I've had 3 emails from separate sources this morning all forwarding this:
"Royal Mail has traditionally alternated between sacred and secular designs for their Christmas stamps and this year it is the turn for a religious image. Royal Mail has issued two sets of designs this year. The main set of designs, available in all the main denominations is of angels, which is vaguely Christian but not explicitly so and certainly not specifically Christmassy. They have also issued a 'Madonna and Child' design for first and second class only. Post Office staff have been instructed to only sell this design if people specifically request it, but obviously people can't request it if they don't know it exists! If people don't buy these stamps, Royal Mail will claim there is no demand for religious Christmas stamps and not produce them in future. Please therefore ask for 'Madonna and Child' stamps when you do your Christmas posting and also tell your friends, contacts etc. to do the same."
The Post Office have said:
‘We have become aware of an incorrect assertion being made about the motives behind the sales of our Christmas stamps. There is absolutely no intention on our part to suppress sales of the Madonna and Child stamps in order to be able to claim there is low demand for religious stamps in future years. Indeed, we have produced tens of millions of them, and we want to sell them!! We have given publicity to both types of Christmas stamps, and the availability of both has been widely covered in the national and local press. Furthermore we plan to have the Madonna and Child stamps available every Christmas in future, alongside each year’s “special” set, which will continue to alternate between religious and secular themes.
Any help you can give in restoring the balance would be much appreciated.
Jonathan Evans OBE, Company Secretary, Royal Mail Group'
Dave Walker has posted here and here on the topic. I'm repeating his message because
a) I already get enough emails, without getting the post office scare story email again
b) Spreading these kinds of stories damages the credibility of the church when we have anything important to say. 'Christians? Oh yes, they're the people who don't check the facts'. As people who have a message to communicate, credibility is all important. To simply jump on some scare story and forward it on without checking it isn't just an innocent bit of emailing, in real life we call it gossip. It also chips away at what trust people have in Christians.
My apologies to you if you've recieved a slightly snappy email from me today, but I'd rather we were known for the gospel than for kicking the post office. Personally, I'd quite like to save the post office, and for local churches to be in a position to host local post office services if the government decides to shut them down. Spreading rumours like this doesn't help our case.
Update: I've just had a reply to one of my snappy emails, which says:
I have had two repsonses which may indicate this is a hoax but some of our congregation (St Paul's, Sherborne) have had problems getting them and our church warden actually challenged them at (a local) Post office after they said they were sold out and they sheepishly brought out two large bundles...
well, well, well.......