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War Memorial Stuck in Battle
ACLJ, Members of Congress and some 96,000 Americans Urge Court to Reject Atheist Assault on Montana
WASHINGTON, Aug. 28, 2012—A World War II memorial on a Montana mountain is the target of a legal battle. In reaction to an atheist organization's lawsuit to have the statue removed, the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), on behalf of more than 96,000 Americans and 18 members of Congress, filed an amicus brief asking the federal court to reject the suit.
The embattled war memorial, a statue of Jesus, was erected on Big Mountain at the Whitefish Mountain Resort in Montana in the 1950s by WWII veterans, who were also members of the Knights of Columbus. Inspired by monuments they saw in the mountains in Europe during the war, the veterans placed the statue on the mountain to commemorate the service of local WWII veterans.
"This is another example of an atheist group using the court system to impose its troubling strategy of attempting to remove any religious reference from our history," said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the ACLJ. "We're pleased that we're joined by members of congress and nearly 100,000 Americans who understand that this war memorial represents the history and heritage of the region. It's a constitutional display that does not reflect a government endorsement of religion. And, we're hopeful the court will conclude what we are arguing - the atheist group lacks standing and the lawsuit should be dismissed."
In the amicus brief filed today in a Montana federal court, the ACLJ supports the Intervenor-Defendants' Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Standing, agreeing with the Knights of Columbus that the Freedom from Religion Foundation's (FFRF) objections to the memorial amount to nothing more than "offended observer standing," which has already been rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Clearly stated in the brief, the ACLJ says the FFRF "lacks standing because the injury it alleges is nothing more than hurt feelings, which is not cognizable under the Supreme Court's Article II standing jurisprudence."
For more than a year, the ACLJ has been aggressively working to defend the memorial, including sending a letter to the National Forest Service on behalf of more than 70,000 Americans, urging the Forest Service to renew the lease. Following a decision by the Forest Service to keep the statue, the FFRF filed a federal lawsuit to have the memorial removed.
Led by Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, the American Center for Law and Justice focuses on constitutional law and is based in Washington.