Appeals court upholds Jesus statue on Montana mountain
HELENA, Mont. (AP) -- A federal appeals court has ruled a 6-foot tall statue of Jesus that has spent the last 60 years overlooking a northwestern Montana ski hill may stay there.
In Monday's ruling, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejects arguments from a group of atheists and agnostics that placing the statue on U.S. Forest Service land violates the separation of church and state.
The three-judge panel agreed with a federal judge from Montana, who found the statue's secular and irreverent uses -- as a meeting place and for photo opportunities -- far outweigh its few religious uses.
The Knights of Columbus placed the statue on Big Mountain in 1955 as a memorial to World War II soldiers.
The Freedom from Religion Foundation argued the statue was a Catholic shrine.