Are you looking forward for a new Christmas stamp this year? Do not expect it because for the first time in decades the U.S. Postal Service won’t issue a new stamp depicting any Christian religious figure or symbol. No baby Jesus. No Mary. And none of the three wise men. What are the reasons for this? StampNews.com will try to explain them…
This isn't the first time it has happened, though it is rare. And it is increasing.
In 45 of the last 50 years, the postal service has printed new images for each Christmas season, including Mary, angels, wise men, Nativity scenes, the Star of David and even Santa Claus. But this year, all of them have been banished from the production presses.
Four of the five years without new religious images came since the year 2000. The other was in 1977 under President Jimmy Carter.
Christians will have to settle for a new stamp series called "A Charlie Brown Christmas" ‒ including Linus kneeling by a scrawny Christmas tree, Snoopy and children ice skating, Charlie Brown checking his mail box, Linus leaning on a snowy brick wall and Charlie Brown standing in front of Snoopy's doghouse. There will be one with Charlie Brown and a Christmas tree.
The postal service's Charlie Brown print announcement was buried in a release issued just before Labor Day.
"This is one symptom of a very broader effort to purge religion from the public square", said Matt Sharp legal counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, a non-profit legal group that litigates on behalf of the First Amendment right to freedom of religion.
"They can only do Frosty the Snowman or something that has no religious content. It's part of other efforts to take down religious symbols and religious monuments. It's part of the effort to completely drive religion out of the public square", Sharp said.
The decision whether to halt the printing presses for commemorative stamps was made by a little known federal advisory committee within the postal service, the Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee.
"It's a sad day when those of deep religious belief and those who are active participants in faith are not made members of important committees like this", Sharp said. "These committees ought to reflect who America is, especially when you think of stamps".
The committee's deliberations are also secret. None of their meetings are opened to the public. Communications with the committee to suggest commemorative stamps can only be done by mail because the panel won't accept messages sent via email, fax, CD or DVD.