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. Ronald Harper

    This is hilarious. It makes me wonder, though, why these old do-gooders didn't give the 300k to the poor. I guess for the elderly in America a statue of Jesus is much more practical than making a real impact in the lives of the poor or displaced.

    June 18, 2010 at 5:09 pm |
  2. Johnny

    Jesus was a Jew by the way.

    June 18, 2010 at 4:37 pm |
  3. Johnny

    great. now there are devil-horns in it's place.

    June 18, 2010 at 4:36 pm |
  4. truth seeker

    Timothy McVey didn't fly planes into buildings; he was, I think, a Christian, who parked his pickup loaded with chemicals near a building and killed 168 people. Christians are not exempt from committing atrocities.

    June 18, 2010 at 4:11 pm |
  5. JoeP

    Good for Solid Rock Church for deciding to rebuild it. I hope they rebuild it twice as big, and that they make it animatronic, so that all who see it might come to know that Jesus Christ is Lord.

    June 18, 2010 at 4:09 pm |
    • Cody

      Yes, waste another half million on a statue, when they have fellow Christians having a hard time putting enough food on the table each night. Great idea....

      I seriously doubt this is something their Jesus would approve of.

      June 18, 2010 at 5:35 pm |
    • Marlye

      @Cody–Remember my Star Wars relation to this conversation? The death star/giant styrofoam jesus. Am I right or what?

      June 19, 2010 at 3:21 am |
  6. Thors Publiscist

    If someone builds a 62 foot steel statue, wraps it in a sponge (styrofoam...semantics), puts it ON the water and doesn't expect it to get hit by lightning either failed in science class or doesn't understand the theory of electricity. Anyone recall what Benjamin Franklin was supposedly holding when lightning struck?

    If they do in fact rebuild it, it will get hit again, bank on it. It won't have anything to do with God, Zeus, religion or opinion, its simply mother nature acting like mother nature.

    June 18, 2010 at 3:13 pm |
    • Bleh

      Science and religion don't exactly go together.

      June 19, 2010 at 10:30 am |
  7. ess

    haha, remarkable to know what the odds are that this happened. 🙂

    June 18, 2010 at 2:01 pm |
    • Cody

      Like 1 in 2? It's metal...over water...and it's tall...

      June 18, 2010 at 5:34 pm |
  8. JAB62

    Maybe they should've prayed for enough brains to conceive of the need to install a lightning rod.

    June 18, 2010 at 1:42 pm |
  9. ManicZorbian

    The whole statue was embarrassing and ugly, no wonder it got hit by lightning. Don't bother wasting money on a new one, give it to someone who needs it to survive. Wow, it's awful what the Christian church has become.

    June 18, 2010 at 12:31 pm |
    • Ronald Harper

      It's stunning that people would do this over giving the money to people that need it – it shows a brazen lack of compassion and a sense of greed and avarice that is truly frightening. These are elderly people. It will be nice when this generation shuffles off this mortal coil and some new life is breathed into our body politic.

      June 18, 2010 at 5:11 pm |


    June 18, 2010 at 11:35 am |


    June 18, 2010 at 11:34 am |
  12. Proptart

    Has anyone mentioned the amount of toxins that would have been released into the air in the surrounding area from that much styrofoam and fibreglass burning?

    June 18, 2010 at 11:25 am |
  13. heuidi

    Funny!! That's god for you! He already turned on his son once, so this is not a surprise.

    June 18, 2010 at 9:47 am |
  14. saly

    You shall not make yourself an idol.....I guess God meant it

    June 18, 2010 at 3:09 am |
  15. Craig

    Touch down Jesus hit by lightning?!

    June 18, 2010 at 1:38 am |
  16. Don

    Maybe God got p!ssed off that a church had $700,000 worth of bling in front of it. I thought churches were for spreading God's word, not building amphitheaters and ginormous statues. Now we know where all those collection dollars really went.

    June 18, 2010 at 1:34 am |
  17. postedbygeorge

    The Creator striking down the perversion created by religion. Jesus was a good man not a god.

    June 18, 2010 at 12:10 am |
  18. Christopher Hitchens

    How riotously funny. I guess the Vatican has a better lightning rod, or it would have been zapped centuries ago.

    June 17, 2010 at 11:14 pm |
  19. C.

    I used to live in Ohio. When driving down I-75 it was impossible to miss not seeing this statue -it was huge. Some say that it would be $500,000 to replace. How sad that a church would spend $500,000 on something that just sits in front of a church. A church should spend money on spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ – not on a statue.

    June 17, 2010 at 10:52 pm |
  20. Mohareb

    I wonder if their fire insurance covers acts of God.

    June 17, 2010 at 10:18 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.