‘This is hypocrisy at its worst’
The U.S. Postal Service has decided to kill a customized stamp program that was generating revenue to avoid having to allow religious messages.
“This is hypocrisy at its worst,” said Kelly Shackelford, the chief counsel for First Liberty Institute. “It is outrageous that the U.S. Postal Service would end a steady source of revenue that raised millions of dollars just because someone might choose a religious image on a stamp.”
First Liberty, representing a woman who wanted to create a Nativity-themed stamp, sued to strike the restriction in U.S. District Court in Texas. The complaint argued the U.S. Supreme Court has held such categorical exclusion of religious content as viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment.
The USPS then decided to cancel the program entirely.
Shackelford said the Postal Service “has the nerve to demand a taxpayer bailout, rather than celebrate the principles of free, diverse speech and the free market.”
“Americans should reject the USPS’ audacity to now insist that taxpayers reward them for walking away from millions of dollars instead of doing the right thing and embracing free speech on postage stamps,” he said.
The USPS, which has been losing money for years, is in the middle of a political fight over the Democrats’ push to expand mail-in voting by the November elections. Republicans are concerned about potential fraud, pointing to recent elections in which the results are still undetermined.
Jeremy Dys, special counsel for litigation for First Liberty, said it’s “puzzling that the U.S. Postal Service would end a revenue-generating program because someone might choose a religious image on a stamp and then demand that Congress reward that decision with a taxpayer bailout.”
“Rather than celebrate the principles of free, diverse speech, the U.S. Postal Service has decided to silence all speech but their own. Americans now have fewer options and the USPS will lose more money because of this decision,” he said.
First Liberty represents Susan Fletcher, who wanted to use the custom program to create stamps featuring a Nativity that said “Emmanuel, God with us” and “God Bless Texas.”
At a special website set up to create customized stamps, she found USPS prohibited designs that include any religious symbols or speech.
The stamp vendors even threaten legal action against anyone who complained about it.
“I just want to express my faith in everything I do, at Christmas and all throughout the year,” Fletcher explained. “I am truly saddened that the country I love would keep me from expressing the most important message I could share with others: my faith.”
First Liberty said USPS lumps religious content into a category called “unsuitable for all-ages and audiences.”
That’s the same category to which violent or sexually explicit images are consigned.