The archdiocese seeks injunctive relief after WMATA, as the agency is known, refused to allow an ad promoting the archdiocese's annual "Find the Perfect Gift" initiative for the Advent and Christmas seasons.
In a statement, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of the neighboring Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, said WMATA's decision "to suppress free speech and ban the depiction of a religious scene is saddening and troubling".
The Washington D.C. archdiocese is suing over a Christmas ad rejected by the Metropolitan Area Transit Authority even though it doesn't mention the holiday and only has images of stars, sheep, and shepherds. A number of social media accounts, including the "Unsuck DC Metro" one, highlight the daily struggles commuters face on the metro. "It's a giving season, both spiritually and materially".
"Find the flawless gift of God's love this Christmas".
"We think there's a First Amendment issue here", Ed McFadden, the archdiocese's secretary for communications told America.
According to Susan Timoney, secretary for pastoral ministry and social concerns for the Archdiocese, "Our ad was created to be placed on metro bus exteriors to reach the broadest audience and to invite everyone to experience the well-accepted joyful spirit of the season, or to share their many blessings with others less fortunate through service opportunities". She said that WMATA barred the advertisement in question as it was not compatible with the organization's present guidelines.
"Our ad was created to be placed on metro bus exteriors to reach the broadest audience and to invite everyone to experience the well-accepted joyful spirit of the season, or to share their many blessings with others less fortunate through service opportunities", Susan Timoney, secretary for pastoral ministry and social concerns for the archdiocese, said.
"Jesus is the ideal gift", the information on the website says. Launched to commemorate World AIDS Day, the ads read, "Because the bishops ban condoms, innocent people die", and they urged readers to "Join the Global Campaign to End the Bishops' Ban on Condoms".
"As the papers filed in Court today make clear, WMATA's rejection of the Archdiocese's speech amounts to a violation of the First Amendment, plain and simple", Paul Clement, counsel to the Archdiocese said in a press release. The Archdiocese also argues the policy is inconsistent, because WMATA accepted ads for the Salvation Army and Yoga. Unsurprisingly, the archdiocese explained that it "could not conceive of a way to adjust the advertisement given the objective and message of the campaign".
Earlier this year, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued the Metro, seeking to abolish the existing guidelines for being "misguided and impossible to administer fairly".