Christmas Catholic ads banned on buses in Washington, D.C.


WASHINGTON, DC – Christmas announcements about the "perfect gift" of the Advent season have been unfairly excluded from District of Columbia buses, the Archdiocese of Washington said in a lawsuit against a Transportation Authority policy. Washington Metropolitan Area against religious ads.

"Really the problem here is not so much our specific announcement, or how we present it," said Ed McFadden, the archdiocesan communications secretary. "It's closing our ability to promote our faith or share our faith in the public sphere, that's really what we're talking about here."

McFadden told CNA on November 28 that the announcement policy eliminates "any respectable promotion of faith in the public sphere.

" We believe that this is only a violation of the rights of our First Amendment, "he said.

The ad represents the silhouette of the shepherds against a night sky in which an apparent Star of Bethlehem is shining, the ad says" Find the perfect gift, "and adds the website www. and the hashtag "#PerfectGift."

The website describes Christ as "the perfect gift" and encourages visitors to "Find the perfect gift of God's love this Christmas." Invite visitors to mbad and presents a video reflection of Father Conrad Murphy, cult director of the archdiocese, about his favorite Christmas carol.

The site links Christmas times to the Advent and Christmas traditions, as well as opportunities to help needy or volunteer families to serve the homeless or others through Catholic Charities.

Metro spokeswoman Sherry Ly said that the agency's advertising policy changed in 2015 to prohibit "topic-oriented advertising, including political, religious and advertising promotion.

" The ad in question was rejected because it is prohibited by WMATA's current advertising guidelines, "said Ly, according to the new DC-based website Radio Station WTOP.

The transit agency in previous legal submissions has said that it rejected other announcements, such as the traffic announcements. Wild, anti-prostitution ads and Birthright Israel ads.

However, the archdiocese's lawsuit noted that the agency has accepted yoga ads and the Salvation Army, a Protestant religious movement famous for its red teapot charity campaigns before

According to McFadden, WMATA's lawyer had said that the announcement of the archdiocese "represents a religious scene and for therefore seeks to promote religion. "

Kim Fiorentino, chancellor of the archdiocese and general counsel, said that the archdiocese believes that the rejection of the announcement is" a clear violation of fundamental freedom of expression and a limitation in the exercise of our faith.

"We hope to present our case to affirm the right of all to express such views in the public square," Fiorentino said in a statement.

The archdiocese has made a separate agreement to place similar announcements in the bus shelters of the District of Columbia, whose advertising is operated by Clear Channel Outdoor. These ads contain a verse from the Bible.

McFadden said the archdiocese has been using bus advertisements for major campaigns for almost ten years. City traffic creates a "captive audience" and buses tend to go to areas that lack bus shelters.

"This is our best way to reach different communities where other forms of media are not necessarily available on the street," he said. He said. The campaign strategy promotes advertising on multiple platforms to remind people about Christmas and encourage them to go to Christmas Mbad or help others.

In McFadden's opinion, the proposed WMATA announcement was "comparatively benign" in terms of promulgation of religion.

"This advertising campaign is really about the joy of the holiday season, reminding people why we do what we do, but also giving them the option to help their neighbor through various volunteer efforts," he said. "This was not just about going back to mbad, it was also about trying to be a positive voice in the community at the time we probably needed it."

Susan Timoney, secretary of pastoral ministry and social concerns for the Archdiocese was one of those who helped develop the campaign.

"Our announcement was designed to be placed on the exterior of metropolitan buses to reach the widest audience and invite everyone to experience the happily accepted spirit of the season or share their many blessings with less fortunate ones through service opportunities. ", He said.

Timoney said that the archdiocese wanted to encourage society to help "our most vulnerable neighbors", to "share our blessings" and to "welcome all who wish to hear the Good News."

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