On Nov. 28, 2017, the Archdiocese of Washington filed a legal action in federal court challenging the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) advertising guidelines and sought injunctive relief after WMATA rejected the advertisement promoting the archdiocese’s annual “Find the Perfect Gift” initiative.
“The rejected ad conveys a simple message of hope, and an invitation to participate in the Christmas season. Yet citing its guidelines, WMATA’s legal counsel said the ad ‘depicts a religious scene and thus seeks to promote religion,'” said Ed McFadden, Secretary for Communications for the Archdiocese of Washington. “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. But if Christmas means a little bit more, WMATA plays Grinch.”
“We believe rejection of this ad to be a clear violation of fundamental free speech and a limitation on the exercise of our faith,” said Kim Fiorentino, the Archdiocese of Washington’s chancellor and general counsel. “We look forward to presenting our case to affirm the right of all to express such viewpoints in the public square.”