The Archdiocese of Washington filed a federal lawsuit against Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s advertising guidelines after the WMATA rejected its proposed ad.
WMATA's legal counsel cited company guidelines while rejecting the ad, saying it "depicts a religious scene and thus seeks to promote religion."
The WMATA policy states, "Advertisements that promote or oppose any religion, religious practice, or belief are prohibited." But the Archdiocese is contesting the rejection, saying the ad "conveys a simple message of hope, and an invitation to participate in the Christmas season."
“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 ad depicts shepherds walking up a mountain and prompts Metro and bus riders to visit findtheperfectgift.org, an annual initiative that directs locals to visit the church during the Christmas season.
"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," Secretary for Communications for the Archdiocese of Washington Ed McFadden said in a press release.
"But if Christmas means a little bit more, WMATA plays Grinch."
Susan Timoney, secretary for pastoral ministry and social concerns for the Archdiocese, said in a press release the church simply wishes to "welcome all who wish to hear the Good News."