The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority threw down the hammer on the Catholic Church last month when it rejected a rather benign Christmas ad for the Church’s website FindThePerfectGift.org.
The Church turned around and sued the DC Metro claiming a violation of First Amendment rights. The Archdiocese of Washington said it in a statement the ad “conveys a simple message of hope, and an invitation to participate in the Christmas season.”
The ad itself has no words with an overtly religious message. It shows a silhouette of shepherds gazing up at the stars. The ad mentions the website which has Mass times in the DC area as well as Christmas activities.
The website also encourages people to donate their time and treasure to help those who are less fortunate. There is a video promoting becoming involved in feeding the hungry through St. Maria’s Meals.
The Metro is hiding behind its 2015 policy which prohibits “issue-oriented advertising, including political, religious and advocacy advertising.” This policy is almost impossible to apply equally. The American Civil Liberties Union even took issue with these rules claiming they are “misguided and impossible to administer fairly” and previously sued the transit authority.
The Metro accepts advertisements for hookup websites but has become hostile towards the Archdiocese’s ad claiming it is offensive. Perhaps the Church’s ad would have been acceptable if Santa Claus was plastered all over it.
— Attorney Simret Zeru (@SimretZeru) October 6, 2016
The Archdiocese asked U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson to grant a preliminary injunction that would allow the ads to run during the Christmas season. She ruled against that on Monday and the Church immediately filed an appeal the next day.
On Friday, WMATA responded to the Appeals Court by claiming The Archdiocese’s First Amendment claims are without merit and not worthy of the “extraordinary relief it demands.”
The Metro’s actions appear to reflect the concerns of people who believe there is a War on Christmas. The transit authority picks winners and losers with their advertisements. The Archdiocese’s ad is not hostile and it’s hard to understand why it would be considered offensive as it even leads to a website which promotes good works.
Now, this government agency is using its funds and resources to fight an ad about Christmas. Perhaps the only acceptable religion to the bloated DC government is the religion of government itself.