Brendan O’Neill at Spiked:
Hating Mother Teresa has become a de rigueur dinner-party prejudice. As the Vatican speeds up its canonisation of Teresa, having already beatified her in 2003, feminists, atheists and liberal commentators are engaging in games of Teresa-denouncing one-upmanship, to see who can slate her in the shrillest, most outrageous terms. She was a ‘charlatan’ and a ‘master of her own mythology’, said Ian O’Doherty in the Irish Independent last week. No, she was a ‘wicked fundamentalist’, said a feminist contributor to a BBC TV debate last weekend. In fact she was a ‘disgusting fraud and a hypocrite’, says a columnist for the UK Independent, and ‘if there is a hell, Mother Teresa is already there’.
Much of this Teresa-baiting springs from the work of arch atheist Christopher Hitchens. In his 1995 book The Missionary Position, Hitchens described Mother Teresa as a ‘religious fundamentalist, a political operative, a primitive sermoniser and an accomplice of worldly secular powers’. He exposed her backward beliefs on poverty – it is ‘beautiful’, she said, and the poor should embrace it – and her shoulder-rubbing with dictators and other dodgy individuals. She should never have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, Hitchens said, or granted audiences with US presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, because she is little more than an ‘untouchable in the mental universe of the mediocre and the credulous’.
Of course, much of the criticism is justified. I am an atheist who has no truck with Mother Teresa and her kind. More: