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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. Ron

    You always hear people say, "what would Jesus do?" Well, we finally have an answer! $500,000 on that? You've got to be kidding, what a waste! Think of all the good that could have been done with that? That was Jesus saying, don't be so stupid people.

    June 16, 2010 at 5:03 pm |
    • Cody

      I don't think an invisible space man was telling anyone anything. Rather, this is the result of a giant metal rod over water...a child in 6th grade science class could predict the inevitable outcome...

      June 16, 2010 at 6:34 pm |
    • righteous-in-Christ

      Ron, regarding your comment, "what would Jesus do?", it is so ignorant for a believer to even question anything regarding what one should do when caught in the midst of a situation. This statement is very ignorant, due to the fact that if anyone wants to know how Jesus will react, the Holy Bible is available and Jesus already taught us what we must do. This statement is just used to make others guilty or to bribe others into doing or giving $$...this is my opinion.

      June 16, 2010 at 6:42 pm |
    • righteous-in-Christ

      @ Cody – Most children doesn't have an imaginary friend as most children do, what makes you think that a grown person does? As someone said earlier on a blog or this one, one doesn't have to see God with they physical eyes to know that God exists. We can feel the air as we walk out the door, but we don't see it. Satan has successfully deceived you and all the Anti-Christ into thinking that he and God is just an imaginary friend....you ain't gonna like what you see after you die.

      June 16, 2010 at 6:46 pm |
  2. asrael

    And which generation would that be?

    June 16, 2010 at 4:47 pm |
  3. Eric G

    "Wow......It's a sign from god!" No. Actually, this is what happens when you have a metal lightning rod sticking out of a lake.

    June 16, 2010 at 4:39 pm |
    • Eric G

      That picture kind of looks like something from "The Blair Witch Project". Jesus was a Wican?

      June 16, 2010 at 4:47 pm |
  4. UnfortunateColor

    The big Jesus statue was definately an the unfortunate color of butter when you saw it in person. I don't think the statue itself did much besides distract drivers passing by on I-75.

    June 16, 2010 at 4:29 pm |
  5. Larry S.

    For all of you that criticize CNN and Jews, try to remember, your Lord Jesus Christ was a JEW!!!!

    June 16, 2010 at 4:22 pm |
  6. Well

    One time that it is bad to walk on water, which makes you wonder....did jesus hit his head on the ceiling when he took a shower?

    June 16, 2010 at 3:43 pm |
  7. Alexander

    Zeus is greater than Jesus. 'Nuff said.

    June 16, 2010 at 3:38 pm |
    • Saopaco

      Zeus:1 Jesus:0

      June 16, 2010 at 7:14 pm |
    • Pegasus

      Hey Righteous One – what's a potsherd? Is that like a herd of marijuana plants running in a field? LOL!!

      June 16, 2010 at 7:50 pm |
    • asrael

      The Biblical quotes at least seem coherent; the original verbiage, not so much.

      June 16, 2010 at 8:16 pm |
    • marlye

      @Pegasus–ROTFLMFAO! Move 'em on, head 'em up,
      Head 'em up, move 'em out,
      Move 'em on, head 'em out Rawhide!
      Set 'em out, ride 'em in
      Ride 'em in, let 'em out,
      Cut 'em out, ride 'em in Rawhide.

      June 18, 2010 at 2:34 am |
  8. Johnnyleen

    Actually it looks more like it was made out of mayonnaise than butter.

    June 16, 2010 at 3:17 pm |
  9. Mark L.

    I'm only surprised the so-called Christians' messiah didn't come back to life and put out the fire...They're always preaching that their messiah is coming...LMAO...{:o)

    June 16, 2010 at 2:58 pm |
  10. Robert Ray

    And the question of the day is WHY DO CHURCHES HAVE LIGHTENING RODS ???

    June 16, 2010 at 2:58 pm |
  11. Diane

    Remember that 60 minutes story on the town of Wilmington Ohio where DHL shipping company left and many many people are out of work and losing their homes? That town is less than a half hour from where Big Butter Jesus once stood. Instead of building another tacky statue, how about helping those people out?

