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Archdiocese of Washington Sues Transit Authority After Rejection of Christmas Ad

30 November, 2017, 12:45 | Author: Samuel Sharp
  • Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority

Radio reported that the Archdiocese of Washington filed the lawsuit Tuesday after Metro rejected an advertisement promoting the website FindthePerfectGift.org. "Find the flawless gift", reads the ad's tag line, set against a backdrop depicting shepherds with their flock of sheep looking up into a starry sky. The design says "Find the flawless gift" and shows shepherds and sheep, as in a classic Nativity scene. It promotes no religion, merely spirituality - as does yoga, ads for which the Transit Authority does gladly accept. Despite the proposed ad's lack of scripture, Outfront Media, Inc., the company that contracts with WMATA to market advertising space, rejected the ad. Unsurprisingly, the archdiocese explained that it "could not conceive of a way to adjust the advertisement given the objective and message of the campaign".

The ad depicts shepherds walking up a mountain and prompts Metro and bus riders to visit findtheperfectgift.org, an annual initiative that directs locals to visit the church during the Christmas season.

A Metro spokesman says that religious advertisements have been banned since 2015.

"Jesus is the ideal gift", the website says.

"To borrow from a favorite Christmas story, under WMATA's guidelines, if the ads are about packages, boxes or bags ... if Christmas comes from a store ... then it seems WMATA approves", Ed McFadden, communications secretary for the archdiocese, said. "The ad in question was declined because it is prohibited by WMATA's current advertising guidelines".


Earlier this year, the American Civil Liberties filed a suit after the agency rejected one of their ads promoting the First Amendment. The complaint highlights three parts of the agency's advertising policy, but it does not address the rule banning religious-themed ads. WMATA responded by banning all "issue"-related ads".

The Metro system in the nation's capital violated the free speech of the city's Catholic church by blocking a pro-religion Christmas-season ad on buses, a new lawsuit charged Tuesday. According to the Post, Metro officials later said the condom ads provoked the "single largest negative response" in the transit system's history.

In its public statement, however, the Catholic Church argued that the ad did not breach the WMATA rules, as it simply "conveys a simple message of hope, and an invitation to participate in the Christmas season".

"The Archdiocese wishes to encourage our society to help feed, clothe, and care for our most vulnerable neighbors, and to share our blessings, and welcome all who wish to hear the Good News", said Timoney.

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