Montana congressman Denny Rehberg, co-founder of the Congressional Tea Party Caucus and Michelle Bachmann’s earliest endorser, has announced that he will hold a hearing this week on a crucial issue: a statue of Jesus at a ski resort.
For the last several months, Rehberg has been all Jesus all the time, obsessed with a small ceramic statue of Christ that sits on the edge of a ski run at Big Mountain Ski Resort in Whitefish, Montana.
There’s been a slew of press releases and a blitz of national TV appearances on shows like “Fox and Friends.” He put up a Save the Jesus Statue website (constructed with his congressional office funds) and went on a whirlwind Save Jesus tour around Montana, with e-mail action alerts, a “draft legislative solution,” and robo-calls to thousands of Montana voters, telling them that he is working hard to save Jesus and urging them to support him in this important work. He spent Veterans Day meeting with veterans to tell them that their support for him (Rehberg) in this important cause is crucial.
And now, the grand finale in Rehberg’s heroic effort to prove that he is pro-Jesus: a hearing about the statue, before a Congressional committee, this friday.
The small statue was erected in the 1950s on a piece of National Forest land that abuts the ski area, and the permit has now come up for renewal after six decades. The Forest Service was notified by an “anti-establishment” group from Wisconsin that if it renewed the permit, it would be in violation of the establishment clause. The Forest Service has thus considered options, one of which is to simply ignore the Wisconsin group’s threats. Another option is (gasp) to move the statue a few feet onto private land. That’s an outrage, says Rehberg.
Rehberg is five points down in his race against Jon Tester for the US Senate, so obviously he believes that a boost in his pro-Jesus street cred is needed to consolidate the evangelical vote.
Also, Tester’s star is very high among veterans, and has been so ever since he took office in 2007 and immediately made vets a centerpiece of his domestic policy. Of course, Tester focuses not on statues, but on services–health care for veterans, jobs for veterans, loans for veterans, things that matter. Veterans like Tester, a lot. But Montana Republicans (who after two decades of dominance have been virtually eradicated as statewide officeholders, thanks to Schweitzer, Tester and a resurgent Democratic party) believe that the veteran vote is a GOP birthright that can never be taken from them.
Tester also believes the statue should remain unmolested. But after making his opinion known, he moved on to doing real work on things that matter, because he understands (unlike Rehberg who is a man-child) that if you are in Congress, you should be acting like an adult.
And guess who is coming to the Big Mountain area in a few weeks? You guessed it. Tim Tebow will be in nearby Kalispell, Montana, to talk at a fundraiser for a Christian School. Tebow is sure to weigh in on the Big Mountain Jesus issue.
After all, what could be more important?