The U.S. Postal Service has reversed itself and decided not to dump a stamp depicting Mary and the infant Jesus in 1995 after all. The commemorative stamp, inscribed "Christmas" and issued since 1978, had been omitted from the schedule announced November 17.

Instead, the postal agency planned to release a stamp depicting a Victorian-era angel as part of its 1995 "holiday" series. "We're going from denominational to nondenominational," stamp manager Azeezaly Jaffer had said of the plan to remove Christ and any reference to his birth.

Christian conservatives protested the move as being "politically correct." Representative Dan Burton (R-Ind.) planned a campaign to enlist congressional support to resist the change. But when President Clinton intervened, Postmaster General Marvin Runyon reversed the decision announced only six days earlier. Runyon now promises a Christmas stamp showing Mary and Jesus in 1995.

However, Runyon did not rescind a ban on displaying "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Hanukkah" signs in post offices, even though postal workers may still recite the words. Runyon says post offices may put up "an evergreen tree with nonreligious ornaments."


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