Here’s the situation: A post office in Rupert, Idaho had a Nativity scene mural painted on its windows. The Freedom From Religion Foundation pointed out that’s illegal promotion of Christianity. The painting has since been removed.
Now the town is flipping out because, you know, “Freedom!”
“I think it is an extreme over-stepping of political correctness,” [resident Teri] Stably said. “We live in a small town that is predominately Christian. And we just have to sit back and take it. It really irritates me.”
Yes. That’s how the Constitution works. It doesn’t matter which religious group is in the majority; they don’t get to decide which laws they no longer want to follow. It’s the same reason a predominantly Muslim community can’t magically decide the Qur’an is now the governing document.
[Resident Gary] Schorzman said millions of stamps with the nativity scene, the Virgin Mary and Jesus are sold by the postal service. The post office also closes on Christmas, a religious holiday.
“It seems a little hypocritical to me,” he said. “If that’s the way they want it, why don’t they keep the post office open on Christmas and not allow religious material to go through there?”
Yes, the Post Office sells stamps with Christian themes on them. They also sell Kwanzaa and Hanukkah stamps. They’ll sell whatever stamps they think people will buy in mass numbers and reflect American diversity. More importantly, these stamps are merely available to those who want them; it’s not like the Virgin Mary stamp is the “default” one. None of this is illegal.
This is just more evidence that church/state separation groups aren’t concerned with mentions of God in the public square, as conservatives love to argue. The issue is promoting one religion over another. That’s not happening with these stamps, but it is happening when a post office decides to officially promote the birth of Jesus on its windows.
Why is the Post Office closed on Christmas? Because it’s a federal holiday. Why is it a federal holiday? You can argue that it shouldn’t be, but that’s a separate conversation and the holiday isn’t about the change.
For once, though, there was someone in charge who recognized the issue after it was pointed out to him:
“It was an oversight on my part,” said [Oscar] Egbert, who has been postmaster since April. “The manual clearly states you can’t have any religious depictions on the building. I just didn’t realize it until it was brought to my attention.”
Egbert took full blame for allowing the nativity to be painted on the post office windows, saying he gave [artist Becky] Schow “creative license” to paint whatever she liked. He said it was his fault for not being aware of the regulations and letting Schow know.
That’s how it should’ve been handled. Some of the residents in the community may be ignorant, but good for Egbert for recognizing the error and resolving it.
(Image via Google Maps)