Church loses lawsuit over Christmas advertising

The Church has lost a lawsuit challenging the  Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATAs) advertising policies.

The lawsuit was lodged last year by the Washington Archdiocese after  the transit company rejected the Christmas advertisement (ad) the Archdiocese wanted to put on  a bus.

The ad showed silhouetted images of the three wise men and a message to “find the perfect gift” in the Catholic church.

The WMATA said the ad violated the First Amendment and pointed to its policy and guidelines about issue-oriented ads, where political, religious and advocacy ads are all banned.

Guideline 12 specifically bars ads that “promote or oppose any religion, religious practice, or belief.”

Challenging this perspective, the Archdiocese said guideline 12 violated the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

It asked that WMATA accept the ad and requested the court reject key portions of the company’s ban on issue-oriented ads.

The judge’s decision was in favour of the transport company: “WMATAs advertising space is a non-public forum,” and therefore the First Amendment argument does not apply.

At the same time, the judge said so long as WMATA rejects ads from or against all religions (and groups espousing secularism), the company’s decision is not a violation of the First Amendment.

The WMATA policies were implemented after an Islamophobic activist submitted an ad that showed an image of the prophet Muhammad.


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News category: World.

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