Florida’s 8th congressional district is currently represented by Bill Posey, a Republican with a 67 percent Conservative Action Score on the That’s My Congress legislative scorecard system. For the Tea Party, that’s not conservative enough. So, under the name of the Tea Party, a man named Karl Balone is challenging Representative Posey in the 2014 election.
Why should voters in the 8th district vote for Balone instead of Posey? Because, according to Balone’s campaign Facebook page, the “United States Postal Service—- Has Taken Lord Jesus Christ and Merry Christmas………………………………..OUT OF CHRISTMAS.”
Is it true? Has the Postal Service taken Jesus and Christmas out of Christmas? Does the Postal Service even have the authority to do that?
Balone didn’t come up with this issue on his own. He’s referring to a conspiracy theory that’s made the rounds of right wing activists this autumn, claiming that the US Postal Service is refusing to print stamps that celebrate Christmas or show Jesus. The conspiracy theory is based upon a poster that promotes the three most recent additions to the Postal Service’s holiday stamp collection. That poster shows a stamp for Hanukkah, a stamp for Kwanzaa, and a stamp with gingerbread houses on it – but no stamp for Christmas, and no stamp showing the baby Jesus.
Right wing activists has looked at this single poster and concluded that the US Postal Service has declared a war on Christmas. Other, more patient, Americans have noted that the Postal Service is a great deal more than just one poster.
In fact, the Postal Service prints, promotes and sells more stamps celebrating Christmas than it does for any other winter holiday. What’s more, many of the Postal Service’s Christmas stamps specifically show the baby Jesus, as well as his mother and father. The Postal Service has heavily publicized these stamps, including one featuring a painting by Jan Gossaert, which, as the Postal Service notes, has explicitly Christian religious imagery: “Draped in purple and blue, the Virgin Mary supports her own head by leaning on one of her hands. According to art historians, this pose was an unusual way to depict the Virgin Mary in Gossaert’s time and may have been meant to evoke both sadness and contemplation by reminding viewers of earlier artistic depictions of ancient scholars, St. Joseph in Nativity scenes, and mourners at the Crucifixion. Supported by the Virgin Mary’s other hand, a curly-haired infant Jesus loosely draped in a white cloth looks to the viewer’s right and holds a bunch of red currants, which scholars have interpreted as foreshadowing Christ’s future suffering.”
Karl Balone could have met the baby Jesus simply by taking a short trip to his local post office himself, but like most Tea Party members, he refused to go through the work of checking the facts.