Freedom from Religion Foundation v. Chip Weber (Big Mountain Jesus)

HRA assisted the U.S. Forest Service in its defense against a claim brought by the Freedom from Religion Foundation that the agency’s approval of a special use permit allowing the placement of a statue of Jesus on the Whitefish Mountain Resort ski area in the early 1950s violated the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment. Our research in historic newspapers and archival records, along with oral interviews conducted with knowledgeable individuals, showed that the historic uses and perceptions of the statue were primarily non-religious in nature. The U.S. District Court for the District of Montana relied on HRA’s expert report and deposition testimony in its ruling in favor of the U.S. Forest Service. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s ruling.