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. Jules

    Maybe this church can show us what true Christians they are by donating the insurance money to helping those in need in the Gulf coast instead of rebuilding that monstrosity.

    June 15, 2010 at 1:50 pm |
  2. Death Shall Look Upon The Followers Of Satan

    Atheist believe in nothing,so why should anyone care about how they feel? Those people sold their souls,they're practically living for no reason

    June 15, 2010 at 1:50 pm |
    • Mark C

      Do the gene pool a big favor and blow what passes for your brains out now. And if you have any children, don't forget to strangle the little imbeciles in their sleep first. I thank you in advance on behalf of the human race.

      June 15, 2010 at 2:00 pm |
    • Whosis71

      Shouldn't you be off somewhere, trying to fly a plane into a building or something?

      June 15, 2010 at 2:00 pm |
    • The Dude

      I thought it was the nihilists that believed in nothing....

      June 15, 2010 at 2:03 pm |
    • someone cares

      If atheists believe in nothing....then who exactly did they sell their souls to? Just asking.

      June 15, 2010 at 2:10 pm |
    • KLP

      Not believing in your magic sky daddy does not equal belief in nothing. That's just plain stupid on your part.

      June 15, 2010 at 2:14 pm |
    • Surrree

      HAHHAHAHA. Magic Sky Daddy! I love that. @ Death shall look upon blah blah blah: why should anyone care what you have to say or what you think as a religious extremist whos purpose is best served by joiining a cult and drinking the poison Kool-Aide first

      June 15, 2010 at 2:33 pm |
    • StoneMason

      Satan is as much your imaginary enemy as God is your imaginary friend. Seems to me all y'all Christians follow Satan much more closely than do we non-believers, for whom Satan is no more real or instructive than Zeus, Hades, Shiva or Uranus, for that matter. Regarding what we non-believers live for, is this life, here and now. When you recognize the fact that this life is all we've got, all we're every going to have, it becomes rather precious and worth enjoying. If you've quaffed the theocratic kool-aide and have deluded yourself into thinking that death is a portal into a better world, then you're apt to trash this planet and its co-inhabitants as not worth spit. But, apparently, worth a considerable amount of spittle, to judge by the sermonizing and inquisitions believers are wont to apply with sinful abandon. I'd be happy to leave you to your miserable self-loathing, if only you would leave the rest of us in peace rather than in pieces.

      June 15, 2010 at 2:34 pm |
    • Russ

      Science flies you to the moon.... Religion flies you into buildings....

      June 15, 2010 at 3:28 pm |
    • Chaz

      This post is a great example with one of the worst problems facing many aspects of politics and society in the USA today: the belief that someone is either "with you" or "against you". So for this person, if you are not a Christian, you must be against Christianity and that seems to mean "Devil worshiper". It is sad to see this same theme repeated over and over and over again in our government and in our society. I really hope that as this country becomes more pluralistic we will find the way to stop and try to understand the differences that exist between people. There are good and bad people in all walks of life, and with all sorts of beliefs. When someone doesn't believe the same thing that you do, it doesn't mean that they are necessarily out to do harm. There is some good and some bad in everyone, and no one can escape it.

      June 15, 2010 at 5:49 pm |
  3. Nonmember

    Religion is the basis for every evil act of war perpetuated in this world. "God told me to" I do not need god to make me a moral, ethical and compassionate person. I know right from wrong and didnt get it from god. I have opened my home to the less fortunate and helped those in need and I do it because its right NOT because I think I will go to "heaven". However I do not threaten anyone who wishes to believe. That is your choice. Mine is to believe in reality.

    June 15, 2010 at 1:49 pm |
  4. amanda

    Everyone knows they will spend an ridiculous amount of money, making it bigger, or better...handing the basket around...oh help the church, oh help the church...what about helping all the people in need!! And sorry to add this, but the people from this country.. I can't help but laugh at how everyone is taken this so seriously...it was a statue...come on people!!! Put ur time into worrying about something that matters!! I believe in something,, material things like churches and statues are a waste of money..if u believe u believe!

    June 15, 2010 at 1:49 pm |
    • Rita

      "Put ur time into worrying about something that matters!!"

      Just throwing your own words right back at ya!

      June 15, 2010 at 1:58 pm |
    • Surrree

      I recognize that this is probably a complete irrelevant self-indulgent comment (at least until other people agree with me) but Rita, for some reason, I don't know what yet, but I just don't like you. I really don't like you. I THINK (not positive yet) that its because you just read people's comments and then shoot some unspecific criticism at them because it makes you sound smart?

      June 15, 2010 at 2:07 pm |
  5. jesse

    even god hates jesus!!

