The proposed installation of a 20-foot Virgin Mary statue at a rural California ski resort has sparked a wave of contention among locals and visitors. The decision by Mt. Shasta Ski Park to erect the Christian figure has been met with vocal resistance from individuals who argue it infringes upon the region’s deep-rooted Native American heritage.
Detractors have taken to social media to express their dissatisfaction, with one commenter stating, “Virgin Mary at a ski resort makes no sense, keep religion out of skiing.” The sentiment has been echoed by others who feel the religious symbol is out of place in a sport historically devoid of religious associations.
Further criticism arises from those who believe the statue would be an affront to the spiritual significance the mountain holds for many, especially given its Native American history and the mystical traditions tied to the Lemurian legend. Some have suggested alternative tributes that would honor the indigenous communities that have long-standing ties to the land.
An online petition has emerged, rallying for the cessation of the statue’s construction. The petition asserts that the project could potentially exclude non-Christian members of the community and has called on the U.S. Forest Service, which issues use permits to the ski park, to intervene and halt the endeavor.
The ski park’s owners, Robin Merlo and the late Ray Merlo, envisioned the statue as part of their long-term plans for the park, with Robin Merlo viewing it as a tribute to her late husband’s legacy and a nod to the sacredness of the mountain, rather than an endorsement of a single faith.
While the controversy has led to the limitation of comments on the resort’s social media, not all feedback has been negative. Some voices support the installation, urging the resort to maintain its course and praising the incorporation of religious representation in public spaces.
In response to the backlash, Mt. Shasta Ski Park released a statement lamenting the “negative reactions” to the Virgin Mary project. The statement emphasized the private ownership of the ski park and clarified that the statue’s location is separate from the areas governed by the Forest Service permit. Despite the dissent, the park remains committed to completing the statue by early next summer, hoping to see it stand atop Douglas Butte on Mt. Shasta.