As Catholic Bishops in the U.S. plot public relations strategy to improve their public image, I suggest they throw in with the Knights of Columbus in Montana, who are working to make sure a statue of Jesus Christ stays where it is on Forest Service land on Big Mountain.
The statue of Jesus has been a popular fixture on the mountain since 1954, when it was erected as a memorial to the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division. Earlier this year a national organization of agnostics and atheists sued the U.S. government over placement of this statue, and a federal judge has just ruled that the Knights can intervene in the case.
The Knights of Columbus can intervene to fend off a lawsuit over a statue of Jesus at a war memorial on federal land, a Montana federal judge ruled.
U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen in Missoula, Mont., said that the Catholic service group has a protectable interest in the lawsuit since it holds a special use permit for the statue.
"Should the plaintiff obtain the relief it seeks, the resulting removal of the statute from federal land would constitute a serious impairment of the ability of the Knights of Columbus to protect their interest in the special use permit," Christensen wrote. "This matter has not been set for trial and no pretrial schedule is yet in place; thus, the application to intervene is timely."
I do know from having skied at Big Mountain that a lot of folks in Montana dig the Jesus statue, which seems to be as much a piece of public art as it is a religious symbol.