NEW YORK (Dec. 8)
The American Jewish Congress has commended the United States Post Office Department for the non-religious design of its 1969 Christmas stamp. At the same time however, AJ Congress executive director Will Maslow said in a letter to Postmaster General Winton M. Blount that the organization was opposed in principle to the issuance of Christmas stamps “which is inconsistent with the constitutional concept of separation of church and state.”
In a reply to the AJ Congress letter, David A. Nelson, general counsel for the Post Office Department wrote, “The practice of issuing Christmas stamps each year having become fairly well entrenched by now, it is probably unlikely that the Christmas stamp will be abandoned.”
The 1969 stamp is a reproduction of a painting by an unknown artist from about 1870 entitled “Winter Sunday in Norway, Maine.” Last year the AJ Congress protested the design of a Christmas stamp depicting a portion of a religious painting–“The annunciation” by Jan Van Eyck–as a violation of church-state separation. Christmas stamps were first issued in 1962 and have “become increasingly sectarian at almost every stage since the first, relatively non-sectarian stamp was issued,” the AJ Congress said.