Forget those "What would Jesus do?" bumper stickers. The J-man is at the center of a much more pressing question in the Flathead this month: Where should Jesus go?
For the folks at the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, the answer is simple. He should take a page from Moses' book and come down off the mount.
The non-theists recently took issue with the statue of Jesus at the top of Whitefish Mountain Resort's chair 2, where he's as familiar a sight for local skiers as Mardi Gras beads and discarded PBR cans. They have a point. The land belongs to the U.S. Forest Service. As a religious figure on federal ground, Jesus could be violating the Constitution.
But He may have found a loophole that would make the tax collector proud.
This Jesus was erected in 1953 by the local Knights of Columbus and several military veterans as a World War II memorial, which means the site could be eligible for a National Register of Historic Places listing.
FFRF nearly had the Forest Service convinced to deny renewal of the Knights' special use permit. Now the renewal has to go through public comment. Given the outpouring of local support for the statue, it's possible Jesus could be sticking around for a while this time.
He's gained some friends in high places over the past two weeks. Rep. Denny Rehberg issued a statement last week explaining that many WWII veterans were inspired by religious objects they saw in war-torn European villages. "Removal of this symbol of hope and faith is an insult to the sacrifices they so willingly gave our great country," Rehberg said.
Rehberg's support for the statue is a pious break from his usual brow furrowing over national monuments. And if the government finds our ski-slope Jesus eligible for the National Register, that's essentially what He'll become. He may not be as expansive as the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument, but a federally recognized landmark is a federally recognized landmark.
All this could play out well for Jesus. He couldn't have asked for a better booster than Rehberg. The congressman is a cosponsor of the border protection bill currently before Congress.
If Jesus stays on the fed's mount, perhaps Rehberg can also get Homeland Security to give Him a 24-hour guard.