WASHINGTON, June 25, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which focuses on constitutional law, today called a decision by a federal court which clears the way for a statue of Jesus to remain as part of a World War II memorial on a Montana mountain a "win for protecting the religious heritage and history of our nation." A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by an atheist group – Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) – concluding the memorial did not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
The ACLJ filed several amicus briefs, representing more than 100,000 Americans and a total of 19 members of Congress, to keep the Jesus statue on Big Mountain.
"We are extremely pleased that the courts finally recognized the absurdity of this lawsuit," said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the ACLJ. "Dismissing this case is not only a win for protecting the religious heritage and history of our nation, but for the soldiers and veterans of World War II as well. A memorial like this, created and placed on this mountain by the veterans themselves, deserves to remain there. It honors and commemorates the basic human rights that the FFRF manipulates to routinely counteract the rights of others, like the soldiers who fight for them."
The atheist group filed the suit more than a year ago, calling the memorial "a ruse and a sham" and demanding the National Forest Service remove the display.
Part of a war memorial on Big Mountain at Whitefish Mountain Resort in Montana since the 1950s, the statue was inspired by monuments the soldiers – who were also members of the Knights of Columbus – saw in the mountains of Europe during the war.
"The statue does not convey to a reasonable informed observer that the government, rather than a private party, endorses Christianity over any other faith or the absence of faith," according to U.S. District Court Judge Dana L. Christensen. "[T]he Court finds that the renewal of the Special Use Permit does not constitute a government endorsement of a religious message and thus does not violate the Establishment Clause."
The ACLJ filed two amicus briefs in the case – one in August 2012 and one in January 2013 – and represented a total of 19 members of Congress as well as more than 100,000 Americans who signed on to the ACLJ's Committee to Defend the Jesus Statue War Memorial – Americans who support veterans' memorials and who oppose efforts to strip from public property recognitions of history and heritage that contain religious symbolism.
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SOURCE American Center for Law and Justice