Archdiocese of Washington sues Metro after ad that ‘seeks to promote religion' rejected

The Archdiocese of Washington has filed a lawsuit against Metro after it denied an advertisement because it "depicts a religious scene."

The Archdiocese said it filed its case in federal court challenging Metro's advertising guidelines after an ad promoting its annual "Find the Perfect Gift" initiative was rejected.

"The rejected ad conveys a simple message of hope, and an invitation to participate in the Christmas season. Yet citing its guidelines, WMATA's legal counsel said the ad 'depicts a religious scene and thus seeks to promote religion,'" said Ed McFadden, the secretary for communications for the Archdiocese of Washington in a written statement. "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. But if Christmas means a little bit more, WMATA plays Grinch."

The ad in question appears to depict the Three Wise Men.

"In 2015, WMATA changed its advertising policy to prohibit issue-oriented advertising, including political, religious and advocacy advertising," Metro officials said in a written statement to FOX 5. "The ad in question was declined because it is prohibited by WMATA's current advertising guidelines."

Metro enacted the ban after a pro-Israel group wanted to post ads featuring the Islamic Prophet Muhammad.

This isn't the first lawsuit WMATA has faced on the issue. In August, the American Civil Liberties Union sued, accusing WMATA's policy of infringing on First Amendment rights.