FASHA in the Media

(News articles, visit this TV interviews, prostate etc.)

10/23/12Council Declines to Accept Ten Commandments – Daily Interlake

02/08/12 – A Missoulian article mentions FASHA on the heels of FFRF filing suit.

02/01/12 - A Flathead Memo piece references FASHA’s extensive documentation of the Jesus Shrine debate.

02/01/12Jesus Statue Saved – For Now (Daily Interlake)

01/31/12Group Suing Forest Service Over Whitefish Jesus Statue Permit Renewal - Flathead Beacon (online edition)

01/31/12 - A Statue of Jesus Atop Big Mountain Gets Another Lease on Life - MTPR interview

01/31/12Group Plans to Sue Over Jesus Statue – KCFW TV (will post if/when available)

01/31/12 - An article in the Daily Interlake referencing the 1954 article and stating that it is called a shrine repeatedly and does not mention a war memorial at all.

01/27/12 - Billings Gazette publishes letter to the editor. Hooray!

Sent 01/12/12  -  Letter to the Editor regarding lack of coverage on 1954 WP article

(sent to Daily Interlake, Flathead Beacon and Whitefish Pilot)

Three major local newspapers (the Daily Interlake, the Flathead Beacon and the Whitefish Pilot) have had access to the Sept. 10th, 1954 Whitefish Pilot article regarding the Jesus shrine for several weeks (much longer in the case of the Whitefish Pilot). With the exception of a very brief reference to an editorial in the Daily Interlake, these papers have not written any staff originated articles about this Whitefish Pilot article. It is worth noting here that the previous last seven Daily Interlake stories on the shrine have been front page and that in a “year in review” article, rated the shrine issue as the #2 news story of 2011 and the other papers have also given the shrine issue extensive past coverage. This letter is an attempt to communicate to the public that they are not being told, for whatever reason(s), “the rest of the story”.

The new information is a Sept. 10th, 1954 Whitefish Pilot article which directly contradicts previous newspaper coverage, the story on the current plaque placed at the site in 2010 and public perception as to the origin of the shrine. The “war memorial” story, which is largely based on second hand sources states that the shrine was intended as, and is, a war memorial erected by and in honor of veterans of WWII. This is now known, at least by FASHA members and these local newspapers, to clearly be inaccurate.

So why the silence regarding this major new development in this story especially given the previous extensive coverage? FASHA has received little in the way of an explanation other than we are “considering” it and “we’re taking a wait and see approach”. This letter is a response to these non-committal responses. While we are open to the possibility that there are unforeseen factors in play here (but are having a hard time understanding what those might be), what is difficult to overlook is that this is the first evidence that has questioned the current “war memorial story”. FASHA, and we imagine many others who are concerned about the search for truth and accuracy, hope that one or more of our local newspapers will decide that their commitment to keep the public informed would prevail and that the public’s trust in those sources will increase on the whole.

Pending such a decision by these newspapers, if you are interested in reading the entire 1954 Whitefish Pilot article and see photos of what looks to be a newly discovered covered plaque at the site, please visit the Flathead Area Secular Humanist Association website at flatheadsecular.com.

In closing, a Thomas Paine quote comes to mind – “It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry”. May we all strive to live more consistently with this philosophy in the new year. Thank you.

 

Ian Cameron, F.J., B.B, D.B, T.B and other members

Flathead Area Secular Humanist Association

Various Flathead Valley Communities

 

01/01/12  -  Letter to the Editor regarding 1954 WP article and Proposal For Resolution

(Daily Interlake)

It has often been reported that the “Jesus shrine” was intended as a war memorial for WWII veterans who lost their lives. This turns out not to be the case at all. A Whitefish Pilot article recently obtained dated Sept.10th, 1954 clearly indicates that the shrine was not originally intended as a “war memorial”. As stated in the article by L.J. Reed, (“chairman of the (Knights of Col.) shrine committee” at that time), this shrine was not intended as a war memorial but instead, upon suggestion by several of the world’s leading (Catholic) skiers, as a replica of similar shrines on other ski runs around the world. As Mr. Reed is quoted as saying in the article, “I am of the firm belief that Our Lord himself selected this site….”. I hope that given this clear and definitive evidence as to the shrines origins as a religious shrine and not as a “war memorial”, as well as its continuing violation of the Establishment Clause, the Forest Service will decide to follow the initial decision to not renew the lease and seek removal of the shrine.

