The United States Postal Service bans religious images on any personalized stamps. This sparked a federal lawsuit in defense of Christians like Susan Fletcher, a graphic designer from Plano, Texas, who created a stamp celebrating the birth of Jesus. However, a 2017 postal regulation bans the stamp she created.
The graphic designer Susan Fletcher said, “I just want to express my faith in everything I do, at Christmas and all throughout the year. 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.”
Fletcher hoped to create a number of patriotic and faith-based stamps. Her list included:
- A Christmas nativity scene recalling the birth of Christ, “Emmanuel, God with us.”
- The phrase “God Bless Texas” to celebrate Texas Independence Day and reflecting her personal prayer for her home state.
- A depiction of the empty cross of Christ with the phrase “I am with you always” to celebrate Easter, the most central of Christian holidays.
- And, a stamp about missionary work—a primary duty of Christians, according to Susan—featuring the words of Christ from Matthew 28, “Go therefore and make disciples.”
The postal regulation is now under challenge in federal court. First Liberty Institute filed suit in Plano, Texas claiming the ban violated the First Amendment.
“Personalized postage stamps do not violate the First Amendment just because they reference religion,” Chad Walker, partner with Winston & Strawn and First Liberty network attorney said in a press release. “Government regulations prohibiting religious speech by Americans offend the First Amendment.”
Lawyers representing Fletcher claimed in the lawsuit:
“The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that this kind of categorical exclusion of religious perspectives on permitted topics constitutes impermissible viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment’s free speech guarantee. It also creates a substantial burden on Ms. Fletcher’s religious practices in violation of the United States Constitution and the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. 2 As a result, this Court should (1) declare the USPS regulation’s prohibition on religious content in customized stamps unconstitutional; (2) enjoin any further enforcement of the illegal aspects of that regulation; and (3) order USPS to permit PhotoStamps to print Ms. Fletcher’s various holiday and celebratory stamps.”
Illustrating the absurdity of the regulation, the government prints its own stamps with religiously inspired themes—including Christmas stamps.
“USPS offers its own version of a religious stamp, but ironically, it will not allow religious Americans to personalize stamps containing an expression of their own religious beliefs for their own use,” said Jeremy Dys, Special Counsel for Litigation and Communications at First Liberty. “This regulation by the USPS not only chills speech, it silences it.”