Jesus Statue Destroyed By “Act Of God”

When I read about this story, I just had to do a post on it! The infamous 62-foot tall statue of Jesus outside Solid Rock Church (yes, that really is the name of the church!) in Monroe, Ohio has burned to the ground—after being struck by lightning! The statue is known by the amusing nicknames “big butter Jesus” (apparently a reference to its colour) or more commonly “touchdown Jesus” (referring to its rather absurd pose, which looks a lot like the touchdown signal given by referees in American football). Although it was destroyed—in the words of the insurance company—by an “act of God”, a giant Hustler Hollywood store across the road was untouched! Yes, the humour in this story may be endless, but this kind of incident really does pose some very serious questions for theists, such as:

Why would God destroy a statue of his own son, while leaving a shop selling pornography completely unharmed? Could it be that Christians are actually worshipping the wrong God? Perhaps they should be worshipping Thor (the Norse God of thunder) instead? (Seeing as Scandinavians are so sexually open, I guess it makes sense that their God would like porn.) Or maybe this is how God enforces the second commandment (no “graven images”)? But if that’s the case, then why doesn’t he destroy all statues and images of himself and Jesus? Indeed, why the hell are Christians so fond of statues and images of God and (especially) Jesus anyway, when the second commandment expressly forbids it?

And this is not an isolated incident: in fact, religious statues are among the objects most commonly struck by lightning. In 2008, lightning singed the fingers and eyebrows of Christ the Redeemer, the 130-foot statue of Jesus that stands over Rio de Janeiro. In 2007, lighting struck the 33-foot Jesus statue at Mother Cabrini Shrine in Golden, Colorado, making one of Jesus’ arms fall off. And believe it or not, actor James Caviezel was struck by lightning in 2003, while playing Jesus in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ! None of this makes any sense from a religious perspective: God ought to destroy all graven images, or protect objects of worship (and those who worship them). Greater than normal lightning strikes on religious statues (but not all of them) is not what you’d expect from God.

However, if you take religion out of the equation and instead turn to science for an explanation, all of this makes perfect sense. The statues that are struck by lightning are large structures placed at the highest available location: they’re the tallest objects in their immediate vicinity, for maximum visual impact. And lo and behold, the first object lightning will strike in a given place is the tallest one. In the case of touchdown Jesus, it was made of highly flammable materials, apart from its metal frame—and metal attracts lightning. So as the tallest object in its immediate area and with a metal frame, it’s no wonder it was struck by lightning; and as it was made mostly from highly flammable materials, it’s no wonder that it rapidly burned to the ground when lightning did strike it. As is usually the case, trying to explain things as the work of God requires extreme contortions of logic, whereas science explains everything simply, clearly and accurately—intervention from God only complicates things.

The video above from my old favourite Darkmatter2525 makes another important point: if lightning struck some well known atheist figure such as Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens, you can be absolutely sure some theists would claim it was the work of God. Well I’m sorry, but you can’t have it both ways: you may try to pick and choose what you want to attribute to God, but it’s all or nothing.

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I had a good laugh when I read about this earlier. As they say “God works in mysterious ways”. Here is a picture that was posted on a blog that I follow that I thought that you would enjoy.

  
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Act of God? If so it’s to say “Hey, dumbass, do you think youcould have ponied up for better materials?” Personally I say know no, it’s just build cheap, get cheap. Or maybe God just didn’t like “Touchdown Jesus”. I just found this verse and it seems to fit. Luke 14-28:”Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?

  
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poetic justice. LOL

  
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I have found the perfect story to illustrate your point, so perfect that I’ll include it in toto:

Franklin’s Unholy Lightning Rod

Written by Al Seckel and John Edwards, 1984

It is well-known that the Catholic and Protestant churches opposed the scientific theories of Galileo and Copernicus, but did you know they also opposed Benjamin Franklin’s lightning rod ?

Biblical Meteorology
For centuries, Protestant and Catholic churches, basing their teachings on various texts in the Bible, taught that the air was filled with devils, demons and witches. The great Christian scholar St. Augustine held this belief to be beyond controversy.

