February 5, 2012
Ski resort Jesus statue gets another 10 years from Forest Service
There is a statue of a skiing Jesus at Whitefish Mountain Resort in Whitefish, Mont. The statue, a memorial to World War II veterans that has resided on federal land since 1995, was evicted by the U.S. Forest Service a year ago. That move led to protests from religious groups and Montana’s congressman.
Of course, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which claims that the statue’s presence on federal land is a blatant violation of the separation of church and state, isn’t pleased with the issuance of a new special-use permit. Annie Laurie Gaylor, the organization’s co-president, called the permit a “sham.”
A lawsuit challenging the decision can be expected. And I don’t think that supporters can lean too much on the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision upholding the constitutionality of the mojave cross—since stolen—which was heavily tied to the facts of that case and, in my opinion, was not the watershed moment that proponents of religious symbols on public land wanted it to be.
So how will this one turn out?