Ain’t nothing sacred about this Jesus

Ain’t nothing sacred about this Jesus

Although it was originally planted as a religious shrine at a Montana ski resort by the Catholic Knights of Columbus, ‘Big Mountain Jesus’ cannot be regarded as a sacred symbol because folk treat it as a figure of fun.

That’s the verdict of the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which yesterday ruled that the 12-foot statue, which stands on publicly owned land controlled by the National Forest Service, does not violate the constitutional separation of church and state. By a 2-1 vote, the court held that the statute does not imply a government endorsement of religion.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, which filed the lawsuit, has announced its intention to seek review from the entire 9th Circuit.

The court found that the ski slope is tourist destination used for skiing, hiking, biking, berry-picking, and site-seeing.

This suggests a secular context; the location does not readily lend itself to meditation or any other religious activity and the setting suggests little or nothing of the sacred.


The flippant interactions of locals and tourists with the statue suggest secular perceptions and uses: decorating it in mardi gras beads, adorning it in ski gear, taking pictures with it, high-fiving it as they ski by, and posing in Facebook pictures.


This is the second “Big Mountain Jesus” setback for the Freedom of Religion Foundation. Back in 2013 US District Judge Dana Christensen ruled that, by permitting the statue, the US Forest Service was not reflecting government endorsement of a religious sect, or a preference for religion over non-religion.

This outraged Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation , who said at the time:

The judge said the statue has no religious purpose, but the Knights of Columbus said they put it up to erect a shrine. He turns the First Amendment on its head to claim a Jesus statue is not religious.

This time round Gaylor said it was “phony” and a “sham” to pretend that a “giant Jesus” is secular, thereby ignoring the Knights of Columbus’ stated purpose.

The Catholic men’s club has ‘leased’ at no cost the prominent parcel of land on the federal ski slope to display its Catholic shrine. That means federal taxpayers are subsidizing religious speech, in this case Catholic

She added that devout religionists should be offended at a decision that purports that a sacred image of a god is not religious.

16 responses to “Ain’t nothing sacred about this Jesus”

  1. TrickyDicky says:

    In the previous court case the statue was only 6 foot high (and still looks it)

    I wonder where the 12 foot high came from, lying for jebus?

  2. AgentCormac says:

    So, Jesus isn’t to be taken seriously. Could have told them that years ago.

  3. Barry Duke says:

    Tricky Dicky, here’s the answer. Jesus is mounted on a plinth, so I guess that Jesus plus plinth is 12ft high.

  4. dennis says:

    Ms Christensen (odd name) needs to recuse herself from logic progressive reasoning as should two of the 9th circuit. the National Forest Service employee is stupid, ok I said it stupid and kin to Kim Davis the Kentucky idiot Ms No marriage.

  5. Cali Ron says:

    Is Jesus a skier or a boarder.

  6. RussellW says:

    So, a statue of Jesus that’s erected by a clique of religious nutters isn’t religious?

  7. Bubblecar says:

    Strange precedent. Does this mean atheists are now free to “secularise” any religious statuary we happen to come across? Or only if it’s illegally dumped on public land?

  8. Mark Palmer says:

    Okay gang, at first I thought, well, this seems fairly mundane. The statue seems kind of secular.
    After all, the hardcore theist’s don’t seem to mind people decorating the statue, and doing silly things with it. So I figured if they don’t think it’s a big deal then, we as atheist’s shouldn’t think it’s a big deal, right? So why bother with a lawsuit?
    But then I read Bubblecar’s comment (above) and decided that as atheist’s we don’t want to set a precedence in this case, because, if you give theist’s any inch, they’ll take a mile.
    Of course, any religious icon”illegally dumped on public land” (such as the 10 commandments being”dumped” in front of a public courthouse) is by definition illegal. So, silly or not, it should be removed!

  9. Trevor Blake says:

    Does the ruling suggest that other statues of Jesus are also secular and thus not deserving of religious tax exempt status? That sounds fine by me.

  10. barriejohn says:

    I’m confused. How come that the people “defacing, damaging, polluting or otherwise, physically mistreating” this statue are not “outrag(ing) the sensibilities of persons likely to observe or discover the action”? A fourteen-year-old was prosecuted for simulating sex with a similar lump of concrete in Pennsylvania. “Land of the free from rational thought processes”.

  11. Brian Jordan says:

    Since;it’s apparently ok to adorn it, perhaps a garland of condoms and other forms of contraception would be a fitting riposte.

  12. Cali Ron says:

    I was thinking a garland of tea bags might be more appropriate.

    Another example of how religion can creep into anything and screw it up. How much you want to bet the justices on the 9th circuit court of appeals are all christians. It’s BS and they know it, but ruled that way to keep it there and thwart atheists attempts to enforce a law they don’t like.

  13. John the Drunkard says:

    Of course it isn’t a Christian monument. Where are the hand-guns? the tax cuts for the rich? the unlimited logging and oil-drilling?…you know the core principles of Christianity, American Style.

  14. Cali Ron says:

    You forgot unlimited campaign contributions, the end to all LBGT rights and no more abortions.

  15. Paul Hoover says:

    I think Trevor is on to something.

    If a statue of Jesus Christ is secular then let us remove the tax exempt status of all churches except Our Lady Of Perpetual Exemption!