American Legion files court papers to keep Jesus statue on Big Mountain
KALISPELL, Mont. - The following press release was sent out by the Liberty Institute.
Today, The American Legion, represented by Liberty Institute, and the State of Montana filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.The brief seeks to prevent removal of the Tenth Mountain Division Veterans Memorial from the Big Mountain Ski Resort in Whitefish, MT.Both the State of Montana and The American Legion ask the court to uphold a U.S. District Court ruling that declared the historic veterans memorial constitutional.
To view an online copy of the brief, follow this link: http://libertyinstitute.org/document.doc?id=161
"I'm proud to stand with our veterans and protect their constitutional rights," said Montana Attorney General Tim Fox. "For nearly sixty years, this memorial has honored the bravery and sacrifice of the Tenth Mountain Division soldiers during World War II. I think the overwhelming majority of Montanans and Americans would strongly oppose removing the memorial and all it represents."
The Kalispell Knights of Columbus erected and donated the memorial in the 1950s to honor the selfless service and sacrifice of soldiers from the Tenth Mountain Division during World War II. The Kalispell Knights of Columbus chose the figure of Jesus in remembrance of the many religious shrines the Tenth Mountain Division encountered in the hills and mountains of Europe during some of the most ferocious battles of World War II. Until 2012, the Tenth Mountain Division Veterans Memorial had been enjoyed, without complaint, by thousands of tourists and passersby who visit the site each year.
"The removal of the Tenth Mountain Division Veterans Memorial would be an insult to Montana's Tenth Mountain Division veterans.It would also undercut The American Legion's ability to honor those who have and continue to serve in our nation's armed forces," said Jeff Mateer, Liberty Institute General Counsel.
Mateer continued, "Removing this memorial simply because it is a statue of Jesus is contrary to Supreme Court precedent in that it would be censorship of the Kalispell Knights' private speech."
The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), a Wisconsin-based organization, targeted the WWII Veterans Memorial, objecting to the presence of any religious symbol on public property in the lawsuit, Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. v. Chip Weber and United States Forest Service and William Glidden, Raymond Leopold, Norman Deforest,Eugene Thomas, And TheKnights Of Columbus.
Liberty Institute is a national nonprofit legal group dedicated to defending and restoring religious liberty across America — in our schools, for our churches, inside our military and throughout the public arena. Liberty's vision is to reestablish religious liberty in accordance with the principles of our Founding Fathers. For information, visit www.LibertyInstitute.org.