War On Christmas: Washington DC Metro Bans Christmas Ads, Causes Uproar

Christmas ad depicting shepherds at night rejected by DC Metro since it ‘seeks to promote religion

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.

The words on the advertisement invited readers to "Find the Perfect Gift" and providing a link to their website for those who are interested in Catholic traditions.

"The ad in question was declined because it is prohibited by WMATA's current advertising guidelines", the agency said in a statement.

The Archdiocese of Washington filed suit in federal court November 28 over the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's advertising guidelines after the transit system rejected an Advent and Christmas advertisement. A number of social media accounts, including the "Unsuck DC Metro" one, highlight the daily struggles commuters face on the metro.

The church planned to roll out a series of ads on the sides of buses and on bus kiosks promoting Christmas mass schedules and ways to help the needy during the holiday season.

The Catholic Church responded by stating this order violates the First Amendment.
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Metro has rejected ads before, and, as the "Unsuck DC Metro" account pointed out, ends up racking up legal fees defending their censorship. The Archdiocese also argues the policy is inconsistent, because WMATA accepted ads for the Salvation Army and Yoga. The Archdiocese wanted to reach a wider audience and so proposed a different add to be featured on Metro buses.

Ed McFadden, the secretary of communications, Archdiocese of Washington, said if one goes by the rules as implied by DC metro, then only advertisements containing images of bags, boxes or packages are acceptable, as if Christmas is only about shopping.

Noguchi told TheDCNF other advertisers have deemed WMATA's new advertising guidelines sufficiently vague that even the ACLU filed a lawsuit against WMATA for rejecting ads for PETA, Milo Yiannopoulous' book "Dangerous", and the "10-Week-After" abortion pill. "This campaign, 'The Light Is on for You, ' was remarkably successful for the archdiocese - and lucrative for WMATA - with advertisements on the backs of 85 buses throughout the metropolitan area".

The lawsuit is the second First Amendment challenge filed this year against Metro's policy of banning ads that are "issues-oriented" or "intended to influence members of the public regarding an issue on which there are varying opinions".

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