St. Thomas Aquinas stated in his Summa Theologica, “Rain and winds, and whatsoever occurs by local impulse alone, can be caused by demons. It is a dogma of faith that the demons can produce winds, storms, and rain of fire from heaven.”

Martin Luther asserted that the winds themselves are good or evil spirits. He declared that a stone thrown into a certain pond in his native city would cause a dreadful storm because of the devils kept prisoners there.

Christian churches tried to ward off the damaging effects of storms and lightning by saying prayers, consecrating church bells, sprinkling holy water and burning witches. Lengthy rites were said for the consecration of bells, and priests prayed that their sound might “temper the destruction of hail and cyclones and the force of tempests and lightning; check hostile thunders and great winds; and cast down the spirits of storms and the powers of the air.”

Unfortunately, these efforts were to no avail. The priest ought to have prayed for the bell ringer, who was frequently electrocuted while ringing the blessed bells. The church tower, usually the highest structure in the village or town, was the building most often hit, while the brothels and gambling houses next door were left untouched.

One eyewitness to the damaging effects of lightning recorded, “Little by little we took in what happened. A bolt of lightning had struck the tower, partly melting the bell and electrocuting the priest; afterwards, continuing, it had shattered a great part of the ceiling, had passed behind the mistress, whom it deprived of sensibility, and after destroying a picture of the Savior hanging upon the wall, had disappeared through the floor . . .”

Peter Ahlwardts, the author of Reasonable and Theological Considerations about Thunder and Lightning (1745), accordingly advised his readers to seek refuge from storms anywhere except in or around a church. Had not lightning struck only the churches ringing bells during the terrific storm in lower Brittany on Good Friday, 1718?

In 1786, the Parliament of Paris finally signed an edict “to make the custom of ringing church bells during storms illegal on account of the many deaths it caused to those pulling the ropes.”

The Heretical Rod
The first major blow against these biblical superstitions about storms and lightning was struck in 1752 when Benjamin Franklin made his famous electrical experiments with a kite. The second and fatal blow was struck later in the same year when he invented the lightning rod. With Franklin’s scientific explanations of lightning, the question that had so long taxed the minds of the world’s leading theologians-”Why should the Almighty strike his own consecrated temples, or suffer Satan to strike them”-could finally be answered rationally.

Thunder and lightning were considered tokens of God’s displeasure. It was considered impious to prevent their doing damage. This was despite the fact that in Germany, within a span of 33 years, nearly 400 towers were damaged and 120 bell ringers were killed.

In Switzerland, France and Italy, popular prejudice against the lightning rod was ignited and fueled by the churches and resulted in the tearing down of lightning rods from many homes and buildings, including one from the Institute of Bologna, the leading scientific institution in Italy. The Swiss chemist, M. de Saussure, removed a rod he had erected on his house in Geneva in 1771 when it caused his neighbors so much anxiety that he feared a riot.

In 1780-1784, a lawsuit about lightning rods gave M. de St. Omer the right to have a lightning rod on top of his house despite the religious objections of his neighbors. This victory established the fame of the lawyer in the case, young Robespierre.

In America, Rev. Thomas Prince, pastor of Old South Church, blamed Franklin’s invention of the lightning rod for causing the Massachusetts earthquake of 1755.

In Prince’s sermon on the topic, he expressed the opinion that the frequency of earthquakes may be due to the erection of “points invented by the sagacious Mr. Franklin.” He goes on to argue that “in Boston more are erected than anywhere else in New England, and Boston seems to be more dreadfully shaken. Oh! There is no getting out of the mighty hand of God.”

It took many years for scientists to convince the priests to attach a lightning rod to the spire of St. Bride’s Church in London, even though it had been destroyed by lightning several times.

The priests’ refusals prompted the following letter from the president of Harvard University to Franklin: “How astonishing is the force of prejudice even in an age of so much knowledge and free inquiry. It is amazing to me, that after the full demonstration you have given . . . they should even think of repairing that steeple without such conductors.”

In Austria, the Church of Rosenburg was struck so frequently and with such loss of life that the peasants feared to attend services. Several times the spire had to be rebuilt. It was not until 1778, 26 years after Franklin’s discovery, that church authorities finally permitted a rod to be attached. Then all trouble ceased.

