Church, State, and the Postal Service: The Contentious History of Sunday Mail Delivery
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For 81 years, the United States Postal Service accommodated Loma Linda, California’s largely Seventh-day Adventist population by delivering the mail on Sundays instead of Saturdays. This ended on April 23, 2011 when the Postal Service, citing economic considerations, brought this rare accommodation to an end.
The delivery of mail on Sundays in the United States has a fascinating history, and most people do not know that until 1912, the Postal Service routinely delivered mail on Sundays. It was only under pressure from religious and labor organizations that the USPS gradually transitioned to the now-familiar Monday through Saturday schedule.
The Postal Service is as old as the nation itself, beginning with the kite-flying, bifocal inventing, and noted Renaissance man Benjamin Franklin who organized the USPS at the direction of the Second Continental Congress on July 26, 1775. The founders then gave Congress the power to establish and maintain the postal service as one of the enumerated powers in Article One of the Constitution. The mail was the sole communication lifeline of the newly formed nation, and the Postmaster a cabinet position and the final position in the presidential line of succession until the USPS was reorganized in 1971.
 Outraged that Congress had thus “enforced Sunday desecration,” religious leaders began to clamor for legislation that would outlaw Sunday operations.
This stemmed, in part, from the fact that prior to the passage of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment which was one of the post-Civil War Amendments which applied the establishment clause of the First Amendment to the states, state and local governments were able to regulate Sunday closings of businesses and even regulate what private activities a person could participate in on Sundays. The post office, however, was Federal territory and people could go there and conduct business, or socialize and the local religious leaders had no jurisdiction to interfere.
 This would seem to indicate that religion, not efficiency, was the primary reason for closing on Sundays.
Today, all United States Post Offices are closed for Sunday delivery except for two: Angwin, California and Collegedale, Tennessee where a significant percentage of people observe the Sabbath on Saturday and where private post offices, owned by the Seventh-day Adventist Church which operate universities in these towns, have contracts that guarantee no Saturday deliveries.
 Harmon Kingsbury, The Sabbath: A Brief History of Laws, Petitions, Remonstrances and Reports with Facts and Arguments Relating to the Christian Sabbath, S.W. Benedict, Printer, New York, 1840, 26.
 Blakeley, 393.
 The Writings of John Leland, Edited by L.F. Greene, Arno Press & The New York Times, New York, 1969, 564–66.
 Blakeley, 298.
 American State Papers and Related State Papers on Freedom in Religion, compiled and annotated by William Adison Blakeley, Published for the Religious Liberty Association by the Review and Herald, Washington, D.C., 1949, 273.
 Christian Unity at Work, The Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America in Quadrennial Session at Chicago, Illinois, 1912, Published by the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ, edited by Charles S. Macfarland, 1913, 242.
 Post Office Department Annual Reports for the Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 1914: Report of the Postmaster General, Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1914, 143
Michael Peabody is the editor of ReligiousLiberty.TV.