In 2013, federal judge and Obama appointee Dana Christensen stated that the Flathead National Forest, where Whitefish Mountain Resort is located, has the right to allow an iconic statue of Jesus Christ to stand atop the Big Mountain. That is, For now…
Currently, an attorney representing the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation does not want to see the Big Mountain Jesus standing, arms outstretched (sometimes with poles placed in each hand and helmet resting on its head), symbolically blessing skiers as they pass by an otherwise obscure and out of the way location on the mountain. So as of now the atheist group is taking the former ruling to appeals court on the basis that it violates the constitution through the Establishment Clause, which prohibits the government from making any law that respects “an establishment of religion.”
So before this goes any further, I’m asking The Freedom From Religion Foundation one last time… Please leave Big Mountain Jesus alone for Christ-sakes.
But Rich Bolton, who represents the Freedom From Religion Foundation, remains dead set on removing the campy statue from its rightful place on Big Mountain, which makes one wonder why? Personally, I have a hard time viewing such a statue as symbol of an established religion, especially when the figure in question resembles the pointing and winking Buddy Jesus from Kevin Smith’s comedy feature Dogma more than the traditional depiction of the Stigmata.
After World War II, veterans under The Knights of Columbus erected the statue in order to memorialize fellow soldiers who died in the war, not force Christianity on the pagan cultures of Northwest Montana. Those soldiers who built the statue got the idea from seeing similar statues gracing Italian mountaintops and were inspired to bring home the tradition.
Still, according to Bolton, a member from the foundation’s Montana chapter, Pamela Morris claims the statue had a scarring effect on her as a teenager.
And I’m not the only one asking. Of the three judges on the appeals panel presiding over the hearings, judge N. Randy Smith has his doubts about the premise of the story as well. According to court records, the interchange during an initial court hearing between the judge and Bolton went something like this,
“In other words, there’s no reason to even avoid it,” said judge Smith. “She has to go specifically looking for it.”
“That’s not true, your honor,” Bolton replied.
“Well, that’s what the evidence says.”
Furthermore, Joe Pepin, an attorney from the U.S. Justice Department, said “There’s nothing about its context that suggests devotion is encouraged.”
So in a plea to Mr. Bolton and Ms. Morris, please give our tax dollars and Big Mountain Jesus a rest. There are plenty of other injustices in this country that could use your attention.