Just over a month ago, an organization sent the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority an advertisement it was ready to pay good money to post on the backs and sides of Metro buses. The ad used only four words: "Find the Perfect Gift."
These words were spelled out in the main message of the proposed ad as well as in a web address (FindThePerfectGift.org) printed beside it. Two of the words also appeared in a social-media hashtag printed at the bottom of the ad (#PerfectGift).
Now had this advertisement been produced by Macy's, Nordstrom or Target — to draw traffic to a commercial website selling the sort of products these stores sell — WMATA would have gladly run the ad and taken the money.
But this ad was produced by an organization WMATA treated as an unacceptable advertiser: the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.
It should be noted that in addition to the four words found in the ad, there were also three types of images WMATA apparently found disturbing, particularly, it seems, because all three were combined in this one place.
The first was of silhouetted sheep. (There were two of these — although both were rather small, suggesting they might be lambs.) The second was of silhouetted human beings. (There were three of these — looking suspiciously like shepherds watching over their sheep.) The third was of stars. (One of these was particularly large and luminescent — pointing, perhaps, to something not seen in the ad itself.)
Now, an enemy of Christianity would not need a cryptologist from WikiLeaks — or the National Security Agency, or even the person who managed Hillary Clinton's private email server — to decipher the coded message buried in these iconic images.
The archdiocese was busted: They had obviously intended to send a message to people all over the Washington area about the birth of Jesus Christ.
This could not be tolerated.
The actions WMATA took to stop the archdiocese from advertising on its buses have now been memorialized in a lawsuit the archdiocese filed against WMATA this week.
Back in October, Ed McFadden, the communications director for the archdiocese, contacted the vendor that markets the advertising space on Metro buses. In an initial communication, the vendor was receptive to selling the archdiocese space. But in a follow-up call, he informed McFadden, as the lawsuit states, "that the 'Find the Perfect Gift' advertisement would not comply with WMATA guidelines."
The vendor, the lawsuit says, "suggested the archdiocese consider modifying its advertisement" and "mentioned that if the advertisement had a commercial purpose, such as selling goods or services, then the advertisement would be more likely to comply with WMATA guidelines."
Later, a lawyer representing the transit agency sent the archdiocese a letter. It said the advertisement violated the agency's "Guideline 12 because it depicts a religious scene and thus seeks to promote religion."
So: It was not the four words ("Find the Perfect Gift") that the transit agency would not tolerate; it was the three images (the sheep, the shepherds and the star).
Once upon a time — in 2015 — Christians had been permitted to advertise on Metro buses.
But in May of that year, WMATA temporarily banned "issue-oriented advertising," including those promoting Christianity.
In November 2015, as described in the lawsuit, WMATA extended the ban "indefinitely" and expressly prohibited ads that "promote or oppose any religion, religious practice or belief."
While pretending to rid itself of religion, WMATA took a bow to Mammon.
"The board voted to allow advertising of alcoholic beverages as a means of making up the advertising revenue shortfall," says the lawsuit filed by the archdiocese.
In its lawsuit, the archdiocese notes that WMATA is "a government entity created by an interstate compact between Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia." The archdiocese argues that this government entity has violated its constitutional rights to freedom of speech, the free exercise of religion and equal protection of the law.
The church is right.
And we now see, again, by this targeted act of discrimination and censorship, what it is all tyrants fear: the Truth that sets you free.
Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor-in-chief of CNSnews.com.