Search  |  Login  |  Register

1328638870000

(Washington, DC) - The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), representing more than 70,000 concerned individuals, said today's decision by the federal government to renew a lease that keeps in place a World War II memorial on a Montana mountain - a statue of Jesus - is a "significant victory" and represents a sound defeat for an atheist organization that challenged the memorial.

"This decision by the National Forest Service represents a significant victory in defense of the history and heritage of the region," said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the ACLJ. "We're delighted that federal officials understood what we have argued all along - that this statue of Jesus does not convey any government religious endorsement of religion. Instead, this historically important memorial is designed to commemorate the sacrifice made by those killed in World War II. We believe the more than 70,000 concerned individuals we represented in this issue played a vital role in convincing the federal government to make the correct decision, to reauthorize a special use permit, which will keep the statue in place."

The statue of Jesus was put in place on Big Mountain at the Whitefish Mountain Resort in Montana in the 1950's by WW II veterans who were also members of the Knights of Columbus. The veterans were inspired by monuments they saw in the mountains of Europe during the war. The statue of Jesus, they said, was put in place to commemorate the service of local WW II veterans - a war memorial.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) - an atheist group that has challenged the National Motto, the National Day of Prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance - challenged the display. The group called the Montana memorial "a ruse and a sham" and demanded the National Forest Service  end a long-standing lease - a move that would force the display to be removed. The government initially agreed with FFRF to end the lease. But a massive public outcry ensued, and the government put that decision on hold - reopening the issue to public comment.

In a statement issued today, the National Forest Service says it has agreed to keep the statue in place, renew the special use permit for ten years, and acknowledged that this statue represents an important part of the history and heritage of the region. 

"I understand the statue has been a long-standing object in the community since 1955, and I recognize that the statue is important to the community for its historical heritage based on its association with the early development of the ski area on Big Mountain," said Chip Weber, Flathead National Forest Supervisor. He noted that the statue's historic value and eligibility for listing on the National Register of Historic Places is in part directly linked to the current physical location of the statue. He also acknowledged the National Forest Service received approximately 95,000 comments about the memorial.

In a letter sent to the federal government, representing more than 70,000 concerned individuals, the ACLJ urged the Forest Service to renew the lease saying the display is an important historical memorial.

"The statue's history and purpose, its longevity, and its setting all support the conclusion that no reasonable observer could think that renewing the Knights of Columbus' special use permit would be an unconstitutional endorsement of religion," the letter contended.

Led by Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, the American Center for Law and Justice is based in Washington, D.C.

A Time to Reflect

By Skip Ash1432299600000

Memorial Day is a special day for me for a number of reasons. First, I grew up in a military family, and I served on active duty in the Army for 22 years myself. I know well the sacrifices that men and women in the Armed Forces make every day to defend this Nation. Second, my parents and my...

read more

Reason for Celebration

By Carly F. Gammill1428002231625

We live in a world torn by struggles in which some factions seek power, while others long desperately for peace. This picture of the modern era may appear new because of the weapons used to wage the wars, but it is a condition that has been familiar to men and women for virtually all of human...

read more

Bergdahl & Our Leaders’ Lost Honor

By David French1427467158649

Desertion is a very old story in the history of armies and armed conflict. Soldiers deserted from the Continental Army, from the Union Army, from the American armies in World War I and World War II — yet those armies fought on, fought well, and prevailed. An army can survive desertion, so to hear...

read more

Purple Hearts for Fort Hood Victims

By Jay Sekulow1423243672347

At last, a victory for common sense and fairness. According to Fox News , next week the Army will announce that the victims of Nidal Hasan’s Fort Hood terrorist attack will receive purple hearts. Previously, the Obama Administration had labeled Hasan’s attack an act of “workplace violence,” despite...

read more