Televangelist, Postal Service settle lawsuit
televangelist who claimed that denial of lower postal rates had
unconstitutionally hindered his religious mission.
Early last year, San Antonio pastor John Hagee, who broadcasts and
distributes evangelical messages throughout the world, sued the Postal Service
in federal court. He charged that his religious-liberty rights were subverted
when his ministries were denied nonprofit postal rates for some of their
newsletters and mailings from January 1996 through May 1997.
In his federal complaint, Hagee said that postal officials had decided that
some of his ministries’ mailings, such as books, tapes of his national
broadcast, and an advertisement for an Israel tour, were not entitled to the
nonprofit rate because they were deemed commercial promotions not connected with
religious work. Represented by the socially conservative American Center for Law
and Justice, Hagee demanded that the post office stop charging his ministry
higher rates and refund it more than $40,000.
John J. Sadler, manager of marketing systems and business mail for the Postal
Service, said in a letter sent to the ACLJ this week that Hagee’s ministries
would be refunded their additional postal costs and that their mailings did meet
the standards for nonprofit rates. The ACLJ simultaneously announced it would
drop its federal lawsuit.
“The Postal Service appears to be back in the mail business, instead of the
religion business,” said Jay Sekulow, chief ACLJ counsel. “From the very
beginning, this case clearly showed the government overstepped its authority.
The Postal Service had no right or authority to selectively censor mail based on
its degree of religious content or viewpoint.”
Hagee, whose religious services are broadcast worldwide over his Global
Evangelism Television Network, told the San Antonio Express-News that he
was still bothered by the Postal Service’s actions. “The government has become
increasingly hostile to religion,” he said. “The federal government is too big
and feels it has a divine mandate to micromanage the lives of the American