fact that Mr. Rogers had a strong friendship with Clemmons and tried to protect him. She noted that “Clemmons was gay. Rev. Rogers told him to stay away from gay bars at the time (late 60s/early 70s) because he knew that if that got out, he wouldn’t be able to stay on a children’s TV show.”

“I see this as a gesture of love and trying to protect Clemmons and his livelihood, and role on the show. And of course that came with a price. But he didn’t ask Clemmons to deny his gayness, just not to get “caught” publicly, as that ruined many a career (outside kids’ TV!) then,” Rabbi Ruttenberg explained.

Image credits: TheRaDR

Furthermore, she also wondered about Mr. Rogers’ sexuality: “Rev. Rogers has been quoted as saying, “Well, you know, I must be right smack in the middle. Because I have found women attractive, and I have found men attractive.” Bisexual icon? Just a believer in radical truth? I don’t know.”

There are still rumors that Mr. Rogers may have been bisexual or homosexual, even though his wife of 50 years denied this

Image credits: TheRaDR

Image credits: TheRaDR

Rumors still abound that Mr. Rogers may have been bisexual or homosexual. However, his wife of 50 years, Joanne Byrd Rogers, told the Los Angeles Times that this wasn’t the case. “It was really a very, very good friendship,” she spoke about the relationship between them. “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. I think Fred had that feminine sensibility. I think it’s a wonderful quality if you can find that in the person you’re going to live with.”

Image credits: TheRaDR


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Image credits: TheRaDR

A documentary about Mr. Rogers — ‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor?’ — came out just last year, and was a surprise hit, raking in 22 million dollars and getting a rating of 8.4 on IMDb. The hotly anticipated new movie ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’, starring Hanks, is coming out November 22, 2019.

Mr. Rogers’ philosophy of love, inclusiveness, compassion, and helping others was meant for kids and adults alike

Image credits: TheRaDR

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Image credits: TheRaDR

Twitter users enthusiastically agreed with Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg’s ideas and conveyed their honest opinions about Mr. Rogers

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