A typical case was the tower of St. Mark’s in Venice. In spite of the angel at its summit, the bells consecrated to ward off devils and witches in the air, the holy relics in the church below, and the Processions in the adjacent square, the tower was frequently damaged or destroyed by lightning. It was not until 1766 that a lightning rod was placed upon it-and the tower has never been struck since.

Had the ecclesiastics of the Church of San Nazaro in Brecia given in to repeated urgings to install a lightning rod, they might have averted a terrible catastrophe. The Republic of Venice had stored in the vaults of this church several thousand pounds of gunpowder. In 1767, 17 years after Franklin’s discovery, no rod having been placed on the church, it was struck by lightning and the gunpowder exploded. One-sixth of the city was destroyed and over 3,000 lives were lost because the priests refused to install the “heretical rod.”

The Rod Spared

Such examples as these, in all parts of Europe, had their effect. The ecclesiastical formulas for preventing storms and consecrating bells to protect against lightning and tempests were still practiced in the Churches, but the lightning rod carried the day. Christian Churches were finally obliged to confess its practicality. The few theologians who stuck to the old theories and fumed against Franklin’s attempts to “control the artillery of heaven” were finally silenced, like the lightning, by Franklin’s lighting rod and the supremacy of the scientific method. ”

  
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@Swamp Rat – Thanks for posting that story Swamp Rat – it was very interesting and informative.

  
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Well as uncomfortable as all of the christian bashing around here makes me (even though I know its not directed in my specific way) I will go ahead and make one of my rare comments anyways. Anyone who attaches a mystical meaning to lightning or anything else in nature needs to be put in a strait jacket and locked in a padded room, never to be let out. we’re over twp millenia behind in technological advancements due to the religious zealotry and the corruption of the roman catholic church in the dark ages. However this could be attributed to ulterior motives and hidden political agendas masked by the word religion. But I digress from my main point. Lightning is so random and unpredictable that it will hit almost anything. Hell, just the other day here in St. Louis a potal worker was killed by lightning, she was standing under a tree and the lightning hit her, not the tree.

  
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Actually Brad, what you’re saying is pretty much the point: both atheists and Christians who don’t live in the dark ages can agree that this is nothing but what you’d expect from physics and chance.

  
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In my younger years I used to do a great deal of mountain climbing. Once you’re above treeline, lightning is extremely dangerous because you’re typically the tallest point on the horizon, so you have to train yourself in how and where lightning strikes. It is actually very, very predictable.

The difference of a couple of feet can make the difference between life and death. I was once above 13,000 feet in southwest Colorado when a nasty thunderstorm struck. Fortunately, I remembered what I had learned and as the stuff crackled all around me (talk about static electricity!) and the hair on my body stood on end, I was safe from the effects. I’m sure if I hadn’t studied up on it I’d be dead because several bolts struck very near to where I was, and in the spots they were supposed to strike.

The worst place you can stand in a thunderstorm is under a tree, so no wonder that postal worker was killed. Tall objects attract lightning and then lightning goes to ground using the best conductor.

I didn’t mean to engage in Christian bashing so I hope you didn’t take what I posted in that way. I meant to engage in literal fundamentalist Christian, fundamentalist Muslim, ultra orthodox Judaism or any other religion with similar ideas bashing. There’s a big difference. And these days, the Catholic Church is one of the more enlightened churches when it comes to evolution vs. creationism, as they have no problem with creationism and teach it in their schools. Now I’m sure there are a couple of parishes with priests who still live in the dark ages but the vast majority of parishes give it to you pretty straight and accurately.

  
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Egads, I just re-read what I wrote. I meant to say the Catholic Church has no problem with evolution, not creationism, and teach evolution in Catholic schools, at least here in the States. Whoops!

  
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@Swamp Rat – I thought that’s what you meant! The Vatican does officially recognise evolution too.

  
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@Sachiko – Yes very informative indeed. Thank you Swamp Rat!

  
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Touchdown Jesus may be the greatest name ever. I hope they rebuild it just for that.

  
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I remember a gargoyle falling from a Church in the centre of York and subseqently landed on a woman and killed her ( unsuprisingly ) .

The Church never commented on the reasoning.

  
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