URGENT CALL TO ACTION — Tis’ the season to save Jesus from being torn down in Whitefish, Montana. The Kalispell Knights of Columbus chapter erected a statue of Jesus in 1953 to honor the 10th Mountain Division soldiers who fought in Europe during WWII. I am asking that all of you who support the Jesus, the Knights of Columbus and this long-standing memorial, to make certain your voices are heard. The period for public comments closes tomorrow, Thursday, December 8, 2011.
To ensure your comments are recorded properly, email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: “Knights of Columbus Special Use Permit Reauthorization Project”. If you prefer to fax your comments, address them to: Project Leader Derek Milner, Tally Lake Ranger District, 650 Wolfpack Way, Kalispell, MT 59901; FAX (406) 758-5367. To call and voice your concerns directly, please see the end of this post for additional information.
For over 50-years the Big Mountain Jesus statue has never been the source of controversy. It was only when a certain atheist group, Freedom From Religion Foundation, became aware of the monument, that the battle to defend this memorial began. The Wisconsin-based group says that since Jesus stands on federal property held by the United States Forest Service, that it is a violation of church and state. The group is urging the Forest Service not to reauthorize the Knights’ permit for the statue. Those of us who are in support of the statue remaining, however, feel the statue should remain because it was erected as a memorial for WWII soldiers. That being said, everyone should have a right to free speech and not be bullied by a liberal atheist agenda.
Much of the mountain land on which Jesus stands is currently leased to a ski resort. Hiram Sasser, an attorney for Liberty Institute, the group working on behalf of The Knight’s of Columbus, says “When the government allows its property to be used for various purposes, like a ski resort, then they open it up to public expression, and they can’t exclude a memorial based on religious grounds.”
Forest Supervisor Chip Weber issued the decision to deny the lease renewal in August, though the renewals have been granted every 10 years since 1955 without incident. Due to the public outcry over the decision, Flathead National Forest officials asked the public to voice their thoughts on the issue. A final decision on whether or not they will allow the Jesus statue to remain where it has stood all these years will be made in early 2012.
Please ensure your voice is heard today and the statue of Jesus is protected. In addition to sending your emails and faxes, also take a moment and call any or all of the following individuals who are influential in the decision to renew the lease and allow this memorial to stay.
Chip Weber, Flathead National Forest Supervisor (406) 758-5208
Brian Schweitzer, Governor, State of Montana (406) 444-3111
Denny Rehberg, U.S. House of Representatives, Montana Congressman D.C. Office: (202) 225-3211
Jon Tester, U.S. Senate, Montana Senator Kalispell Office: (406) 257-3360
Max Baucus, U.S. Senate, Montana SenatoR Kalispell Office: (406) 756-1150