What are banned from DC buses? Catholic Christmas ads

This image is for use with this specific article only** The Archdiocese of Washington is suing the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority calling them this year's holiday

And while the Archdiocese of Washington may not be welcome to advertise on public buses, the transit authority is more than happy to promote other enterprises - like gay hookup websites.

In the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court on Tuesday, attorneys for the archdiocese argue that Metro's ban on subway and bus ads that "promote. any religion, religious practice or belief" has infringed on the organization's First Amendment rights.

The archdiocese had sought to cover Metrobus exteriors in the ad, which directs people to FindthePerfectGift.org and features a drawing of three men and two sheep under a cluster of stars.

The Archdiocese calls WMATA's ad guidelines discriminatory in the lawsuit, and asks a judge to overrule them and order WMATA to cover the legal costs incurred by the Archdiocese from the lawsuit.

As for the Christmas ads, the archdiocese says it hopes the U.S. District Court for Washington, D.C., will issue an injunction and order W.M.A.T.A.to accept the ads for this Advent, which begins December 3. "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".

The Archdiocese of Washington wanted to extend an invitation to commuters to find the flawless Christmas gift by advertising on city buses, but the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) threw up a roadblock. Since the 1980s, the transit system's stations, trains and buses have played host to ads that mocked President Ronald Reagan, criticized the Catholic Church, claimed that abortions resulted in breast cancer and promoted the legalization of marijuana. Were that same scene on an ad that was promoting a retail "gift" there would be no problem at all.

The ad shows silhouettes of a king and two shepherds gazing at the stars in the night sky, the words "Find the ideal gift" and a website with information about religious services, charity events and more.

Image via Archdiocese of Washington.

"In 2015, WMATA changed its advertising policy to prohibit issue-oriented advertising, including political, religious and advocacy advertising", she said in a statement. The ad in question was declined because it is prohibited by WMATA's current advertising guidelines, ' said Sherri Ly, manager of media relations. City traffic creates a "captive audience" and the buses tend to go into areas that lack bus shelters.

What is the D.C. Metro saying?

Even though Metro doesn't sell the ads directly, the transit authority retains control over what content is allowed.

They aren't the first to sue Metro over the rule, which was put in place after an anti-Islam campaign meant to infuriate Muslims by showing depictions of the prophet Muhammad. Those ads quote the Gospel of Luke, telling passersby: "Behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy".

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