IT APPEARS God has sacrificed his only son. Again.A bolt struck a 19-metre high statue of Jesus Christ this week outside a church in Monroe, Ohio, and the statue erupted in flames. All that remains is a charred steel skeleton, its arms stretched towards heaven, a gesture that once earned it the nickname ”Touchdown Jesus”.Darlene Bishop, a co-pastor of Solid Rock Church, said she was relieved the lightning hit Jesus on Monday and not the home for at-risk women next door. ”I told them, ‘It looks like Jesus took a hit for you last night.’ ”Act of God? Act of nature?In 2008, lightning singed the fingers and eyebrows of Christ the Redeemer, the 40-metre Jesus statue that stands over Rio de Janeiro. In 2007, a bolt blasted the 10-metre Jesus statue at Mother Cabrini Shrine in Golden, Colorado and one of Jesus’ arms fell off.The saints and angels are not safe either. The Virgin Mary on the dome of Notre Dame de Chicago burst into flames in 1978. A bolt that struck St Joan of Arc’s statue in New Orleans sliced her staff in half. Statues of the Angel Moroni, common atop Mormon churches, are hit by lightning with such frequency – Moroni’s horn is particularly susceptible – that The Salt Lake Tribune once fretted over their safety in a front-page story.(Side note: the actor James Caviezel was struck by lightning in 2003 while filming Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. He was playing Jesus.)Ancient Romans equated lightning strikes on statues with other bad omens such as chickens beginning to talk and blood raining from the sky.To find some modern-day meaning in Touchdown Jesus, we turned to the evangelist Pat Robertson, who has divined meaning from Hurricane Katrina (abortionists) and the Haitian earthquake ( pact with devil). He declined to interpret the significance of the strike.So we turned to science. John Jensenius, a lightning safety specialist for the US National Weather Service, said religious structures, especially steeples, were often zapped because they were the highest point in an area.The same goes for towering secular symbols. A spokesman for the Statue of Liberty, Darren Boch, said: ”Oh, she’s hit by lightning on a continual basis.” Asked if such strikes might represent a malevolent act of God towards America, Mr Boch said: ”I can clearly state that no one here deems it an act of God.”As for the incineration of Touchdown Jesus, Pastor Bishop isn’t reading any significance into it. ”Honey,” she said, ”it’s just some fibreglass.”The Washington Post