Monday, January 21, 2013
Skiing atheist joins lawsuit to remove Jesus statue; case moves forward
A lawsuit calling for the removal of a statue of Jesus from a patch of federal land at Whitefish Mountain Resort will move forward to trial after a national organization of atheists and agnostics identified a local member and avid skier who regularly encounters the statue on Big Mountain and finds it offensive.
The group, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, filed the legal action to get rid of the statue in U.S. District Court in Missoula in February, charging that the religious symbol – a historic icon on Big Mountain – violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. [Just HOW does it establish a church?]
The suit names as defendants the U.S. Forest Service and Flathead National Forest Supervisor Chip Weber, who in January issued a decision to reauthorize a special use permit allowing the statue to remain. Members of a local chapter of the Knights of Columbus who maintain the statue and lease the site also are named.