War on Christmas Begins Over Advertising On Washington DC Buses

DC Archdiocese sues WMATA after rejection of Christmas ad

DC Archdiocese sues WMATA after rejection of Christmas ad

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 United States capital, where less than 50 percent of the population expressly identifies as Christian. The design says "Find the ideal gift" and shows shepherds and sheep, as in a classic Nativity scene.

This ad is too controversial for the D.C. subwayThe District of Columbia's transit system won't let the local archdiocese buy space for a Christmas-themed advertisement.

Since 2015, the Archdiocese and WMATA have clashed over the advertising guidelines.

Metro has rejected ads before, and, as the "Unsuck DC Metro" account pointed out, ends up racking up legal fees defending their censorship.

The WMATA's latest clash with the Catholic Church also provoked an intense Twitter reaction.

Metro barred political and religious advertising after an activist group submitted a cartoon depiction of the Prophet Muhammad to run as an ad at Metrorail stations and on buses. "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".

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

According to the lawsuit, a representative from Outfront told the archdiocese that "if the advertisement had a commercial objective, such as selling goods or services, then the advertisement would be more likely to comply with WMATA's guidelines".

The history of Christmas Trees
While other Christmas tree farms were closing their doors a decade ago, Steiner and his family were busy planting trees. Another drawback is that their needles are very sharp - this is not a good selection for homes with small children.

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

Earlier this year, the American Civil Liberties filed a suit after the agency rejected one of their ads promoting the First Amendment.

"As the papers filed in Court today make clear, WMATA's rejection of the Archdiocese's speech amounts to a violation of the First Amendment, plain and simple", Paul Clement, counsel to the Archdiocese said in a press release.

The Archdiocese's Director of Media Relations Chieko Noguchi also told Newsweek that after carefully studying the Metro's guidelines and specifically, the Church opted to use the ad in question to fit the specific rules. WMATA responded by banning all "issue"-related ads".

"Someone [is] sitting there at transit like Caesar.", Turley said.

"Our ad 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", Susan Timoney, secretary for pastoral ministry and social concerns for the archdiocese, said.

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

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