Whether or not you were aware of it, the cash-strapped United States Postal Service has a program where you can custom order your own stamps that you design, provided you are willing to pay an additional fee. Or, more correctly, I should say they used to have a program where you could do that. Unfortunately, they canceled it this year. The reason for ending the profitable program is up for debate. For their part, the Post Office is saying that the revenue from the program was “insignificant.” But more curious is the claim that the program had become an “unacceptable risk” to the Postal Service’s brand.
How is that a risk to their brand? The Free Beacon dug into that question and found that people had begun ordering stamps with “religious themes” and that was apparently a bridge too far.
The United States Postal Service pulled the plug on a profitable custom stamp program rather than let Americans use religious imagery.
The cash-strapped agency generated millions of dollars by allowing customers to design their own stamps before eliminating the program in June. Jeremy Dys, special counsel at nonprofit religious freedom law firm First Liberty, said the decision came shortly after several people attempted to create stamps featuring religious backdrops and imagery. Dys criticized USPS—which requested $75 billion from taxpayers in April—for leaving money on the table.
“Rather than permit anything that might be religious to appear on a custom stamp that you would pay for and then give money to the U.S. Postal Service through a revenue stream, they decided to walk away from multimillion-dollars’ worth of custom stamp programs,” Dys told the Washington Free Beacon.
As far as the revenue goes, even if the Post Office was “only” making tens of millions of dollars off the custom stamp program, an outfit that’s currently begging for billions in taxpayer bailouts probably shouldn’t be turning their nose up at any revenue they can get their hands on. The program has been around for years, and if they were actually losing money on it they would have killed it off long ago. So I’m not buying that part of the explanation for a New York minute.
So what about this damage to their brand? One of the first examples cited is a 2018 instance where the wife of the Chairman of the Kansas City Chiefs tried to order custom stamps for their Christmas cards showing a picture of the family posing in front of St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow. Seriously? A picture of a family posing in front of a world-famous landmark that also happens to be a church is too much “religious imagery” for you to tolerate? Yeah, I’m sure that’s really destroying your brand. More recently, some customers had dared to try to order stamps with images of Jesus. That must have sent someone a the USPS to the fainting couches.
But if a picture of a church crosses the line, why can we still order these stamps directly from the USPS even today?
I realize that a lot of the meaning of Christmas has been diluted over the past few generations because of the massive commercialization the holiday has been subjected to. But that’s still an image of Santa Claus, which is directly and permanently associated with the Christian holiday of Christmas. And Santa himself is based on the memory of a Christian Saint. It seems as if we’re being a bit selective in what does or doesn’t qualify as “religious imagery” here.
The Democrats in Congress are busy raising all sorts of alarms about how the Post Office is endangered and creating a threat to democracy if urgent action isn’t taken. Well, before they go rushing to shovel billions of dollars in the coffers of the USPS, perhaps they could ask why the service is walking away from a profitable revenue stream. Are there any other money-making programs they’ve bailed out on? Inquiring minds want to know.