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Archdiocese Sues After DC Transit Authority Rejects Ad

The Archdiocese of Washington DC filed a federal lawsuit yesterday after the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) rejected their Christmas ad.

CNSNews.com is reporting on the lawsuit which was filed after the Transit Authority rejected a Christmas ad meant to be displayed on area buses. The ad reads, “Find the Perfect Gift” and shows several shepherds in silhouette. It also lists the Archdiocesan website, findtheperfectgift.org that is filled with inspirational messages inviting people back to the faith on Christmas.

“The rejected ad conveys a simple message of hope, and an invitation to participate in the Christmas season. Yet citing its guidelines, WMATA’s legal counsel said the ad ‘depicts a religious scene and thus seeks to promote religion,’” explained Ed McFadden, Secretary for Communications for the Archdiocese of Washington.

“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. But if Christmas means a little bit more, WMATA plays Grinch.”

In an emailed statement to WTOP.com, Metro spokeswoman Sherry Ly said the transit agency changed its advertising policy in 2015 to prohibit “issue-oriented advertising, including political, religious and advocacy advertising. The ad in question was declined because it is prohibited by WMATA’s current advertising guidelines.”

However, the suit challenges this rejection, claiming it is restricting the church’s First Amendment rights since the ad was rejected based on its religious nature.

It also points out that Metro’s rejection of the church ad is out-of-step with the Authority’s acceptance of ads promoting yoga and the Salvation Army.

“We believe rejection of this ad to be a clear violation of fundamental free speech and a limitation on the exercise of our faith,” said Kim Fiorentino, the Archdiocese of Washington’s Chancellor and General Counsel. “We look forward to presenting our case to affirm the right of all to express such viewpoints in the public square.”

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