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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. Bernard Webb

    If the money wasted on building this hideous monstrosity in the first place had been put into the local school system instead, think of the good that would have been done in Jesus's name. Instead they built a grotesque graven image for themselves to worship. What a sin!

    Here's a little thought experiment for the church people. If Jesus were alive today, what do you think he would have preferred this church to do with their time and money: (a) help the poor, feed the hungry, tend to the sick, contribute to the community; (b) build a huge statue of Himself emerging from a pond?

    I'm not religious, yet even I know the answer to this one. When will these pious, benighted folks out there in the "real America" realize what they have done?

    June 20, 2010 at 6:52 am |
    • ManicZorbian

      From one non-religious person to another, I can only say AMEN!!!

      June 20, 2010 at 2:37 pm |
  2. GD

    It's good to see another idol destroyed. Now for the rest of them!

    June 20, 2010 at 4:07 am |
  3. Nick

    I have read through probably a hundred of these post and I must agree there are some confusedsd people that make post. There are a lot of people who don't understand God, the afterlife, the present, and Christianity.

    If you mock God you are not going to be struck down by lightning, God probably forgives you and you will never even know it.

    God doesn't kill puppies and babies in storms and natural disasters, etc. We all will die at some point in life. It may be when we are 3 or 103. Sometimes bad things happen to good people and vice-versa. We put so much emphasis on our short lives on this earth and we think that the time on this earth is it... well, it's not, it's only the beginning. Eternity is a long time, billions and trillions of years plus! Why do we put so much focus on the first 80 years of eternity? If you believe in God/Christ, then you have peace that no more suffering, pain, death,bickering among humans, corruption, death, and all of mankinds evil deeds, etc. etc. will exist when you exit this earth. Many Christians I know are very sinful, and so we all are. When Jesus died on the cross, all sins were forgiven, past and present. If you are not a Christian, then this means little to you. Many people mock Christians and make fun of them and it says in the Bible that's what people will do.

    As far as the Big Bang, God had to create the universe somehow... why couldn't he have made the Big Bang? He made man out of dust from the earth, not apes. Animals may have evolved, but not humans.

    June 20, 2010 at 12:05 am |
    • Kevin

      Forgive me, but you are delusional. Convenient how the religious always blot out the aspects of PROVEN SCIENTIFIC FACT that they just don't happen to like. Human evolution is a fact, while Darwinism is a scientific theory used to explain the specifics (how/why) evolution occurs the way it does. No, it's not just fossils, either (although the fossil record has expanded over the past 100 years to the point where it's undeniable to people with an objective attitude); this has been proven genetically. All species (yes, including homo sapiens) are related through common ancestry. There are many ways geneticists can demonstrate this, but the most glaring proof is genome comparison. If you take the genomes of any two animals on this planet (yes, including homo sapiens - we are advanced animals), and plot out the corresponding similarities down to the very last letter, what you're left with is a perfect hierarchy (or family tree).

      Please do your research on the subject matter, as there is much more to learn about human evolution. What, you think other animals evolved... just not us? That's convenient. We ARE animals, and we are genetically linked to all other animals on this planet by common ancestry. The only reason certain segments of American society refuse to accept this, is because they think that it makes us less "special". This is simply ridiculous. Of course we are special, we evolved into the most advanced and intelligent animal on this planet! That is quite an accomplishment, and it does not negate the existence of a God, either. I believe in God and in Jesus, but I'm also careful to research science before I start condemning it. The Genesis story of creation is all metaphorical, from Adam and Eve, all the way down to the apple and the snake.

      June 20, 2010 at 1:03 am |
  4. Almondo

    I wonder if the cops can guess how fast the lightning was traveling too. There has got to be a speeding ticket to be had here somewhere, after all this is Ohio.

    June 19, 2010 at 8:19 pm |
  5. glee

    One thing. Lets not rebuild, just spend the 1/2 million or so on food and health care for the poor. This is what Christians are called to do. If one of your brothers......

    June 19, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
  6. C#Eddie

    Why do some thinks that this was cause by the wrath of god.
    This is just plain Physics " A lightning will alway discharge on the highest structure that has Zero resistance to the ground"

    You mount a metal to the ground and make it the highest structure and lightning will hit it more often. They call this in civil engineering " lightning rod". As a matter of fact Civil engineers put lightning rod on all the buildings.

    So let us get this straight, it is not the devil or god who cause it to burn down, the culprit was the architect who erected this structure without putting a lightning rod beside it.

    June 19, 2010 at 1:25 pm |
  7. LA

    Also, for all unbelievers the bible saved that there is a lake of fire reserved in Hell for all unbelievers.. If you don't know Jesus I would urge you before it is to late to repent ask him in your heart and serve him each day while it is still light and your life ends suddendly and it is to late.. The Lord is not mocked, what you sow you shall reap.. if you sow to the flesh you will reap eternal damnation .. if you sow to the spirit .. eternal life everlasting.. and believe me Heaven is a beautiful place .. eternal peace and no seperating from our Lord and Savior.. REPENT THOU YOUR SINS BE AS SCARLETT THEY SHALL BE WHITE AS SNOW..

    June 19, 2010 at 12:32 pm |
    • ManicZorbian

      Who would want to live every day believing in a deity that wants to throw people into hell for exercising the free will that the deity himself supposedly created? I want nothing to do with a "god" who is that hateful. You can have him, along with SCARLETT Ohara's sins... egads... *brain cells died just from reading your comment*

      June 19, 2010 at 4:32 pm |
  8. LA

    Jesus is a spirit being he cares nothing about football. He is not of this world. This world is passing away. His kingdom is eternal. He all powerful and all knowing.. When he speaks his voice thunders. When he walks all of earth will shake.. so for someone to put a monument of a Jesus catching a football is embarrising and a total lack of respect for our savior who died for this world so that you and I will be saved..

