USPS denied personalized Christmas stamp because of religious content

One group is wondering why a seemingly straightforward family vacation photo was deemed too “religious” to print on a personalized stamp in the U.S.

The U.S.-based First Liberty Institute, that country’s largest legal organization dedicated exclusively to “defending religious freedom,” recently sent a letter to the United States Postal Service (USPS) to seek clarification about its policies regarding custom postage. It follows the postal service’s 2017 decision barring “any depiction” of religious content, which forced vendors Zazzle and Stamps.com to deny First Liberty client Tavia Hunt the purchase of a personalized stamp featuring her family’s vacation photo in front of a historic cathedral.

“No one should have to go to court to send a Christmas card,” said Hiram Sasser, general counsel for First Liberty Institute. “USPS policies are so ambiguous and unequally applied that even its approved vendors don’t know what is allowed and what isn’t. The USPS has made Zazzle and Stamps.com agents of discrimination.”

Last November, Hunt ordered a personalized stamp through Zazzle, which partners with Stamps.com to print custom postage. The design featured a photo of her family in front of the iconic Cathedral of Vasily the Blessed, commonly known as Saint Basil’s Cathedral, in Moscow’s Red Square.

After initially accepting the order, Zazzle informed Hunt the design was denied because of its “religious” nature—specifically the presence of Saint Basil’s Cathedral in the background.

Zazzle, from which Hunt placed her order, said this cropped version would be approved as it makes the cathedral ‘less obvious.’

‘LESS OBVIOUS’

Zazzle then indicated Hunt’s order would be approved if the photo were cropped to make the cathedral “less obvious.”

“All I wanted was to add something personal to my family’s Christmas cards,” said Hunt. “I was shocked that a family photo that includes a historic cathedral in the background is considered too religious by the Post Office.”

“American taxpayers who fund the Postal Service deserve to know whether they can order a customized stamp or not,” added Sasser.

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