Federal Judge: Jesus Statue Can Remain Atop Ski Mountain


The Jesus statue has been on Whitefish Mountain since 1953
  • The Jesus statue has been on Whitefish Mountain since 1953

A federal judge says a statue of Jesus, regularly outfitted with goggles and ski poles, can stay atop Montana's Whitefish Mountain.

In 1953, the Knights of Columbus won permission from the U.S. Forest Service to erect the statue on a parcel of federal land along a ski run maintained by the Whitefish Mountain Resort. But an organization called Freedom from Religion sued the USFS and Flathead National Forest, saying that the statue violates the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

June 25, U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen granted the Knights of Columbus an 10-year permit for the statue to remain on the site.

"The statue's secular and irreverent uses far outweigh the few religious uses it has served," wrote Christensen. "Typical observers of the statue are more interested in giving it a high-five or adorning it in ski gear than sitting before it in prayer."

But a spokesperson for Freedom from Religion wasn't happy.

"Having an irreverent purpose is just as inappropriate as having a reverent purpose," Freedom from Religion's Annie Gaylor told the Associated Press. "I'm kind of indignant."