    June 19, 2010 at 12:20 pm |
    • Bernard Webb

      Although I respect your right to hold whatever beliefs you want, you should know that posts like this make you sound like an obsessed, over-the-top religious "nut" to many of us reading these comments. You remind me why I abandoned religion over 40 years ago and why I have not had a moment's regret since. It is a sad tragedy when human minds are wasted on fairy-tale beliefs like yours. But don't let me stop you!

      June 20, 2010 at 6:58 am |
    • ManicZorbian

      Jesus was most likely an Essene who lived about 100 years before the dates indicated in the gospel accounts. Someone had to write a "bio" of this individual so that the story would make sense to outsiders. Sorry to see you got hoodwinked into believing such nonsense. Please, do a little research, don't just believe what organized religion is telling you.

      June 20, 2010 at 2:31 pm |
  9. They Hysteric Hoosier

    ...oh the huge-manatee....where was the bucket brigade when it was needed the most?

    June 19, 2010 at 11:48 am |
  10. V.Sullivan

    Marle is right and what she said is word for word scriptural. All you "other" unbelievers (you know who you are) only have shallow meaningless comments. Isnt that interesting..

    June 19, 2010 at 9:19 am |
  11. morgan painter

    The wide variety of comments was interesting and even comical. I had some good laughs thanks to the posters.

    It has always been my opinion that when Adam and Eve sinned, (rebellion against God) he showed them how to make clothing from animal skins, warned them life was about to get REALLY difficult and retreated to a safe place in space because He hates sin. He loves the sinners but hates sin. He can see what goes on but does not intervene. Read the story of Job. Horrible things happened to Job and God did not do one of them. Fire from the sky, a fierce wind, boils all over his body. Satan did all of those things.

    Why do we blame God for acts of evil when the bible doesn't specify it was caused by Him. Sodom and Gomorrah were Gods work and so was the flood. But the rest of the evils are just the natural result of living in a world tainted by sin.

    A lot of Christians cringe when I suggest God is not controlling every event here on earth but when you look at the biblical events, they were always foretold. I don't remember reading any warnings from God to stay away from the Jesus statue.

    Plus God wouldn't have to cause a calamity even if He was controlling every event. He would only need to withdraw His protection and whammo, bad things are going to occur.

    Hopefully the church will forgo the rebuilding of the statue and put the money to a much better use. Send kids to summer camp. Buy a clean water well for some people in a far away land, anything useful.

    Ben Franklin invented the lightning rod. But first he had to prove it wasn't the act of God before people would buy them. People didn't even try to put out fires if lightning hit the barn. They thought God did and wouldn't intervene. Old Ben managed to put up a few systems and when it diverted the lightning into the ground, the people came to understand it was NOT God's will to destroy the barn.
    There I said it......

    June 19, 2010 at 3:00 am |
  12. SierraHennessy

    Speaking strictly as a Wiccan, does Christianity seriously not have anything BETTER to spend this money on than this attrocious eyesore? I'm truly ashamed for you. What a bunch of hypocrites.

    June 19, 2010 at 2:23 am |
    • OneAM

      Lady – I'm not religious and far be it from me to defend any specific religion but your bigotry is showing: this is ONE specific "church". It does not define Christianity as a whole nor does it even define Christianity in our area – If you want people to respect your beliefs, you might want to learn to respect others'. And one last comment: Without the voice of reason, every faith is it's own curse.

      June 19, 2010 at 2:45 am |
  13. OneAM

    I don't care why it's gone. My city is right next to Monroe, OH. Most people in the Greater Cincinnati area hated the thing. It was atrocious, vulgar, in serious bad taste and an embarrassment. I'm glad it's gone but be assured, it will be back to embarrass us again. Don't even get me going on the general opinion here about the 'sincerity' of that 'church' and the husband and wife team of pastors who has become millionairs because of it. They used to have a commercial that made us all laugh and then want to cry in embarrassment.

    June 19, 2010 at 1:49 am |
  14. Daniel

    "Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up [any] image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I am the LORD your God." – Leviticus 26:1

    June 19, 2010 at 1:01 am |
  15. Mickey

    Well, many more people know that statue existed.

    June 19, 2010 at 12:58 am |
  16. Black Man

    I agree, church/religion shouldn't be about temples and statues, we've taken things way to far.

    June 19, 2010 at 12:01 am |
  17. Vynn

    Something tells me that the ONE TRUE GOD didn't approve of that statue.

    June 18, 2010 at 9:35 pm |
  18. Kevin

    "If two men are fighting and the wife of one of them comes to rescue her husband from his assailant, and she reaches out and seizes him by his private parts, you shall cut off her hand. Show her no pity." Deuteronomy 25: 11-12

    Proof that the Bible was written by men. I have a hard time believing that "god" would be so traumatized about a guy getting punched in the wiener to actually make a law against it...unless the person who actually wrote this was a guy who got punched in the wiener. Who else could come up with a law about such a particular situation?

    June 18, 2010 at 9:26 pm |
  19. Tessa

    The statue was hit by lightning. That is it. There is no message from God. Why read so much into this–like the darn thing was actually Jesus? No one even knows what the man looked like. Christians have to stop trying to be prophets and apostles. Those days are over. Everything that happens in the news DOES NOT have a biblical meaning!!! HELLO... PLEASE STOP making our religion stupid with your crazy ideas which are not even biblically sound. I am a believer. I now longer call myself Christian because I refuse to be identified with these people who call themselves that today. Embarrassing!!

    June 18, 2010 at 5:43 pm |
  20. KentAllard

    Those two lightning rods haven't been damaged at all. 😛

    June 18, 2010 at 5:12 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.