Federal judge rejects Archdiocese’s request to force Metro to post Christmas-themed ad

Metro will not be required to use a Christmas-themed ad from the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington.

A federal judge ruled Friday that Metro can choose not to run the ad because of its religious nature.

“We are disappointed that the federal court denied our emergency request for an injunction to run our “Find the Perfect Gift” Advent ad campaign,” said Ed McFadden, secretary for communications for the Archdiocese of Washington.

The Archdiocese of Washington announced Nov. 28 that it was suing Metro after its Christmas-themed ad was rejected by the transit agency, citing that it was a violation of the church’s First Amendment rights. Metro is operated by the government.

The banner ad was created to be posted on the back of Metrobuses. The ad doesn’t mention Christianity or the Catholic Church by name, though three shepherds and two sheep are depicted – an apparent reference to a story of Christmas from the Bible.

Metro said the ad "depicts a religious scene and thus seeks to promote religion,” which violates their own guidelines to promote any religion in any way.

“While this preliminary ruling that there should be no room made for us on WMATA buses is disappointing, we will continue in the coming days to pursue and defend our right to share the important message of Christmas in the public square,” McFadden said.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington’s ad promotes its annual Find the Perfect Gift initiative. Visitors to the initiative’s website will find a video greeting from a priest, a parish locator and an invitation to attend church this Christmas.

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