Federal Court Upholds 'Big Mountain Jesus'

Eric Scheiner
By Eric Scheiner | September 1, 2015 | 2:43 PM EDT

A 6-foot tall statue of Jesus that has spent over six decades overlooking a northwestern Montana ski hill may stay there, a federal appeals court ruled Monday.

The Associated Press reports, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected arguments from the Freedom From Religion Foundation that allowing the statue to remain on U.S. Forest Service land on Big Mountain violates the constitutional separation of church and state.

Two members of the three-judge panel agreed with U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen of Montana, who found that the statue's secular and irreverent uses outweighed its religious uses.

In June of 2013 Christensen wrote that "Big Mountain Jesus has been the subject of much frivolity over the years," serving as a meeting place for skiers, a wedding location and being festooned with ski hats, goggles, Mardi Gras beads and other secular decorations.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation plans to request that the full court review the case.

KECI-TV reports, the Knights of Columbus placed the statue on U.S. Forest Service land on Big Mountain in 1954 as a memorial to World War II soldiers.

h/t Associated Press, KECI

Eric Scheiner
Eric Scheiner
Eric is the Senior Video Producer for