Christians urged to 'stamp out' Royal Mail Christmas hoax

Christians in the Diocese of Lichfield are being warned not to be taken in by a hoax email claiming the Royal Mail have instructed staff not to sell religious-themed Christmas stamps.

The email warning comes in a number of different versions. Some claim the instruction has been issued so that the Royal Mail can say there is no demand for religious themed stamps, others claim it is not to offend the "militant secularist lobby " or "people of other faiths".

The emails urge recipients to forward them to everybody in their address book. Now the Diocese of Lichfield has issued its own warning - urging people to "stamp out" the myth.

Gavin Drake, the director of communications for the Diocese of Lichfield, said: "This warning is simply not true. No such instruction has been issued by the Royal Mail. In fact, the Royal Mail has printed 300 million Christmas stamps - and they won't want any left over in the New Year.

"While it would be nice if the Royal Mail would produce religious themed Christmas stamps each year - as the General Synod unanimously requested in July 2004 - the Royal Mail do issue religious-themed Christmas stamps bi-annually."

He said that there was "unquestionable Christian content" in the Royal Mail's accompanying literature about this year's theme, including a summary of the discovery by archaeologists of the Lichfield Angel, part of the original 8th century Shrine of Saint Chad, discovered during an excavation of the nave of Lichfield Cathedral.

Drake added: "Rather than be ashamed of our nation's Christian heritage, the Royal Mail appear to be celebrating it. Next spring they will release a set of stamps celebrating these islands' great cathedrals - in which Lichfield will take pride of place on the first class stamp."

In a warning on the diocese's website, he urged people who receive the circular emails not to forward them but to inform the sender that this is a hoax.