Ohio’s “Football Jesus” burns down: A sign from God?

For some time now I’ve had a hard time classifying what my religious beliefs are. I believe in God and believe in Jesus, but I fully understand and admit that both are unprovable – I go by faith. With that said, I am a “bad Christian” and even so I pretty much to call myself a “Christian” because I feel my beliefs are different enough from “the Church” to not be called that.

With that said, as some of you know, I am against wasteful government spending. However, I am also very much against wasteful church spending. The basis of the Christian church centers around Jesus and Jesus never had a “church.” He just preached. Somehow today we feel the need to have large mega-million dollar churches to “belong” and “believe” in a religion. Why not spend that money on feeding the poor and providing care for the less fortunate instead of building the ampetheater, baseball diamonds, and three-tier 10k stadium seating sanctuary?

In any case, the other day the “Touchdown Jesus” burned down due to a lightning strike. I can’t help but think that this is some sort of sign – quit worshiping idols and other materialistic things.

Below in the news, here.

MONROE — The large Jesus statue iconic to Interstate 75 in Monroe was destroyed following an apparent lightning strike during a thunderstorm.

Motorists were stopped along the highway and around the Monroe area to watch the 62-foot King of Kings statue burn. The fire was reported at 11:15 p.m. Monday, June 14. Within minutes, all that was left was the steel frame of the statue at Solid Rock Church, 904 N. Union Road.

Church member Cassie Browning, 27, of Dayton, said she was driving north on I-75 on her way back from Tennessee when they noticed the statue was missing. “It meant so much to so many people,” Browning said.

“It’s crazy,” said Ted Williams, 35, of Monroe, who could see the statue ablaze from a Shell gas station along Ohio 63.

When crews arrived, the statue was fully engulfed and had spread to the nearby amphitheater of the church, according to Monroe Fire Chief Mark Neu. There were no reports of injuries.

As of 1:45 a.m., the fire was contained to the attic area of the amphitheater. No damage estimate will be available until 10 a.m. today, according to a Monroe fire release issued early this morning.

Since its completion in 2004, the statue, which appeared to come out of a pond in front of the church, was known by multiple nicknames, including “Touchdown Jesus.” It also was known as “Big Butter Jesus” after comedian Heywood Banks referred to it as such and created a song about the statue, which he performed on radio’s popular “The Bob and Tom Show.”

The statue was constructed of wood and styrofoam over a steel framework that was anchored in concrete and covered with a fiberglass mat and resin exterior, according to the church. It was slated to undergo renovations this summer.

Crews responded from Monroe, Middletown, Liberty Twp., Deerfield Twp. and Trenton, according to dispatchers.

Messages left at the church were not immediately returned.


13 Responses to “Ohio’s “Football Jesus” burns down: A sign from God?”

  1. 1 liz
    15 June 2010 at 00:49

    While some people saw it as a symbol for this area of Ohio, I think it had also become a mockery of the church and of Jesus. I’ve always felt similarly that there was no need for this statue and the money could have been spent in much better ways. Apparently it was only $500,000 rather than millions but still. It says in the bible “you shall have no other Gods before me” (that may not be the EXACT quote but you get it) and I think an oversized, expensive statue of Jesus falls under that category. This has been a long time coming and I couldn’t see a better way for it to be sign from God than for it to be struck by lightning and destroyed

  2. 15 June 2010 at 01:19

    Liz: Thank you for visiting and commenting. I am from Ohio and have seen the statue in person. I felt that it was a joke. I don’t care if it cost $20 or $2M… it was a waste of money. When Jesus roamed the land he had no home… no church… and the only friends he had were whoever came to him or followed him. This is a far cry for today’s church. I think we are a far, FAR cry from what Jesus intended that if He were to see what Christianity were today, he’d probably try to kill himself. I’m not sying that we have to be nomadic missionaries… but maybe… quit spending money on retarded things?

    And this is directed at all mega-churches across America. Here in Arizona we have Christ’s Church of the Valley with a mega-sanctuary, a parking lot that rivals a mall parking lot, an arts theater, and baseball/soccer fields. I know all this because I went there at one point in my life. However, I went there when sermons were held in a TENT. I liked it then. Now, it has collosally lost it’s way. And CCV is FAR from being the only church here in Phoenix that does just this. WHY?

    I’ll be interested in seeing what Solid Rock Church does… rebuild another costly idol or save money and grace and do something Jesus would do… like comfort someone in hospice or something.

  3. 15 June 2010 at 06:38

    I didn’t like it much either. Reminded me of Paul and Jan Crouch (if you don’t know who they are, Google them). Or Tammy Faye and Jim or Jimmy Swaggart, the list goes on. That being said, hopefully it will be remembered as “Lightning Rod Jesus” rather than “Football Jesus”. I can’t prove that it didn’t save a family from that bolt (can’t say it did, either, but I choose to believe in miracles). Had that bolt not been coaxed from the sky a split second early, who knows what path the charge would have found? We may have lost the next Newton, Einstein or Edison. So, there’s that perspective. Romans 8:28

  4. 4 Jean
    15 June 2010 at 07:04

    I think doing something to make people think and talk about God is how we SHOULD spend our money. Isn’t that what evangelism is all about? Although it was a lot of money, many people have been affected by it. It is a landmark known worldwide. Unfortunately, we only hear the negative stuff from the critics. Although there was a lot criticism regarding this sculpture, I want to say that I loved it. To me, it was inspirational- a wonderful reminder of God’s great love for me. Why shouldn’t a sculpture representing God’s love be huge? Over the centuries, enormous temples were built to worship God and there were huge statues incorporated into the designs. If the sculpture would have been of a sports “hero” or other non-Christian figure, it would not have been nearly as criticized or ridiculed. I have never heard people deride the Statue of Liberty,Mt. Rushmore, the Crazy Horse monument or even Stone Mountain like people did this statue. The Jesus statue got attention, and made people think and talk about God and Jesus. I hope they rebuild it and soon.

