MONROE, OH (FOX19) - People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) says they have offered financial support to help rebuild the "King of Kings" statute at the Solid Rock Church in Monroe, but there's catch.
The statue, more commonly known as "Big Butter Jesus" or "Touchdown Jesus," burned to the ground after being struck by lightning last week.
PETA sent a letter to the church pastors offering the money if the design of the statute were to change. The new statute would show Jesus be holding a lamb with an inscription the reads, "Blessed Are the Merciful. Go Vegan."
PETA says the money is being donated in part by a devoutly Christian PETA supporter.
"Today's factory farms and slaughterhouses are the embodiment of violence, bloodshed, and exploitation," says Bruce Friedrich, vice president of PETA's Christian Outreach program. "Christians should extend the message that 'God is love' to animals––by not eating them."
The pastor of Solid Rock Church, Lawrence Bishop, has been a cowboy all his life. Walking his ranch with real spurs on his boots, he has worked on farms since he was a kid, including his family's farm in rural Kentucky.
"I've been good to them," Pastor Bishop said of his prized steers, many varieties from all over the globe. "If you're good to them, they'll be good to you."
He has been raising cattle and quarter-horses for 50 years. His animals are his life.
"Hopefully somebody'll make Big Macs out of them one day," he jokes. "And I'll make a profit."
So when a PETA donor suggested replacing the statue at his church, he promptly rejected their offer.
"If I wanted to promote somebody's agenda," Bishop said. "They'd be the last person in the world."
The church has gotten lots of offers from different sculptors and plenty of new ideas.
"And one with him standing with his arms outstretched," Bishop said. "I like that one."
Christ is a lot of things to a lot of people.
"For people that are hurting," Bishop said. "Especially in rough economic times, and we've had people who were contemplating suicide, driving down the highway, they said that sign did something to them, it gave them hope and it turned their whole life around."
The statue drew protestors and police at the first services after the statue burned. And given the trouble they had at last Wednesday night's services, Pastor Bishop said he expects to have a police presence again, at services this Wednesday night.