The Freedom From Religion Foundation filed the suit Wednesday after Flathead National Forest officials decided Jan. 31 to keep the statue. The site where the statue stands is leased and maintained by the Knights of Columbus Council No. 1328 on a special 10-year permit. Chip Weber, Flathead National Forest supervisor, authorized the renewal of the permit.
The suit names Weber, along with the U.S. Forest Service as defendants.
"I understand the statue has been a longstanding object in the community since 1955, and I recognize that the statue is important to the community for its historical heritage based on its association with the early development of the ski area on Big Mountain," Weber told The Missoulan.
Opponents claim the statue's presence violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution.