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Atheist group appeals decision on Jesus statue

KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — A Wisconsin-based atheist and agnostic organization is appealing a federal judge’s ruling that a 6-foot-tall statue of Jesus can remain on Forest Service land on a northwestern Montana ski hill.

The Flathead Beacon reports the Freedom From Religion Foundation appealed U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen’s decision that allowed the Flathead National Forest to re-issue a 10-year permit for the statue the Knights of Columbus placed on Big Mountain as World War II memorial.

The FFRF filed a lawsuit in February 2012, arguing the statue violates the Constitutional separation of church and state.

Christensen ruled in June that the statue is more often used as a meeting point for skiers than as a solemn place for religious reflection.

The FFRF filed its appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday.

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