DC Archdiocese Sues Over Rejected Transit Christmas Ad

Nov 30, 2017, 12:48
DC Archdiocese Sues Over Rejected Transit Christmas Ad

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority told representatives of the diocese the ads were too religious in nature, but would likely be accepted if they were changed to promote sales.

The suit filed Tuesday argues that Metro is "hostile to religion" and violates the Archdiocese's right to freedom of speech and free exercise of religion by rejecting the ad.

"WMATA approves the commercialization of Christmas by showing ads depicting gifts and material goods, but unfortunately the portrayal of the reason we celebrate this time of year - the birth of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ - is a guideline violation", he added.

The Archdiocese of Washington is suing the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) - the agency responsible for the city's metro system - for rejecting a Christmas ad. "This is the simple one, just for Metro", the spokesperson said.

In addition to its Christmas campaign, the archdiocese has used Metro bus advertising in the past to promote a Lenten reconciliation campaign and for papal visits to Washington in 2008 and 2015.

In the summer of 2015, WMATA let Carafem, an abortion facility that styles itself as a "spa", advertise its lethal services. Launched to commemorate World AIDS Day, the ads read, "Because the bishops ban condoms, innocent people die", and they urged readers to "Join the Global Campaign to End the Bishops' Ban on Condoms".

According to official State data, only 13% of the DC's population is Catholic, though the Church's data pins the number of worshipers closer to 22%.

"Although all of the campaign's distribution channels are helpful for spreading the Archdiocese's message, there is no medium that will reach the Archdiocese's broad audience as consistently or effectively as bus advertising", the complaint reads.

Kim Fiorentino, the General Counsel, and who is also Chancellor of Archdiocese of Washington, said that this rejection of the advertisement is a violation of free speech.

The Archdiocese is now suing Metro over the banning. "Yet citing its guidelines, WMATA's legal counsel said the ad 'depicts a religious scene and thus seeks to promote religion, '" said Ed McFadden, the secretary for communications for the Archdiocese of Washington in a written statement.

Mcfadden explained that giving the ad a commercial theme and still retaining the intended message would be impossible. The ad in question was declined because it is prohibited by WMATA's current advertising guidelines, ' said Sherri Ly, manager of media relations.