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. sils

    By the way, is this a black church or a white one since 'god' is race sensitive in this country?

    June 15, 2010 at 8:50 pm |
  2. pete

    lets start off by saying finally that eyesore comes down. the city of monroe and middletown have been fighting for years to get that eyesore taken down due to tons of controversy it has caused. and to top it off the guy in chrage bishop lawrence use to be a horse trader and got busted with trading drugs years and years ago and now he starts a church and builds this weird thing. now i admit i use to live down the road from there and it was an eyesore. plus the bishop makes u show ur taxes to become a member of the church that is not right at all. i wish they would wake up and redo that whole area it looks so crappy anymore.

    June 15, 2010 at 8:44 pm |
  3. Aqua

    Reminds me of the tornado down South a couple years ago. It only hit one building – a church. Smashed it to pieces. The people inside just barely survived. After, the pastor said that the divine message was – wait for it – God loved that church! The proof – he saved the people from the tornado! Real moral of the story – people will believe what they want to believe.

    June 15, 2010 at 8:36 pm |
    • KH


      What's your point? Christians, Muslims, Jews, Atheists(Mao), Pagans... the list goes on and on. All of them have killed because of their unrelenting, intolerant, dogmatic beliefs and bitterness about anyone who might have another point of view.

      June 16, 2010 at 11:52 am |
    • kh

      Sorry Aqua I meant that as a post to Mikey.

      June 16, 2010 at 3:46 pm |
  4. Diane

    We used to drive by Big Butter Jesus and to us, it looked like Jesus was looking to the sky saying.....

    "Dear Father in Heaven, Don't these people have any taste??!?"

    June 15, 2010 at 8:34 pm |
  5. Zeus

    I have thrown down my lighty lightening to show that I, the great Zeus, is still around and in power! Behold my proof as I strike down the very image of the god you worship! Come back to me children, come back to the father of all gods!

    June 15, 2010 at 8:26 pm |
  6. bannanna


    June 15, 2010 at 8:18 pm |
    • righteous-in-Christ

      I hear you.....I don't blame you!

      June 15, 2010 at 8:24 pm |
  7. Aaron Fromm

    Hey CT,

    The article is not poorly named. For those of us who live in Southwest Ohio and could give a crap about ND football (which is probably the vast majority of us) this horrible piece of glorified lawn art is Touchdown Jesus! It's also Big Butter Jesus if you know Haywood Banks!

    June 15, 2010 at 8:18 pm |
  8. Devils Advocate

    Looks like the devils in the details..... >8)

    June 15, 2010 at 8:12 pm |
  9. righteous-in-Christ

    WOW, THIS IS REALLY FUNNY, some of ya are really trying so hard to figure God's mind out and don't have a clue about who God really is! Too many here are lost and I will pray for all of you! Jesus loves you!

    June 15, 2010 at 8:12 pm |
    • Talon

      Oh, and YOU know all about god? Do you have even 3 working brain cells in your head???? You don't know #$&%. Your beliefs are based on the brainwashing you got practically from birth. It's just old myths, the same as Roman myths, Greek myths, Norse myths, tribal myths etc. etc. etc. Use some logic and reason dude. Don't just blindly accept archaic nonsense. If you were raised in China you'd be just as adamant about Bhuddism, ditto for India and Hinduism, etc. etc. It's all because of where you were born and which myths you were brainwashed with. Nothing more. Get a brain dude.

      June 15, 2010 at 9:20 pm |
    • Mike in VA


      It's because of nuts like you that people are leaving your religion enmass. Pray for the fallen, not for their damnation.

      June 16, 2010 at 3:35 pm |
  10. V.Sullivan

    Talon needs the lord. People do need the lord.

    June 15, 2010 at 8:12 pm |
    • Talon

      Why would I need an invisible fairytale man? I wouldn't. Wake up to reality man. Use logic and reason instead of blind acceptance of 2000 year old myths, written by a primitive culture. Sorry, it's just so utterly ridiculous.

      June 15, 2010 at 9:17 pm |
    • righteous-in-Christ

      Well said! – V.Sullivan, but as long as we work out our own salvation, he will be sorry for not even accepting his free gift of salvation that Christ so humbly and loving offers him and everyone else.

      June 15, 2010 at 10:37 pm |
    • Talon

      Yeah, yeah, blah blah blah, oogah boogah Boo!. The stupidity of Christians never ceases to amaze me.

      June 16, 2010 at 9:12 am |
  11. righteous-in-Christ

    Thank God of our Savior, Jesus Christ, who is now at the right hand of God!

    June 15, 2010 at 8:03 pm |
    • Mike in VA

      You were slightly amusing yesterday. Today you are just boring. Switch into your alter-ego Death Likes Look at Naked Kittens or whatever it was.

      June 16, 2010 at 3:30 pm |
  12. Dan

    How about they spend the 700k on the needy instead of more mega building... disgusting

    June 15, 2010 at 7:57 pm |
  13. Talon

    Hey, it doesn't really look like he's making a touchdown signal. It looks like there might be someone underwater.... oh, nevermind. Halleluja!

    Christianity: The belief that a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree. Otherwise, you'll be tortured forever by an invisible red guy with horns.

    June 15, 2010 at 7:52 pm |
    • Jerry

      Talon, I applaude you for your literary talents but instead of wasting them on foolishness, try spending that time studying the bible and you'll find out some things you may not be aware of about the God you so quickly slander.

      June 16, 2010 at 10:28 am |
  14. Ptk

    Hmm... If I had to make a suggestion, I would recommend making something slightly less tall and conductive. Why wouldn't it have caught fire? I'm surprised it lasted this long.

    June 15, 2010 at 7:41 pm |
  15. Thorrsman

    Time to round up the usual suspects. Zeus, front and center, Thor, right next to him, Tlaloc, get in there. Okay Perkūnas, you too. And you, Tawhiki. Now, which one of you was tossing around the ol' thunderbolt last night in Ohio?

    June 15, 2010 at 7:32 pm |
  16. Carla

    Dear People-
    That whole 2nd Commandment thing (no graven images)...I meant that...
    love God-


    June 15, 2010 at 7:26 pm |
  17. David

    Nice shot, Jesus!

    June 15, 2010 at 7:24 pm |
  18. Lawrence

    Let's not replace it. Use the $700,000 or more on the poor.

    June 15, 2010 at 7:16 pm |
    • Carla


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

      You're right on the mark brother. Its sad to see what churches do with what is actually God's money all in the name of their religion. Do something good with the money instead of practicing idol worship by building a statue that God most likely wouldn't have approved anyway.

      June 16, 2010 at 10:23 am |
  19. SOD 3-6-9

    Exodus 20:1-6 says:I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourselves an idol, nor any image of anything that is in the heavens above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: you shall not bow yourself down to them, nor serve them, for I, Yahweh your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and on the fourth generation of those who hate me, and showing loving kindness to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

    June 15, 2010 at 7:14 pm |
  20. Roll

    Styrofoam Jesus was burned down for your sins.

    June 15, 2010 at 7:11 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.