Federal appeals court to hear arguments in dispute over Jesus statue at Whitefish mountain

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KALISPELL, Montana — A federal appeals court will take up a dispute over whether a 6-foot-tall statue of Jesus should remain on U.S. Forest Service land next to a Montana ski resort.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments Tuesday in Portland, Oregon.

The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation is appealing a Montana judge's decision to allow the statue to remain on the Whitefish mountainside. U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen said the statue does not represent a governmental endorsement of religion because the land is leased to a private organization.

Foundation spokeswoman Rebecca Market tells The Daily Inter Lake (http://bit.ly/1GOwQG9 ) it is unconstitutional to have a large statue of Jesus on public land.

The Knights of Columbus says the statue commissioned more than 60 years ago is a World War II memorial.

Information from: Daily Inter Lake, http://www.dailyinterlake.com

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