In light of this article, our ongoing commitment to upholding the Establishment Clause of the Constitution and in an effort to work together with the community for a common cause, the Flathead Area Secular Humanist Association has submitted the following proposal to the Forest Service:

“This proposal is written in an effort to resolve the Big Mountain Jesus Shrine controversy with the best possible outcome for everyone involved – veterans, the Knights of Columbus, the US Forest Service, the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), the Flathead Area Secular Humanist Association (FASHA) and the public at large. The proposal is as follows: 1) For the Forest Service to deny the current permit and to request that the Knights of Columbus remove the shrine in a timely manner (by May 2012?). 2) For interested parties, forming an umbrella organization, to immediately begin a fund raising campaign to purchase and erect a non-sectarian, religious symbolism-free WWII memorial statue on the same site 3) Once the umbrella organization is established (01/12?), for the US Forest Service to approve a special use permit to that umbrella organization for placement of the Big Mountain Veterans Memorial Statue (suggested name) at the current site 4) For any additional funds, raised in excess of that required for the statue purchase and placement, to be used for any repair and restoration needed to the original Jesus Shrine as a result of it’s movement.

This plan would; avoid any potential Establishment Clause legal issues, save the tax payers legal costs, honor all of our veterans, work to preserve the current shrine on private land, provide a forum for the various groups to work together instead of against each other, and although the statue would be different, the site would remain an integral part of the Big Mountain ski culture.

Thank you for your consideration of this proposal”.

For these reasons, I hope this or a similar plan is adopted by the Forest Service upon making their decision.

 

Ian Cameron, Whitefish and members of

Flathead Area Secular Humanist Association

 

12/08/11 – Ian C. TV interview with KCFW in Kalispell - Vintage Newspaper Reveals New Info About Jesus Statue

 

12/07/11FASHA mentioned in Daily Interlake article - Comments pour in on Jesus statue

 

12/08/11  -  Proposal For Resolution

(sent to U.S. Forest Service, local Knights of Columbus and American Legion)

To: US Forest Service, Kalispell American Legion, and Kalispell Knights of Columbus

A Proposal for Resolution of the Big Mountain Jesus Shrine

:by the Flathead Area Secular Humanist Association, 12/08/11

This proposal is written in an effort to resolve the Big Mountain Jesus Shrine controversy with the best possible outcome for everyone involved – veterans, the Knights of Columbus, the US Forest Service, the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), the Flathead Area Secular Humanist Association (FASHA) and the public at large. This proposal becomes especially pertinent given the recently obtained Whitefish Pilot article dated Sept.10th, 1954 which clearly indicated that the shrine was not originally intended as a “war memorial”.

The proposal is as follows:

1) For the Forest Service to deny the current permit and to request that the Knights of Columbus remove the shrine in a timely manner (May 2012?).

2) For interested parties, forming an umbrella organization, to immediately begin a fund raising campaign to purchase and erect a non-sectarian, WWII memorial statue on the same site.

3) Once the umbrella organization is established (01/11), for the US Forest Service to approve a special use permit to that umbrella organization for placement of the Big Mountain Veterans Memorial Statue (suggested name) at the current site.

4) For any additional funds, raised in excess of that required for the statue purchase and placement, be used for any repair and restoration needed to the original Jesus Shrine as a result of it’s movement.

This plan would avoid any potential Establishment Clause legal issues, would honor all of our veterans, would provide a forum for the various groups to work together instead of against each other, and would remain a changed, but integral, part of the Big Mountain ski culture.

Thanks you for your consideration of this proposal.

Ian Cameron and members of

Flathead Area Secular Humanist Association

11/27/11  -  Letter to the Editor regarding Constitutionality of the Jesus Shrine

(Daily Interlake, sent to Missoulian – publish date not known)

 

There are several strategies being implemented toward preserving the illegally placed Jesus shrine that are a distraction from the main point of its opponents. I will talk about these strategies and why they likely will fail. But first, some facts about the shrine need to be communicated.

As stated on the most recent Forest Service Special Use Permit dated Feb 3, 2000, the permit “is issued for the purpose of continuing to provide a site for a religious shrine”. On the associated map, there is the word “Shrine” and an arrow pointing to the proposed site atop Big Mountain. That’s it. No mention of a war memorial or a war statue, only a “religious shrine”. The permit was issued to the Knights of Columbus, the “world’s foremost catholic fraternal benefit society”, who’s “prime responsibility is to encourage and promote… (ecumenical) action”, and who “are proud of our devotion to God and country, and believe in standing up for both” (time will tell what takes priority when these two devotions collide). There was no indication of the shrine’s purpose or history for over 50 years until a plaque was placed at the site just last year. It is difficult to say what its real history is, but based on the permit and map (the only non-hearsay evidence I’ve seen), the U.S. government issued a permit for a religious shrine to be placed on government property. This was and is in violation of the 1st Amendment (ironically, one of the protections against the anti-Catholicism which plagued America’s early history).

