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News Worms


War on Christmas Begins Over Advertising On Washington DC Buses

War on Christmas Begins Over Advertising On Washington DC Buses

Radio reported that the Archdiocese of Washington filed the lawsuit Tuesday after Metro rejected an advertisement promoting the website FindthePerfectGift.org. "Find the flawless gift", reads the ad's tag line, set against a backdrop depicting shepherds with their flock of sheep looking up into a starry sky. The only wording on the advertisement urged riders to locate a flawless gift via religion.

The archdiocese seeks injunctive relief after WMATA, as the agency is known, refused to allow an ad promoting the archdiocese's annual "Find the Perfect Gift" initiative for the Advent and Christmas seasons.

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.

"We're entering into a season where people open their hearts", Chieko Noguchi, an Archdiocese spokesman, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

The ad would have been accepted before 2015, when the transit system changed its policy to prohibit "issue-oriented advertising, including political, religious and advocacy advertising", Metro spokeswoman Sherri Ly told Newsweek.

A FOX News article noted that the advertisement depicted the North Star with silhouettes of three shepherds walking with staffs and sheep, accompanied by the words, "FIND THE PERFECT GIFT".

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. "But if Christmas means a little bit more, WMATA plays Grinch". "In terms of visibility, reach, and frequency, no other media type provides a substitute for bus advertising in the metropolitan area, especially with regard to the audience the Archdiocese most wants to reach with the "Find the Perfect Gift" campaign". WMATA responded by banning all "issue"-related ads".

"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.

Metro has rejected ads before, and, as the "Unsuck DC Metro" account pointed out, ends up racking up legal fees defending their censorship. "The ad in question was declined because it is prohibited by WMATA's current advertising guidelines".

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

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