  5. 5 Cher
    15 June 2010 at 14:53

    I am very sadened that the statue of jesus burnt to the ground. I visited that church for the first time June 6th with my mother a member of this church. My sixteen year old daughter her friend my son and his girl friend all got saved. This is a wonderful church. They welcome you as you are and so friendly and welcoming. So the Jesus will be vey muched missed. My daughter took pictures with it. I am from texas and it breaks my heart to know this happened

  6. 15 June 2010 at 20:21

    @Jean: I am not an evangelist but I don’t think spending $500k (or whatever they spent) on a statute that most ridiculed is how “God’s money” is supposed to be spent. I reiterate, maybe it would be far more reaching to care for the less fortunate… LIKE JESUS did.

    You remember those WWJD bracelets? I think this is the same thing – can we effectively go “Yeah, I can see Jesus buying a statue in hopes that people will come to him.” Whatever! That is ludicrious. Can you really see Jesus sitting in the congregation and going, “I’m going to tithe to buy this statue!” I cannot!

    You say that we need a BIG statue to show God’s HUGE love. I contend, the loving things that go on unnotticed are the types of love that God wants. Remember Jesus calling the Pharisees out that prayed to be seen? Isn’t this the same thing, a large statue that screams out “Look at me, look at me.”

    So what that other sculptures were built of non-Christian things? That is in the secular world, which is apart from the spiritual/religious world. No?

    If you want it rebuilt then I think you have missed the point of what Jesus truly wanted of his people. It may be helpful to read the book “What is so Amazing About Grace?” too, if nothing else, the opening story.

  7. 15 June 2010 at 20:23

    @Cher: It is good that your family/friends got saved at this church… but, would they have been saved if Football Jesus was not there?


    Jesus’ Church was with the people – not with brick and mortar or sculptures.

  8. 8 Alan Scott
    17 June 2010 at 15:29

    That Jesus statue would not be to my taste, but I would not want to judge this Church . It definitely comes under Religious freedom. Their Church, their money, their right, their business.

  9. 22 June 2010 at 23:37

    @alan Scott: Why not “judge”? Jesus criticized the Pharisees!

  10. 10 Justin
    14 June 2013 at 07:36

    You are incorrect:
    “The basis of the Christian church centers around Jesus and Jesus never had a “church.” He just preached.”

    Jesus does have a church:
    Matthew 16:18
    And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

    Romans 16:16
    Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ send greetings.

    Ephesians 5:24
    Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

    Ephesians 5:25
    Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her

    Colossians 1:18
    And he [Jesus] is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.

    Colossians 1:24
    Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.

    Christ did more than just “preach”.
    Romans 5:6
    You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.

    Romans 5:8
    But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.


  11. 14 June 2013 at 07:47

    Nothing you said disproves me.

    Matthew 16:18 — There are many rocks in the world. Upon every rock shall Christians “build their church.” Even in this instance Jesus was out and picked a random rock to say “build” a church. This further seems to support my notion that a church in the Bible is not a brick-and-mortar building.

    Romans 16:16 — In this instance the “church” he refers to is a group of people. A church building cannot send a greeting.

    Ephesians 5:24 — Same thing as above – a church building cannot submit to a human. This is again talking about a group of followers.

    Colossians 1:18 — This refers to the global group of followers under the same general beliefs – not a building. Jesus was never “head” of any brick-and-mortar building. If so, provide it.

    Colossians 1:24 — Goodness, here it is talking about the Body of Christ, which is the church. A brick-and-mortar building cannot have afflictions of the body.

    Romans 5:6 and Romans 5:8 — I’m not sure what this has to do with God commanding us to build a church building or an edifice or having any evidence that Jesus had a church building. God’s church is the world – not some building. If you can show me where Jesus commanded us, or even hinted at, us to build a brick-and-mortar building and call it “a church” then I will believe you. But you have no such proof except you implying that “church” in an English Bible is actually a commandment of “go build a building.”


  12. 12 Justin
    17 June 2013 at 12:37

    Hi Kyle,
    You said two things:
    1) “… Jesus never had a “church.””
    2) ” He just preached.”

    The verses I provided demonstrate that He does have a church, which is the body of Christ which is the body of all believers in Him. Your response to them is in agreement. You are correct in saying Christians were never commanded to build a building.

    The last verse I provided demonstrates the He did more than just preach. He was not simply a prophet, but also a Priest, King, sacrificial Lamb, Judge, my God, Lord, and a Savior. He is the only Savior. Acts 4:12 – Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

    Do not be deceived, God’s church is not the world, but only those who have received forgiveness of their sins and are born again thru faith in Jesus Christ.

    Maybe I misunderstood you; my apologies for the confusion.


  13. 20 June 2013 at 19:35

    Maybe I misunderstood you in light of the original post. I thought you were arguing in favor of the Solid Rock Church statues to be built as well as other mega-churches to be built. I personally think this is wrong, especially when to me Jesus seemed to indicate that the gospel was to be spoken outside the confines of a wall. Furthermore, that believers should give much of their worldy posessions up and speak the truth. I personally feel that multi-million dollar churches are exactly what Jesus did not want.

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