June 15th, 2010
11:02 AM ET

Jesus statue struck by lightning

If you've ever driven between Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio, on I-75 then you probably saw the six-story King of Kings statue featuring Jesus coming out of a lake with hands raised in front of the Solid Rock Church in Monroe, Ohio.

Monday night the statue was destroyed by fire after being struck by lightning.

CNN iReporters in the area are all over this story.

The gleaming white statue was unmissable, even speeding down the interstate.

Monroe fire chief Mark Neu told the CNN Belief Blog he's never seen anything like the fire in his 32 years as chief.

He said the 62-foot statue had a steel frame and was wrapped in Styrofoam and covered with a fiberglass coating to protect it. At 11:16 last night, the fire department got the call the statue had been hit by lighting and was on fire.

"It spread from the statue to the amphitheater," he said. "There was heavy damage to the amphitheater where the stature backed up to. It was a fast-moving fire. We’re looking at $700,000 worth of damage."

The chief has spoken with church officials, who have gotten calls about the statue today from as far away as China.

"I know the membership of the Solid Rock Church was devastated by the fire and have every intention of putting the statue and the amphitheater back as is was," Neu said. "They said they plan on rebuilding immediately and moving forward."

Neu said no one was injured in the blaze.

The statue made cameos in loads of Ohioans' snapshots and even made it into the documentary "Jesus Camp."

I once got a speeding ticket not far from it while on assignment. The Ohio state trooper would not give me a warning despite the fact my co-worker in the passenger seat asked if it counted if we had a "news emergency."

Check out Time.com and CNN affiliate WLWT in Cincinnati for more on the story.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Culture & Science

soundoff (1,165 Responses)
  1. righteous-in-Christ

    “A Foolish Atheist Unbeliever”

    An atheist was spending a quiet day fishing when suddenly his boat was attacked by the Loch Ness monster. In one easy flip, the beast tossed him and his boat high into the air. Then it opened its mouth to swallow both.
    As the man sailed head over heels, he cried out, "Oh, my God! Help me!" At once, the ferocious attack scene froze in place, and as the atheist hung in midair, a booming voice came down from the clouds, "I thought you didn't believe in Me?" "Come on God, give me a break!" the man pleaded. "Two minutes ago I didn't believe in the Loch Ness monster either!"

    (Hebrew 11:11)
    Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.
    Atheist put their confidence on the things that they see! Things that parish and corrupted! It’s nonsense for anyone to demand evidence of the One who created them! One Atheist told me to use my mind, but that is where Satan deceives! It is the heart of a man that makes him/her who he/she is! They have been corrupted with lies and have entered their hearts to become who they are, fools, unbelievers, corrupted, liars, and deceivers! Atheists want truth, seek God’s wisdom and intelligence, He will show you truth. Your truth is like the air…..it disappears and has no meaning! God is eternal, mankind isn’t and neither are your scholars and philosophers! The truth has been set before your very own eyes and you are so blind!

    I would rather be a fool for believing in God, than a fool for not believing and ending up in Hell!!

    June 15, 2010 at 1:58 pm |
    • NickB5

      Good analogy but the Loch Ness monster is still more plausible.

      June 15, 2010 at 2:08 pm |
    • Me

      well at least that's reasonable...unlike the "you will burn in hell because you don't believe in this book" assumptions. your choice, you do what you want with your time, and i'll do what i want with mine.

      June 15, 2010 at 2:11 pm |
    • Whosis71

      AWWW.. What a cute little story. Make that up all by yourself, or did the nice man in Sunday school teach it to you?

      June 15, 2010 at 2:14 pm |
    • Billy

      Your last statement is exactly why being Agnostic makes more sense than either of what you mentioned. You get to appreciate everything and be thankful but don't have to act like you have it all figured out.

      June 15, 2010 at 2:16 pm |
    • Gunk

      Actually it is nonsense to think that you do not have to provide proof. The burden of proof has been with the believers for thousands of years and you've come up with nothing more than a bunch of stories and "Good works for me". You would think that God would have a better plan than frightening and blackmailing people into believing.

      June 15, 2010 at 2:22 pm |
    • Tony

      Well I'm an agnostic. I find Atheism to be a logical paradox. You are asking someone who believes in something with no tangible proof to suddenly throw those beliefs in the trash in exchange for a concept that equally has no proof. Both Religion and Atheism equally fail in their quest to prove or disprove the existence of a creator, supreme being, etc.

