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Catholic Church Sues DC Transit System for Rejecting Its Christmas Ad

30 November, 2017, 12:48 | Author: Paula Vaughn
  • Archdiocese sues DC transit authority over Christmas

The Catholic Church is suing the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), which regulates the advertisement on DC's transportation network, for banning one of its Christmas season ads in the USA capital, where less than 50 percent of the population expressly identifies as Christian.

Entitled "Find the Perfect Gift", the advert depicts a star which led the Magi from the East to the baby Jesus in Bethlehem, and shepherds.

The transit authority in Washington, D.C., is being sued after rejecting an ad it deemed too religious for display.

Metro adopted the policy in 2015 after anti-Islam activist Pamela Geller attempted to buy ad space on the subway. The church also wants to position advertisements in bus kiosks.

Susan Timoney, secretary for pastoral ministry and social concerns for the archdiocese, noted that the rejected advertisement "was created to be placed on Metro bus exteriors to reach the broadest audience and to invite everyone to experience the well-accepted joyful spirit of the season, or to share their many blessings with others less fortunate through service opportunities". A letter sent to the archdiocese by lawyers representing Outfront said the ad was rejected because "it depicts a religious scene and thus seeks to promote religion".

According to The Washington Post, the WMATA alleges that the ad goes against company policy, which states, "Advertisements that promote or oppose any religion, religious practice, or belief are prohibited".

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

The radio station said Carafem is a health care corporation that provides abortion and family planning care, Milo Worldwide LLC is a corporation that supports conservative personality Milo Yiannopoulous, and PETA is an animal rights organization.

A Metro spokeswoman told the Washington Examiner a policy banning ads with religious themes took effect two years ago.

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. WMATA responded by banning all "issue"-related ads". The archdiocese did not ask the transit agency to pull the ads but said the ads should not have been accepted.

It "conveys a simple message of hope, and an invitation to participate in the Christmas season", the Archdiocese said in a statement, adding that the transit system's guidelines against religious or controversial speech violate the First Amendment.

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