Montana's Congressman, Denny Rehberg, today was the lead signer on an amicus brief filed on behalf of the Veterans Jesus Memorial on Big Mountain outside of Whitefish, Montana. An amicus brief is a legal document filed in support of one side in a legal proceeding, in this case filed by the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) in support of the memorial statue, which for nearly 60 years has rested on a 25' by 25' parcel of U.S. Forest Service land.
"This historically significant piece of Montana history belongs on Big Mountain," said Rehberg who has led the community effort to preserve the statue. "For nearly six decades, it's been there. In all that time, it's never hurt a single person let alone an anti-religion group in Wisconsin who, as far as I can tell, have never even seen the statue. This lawsuit is wasting time and money, and I hope the court will do the right thing and throw it out."
Last year, the Forest Service rejected a renewal request for a special use permit for a 25' by 25' parcel of U.S. Forest Service land on which the statue rests. Originally erected by members of the Tenth Mountain Division in honor of their service during World War II, the statue has been in place for nearly 60 years. The original Forest Service decision was eventually reversed after it was determined the statue may be eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, and after the Forest Service received 95,000 public comments, mostly in support of the statue.
In response, the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation has sued in U.S. District Court in Montana to force the removal of an historically significant veterans memorial statue of Jesus in northwest Montana.
The Veterans Jesus amicus brief alleges that the lawsuit brought by the Freedom From Religion Foundation to have the popular statue removed must be dismissed because the claimant fails to show injury necessary to establish grounds. The brief requests that the Court immediately dismiss the lawsuit.
"Congressman Rehberg has shown the kind of leadership on this issue that has been extremely valuable," said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the ACLJ, which filed the amicus brief. "We're very pleased to be working with Congressman Rehberg in this legal filing to convince the court to keep this important part of Montana history in place. We appreciate his determination and commitment to protecting this war memorial."