FFRF removes nutty rapture fliers from Maryland post office

The Freedom From Religion Foundation alerted a post office in Lothian, Md., to a serious violation of postal regulations and the U.S. Constitution. Religious fliers, printed on blue 8 1/2 x 14 inch paper and clearly visible to all passersby, were stacked in the post office lobby in early April, 2011. The headline read: “God Gives Another Infallible Proof that Assures the Rapture Will Occur May 21, 2011.”

Rebecca Markert, FFRF senior staff attorney, wrote the Lothian Postmaster on April 4, 2011: “United States postal regulations prohibit the display of fliers on postal property. [Postal regulations] state that no fliers may be deposited on counters or other interior public areas on postal premises. The section goes on to state that private business and nonprofit organizations may not post or display advertisement in post office lobbies or other posting space. 

“Furthermore, displaying this flier containing a religious message violates the First Amendment to the United States Constitution,” Markert remarked. “By displaying this flier on its counters, the Lothian Maryland post office branch is illegally demonstrating a preference for religion, specifically Christianity.” She asked that the fliers be removed from postal property immediately.

“I want to personally apologize on behalf of the Postal Service,” responded Postmaster Derma Maldon on April 28, 2011. “We regret this experience, which does not reflect our high standards of service. We do not condone and are not impartial to any fliers being placed in the lobby of our post offices. The policy in the [Postal Operations Manual] is clearly written and enforced. . . . These particular fliers could have been left after a check was completed. However, they were noticed later that afternoon and disposed of.” — Bonnie Gutsch

Freedom From Religion Foundation