Now to the strategies and why they likely will fail: 1) Get it registered as a historic place – I don’t believe “historicity” qualifies as an exemption from the U.S. Constitution.  2) Attempt to rewrite history and state that it is a war “memorial” – there is no compelling evidence to support that it is a “memorial” and regardless, no memorial on government land can violate the Constitution 3) Get public support through various “rallies” or other shows of support  – fortunately, the Constitution (in whole or in part) is not subject to popularity contests. 4) Pretend that Montanan’s should decide which parts of the Constitution it should follow – that’s what the 14th Amendment guards against, 5) Minimize it by saying “What’s the big deal?” – I refer you to two quotes by James Madison, lead author of both the Constitution and the Bill of Rights: “EVERY new and successful example…, of a PERFECT SEPARATION between the ecclesiastical (religious) and civil matters, IS OF IMPORTANCE; and I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in showing that religion and Government will both exist in greater purity the less they are mixed together (Letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822). And, from Madison’s “Detached Memoranda” circa 1820 – “Strongly guarded as is the separation between Religion & Govt in the Constitution of the United States the DANGER OF ENCROACHMENT by Ecclesiastical Bodies may be illustrated by precedents already furnished in their short history”. Other examples of these “encroachments” include prayer, creationism and intelligent design in schools, blocking end of life decision rights, gay rights, etc,etc.. Even some climate denial arguments are religiously based. (see famous Senator Imhof quote) 6) A land “swap” or sale – the “land swap” idea as proposed by Mr. Rehberg has at least one major problem: the government, in selling or swapping the land for the purpose of preserving a sectarian religious symbol, would be showing preferential treatment unless it can be shown that there is a compelling secular reason to do the swap (which it doesn’t appear there is). Another way to look at it is: if the shrine wasn’t there now, would there be a completely secular reason to sell or trade this desirable and, I’d imagine, costly land to the Knights of Columbus or the Whitefish Mtn. Resort? The proposal by Mr. Rehberg shows a state “preference” to preserve a religious shrine and I am confident therefore that the courts would view this sale or trade, despite its creativity, as illegal.

How will this be resolved? It could simply be resolved tomorrow by the Forest Service and Knights of Columbus agreeing to follow the course set earlier this year for removal of the statue and correcting the mistake made 60 years ago. The Knights of Columbus have done and continue to do great community work and I hope that they will reconsider their decision to fight this in the courts. If not, in the end the courts will very likely deem the shrine as unconstitutional and illegal and then it will be removed. How much tax money and how much of Mr. Rehberg’s time do we want to spend getting there? Please let him know and forward any comments you have to the Flathead Area Secular Association.

Ian Cameron

Flathead Area Secular Humanist Association

Whitefish

 

11/19/11   –   FASHA mentioned in Daily Interlake article  - Statue bill gets support in House

 

11/09/11  -  Letter Written In Opposition of “Land Swap” Proposal

(sent to U.S. Forest Service)

Mr. Milner & Mr. Weber
I believe that the “land swap” idea has one major problem. The government, in selling or swapping the land for the purpose of preserving a sectarian religious symbol, is still showing preferential treatment unless it can be shown that there is a compelling secular reason to do the swap (which I don’t think there is). Another way to look at it is: if the statue wasn’t there now, would there be a secular reason to sell or trade the this desirable and I’d imagine, costly, land to the Knights of Columbus or the Whitefish Mountain Resort in particular and not another group? I think in either case, the courts would see this sale or trade as showing preference to one religion over another and assisting it in furthering it’s particular religious message.

Ian Cameron

Flathead Area Secular Humanist Association

Whitefish, MT

 

Early 11/11  -  First Letter to the Editor regarding the Jesus Shrine

(in the Daily Interlake)

 

Ah….the insidiously powerful but unmistakable cultural influence of religion to force people to conform or be labeled as “the other” and face being ostracized or discriminated against. This is almost certainly the compelling force behind the Forest Service reversal it’s decision regarding the “Jesus statue” on Big Mountain.

The Forest Service initially made the correct decision to deny the permit renewal for this clearly sectarian statue citing that “the Supreme Court has held that the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits the government from promoting or affiliating with any religious doctrine or organization”. Simply put, the government is required to remain neutral when it comes to religion and it is clear that this statue’s placement was and is in direct violation of this constitutionally mandated neutrality and subsequent legal precedent. The days when Christianity receives special accommodation by the government are quickly drawing to a close.

