No more Salvation Army bell ringers on postal grounds

An FFRF letter swiftly resolved a violation in which Salvation Army bell ringers were soliciting funds on U.S. Post Office property in Elgin, Ill. The Foundation’s letter (Dec. 23, 2010), which included photographs of a bell ringer at the postal entrance, asked the Postmaster of the Elgin main branch to direct the Salvation Army to relocate its solicitation off government property. Rebecca Markert, FFRF senior staff attorney, wrote: “The Post Office cannot allow a Salvation Army bell ringer to solicit donations on postal property. [Postal regulations] state specifically that ‘soliciting alms and contributions… or impeding access to or egress from Post Offices are prohibited.’ Furthermore, ‘no tables, chairs, freestanding signs or posters, structures, or furniture of any type may be placed in postal lobbies or on postal walkways, steps, plazas, lawns or landscaped areas, driveways, parking lots, or other exterior spaces.’ “

The Postmaster first phoned the Foundation to say she was not aware of those postal regulations or that the Salvation Army was a religious organization. The Salvation Army is not just a religious organization; it is a Christian church denomination. The Postmaster agreed that it would not matter if the Salvation Army was religious or not, since it was a violation of postal regulations. She followed up with a letter on Jan. 14: “I have contacted the Salvation Army and informed them that they would not be allowed to stand in front of Postal Property while ringing their bell. This will not be an issue in the future in Elgin.” — Bonnie Gutsch

Freedom From Religion Foundation