Washington transit rejects religious ad depicting 3 Magi, North Star

30 Novembre, 2017, 12:45 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • The Washington D.C. transit agency cites rules against what it calls the “promotion” of religion on its buses

The Archdiocese of Washington has filed a federal lawsuit against Metro after the transit agency refused to sell space on buses for Christmas fundraising ads, citing its ban on "issue-oriented advertising".

The advertisements rejected by WMATA highlight the archdiocese's annual "Find the Perfect Gift" campaign, which refers views to the FindThePerfectGift.org website that includes Mass schedules, reflections on the meaning of Advent and Christmas, religious holiday traditions and opportunities for charitable service.

The Catholic church is taking Metro to court after the Washington-area transit agency rejected an ad campaign promoting a website aimed at encouraging attendance at parishes throughout the D.C. area.

However, the Archdiocese believes the WMATA is restricting their freedom of speech and maintains that the ad "conveys a simple message of hope, and an invitation to participate in the Christmas season".

"WMATA's censors have rejected the Archdiocese of Washington's "Find the Perfect Gift" ad campaign because depictions of sheep, shepherds, and stars constitute a "religious scene" in violation of Metro policy", said Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, legal adviser with The Catholic Association.

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", McFadden said.

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In the summer of 2015, WMATA let Carafem, an abortion facility that styles itself as a "spa", advertise its lethal services.

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 Archdiocese did not propose an ad to be featured by WMATA again until the 2017 Christmas ad.

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's rejection of the Archdiocese's speech amounts to a violation of the First Amendment, plain and simple", Clement said.

By refusing to run the ads, the church says their Constitutional rights to free speech and freedom to practice religion are being infringed. "The Archdiocese wishes to encourage our society to help feed, clothe, and care for our most vulnerable neighbors, and to share our blessings, and welcome all who wish to hear the Good News".

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