Tag Archives: 10th mountain division

Big Mountain Jesus Survives Lawsuit. Again.

Update: As of November 2015, the full Ninth Circuit refused to re-hear the FFRF appeal, effectively ending the case.


The Montana ski resort statue known as “Big Mountain Jesus” has survived the most recent challenge to have it torn down (from the appeal argued in July). The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a small atheist group that scours the country for signs of religion over which to be offended, sued because the statue is technically on federal land, though the land is perpetually leased to a ski resort. The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty defended the statue.

The statue was built in the style of European shrines by the Knights of Columbus to honor the 10th Mountain Division.  The Division’s soldiers fondly recalled the many shrines they saw during their combat in World War II. In that regard, it was not raised as a religious shrine itself, as the FFRF claims, but as a memorial that invokes those shrines as an homage to the 10th Mountain Division.

The Appeals Court panel found, in a 2-1 ruling, the statue was essentially secular in purpose — including as justification its “irreverent” use:  Read more

Becket Fund Defends Big Mountain Jesus

In 2014 the Freedom From Religion Foundation appealed the dismissal of their lawsuit intended to remove a statue of Jesus from public land (which is leased as a ski resort). The affectionately named “Big Mountain Jesus” statue was erected as a memorial to the 10th Mountain Division, who recalled seeing many similar shrines during their campaign in Italy during World War II.

A 3-member panel of the 9th Circuit Read more

The Story of Big Mountain Jesus

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has sued over a war memorial — a statue of Jesus on a ski slope in Montana — which they claim violates the US Constitution.  The FFRF lost and has appealed to the Ninth Circuit.

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty produced a video to explain some of the history of the memorial — history the FFRF calls a conspiracy. Meet Gene Thomas, a member of the Knights of Columbus, one of the men who has been caring for the memorial for 40 years.

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Atheists Appeal Victory of Big Mountain Jesus

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has filed an appeal after a court recently ruled that the Jesus statue on Big Mountain ski resort could remain standing.  The statue is on public land, and

The group argues the statue violates the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition on Congress making any law regarding an establishment of religion.

The original court ruling had cited the historic value of the statue, and even made a point of saying the statue was more of a tourist attraction than religious monument.  The FFRF apparently thinks that’s all part of a conspiracy:  Read more

Atheists Continue Fight Against Military Memorials

As noted previously, a group of atheists (or anti-religionists) at the Freedom From Religion Foundation is trying to bring Jesus down from the mountain.  After finally producing an actual plaintiff, a federal judge has ruled they have standing to continue their lawsuit:

The Knights of Columbus and four others had requested that the lawsuit be dismissed since the Freedom From Religion Foundation had not Read more

Atheists Demand Jesus Come Down from Montana Mountain

The aptly named Freedom From Religion Foundation has demanded that the “Big Mountain Jesus” be torn down, because it resides on (leased) US government land.  Interestingly, it has a military connection: It was raised by the local Knights of Columbus in honor of the 10th Mountain Division:

They call him Big Mountain Jesus: a six-foot statue of Christ, draped in a baby blue robe and gazing out over the majestic Flathead Valley from his perch along a ski run at the Whitefish Mountain Resort in Montana.

He has been there for more than 50 years, erected by the local Knights of Columbus chapter in honor of the soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division who told of seeing similar shrines in the mountains of Italy during World War II.

The Knights of Columbus have asked, naturally, to intervene in the case between the FFRF and the Forest Service.  Even the local resort manager saw the historical value of the statue beyond religion:  Read more