      I often think to myself that the true joke will come when humans figure out that both science and religion were both right and that the universe is in a massive petri dish and the scientist looking in is what we'd think of as god.

      June 15, 2010 at 2:27 pm |
  2. Butter

    The invisible man in the sky just sent me a text, he said please include a statue of the easter bunny next time as well

    June 15, 2010 at 1:57 pm |
  3. Mary

    This is the most entertaining thread I've read in a long time...

    June 15, 2010 at 1:56 pm |
  4. Hannah

    I live in suburb near Dayton. They spent $500,000 on this statue. And now they're going to rebuild it?! Stupid. Absolutely idiotic.

    June 15, 2010 at 1:56 pm |
  5. Sergio

    Go ahead and build another million dollars statue. Let see how nature, Jesus or the starving people of the World really cares. The hypocrisy of organized religion causes this sort of conundrum. Many times tragic, many times abusive, a few times just comical.

    June 15, 2010 at 1:56 pm |
  6. a christian

    Its not a big deal, just a random act of the weather.

    June 15, 2010 at 1:56 pm |
    • Gunk

      Either God not powerful enough to stop weather related problem (and deths) or does he just not care. Which is it?

      June 15, 2010 at 2:03 pm |
  7. Mark C

    Yeah, lets rebuild it exactly as it was: a six-story structure made of steel frame and flammable material, right up against the auditorium. What a bunch of freaking geniuses.

    June 15, 2010 at 1:56 pm |
    • The truth

      MarK C you are too funny!

      June 15, 2010 at 3:17 pm |
  8. reap555

    LAWL. thats Big Butter Jesus! Haywood Banks must be rollin right now. Watch the song made about this statue years ago:


    June 15, 2010 at 1:55 pm |
  9. a christian

    Why all of the fuss about this article? Its a church. I'm sure it wouldn't be huge news like this if a store or a house burned down. Isn't it sad how so many people hate God and his children. A story like this brings a lot of God-haters out.

    June 15, 2010 at 1:55 pm |
    • no one

      i don't hate god, i just don't beileve in god, and find those who do funny and, for lack of a better word, niave.

      June 15, 2010 at 3:57 pm |
  10. Ashley

    so i'm sure half of you commenting on this don't even live in ohio. i live in cincinnati so i've seen that thing a thousand times.
    a). that is not the real jesus. don't get bent out of shape. it was a mockery, and a waste of money. money that could be given to charities. they even had plans to repaint it.. how many gallons of paint would it take? i haven't the slightest idea, but also, money to feed the homeless.. what a stellar church you are!
    b). god had nothing to do with it burning down. it was made of styrofoam, fiber glass, and wood for crying out loud! also those of you not commenting from the ohio area... there were a whole slew of reports of lighting striking objects, and a tornado warning through out the area until about 11 pm. shortly around the time this happened. a tall structure, in a severe thunderstorm, gettin struck by lightning.. hardly proof god was angry

    June 15, 2010 at 1:54 pm |
    • Gunk

      So if he was not angry then he was either not powerful enough to stop it or does not care. Which is it?

      June 15, 2010 at 2:15 pm |
  11. ABK

    I think that if there is a God, he just sent a really powerful message... 🙂

    June 15, 2010 at 1:54 pm |
  12. William

    In an ironic twist of fate, God finally smites...himself. HAHA!!

    June 15, 2010 at 1:53 pm |
  13. CJB

    While it is terribly ironic that a statue of Jesus was struck by lightening, it is neither ironic nor surprising to see the debate that follows. Unfortunately for mankind we are prone to be a self-fulfilling prohecy. Scriptures make it clear that when we become self absorbed and believe ourselves to possess ultimate wisdom, we become foolish in our thinking. Ciritics mock the believer for his "blind faith" yet the majority of the American public could neither explain nor defend the "theories" that explain the universe. In fact most would be hard pressed to actually agree on a theory that explains our beginning, including the field of science, which quite frankly epitomizes the egotiscal, dishonest endeavour of mankind to make himself a pedastel upon which to stand slightly above God. What is truly ironic to me is that these men who deny the existance of God so strongly work SO HARD to get his job. ..." but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord..."

