Stamping Out Religion

The Postal Service almost caved in to "Political Correctness" recently and said there'd be no stamp featuring Mary and Jesus for Christmas of 1995. Postmaster General Marvin Runyon, who briefly became a new version of "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas," now says the Postal Service will continue the Madonna-and-Child stamp next year. But only because his decision caused so much uproar that it's been tossed in the dead-letter bin. But stay tuned. You never know when Political Correctness will strike again. This bizarre story began in late November when Runyon said the Postal Service would stop issuing its Madonna-and-Child stamp for the Christmas holidays beginning in 1995. Mind you, this was a decision Runyon made on his own. I have to wonder, though, how a postmaster general could make such a controversial decision with White House approval. But the White House, at least publicly, has stayed away from this one. After a Washington Times stamp-collecting columnist, Mark Kellner, condemned the decision, watchdog members of Congress took Runyon to task. And how did the postmaster general defend his decision? He said a stamp bearing the likeness of the Infant Jesus might violate the "wall of separation" between church and state. The fact is that millions of Americans have been buying Madonna-and-Child stamps since 1966 with no discernible damage to themselves or to the Constitution. And of course the Postal Service prints plenty of basically secular stamps featuring Santa Claus or candy canes, so patrons can choose the stamps they want. And how many of the Infant Jesus stamps do you suppose the Postal Service sold last year? Six hundred and fifty million. That's about the same number of Santa Claus stamps sold. And it's hundreds of millions more that any other stamp sold all year. As Mark Kellner of the Times explained, the Postal Service merely offered the stamp; it didn't force anybody to buy it. Congressman Dan Burton of Indiana was among the outraged officials on Capitol Hill. He called Runyon's decision "disgraceful." When callers swamped the Postal Service switchboard with complaints, Runyon was put in his place: There will be a Madonna-and-Child stamp next year after all. What's so bizarre about Runyon's decision in the first place is that it's ridiculous to say offering a stamp depicting Jesus Christ is tantamount to governmental endorsement of Christianity. Many religious figures have appeared on stamps—Martin Luther, Mahatma Gandhi, Brigham Young, and Saint Francis among them. Runyon's original decision was the latest in a series of misguided attempts to deny how important religion is to millions of Americans. Thankfully, he's changed his mind. But we need to let Runyon know we're paying attention. I've got a suggestion. Why not send the Postmaster General a Christmas card and thank him for his decision. And be sure to use a Baby Jesus stamp on the envelope


Chuck Colson



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