    Hmmmmm What would Jesus do??

    June 16, 2010 at 2:40 pm |
    • relians

      better yet, "what would scooby doo"?

      June 16, 2010 at 2:45 pm |
    • righteous-in-Christ

      I TOTALLY AGREE WITH YOU! People are in need, they don't need another fake Jesus statue up, Jesus lives in the hearts of His believers!

      June 16, 2010 at 2:47 pm |
  12. SM

    Kudos to CNN for this story - great symbolism for a great debate. I am surprised though that rational-minded people are trying to use this to sway believers.

    No amount of evidence will convince religious people to change their views because they are based on faith not logic. They will believe what they want first, then pseudo-rationalize after, that way they always seem right.

    June 16, 2010 at 2:28 pm |
  13. Spawn666948

    And we have a touchdown! Yes!

    June 16, 2010 at 2:26 pm |
  14. Csa

    This country hasn't changed one bit. We all swear that we're good people. Jesus said out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Our own hearts and words will be used (against us ) to judge us. America THE BEAUTIFUL! I thought we were TOLERANT and that we lived in a PLURALISTIC SOCIETY. It's seems clear that if I don't agree with you, that you will hate me. For me if our lifestyles conflict I will not hate you-this is called civility, maturity and respect: the stuff this country is supposed to be built on. You obviously have the freedom not to believe in Jesus, but IF your way is better, why don't you PROVE IT:ACT and TALK LIKE IT....if you can't perhaps you do need Him..HE LOVES YOU AND HE'S WAITING FOR YOU.

    June 16, 2010 at 2:24 pm |
  15. Faith

    Ditto.

    June 16, 2010 at 2:15 pm |
  16. V.Sullivan

    Hello everyone! Everyone is equal in the eyes of God.
    Jesus loves you too Islam. He just doesnt agree with what you do.
    "Many will say Lord Lord" and Jesus will say" I never knew you."

    June 16, 2010 at 2:13 pm |
  17. righteous-in-Christ

    I have to hand it to all the Atheists, you guys are really funny. I used to allow your comments to irritate me, but, the Spirit of the Living God helped me over-come your stupidity and now, I enjoy seeing how all of you have enlighten me with your ignorance, stupidity, foolishiness, and your empty brains...not to say, heartless, oops, just forgot, you don't have one. But through it all, this has been so funny and enjoyable for me and my God, who also sees what I see and laughs. Sadly, you won't be laughing when you die and appear before the Living God Jesus Christ, face to face. He who laughs last, laughs the most. God bless you, Atheists and save your soul. PEACE!

    June 16, 2010 at 2:06 pm |
    • Cody

      The irony...my...head....explodes....

      June 16, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
    • Saopaco

      Funny, I never really thought that Jesus would advocate name-calling. What book are you reading, friend?

      June 16, 2010 at 7:18 pm |
    • asrael

      The expression "pychotic break" does come to mind...

      June 16, 2010 at 8:11 pm |
  18. Gil T

    I am a believer. I have never had or do I have a need for statutes in my knowledge and relationship with the Divine. I had a good chuckle over this one. ZAP!

    June 16, 2010 at 1:28 pm |
  19. Fark

    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."

    June 16, 2010 at 1:11 pm |
  20. The_Mick

    Sam wrote: "At least christians are not the one who kill innecent poeple,flying into towers, and hate whoever oppose them."

    Please, Sam, do a little studying. Christians have unleashed wave after wave of cruelty through the years: wars, inquisitions, expulsions, burnings at the stake, etc. Right now, you've got a Religious Right in America that's losing its own young people because its leaders HATE so much whoever opposes them. Examples:
    "I don't know that atheists should be considered citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God." –President George Bush, August 27, 1988
    "If you're not a born-again Christian, you're a failure as a human being." –Jerry Falwell
    "I want you to just let a wave of intolerance wash over you. I want you to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hate is good... Our goal is a Christian nation. We have a biblical duty, we are called on by God to conquer this country. We don't want equal time. We don't want pluralism." –Randall Terry, The News Sentinel, (Ft. Wayne, IN.), 8/16/93

    June 16, 2010 at 12:49 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.