A Jesus statue, which has sat on federal land since 1955, will be allowed to remain in place, according to the U.S. Forest Service, at least for the next ten years.
The U.S. Forest Service faced criticism from religious groups, including the activist ACLJ, when the agency ordered the Jesus statue removed from a mountaintop area at Whitefish, Montana. It was placed there by the Knights of Columbus.
The Forest Service reversed its original decision to remove the statue. Forest Service supervisor Chip Weber said: "I understand the statue has been a long-standing object in the community since 1955, and I recognize that the statue is important to the community for its historical heritage based on its association with the early development of the ski area on Big Mountain."
Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, countered: "We have no objection to shrines like these on private property. That is where they belong. I think it will be very easy to show that this special permit is a sham."
U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg, who has fought for the statue, said: "I'm glad that after hearing from more than 95,000 people, the Forest Service had the courage to do the right thing today. This victory belongs to everyone that took time to voice an opinion."