ACLU Files Challenge to Religion-Themed Post Office in Connecticut Town

Affiliate: ACLU of Connecticut
October 3, 2003 12:00 am

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Cooper v. US Postal Service Sm

Pictured here: an example of the kind of religious messages encountered by patrons of the U.S. Post office in Manchester, CT (click on the image for larger version)HARTFORD — The Connecticut Civil Liberties Union today filed a federal lawsuit against the United States Postal Service, saying that a contract postal unit in the town of Manchester is replete with Christian religious symbols, messages and images.

“Consumers have a right to use government services without being proselytized,” said attorney Philip Tegeler of the CCLU. “In appearing to endorse the religious message of a particular church, the government is sanctioning actions explicitly prohibited by the Constitution.”

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Bertram Cooper, a World War II veteran and a local resident of Manchester, a small town located east of Hartford.

According to the ACLU complaint, the post office contracted with Sincerely Yours, Inc., a corporation run by the Full Gospel Interdenominational Church in Manchester, to offer postal services on behalf of the United States Postal Service. While the building looks like an ordinary post office and is identified by a large, lighted “United States Post Office” sign, its walls display numerous evangelical Christian messages interspersed with such traditional post office paraphernalia as stamps, express mailing forms, and American flags.

In addition to the United States Postal Service, the lawsuit also names the United States Postmaster General and the Postmaster of the Manchester Postal Office as defendants. The local church is not a defendant in the case.

The legal complaint in the case is available online at /node/35378.

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