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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. Mike in VA

    And enough with THREAD JACKING!!!!!!!

    June 15, 2010 at 7:10 pm |
  2. David Fitzgerald

    BTW, anyone else think it is wrong to spend so much money to bring attention to a church when so many people are hurting right now?

    June 15, 2010 at 7:09 pm |
    • David

      Exactly! Think how many hungry people that money could feed and do so much more good (not to mention being so much more like what JESUS would do).

      June 15, 2010 at 7:26 pm |
    • ana44

      yup.

      June 15, 2010 at 10:43 pm |
  3. David Fitzgerald

    Jesus was struck by lightning...Need I say more?

    June 15, 2010 at 7:07 pm |
    • Carla

      I'm Buddhist...but if Pat Robertson gets struck by lightning I may seriously have to reconsider the whole thing...

      June 15, 2010 at 7:28 pm |
    • Michael Baker

      jesus statue stuck by lightening – its a another reason to watch the movie: The Nature of Existence. For all those super religious and not so religious folks, it will give you something to talk about in addition to why a huge statue was struck by lightening.

      June 15, 2010 at 9:18 pm |
  4. Sid

    ZEUS IS MAKING A COMEBACK!

    June 15, 2010 at 7:04 pm |
  5. JeanV

    I think maybe God was trying to tell them something: "Enough with the over-the-top mega-church nonsense. Enough with the endless carping for money. Enough with the tasteless monstrosities. Humility! Humility! Humility!"

    June 15, 2010 at 7:04 pm |
    • SOD 3-6-9

      Yes. I am glad to see SOME people are beginning to understand.

      June 15, 2010 at 7:16 pm |
  6. V.Sullivan

    Oops! I meant Mr. PIg.... Sorry!

    June 15, 2010 at 7:01 pm |
  7. Cjonesrn

    I am amazed at the number of people who are so insecure that they feel the need to put others down and call them idiots and not even bother to spellcheck their words of condemnation! People see what they want to see. When I drove by and saw those Jesus hands lifted up it made think of the love, grace, mercy, and hope that gives light in a dark world. I usually say a prayer of thanks for all the blessings in my life. I may be simple-minded, but at least I don't have to worry about the next lightning strike!! This world is big enough for different cultures, beliefs, opposing views...and yes, even monster-sized Jesus hands!

    June 15, 2010 at 6:59 pm |
    • David

      But just think how much more good could be done–how much more like the actual Jesus it would be–by spending the money that was spent to build (and now rebuild) this thing on the poor and hungry and to help the MANY unemployed Ohioans.

      What a perversion of Christianity!

      June 15, 2010 at 7:30 pm |
  8. dcdindfw

    This was retribution for this "rock and roll" church's stupid TV commercials. I lived in the area and had to see these folks in all their glory strumming guitars and beating drums all in the name of God (and Jesus). Finally, some justice in the world! I'm not taking satisfaction in the symbolism of Jesus burning, but rather to crass commercialism of Christianity and all of those "holy rollers" in Southwest Ohio who now must try to blame this on someone (gays and the other regular targets) rather than acknowledge their own exploitation of a religion I was raised on. Rock on Solid Rock Church! Rather than rebuild why don't you feed some of the poor in your local community (like the real Jesus might have) rather than spend hundreds of thousands rebuilding this eyesore.

    June 15, 2010 at 6:55 pm |
  9. Big Al

    Looks like "God" disapproved of the statue.

    June 15, 2010 at 6:53 pm |
  10. V.Sullivan

    Remember Mr piggy, you do not have to be perfect to be a believer! Nonbeliever!

    June 15, 2010 at 6:50 pm |
  11. davec

    Lightning speaks with forked tongue.

    June 15, 2010 at 6:36 pm |
  12. James Newton

    "...amphitheater where the stature backed up to. It was..." might want to be changed to "...amphitheater where the statue backed up to. It was..." Thanks.

    June 15, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
    • James Newton

      And, that's just the spelling – LOL! Grammar, "... backed up to," oh my, on a NEWS channel BLOG!

      June 15, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  13. pig

    "Thor" the GOD of LIGHTNING Vs. "Jesus" the CHRISTIAN GOD

    1 – 0

    June 15, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  14. V. Sullivan

    Just look at those metal arms of Jesus! Who would want to worship a Jesus that was not even grounded. Like many of you non beleiving folks out there!!

    June 15, 2010 at 6:21 pm |
  15. Paul Ronco

    FINALLY WE HAVE PROOF THAT GOD IS AN ATHEIST

    June 15, 2010 at 6:20 pm |
  16. crazyrussian

    Why do christians and atheists always have to bash each other ALL OF THE TIME? Sure, debate but I'm getting sick of everyone calling each other morons and villanizing each other.

    June 15, 2010 at 6:06 pm |
  17. Marco Gonzalez

    kind of like what your doing with me as well right???

    June 15, 2010 at 6:02 pm |
  18. Cieje3

    Heck, If I wasn't already convinced that JESUS is LORD, and that the Bible is the inspired word of GOD... I would be by now, just because of the level of widespread hatred and disrespect people have for each other, much less Christians and Jews. I forget where it is ('cause I'm not "RELIGIOUS")
    but Jesus I think said that in the last days people's hearts will grow cold..

    June 15, 2010 at 5:52 pm |
  19. Marco Gonzalez

    well my friend, not any bigger than you...congrats...

    June 15, 2010 at 5:52 pm |
  20. Zeus

    Sorry I was angry.

    June 15, 2010 at 5:52 pm |
    • lol

      It's okay, man. It's okay.

      June 15, 2010 at 5:54 pm |
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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.