A post office run by a church in Connecticut cannot push religion on its customers, a federal district court has ruled.
In 2003, Bertram Cooper complained about religious messages at a Manchester post office run by Sincerely Yours, Inc., an affiliate of the Full Gospel Interdenominational Church. He was told to find another place for his postal services. Cooper then sued the U.S. Postal Service, arguing that the religious displays violate the separation of church and state.
The post office at issue is a “contract postal unit” (CPU), a privately operated mail center officially sanctioned by the Postal Service. Approximately 5,200 CPUs operate nationwide at colleges, businesses and other private locations.
The church-run post office contained evangelical posters, advertisements, artwork and photography.
In an April ruling, U.S. District Judge Dominic J. Squatrito sided with Cooper.
“There is nothing wrong, per se, with the Church exhibiting such displays,” Squatrito wrote in Cooper v. U.S. States Postal Service. “Here, however, the Church is exhibiting such displays while it is performing its duties under a contract with the Postal Service, i.e., the U.S. Government.”
The judge concluded that the CPU “shall remove any and all religious displays that proselytize or advance religion” and that the Postal Service “shall provide adequate and ongoing notice to all contract postal units, in the course of providing postal services, they shall not act in a manner that proselytizes or advances religion….”