Atheists Sue to Remove “Big Mountain Jesus” War Memorial From Montana Ski Slope
For nearly sixty years, a statue of Jesus has stood atop the slopes of a ski resort near Whitefish, Montana.
It is a monument to soldiers who died defending our freedom in World War II.
In 1953 the Knights of Columbus received a permit to erect the statue near Whitefish to honor World War II heroes.
The monument is being threatened by a godless group from Wisconsin—The Freedom From Religion Foundation—that wants to scrub all religious symbols from society.
The Becket Fund went to court today to defend Big Mountain Jesus.
Moments ago, the Becket Fund defended “Big Mountain Jesus,” a World War II statue in Montana honoring soldiers who lost their lives fighting in the Alps of Italy.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will determine whether the popular memorial can remain atop a Montana ski slope where it has stood without controversy for more than 60 years (see video). The monument was installed in 1954 by the Knights of Columbus, who worked with veterans from the Army’s Tenth Mountain Division to commemorate their comrades who died fighting for our freedom. The statue’s fate is now in question after an atheist group from Wisconsin sued the government for its removal.
“The statue is an important, cherished part of local history at Big Mountain,” said Eric Baxter, Senior Counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. “Intentionally modeled after the statues soldiers encountered in the Alps during World War II, the monument honors those who lost their lives far from home. You can’t censor history just because it includes religious meaning to some.”
The Becket Fund represents the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal organization, and in 2013 won the case in the trial court. Local support for the monument is overwhelming, but the Freedom From Religion Foundation continues to insist from its perch in Wisconsin that the Montana statue must be removed, claiming it is an unconstitutional endorsement of religion by the Forest Service.
“The statue stands in the middle of the ski resort and is just one of many examples of private speech permitted by the Forest Service on public land. The Forest Service is no more endorsing religion than it is endorsing the speech by the ski resort on the same public land.” said Senior Counsel Eric Baxter.