    June 15, 2010 at 1:49 pm |
  6. Spendlove

    "He said the 62-foot statue had a steel frame and was wrapped in Styrofoam and covered with a fiberglass coating.." – Thou shall not worship idols.. at least not cheap ones at that. Do yourselves a favor and this time, don't skimp out on real stone. :p

    June 15, 2010 at 1:49 pm |
  7. yehuuum

    wait so doesn't this mean that the end of days is upon us??? or does it just mean that a paper mache statue got struck by lightening because it was built without caution or though?

    June 15, 2010 at 1:49 pm |
  8. BigT

    Athiests 1, Brainwashers 0

    June 15, 2010 at 1:49 pm |
    • Truth Is Fireproof

      It's ATHEIST. Jeez. You're worse than Christians since you can't even spell. Please learn to spell your philosophy before you advocate it. CNN's spell check feature even catches it.

      June 15, 2010 at 3:22 pm |
  9. dude

    I can't wait until Tom's bung hole is burning.......everytime the little numb skull atheist spouts off ,satan will add more fuel to the fire...than we can all laugh and maybe add some lighter fluid:)

    June 15, 2010 at 1:49 pm |
    • Whosis71

      Sounds like you get turned on by the idea of flaming bungholes. You might want to look into that...

      June 15, 2010 at 1:59 pm |
    • Mike in VA

      Ah yes...THERE'S that christian love and tolerance we all keep hearing about. Fools.

      June 15, 2010 at 4:34 pm |
    • Tom

      My response to "dude" can be no better expressed than the following quote from Christopher hitchens which perfectly sums up the infantile and underdeveloped state of mind of your typical American Christian today who stupidly rejects our science, can't wait for Armageddon to be unleased on us, yet somehow claims to still "love' us: “One of the very many connections between religious belief and the sinister, spoiled, selfish childhood of our species is the repressed desire to see everything smashed up and ruined and brought to naught. This tantrum-need is coupled with two other sorts of “guilty joy,” or, as the Germans say, schadenfreude. First, one’s own death is cancelled – or perhaps repaid or compensated – by the obliteration of others. Second, it can always be egotistically hoped that one will be personally spared, gathered contentedly to the bosom of the mass exterminator, and from a safe place observe the suffering of those less fortunate. Tertullian, one of the many church fathers who found it difficult to give a persuasive account of paradise, was perhaps clever in going for the lowest common denominator and promising that one of the most intense pleasures of the afterlife would be the endless contemplation of the tortures of the damned. He spoke more truly than he knew in evoking the man-made character of faith.”

      June 16, 2010 at 11:51 am |
  10. mathetes


    June 15, 2010 at 1:48 pm |
  11. JRC

    "Upon review, the findings on the field are overruled. There is no touchdown, repeat: no touchdown. The player's knee contacted the ground at the three yard line. Cincinnati will not be charged a timeout. Third down, Chicago."

    June 15, 2010 at 1:47 pm |
  12. Mike

    WOW!!! Unbelievable hatred from liberals... Actually its NO SURPRISE. I love it when the left shows their true colors.

    June 15, 2010 at 1:47 pm |
    • Rita

      Wish there was a like button here

      June 15, 2010 at 1:55 pm |
  13. Gunk

    Hey bucpimpin (bumbkin) – Google Austin Athiest – real live people who openly say "I have read and studied religon and I don't buy it". Matter of fact Google yourtown athiests and you'll find pleant of them. Try again but this time rplace yourtown with the name of the town you live in, such as Backwardsville, KS.

    June 15, 2010 at 1:45 pm |
  14. Evolve

    Come on....a giant styrofoam and steel Jesus? Could you really get any further away from the pure message of the man? Do you really think Jesus would approve of creating a huge (cheesy) statue of himself? Jesus was the original hippie, I don't think he'd be so impressed with all this fake, contrived, shallow, hypocritical and money driven business that is the modern American Christian church.

    June 15, 2010 at 1:43 pm |
    • ana44

      Right on! And that's not to belittle anyone's 'faith' but what's left of the metal frame does look like the horns of a devil coming out of the water. Please don't rebuild, dear church. Spend your money more wisely.

      June 15, 2010 at 10:18 pm |
  15. JR

    If they rebuild, he should be standing on the water, not rising up like a cheap horror show.

    June 15, 2010 at 1:43 pm |
  16. kaneohe52

    Oh my dog, this is freakin' hilarious!

    June 15, 2010 at 1:42 pm |

    Oh yeah we are supposed to cower and pray for forgiveness. i 4got this is the 1300s where we are ignorant peasants kneeling to the almighty god book holders. get a grip and breath in the air that the EARTH created for you not some fantasy diety

    June 15, 2010 at 1:42 pm |
  18. buddgoode

    Just a bit of a sign that religion is a crock???

    June 15, 2010 at 1:41 pm |
  19. Clark

    Interesting that the Solid Rock Church had a monument made of Styrofoam.....

    June 15, 2010 at 1:41 pm |
  20. ed

    BP contacted touch down jesus for advice.
    righty tighty

    June 15, 2010 at 1:41 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.