The Catholic Church responded by stating this order violates the First Amendment.
A Catholic advertisement campaign has been rejected by the Washington Metro as it promotes “spiritual giving” and not presents. The transport network has justified its stand by pointing out the imagery of sheep, stars, and shepherds promotes religion, a direct contravention of transit system rules.
In return, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority was sued by Archdiocese of Washington. The advertisement had no religious lettering. It included, however, silhouetted shepherds and a starry background. The picture makes a graphical representation of the birth of Christ. The only wording on the advertisement urged riders to locate a perfect gift via religion.
In his statement, the archdiocese said the advertisement simply conveys a message of hope. The picture and the wording extends an invitation to participate in Christmas season. The religious head added the guidelines of the transit system violates First Amendment rules. Chieko Noguchi, the spokesperson of the church said the metro advertisement was particularly made to avoid such a scenario. He pointed out all other advertisements by the church has a similar image with one noticeable difference: a quotation taken from Book of Luke was also printed on the image.
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. McFadden scorned the transport authority by adding that WMATA is a grinch if the advertisement depicts anything more than presents. The church also wants to position advertisements in bus kiosks.
A spokesperson for the metro said that the policy prohibiting advertisements flavored with religious themes came into effect in 2015. The present advertising policy bars any kind of issue oriented advertising. These include a complete prohibition on advocacy, religious, political, and issue oriented ads. She said that WMATA barred the advertisement in question as it was not compatible with the organization’s present guidelines.
The church has also hit back. Kim Fiorentino, the General Counsel, and who is also Chancellor of Archdiocese of Washington, said that this rejection of the advertisement is a violation of free speech. This order limits the exercise of faith. The submitted documents point out that this action violates First Amendment sans any doubt.