    June 15, 2010 at 1:53 pm |
    • Mark C

      Do the gene pool a big favor and kill yourself now.

      June 15, 2010 at 1:57 pm |
    • Gunk

      Awesome – We don't know the answers so we'll just believe that silly-a**ed made-up one and call it good.

      June 15, 2010 at 2:00 pm |
    • MyEyesAreOpen

      Hmmm, the old 'I *don't* understand it, so it *must* be god' argument...

      June 15, 2010 at 2:02 pm |
    • SUSEJ

      In the early days, people thought some heavenly being or creator was responsible for our existence because they didn't have any other explanation... then man discovered the atom and then neutrinos.... it's just a matter of time. I was once a catholic until I woke up and realized it's how you live and treat others that makes things right. So go ahead and stay blind.

      June 15, 2010 at 2:39 pm |
    • Just Me

      It is true that we do not understand the existence of the universe. Does a magical mystery man really make more sense to you ? I think it is people like you with the large ego. You have to believe that you were created and exist for a purpose ...

      June 16, 2010 at 8:05 pm |
  14. guest

    Did Al Qaida terrorists claim responsibility for the lightning strike!

    June 15, 2010 at 1:53 pm |
  15. Death Shall Look Upon The Followers Of Satan

    I cant wait to see idiotic buffoons meet your fate.You blind fools cant see that the world is coming to an end,you're going to the be exact same people begging for forgiveness when its far too late.Cant save them all,so most of them are bound to fall.God hates idols,these people must of idolized that statue.At the end of times you'll know the truth,but since your arrogant and dont believe in anything anyway get ready for hell,its going to be really hot.TWO RAPTURES,God will come and get his people.The Devil will have fun with you nut cases.

    June 15, 2010 at 1:53 pm |
    • Whosis71

      OOOooooooOOO!!! SKEEERY!!

      June 15, 2010 at 2:05 pm |
    • kentucky

      You know, I saw this same thing written on a cardboard sign that some crazy homeless guy at the bus stop was wearing around his neck. What a coincidence.

      June 15, 2010 at 2:08 pm |
    • Gunk

      Looks like the position of "Nut Case" has already been filled.

      June 15, 2010 at 2:13 pm |
    • The Dude

      I am genuinely grateful that the gentiles gave up their native gods to worship a Jewish man. It really was an improvement, injecting some morals into pagan Rome. But you're entirely missing the point, Death-guy. You're fixated on the end of times junk from the Book of Revelations rather than the good stuff Jesus said. Try getting the Jefferson Bible (edited by Thomas Jefferson) and try a little harder at this life thing.

      June 15, 2010 at 2:13 pm |
    • Russ

      Assuming there are such things as heaven and hell and that heaven will be populated by self-righteous, sadistic morons like you, I'd take hell any day. Now go be a good boy and wipe the foam from your mouth.

      June 15, 2010 at 3:34 pm |
  16. ABK


    June 15, 2010 at 1:52 pm |
  17. Mary

    I am from Ohio and here we called him "Touchdown Jesus." There is no religious signifigance just a 60 foot lighting rod covered in flammable materials is all.

    June 15, 2010 at 1:51 pm |
    • AnneSD

      Football season is over - do you think they'll replace it with Umpire Jesus?

      June 15, 2010 at 1:57 pm |
    • Gunk

      OK so it accidently resembled JC??

      June 15, 2010 at 1:57 pm |
    • Tymon

      Nah, moreso resembled Jim Morrison (C'mon baby light my fire.)

      June 15, 2010 at 2:03 pm |
  18. THRobinson

    Ah ... news emergency ... that's a good reason to speed. Knob.

    June 15, 2010 at 1:51 pm |
    • Mark C

      Do the gene pool a big favor and kill yourself now, you pathetic humorless tool.

      June 15, 2010 at 1:59 pm |
  19. NickB5


    June 15, 2010 at 1:51 pm |
    • Whosis71


      June 15, 2010 at 2:03 pm |
    • Gunk

      Pastafarians Unite!

      June 15, 2010 at 2:11 pm |
    • CB

      Blessed are his meatballs

      June 15, 2010 at 2:37 pm |
  20. Tymon

    Live about twenty miles away from here – no wonder I saw hippies in my backyard last night – they thought it was a new Burning Man festival.

    June 15, 2010 at 1:50 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.