MONROE, Ohio – A six-story statue of Jesus Christ was struck by lightning and burned to the ground, leaving only a blackened steel skeleton and pieces of foam that were scooped up by curious onlookers Tuesday.
The “King of Kings” statue, one of southwest Ohio’s most familiar landmarks, had stood since 2004 at the evangelical Solid Rock Church along Interstate 75 in Monroe, just north of Cincinnati.
The lightning strike set the statue ablaze around 11:15 p.m. Monday, Monroe police dispatchers said.
The sculpture, about 62 feet tall and 40 feet wide at the base, showed Jesus from the torso up and was nicknamed Touchdown Jesus because of the way the arms were raised, similar to a referee signaling a touchdown. It was made of plastic foam and fiberglass over a steel frame, which is all that remained Tuesday.
The nickname is the same used for a famous mural of the resurrected Jesus that overlooks the Notre Dame football stadium.
The fire spread from the statue to an adjacent amphitheater but was confined to the attic area, and no one was injured, police Chief Mark Neu said.
Estimated damage from the fire was set at $700,000 â€” $300,000 for the statue and $400,000 for the amphitheater, Fire Capt. Richard Mascarella said Tuesday.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol was at the scene Tuesday to prevent traffic jams and potential accidents from motorists stopping along the highway to take photographs.
The patrol began issuing citations about 4 p.m. Tuesday to motorists for stopping on the side of the highway, dispatcher Adam Brown said. The number of gawkers coupled with construction had slowed I-75 traffic in the area to a crawl, the state Highway Patrol said.
Some people were scooping up pieces of the statue’s foam from the nearby pond to take home with them, said church co-pastor Darlene Bishop.
“This meant a lot to a lot of people,” she said.
Keith Lewis, of nearby Middletown, arrived at the church around 7 a.m. Tuesday to photograph the remains for his wife. Lewis said he had viewed the statue as both an oddity and an inspiration.
Cassie Browning, a church member from Dayton, said she was driving home when she saw smoke and noticed the statue was missing.
A North Carolina pastor plans to host a Halloween event at his church to burn heretical books. At the top of the list — the Bible.
Pastor Marc Grizzard claims the King James version of the Bible is the only true word of God, and that all other versions are “satanic” and “perversions” of God’s word.
On Halloween night, Grizzard and the 14 members of the Amazing Grace Baptist Church will set fire to other versions of the scripture, as well as music and books by Christian authors.
“We are burning books that we believe to be Satanic,” Pastor Grizzard said.
“I believe the King James version is God’s preserved, inspired, inerrant, infallible word of God… for English-speaking people.”
All other religious or Christian texts are sacreligious, the pastor insists. The list of books being burned will include works written by “a lot of different authors who we consider heretics, such as Billy Graham, Rick Warren… the list goes on and on,” Pastor Grizzard said.
Also on the pastor’s list of heretical authors — Mother Teresa, according to a full list that was previously available at the Amazing Grace Baptist Church’s Web site. The Church’s Web site — which is no longer available — calls the event ‘Burning Perversions of God’s Word,’ and urges parishioners to “come celebrate Halloween by burning Satan’s bibles.” Calls to the Amazing Grace Church were not returned Thursday.
Some in the pastor’s community support the event.
“In my opinion, the King James Version is the only version,” Sissy Messer said.
But not all residents of Canton, N.C. agree with the bonfire of the profanities.
“I think some of the newer versions make it easier for people to understand,” said resident Judy Kirby.
The book-burning is being promoted as a social event with a barbecue dinner. The event will run from “7 p.m.- Till,” according to the announcement previously posted on the Web site.
Thanks to JT Hundley for the link.
This article isn’t new (it’s from 2002), but… damn.
Saudi Arabia’s religious police stopped schoolgirls from leaving a blazing building because they were not wearing correct Islamic dress, according to Saudi newspapers.
In a rare criticism of the kingdom’s powerful “mutaween” police, the Saudi media has accused them of hindering attempts to save 15 girls who died in the fire on Monday.
About 800 pupils were inside the school in the holy city of Mecca when the tragedy occurred.
According to the al-Eqtisadiah daily, firemen confronted police after they tried to keep the girls inside because they were not wearing the headscarves and abayas (black robes) required by the kingdom’s strict interpretation of Islam.
One witness said he saw three policemen “beating young girls to prevent them from leaving the school because they were not wearing the abaya”.
The Saudi Gazette quoted witnesses as saying that the police – known as the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice – had stopped men who tried to help the girls and warned “it is a sinful to approach them”.
The father of one of the dead girls said that the school watchman even refused to open the gates to let the girls out.
“Lives could have been saved had they not been stopped by members of the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice,” the newspaper concluded.
Families of the victims have been incensed over the deaths.
Most of the victims were crushed in a stampede as they tried to flee the blaze.
The school was locked at the time of the fire – a usual practice to ensure full segregation of the sexes.
The religious police are widely feared in Saudi Arabia. They roam the streets enforcing dress codes and sex segregation, and ensuring prayers are performed on time.
Those who refuse to obey their orders are often beaten and sometimes put in jail.