While the intent appears noble (honoring WWII soldiers), it appears that whoever erected the statue in 1953, during the communist “witch hunt” of the 1950’s, was able to use the power of government (through land access in this case) to further a religious message in violation of the U.S. Constitution (assuming the land was government owned at the time). With this in mind, it would appropriate for the Knights of Columbus and the U.S. Forest Service to acknowledge this past mistake, work together to remove the current statue and if desired, replace it with a statue that honors all Montana veterans – even those who were not Christians. If the recent comments by the American Legion commander are representative, this is not likely to happen. The comments appeared to me to be inflammatory, invoked violent imagery (e.g. “slap in face”, “folks…going to have a fit”) and then referenced outsiders “imposing their beliefs on us when we don’t do that to them”. This last comment seems to flow from a lack of insight in not noticing that historically it has predominantly been evangelical, fundamentalist Christians doing the “imposing” (e.g. creationism/prayer in school, the abortion issue, end of life issues, gay marriage, etc.). In regards to Mr. Rehberg’s recent comments on this issue, it is scary and disappointing to become aware that he is apparently ignorant of this clear violation of the Establishment Clause. I sincerely hope (expect?) that Mr. Rehberg will educate himself further about the Constitution and legal precedent in this area.

We now live in more pluralistic society than in 1950’s Flathead Valley. However much in the minority Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, non-supernaturalists, and Christians all share this valley. As a non-supernaturalist, it is frankly offensive to have this statue high above the valley floor, arms outstretched, symbolically embracing the whole valley from its government-sponsored perch. If you are asking yourself “What’s the big deal?” then ask yourself this – how would you feel if someone erected a Buddha statue next to the Jesus statue, a statue of Vishnu at the top of the county courthouse, etched “Allah Akbar” above the it’s entrance doorway, or put a Menorah at the top of the new City Hall (all of which I’d protest with equal vigor)? It may be helpful to recognize that there are areas in this country where Christianity is not the majority faith and that these sights are real possibilities in our future. Hopefully you will see my point more clearly. Thankfully, we do have people and organizations willing to commit time, money and effort to help ensure that your religious freedom rights won through the Revolutionary War are protected and that the wall of separation between the church and state remains strong and in keeping with our founding father’s intentions.

Some will also say “Christianity is being forced from the public square”. I disagree. Few are out to eradicate “personal” Christian belief. Christians are simply being asked to evangelize on the same level field as every other religious faith in the U.S.. By analogy, this compliant is like trying (repeatedly) to climb a wall that you aren’t allowed over, reaching for the top, slipping and then blaming the wall that your tailbone hurts. Here, a certain lack of empathy seems well deserved. Unfortunately, as the historical majority, Christians have tended to expect and at times achieve exceptions (e.g “In God We Trust” on currency and “under God” added to the Pledge of Allegiance, both in 1954).

In closing, I predict that this will end with either the statue being removed or the land it is on becoming privately owned. I can predict this with great confidence because the Constitution and the law is clear on this issue, there are effective national organizations willing to challenge the incursion, and the Forest Service will probably not willingly enter into a costly legal battle that it will surely lose. For any comments or feedback, please feel free to comment on the Flathead Area Secular Association blog at flatheadsecularblog.blogspot.com..

Ian Cameron

Flathead Area Secular Association

Whitefish

10/27/11  - TV interview with Ian C. on KCFW Kalispell - Whitefish Local Speaks Out Against Religious Statue On Public Land

FASHA in the Media

(editorials, sickness news article, TV interviews, etc.)

A listing of books that FASHA members are willing to lend to other members. Please use “Contact Us” page for inquiries or to add a title.

 

Title – Author (belongs to)

  • God is not Great : How Religion Poisons Everything- Christopher Hitchens (Ian)
  • The End of Faith – Sam Harris (Ian)
  • The Moral Landscape – Sam Harris (Ian)
  • Atheist Universe – David Mills (Ian)
  • God: The failed Hypothesis – Victor Stenger (Ian)
  • The God Delusion – Richard Dawkins (Ian)
  • 50 Reasons People Give for Believing in god – Guy P. Harrison (Ian)
  • The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Non-Believer – Christopher Hitchens (Ian)
  • Unweaving the Rainbow – Richard Dawkins (Ian)
  • Letter to a Christian Nation – Sam Harris (Ian)
  • Living without God: New Directions for Atheists, doctor Agnostics, medicine Secularists, sales and the Undecided – Ronald Aronson (Ian)
  • Breaking the Spell – Daniel Dennett (Ian)
  • The New Atheism: Taking a Stand for Science and Reason (Ian)
  • Women Without Superstition: No Gods – No Masters – Annie Laurie Gaylor (Susan)
  • The God Virus: How Religion Infects Our Lives and Culture – Darryl W. Ray (Susan)
  • The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark (Susan?)
  • Science, Evolution and Creationism – National Academies Press (?)
  • The Inner Fish – Neil Shubin (?)
  • Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why – Bart Ehrman (Susan)

PayPal

Support FASHA (free bumper sticker with a $35 donation!)


Like FASHA on Facebook!

Copyright © 2011-2017 Flathead Area Secular Humanist Association (FASHA). All rights Reserved.