Judge: Jesus Statue Can Stay on Montana Mountain

By MATT GOURAS Associated Press
June 25, 2013

photo: Matt Baldwin/Whitefish Pilot
photo: Matt Baldwin/Whitefish Pilot

A Jesus statue that has for six decades been a curiosity to skiers as they cruise down a popular run at a northwest Montana ski resort will not be evicted from federal land, a judge ruled Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen said the Flathead National Forest can re-issue a 10-year permit for the statue installed on the ski hill by the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic men’s organization.

The judge disagreed with a Wisconsin-based group of atheists and agnostics that argued the Forest Service was unconstitutionally sanctioning the statue. Its religious nature has been made clear in special-use permit applications since the 1950s, the Freedom From Religion Foundation had argued.

The Forest Service first indicated in 2011 that it would reject a new permit for the statue, which occupies a 25-by-25 foot patch of land at Whitefish Mountain Resort. But the agency reversed itself in 2012 amid public outcry.

Christensen said that the statue does not convey to a reasonable informed observer that the government, rather than a private party, endorses Christianity over any other [read the full article here: Jesus Stays on Mountain]

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