At a Dayton/Cincinnati-area church, efforts are afoot to rebuild a 62-foot idol of Jesus at Solid Rock Church in Monroe.
For years, the steel, styrofoam, and fiberglass structure — situated along Interstate 75 — drew the stares of gawking motorists. It also drew tourists and churchgoers from Kentucky and Tennessee who apparently didn’t have enough kitsch to admire back in their own communities. The idol drew money from visitors’ tithes, and those tithes were spent on an ex-gay ministry that was co-founded by current PFOX president Greg Quinlan, who used this and other Ohio ministries to launch his national culture war against gay youth, marriage equality, and family unity.
After the statue was destroyed by lightning last week, a few protesters pointed out to the church that it was worshiping a graven image in violation of the commandments of Moses. A churchgoer allegedly responded by shoving and threatening one of the protesters, and charges were filed.
Church leaders nevertheless vowed to rebuild. Southwest Ohio lies at the eastern border of America’s Tornado Alley, and it is commonplace for random bolts of lightning to destroy tall, highly flammable objects. Yet a supportive neighbor, Pastor Deborah Hooks, blamed the incident on magic sent by God: “We don’t know the mind of God, but I say God’ hand is in everything and everything happens for a reason.”
The pastor of Solid Rock, Lawrence Bishop, is seemingly suffering from even greater egomania, characterizing the statue as a resurrected god. “The first Jesus was resurrected in three days. It’s going to take us a little longer than three days but he will be back. He’s like the Terminator. He’s coming back.”
Gannett News reported today that a flood of donations and ample insurance money may allow the statue to be fully rebuilt by the end of the year.