Archdiocese of Washington Challenges Metro System's Advertising Guidelines - Archdiocese of Washington

Archdiocese of Washington Sues Metro Over Advertising Policies

Archdiocese of Washington Sues Metro Over Advertising Policies

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 U.S. capital, where less than 50 percent of the population expressly identifies as Christian.

While no overtly religious message is included in the text of the ad itself, the home page FindthePerfectGift explains that "Jesus is the flawless gift", and includes links for visitors to find the nearest Catholic parish.

The Archdiocese of Washington, DC filed a lawsuit against the city's Metro system on Tuesday, after their Christmas ads were banned.

Metro adopted the policy in 2015 after anti-Islam activist Pamela Geller attempted to buy ad space on the subway.

He said the ad was submitted in late October to the agency that manages W.M.A.T.A. advertisements, Outfront Media, which rejected it within 24 hours. The church also wants to position advertisements in bus kiosks.

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The Archdiocese has taken out ads for metro buses for a decade, most notably for their Lent initiative "The Light is ON for You", which encouraged people to stop by a Catholic church on Wednesday evenings to go to confession or for prayer and reflection.

The D.C. archdiocese is not the only organization challenging Metro's advertising restrictions.

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

"To borrow a phrase 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", spokesman Ed McFadden said in a statement.

Speaking to Newsweek, WMATA spokeswoman Sherri Ly said that the ad might have been accepted before 2015, when the transport authority chose to prohibit all "issue-orientated advertising, including political, religious and advocacy advertising".

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is now suing WMATA for rejecting ads from Carafem, Milo Yiannopoulos, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

The archdiocese has scuffled with the W.M.A.T.A.in the past. 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".

"We believe rejection of this ad to be a clear violation of fundamental free speech and a limitation on the exercise of our faith", Kim Fiorentino, chancellor and general counsel for the archdiocese added.

In his statement, the archdiocese said the advertisement simply conveys a message of hope.

The message of the ads, the archdiocese contends, is not all that controversial.

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