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MONROE, Ohio – A six-story-tall statue of Jesus Christ as a White European with his arms raised along a highway was struck by lightning in a thunderstorm Monday night and burned to the ground, police said.

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., Monroe police dispatchers said.

The sculpture, 62 feet tall and 40 feet wide at the base, showed to so-called image of Jesus from the torso up and was nicknamed Touchdown Jesus because of the way his arms were raised, as though reaching out to catch a football. It was made of plastic foam and fiberglass over a steel frame, which is all that remained early Tuesday.

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. The fire department would release a monetary damage estimate Tuesday, he said.

Travelers on Interstate 75 often were startled to come upon the huge statue by the roadside, but many said America needs more symbols like it. So many people stopped at the church campus that church officials had to build a walkway to accommodate them.

The 4,000-member, nondenominational church was founded by former horse trader Lawrence Bishop and his wife. Bishop said in 2004 he was trying to help people, not impress them, with the statue. He said his wife proposed the Jesus figure as a beacon of hope and salvation and they spent about $250,000 to finance it.

Well, if you gonna build a statue in the future., it should look like what was described in the Bible of Jesus having hair like lambs wool and feet like burnt in an oven ... Definately A Black Man. But I don't blame Solid Rock for trying to distort the real truth, I just wonder about why people in 2010 still uphold these false images from books to staues and stained glass windows. God don't like ugly!
WHAT DO YOU THINK? WAS THIS JUST A COINSIDENCE OR WAS IT A MESSAGE FROM THE REAL SUPREME BEING?

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Lightening struck the mental inside the structure and caused the plastic foam and fiberglass to catch fire: The statue was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Thanks JC. I know it was something wrong with that picture. so you say wrong place and wrong time. Well, that's a good one. I thought it was kinda connected with a whole lot of wrong for a very long time.
Wrong for too long as far as I'm concern.
AND NOW STALIN STATURE DISAPPEARS!

GORI, Georgia (Reuters) – Authorities removed a towering statue of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin from the central square of his native city in the dead of the night on Friday, carting away the monument to Georgia's most famous native.

The 6-meter-high bronze statue will be replaced by a monument to victims of Georgia's 2008 war with Russia and of Stalin's repression, officials said -- a rebuke to Moscow.

In an unannounced operation that began after midnight and was over before dawn, municipal workers and police took the statue down from its stone pedestal in the small city 80 km (50 miles) west of the capital, Tbilisi.

The statue's removal drew a mixed reactions in Gori, where it was erected a year before Stalin's death in 1953.

"How could they remove it? ... Stalin was a great individual and the most famous Georgian in the world," Irina, who gave only her first name, told Georgian public television.

"Stalin's monument was a symbol of our town," she said.

Outward signs of Stalin's pervasive personality cult were swept away after his death across Georgia and the rest of the Soviet Union, but he is revered by many in Gori.

Another resident, who identified herself as Maya, called it "the right decision. It's more logical to have a memorial to victims of war than a huge Stalin monument."

Widely reviled as a dictator responsible for millions of deaths, Stalin is held up as a hero by supporters across the former Soviet Union who say the country could not have defeated Nazi Germany or become a superpower without his leadership.

For many Georgians including pro-Western President Mikheil Saakashvili, the monument was a symbol of Moscow's lingering influence two decades after the small nation gained independence in the 1991 Soviet collapse. Resentment of Russia flared with the five-day war in August 2008.

"There is no place for such an ugly idol in Georgia," Culture Minister Nika Rurua said.

Officials said, however, that the monument would be moved to the courtyard of Gori's Stalin museum -- not discarded.

"A new monument dedicated to victims of the Russian aggression will be erected at this place," Zviad Khmaladze, a city council leader in Gori, said in televised comments.

Gori was the hardest-hit Georgian city in the 2008 war. Bombs hit the main square near the statue and buildings nearby.

The new monument will also commemorate victims of Stalin's repression, Rurua said.

The Kremlin is likely to bristle at a monument equating Russia's current leaders with Stalin, and the 2008 war -- which Moscow says was a morally justified response to Georgian aggression -- with the dictator's crimes.

Saakashvili praised the statue's removal when asked about it at a news conference.

"I support the decision of the municipality and the Culture Ministry completely, as a museum of occupation and monuments to those who orchestrated that occupation cannot exist in this country at the same time," Saakashvili said.

He was referring to a museum that opened in Tbilisi during his presidency on the years when Georgia was a Soviet republic.

Russian troops occupied Gori for two weeks after the 2008 conflict, which erupted when Georgia tried to recapture the Russian-backed separatist province of South Ossetia, just north of the city.

Russia recognized South Ossetia's independence after the war and has strengthened its grip on the rebel region.

Gori hosts some smaller statues and busts of Stalin as well as the museum dedicated to the late leader, who was born in Gori in 1879 and ruled the Soviet Union from 1924 until his death.

Mainly elderly supporters gather outside the colonnaded museum twice a year, on his birthday and the day of his death.

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