Friday, 15 December, 2017

Turley: Washington METRO Says Catholic Christmas Ad 'Prohibited'

The Archdiocese of Washington DC says their Christmas ad campaign was denied by the city's Metro system for being religious The Archdiocese of Washington DC says their Christmas ad campaign was denied by the city's Metro system for being religious
Juana Turner | 30 November, 2017, 12:46

Metro spokeswoman Sherry Ly told WTOP that WMATA rejected the archdiocese's Christmas ad because they violated that new policy. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority told representatives of the diocese the ads were too religious in nature, but would likely be accepted if they were changed to promote sales.

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.

According to the lawsuit, a representative from Outfront told the archdiocese that "if the advertisement had a commercial goal, such as selling goods or services, then the advertisement would be more likely to comply with WMATA's guidelines". "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". "This is the simple one, just for Metro", the spokesperson said.

"The archdiocese has in previous years advertised on WMATA's public buses".

Susan Timoney, secretary for pastoral ministry and social concerns for the archdiocese, noted that the rejected advertisement "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". WMATA responded by banning all "issue"-related ads".

According to official State data, only 13% of the DC's population is Catholic, though the Church's data pins the number of worshipers closer to 22%. Unsurprisingly, the archdiocese explained that it "could not conceive of a way to adjust the advertisement given the objective and message of the campaign".

The Archdiocese is now suing Metro over the banning. They planned to plaster buses and bus kiosks with the ad campaign
The Archdiocese is now suing Metro over the banning. They planned to plaster buses and bus kiosks with the ad campaign

The Archdiocese is now suing Metro over the banning.

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.

Kim Fiorentino, the Archdiocese of Washington's chancellor and general counsel, said that the archdiocese believes the ad rejection was a clear violation of fundamental free speech and a limitation on the exercise of our faith.

Mcfadden explained that giving the ad a commercial theme and still retaining the intended message would be impossible.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is now suing WMATA for rejecting ads from Carafem, Milo Yiannopoulos, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

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