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Thread: U.S. Congressman Proposes Land Swap to Save Jesus Statue at Montana Ski Resort

  1. #1
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    U.S. Congressman Proposes Land Swap to Save Jesus Statue at Montana Ski Resort

    http://www.firsttracksonline.com/201...na-ski-resort/

    Published on November 8, 2011 @ 8:00 am
    By First Tracks!! Online Media

    Whitefish, MT - For nearly 60 years a statue of Jesus has watched skiers schuss by on Big Mountain, but that may be about to change.




    The statue sits on U.S. Forest Service Land leased to Whitefish Mountain Resort through a Special Use Permit. It was first erected in 1953 by members of the local Knights of Columbus, a fraternal Roman Catholic organization, including many veterans of World War II who modeled it after statues they saw in the Alps during the war. The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin-based atheist group, has called upon the Forest Service to remove the statue as part of a 10-year renewal on the lease, citing a breach of the separation of church and state. The Forest Service first agreed before rescinding its original order on Oct. 21 and extending the comment period on the new lease to Dec. 8.

    “When I visited it earlier this year, I saw first-hand that this memorial is an irreplaceable part of our state’s history and a unique and colorful part of the local culture. The Forest Service’s denial of the lease defies common sense,” says U.S. Rep Denny Rehberg (R-MT). ” Using a tiny section of public land for a war memorial with religious themes is not the same as establishing a state religion. That’s true whether it’s a cross or a Star of David on a headstone in the Arlington National Cemetery, an angel on the Montana Vietnam Memorial in Missoula or a statue of Jesus on Big Mountain. The Forest Service is just flat wrong to deny this lease on those grounds, and I’m working hard to get them to do the right thing.”


    The statue of Jesus at Whitefish Mountain Resort (photo: U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg)

    Whitefish Mountain Resort officials want the statue to stay, too, and caution that it’s too brittle to move to a new location. Rehberg, however, has proposed that the Forest Service swap the 25 foot by 25 foot spot of land upon which the statute sits with another 625 square-foot parcel owned by Whitefish Mountain Resort.

    “Fortunately, the public outcry in Montana and around the country bought us some time,” said Rehberg, who thanked the Forest Service for agreeing to his request to delay the decision to forcibly remove the statue. “I certainly hope the Forest Service will respect the wishes of just about everyone in the local community, but if they decide to fold to out-of-state lawyers, it’s important to have an Ace in the Hole. That’s what this bill is about – it’s a common sense solution that we can use if other avenues don’t work.”

    The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wisc., counts among its membership 17,000 atheists, agnostics and skeptics, and claims on its website to have “acted on countless violations of the separation of state and church, and has taken and won many significant complaints and important lawsuits to end state/church entanglements.”

    In a letter dated Oct. 26 to Forest Service chief Tom Tidwell, Annie Laurie Gaylor, Co-President of the organization, wrote, “It is important for the USDA Forest Service to take action now to reinstate its constitutionally sound decision to deny renewal of an illegitimate permit for the Knights of Columbus Shrine. We are writing to you on behalf of our national educational organization representing more than 17,000 nonreligious members across the country, including more than 100 members in Montana. Our purpose is to protect the fundamental constitutional principle of separation between state and church.

    “Federal property has been misappropriated for 56 years or more for the direct benefit of an exclusionary Roman Catholic men’s club and its sectarian and exclusionary religious message,” Gaylor added.

    Rehberg credits the idea for the land swap to a radio interview with John Hendricks at KGEZ in Kalispell, Mont. During that interview, Hendricks suggested simply giving the land to the Knights of Columbus.

    Rehberg took that idea and ran with it, working closely with Whitefish Mountain Resort President Dan Graves. They determined a simple land trade would be the best way to move forward and had legislation drafted. Rehberg has posted his bill online for public comment prior to introduction, as early as next week.

    “We are honored to be able to help preserve this wonderful piece of history on Big Mountain at Whitefish Mountain Resort in honor of our veterans,” said Graves.

  2. #2
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    What's their view on "In God We Trust". If you bend over to be politically correct you will never stand tall.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lowrider View Post
    What's their view on "In God We Trust". If you bend over to be politically correct you will never stand tall.
    There is a huge difference between "in God We Trust", a broad endorsement of monotheism in general, and a statue of Jesus, which endorses Christianity over all other religions...

    just sayin'

    I don't really care if you put the Buddah, Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, and Vishnu on the White House lawn, but you should recognize that there is a prohibition against the country adopting an official religion in the constitution, and religious icons on public land are a clear violation of this.
    World's foremost apres-skier, 20 years running

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    SEARCHING TIP: go to GOOGLE and add this to the end of your search terms- site:bomberonline.com

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    Was told a long time ago that you can't win an argument about Religion or Politics but here goes. Not sure where the debate goes on this but i'm wondering if the objection is on the principal or simply an opportunity at a weak target. If exploiting religion is good for commerce ( Christmas ) why is it always considered so dangerous in politics. Saying you can do something is not much different than saying you can't do something. Accepting someone as being different is better than damning them for being different. So now we have people using the threat of legal action against someone because of their own intolerance of others. In Canada right now we have War Memorials falling apart because Gov'ts both local and federal claim they don't have enough spare cash to repair them yet they had plenty of money around to ship people off to die for the country, don't we owe those who fought the dignity to respect their lives in some small way. A statue a jesture an occasion to remember not just at a war memorial on November 11th but while skiing and enjoying life, this is all possible because of the efforts of those before us. In a community we drive through on our way skiing each weekend is a memorial to WW2 veterans it has Canadian as well as a German veteran who fought in the war for Germany but who made a life for himself and family in Canada after the war. A memorial like this would not have been possible in 1949 but with time tolerance prevails .My impression of Montana is one of common sense and hard work, the actions of the Freedom People are the actions of people who represent intolerance and that is something the world is growing tired of.

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    Talking A theist or athiest?

    This is simply a group using a opportunity to push their a-religious adgenda, hopefully against what they percieved as a weak target of opportunity. And it is religion, btw, no matter how they try to hide it. As a theist (someone who believes in God) I do understand the other side. Atheist (the a means without, for you old language buffs) is someone who does not believe in God, which still means they are trying to explain where they came from, aka, origins. And as always, when one group explains their origin, the other side will fight back, hence why the battles. Class dismissed...
    Those who hammer their guns into plows will plow for those who do not.

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    Is there a verdict? Did Jesus stay or go?
    How did it get this late so early.

  8. #8
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    Resurrection

    It's hard to keep this guy down. Government officials hoping a land swap of public land for private land will result in the privatization of Jesus. Hard to believe that won't cause a stir too; if there are justifications for chopping up public lands for private use, it's hard to believe that religion is one of them. They should make this about jobs, the economy, or recreation... Maybe open a Jesus Cafe up there.
    Fresh snow is like fresh bread; it's only fresh for a day.

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