Last week, lightning struck the infamous “Touchdown Jesus” outside an Ohio church.  (They had no lightning protection, I guess.)  This week People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) offered to rebuild all 62 feet of the now-crispy “King of Kings” statue in exchange for (of course the publicity) and the right to pass out pro-vegan literature at the church.  A letter from PETA to the church read, in part:

An ever-growing number of Christians believe that eating the flesh of God’s creatures supports the unholy cruelty of today’s filthy factory farms and slaughterhouses. I think everyone would agree that Jesus would be horrified by the cruelty that we inflict today on animals simply to satisfy our addiction to the taste of their flesh and milk, especially when so many healthful vegan options are readily available.

USAToday’s Faith & Reason blog makes light of the offer by comparing it to a similar hypothetical offer by the NRA:

Imagine the National Rifle Association — packed with prosperous Christians and quite interested in getting it’s message out — outbidding PETA on this. The NRA could have Jesus cradling a assault rifle although I suppose they’d have to look for a Bible quote since “Turn the Other Cheek,” won’t work.

On the face, it’s an interesting opposing sponsorship choice: PETA tends to get clumped with the hippy-dippy faction of the left; the NRA has come to represent a (serious!) rather-mainstream branch of the right.  I wonder why F & R chose the NRA as a counter to PETA?  Could it be, to get a little Jay Rosen on the subject, to provide a two-sided news item, albeit tempered by humor?  If both PETA and the NRA are painted as equal extremes on a religio-political news spectrum, F & R is skewering “objectively.”  (We’ll not go into the effects of the meat industry on humans and the environment, nor the number of accidental gun deaths each year.)

Other news sources have clearly had fun with the story.  Some examples:

“It appears God has sacrificed his only son.  Again.”

UPI files the story under, “Odd News.”

“…what might be described as a disaster of biblical proportions…”

“Holy Smoke!”

Today the church responded to PETA’s offer:  ”We’re not interested,” said Rev. Darlene Bishop.  “We raise cattle. We[‘d] never build a statue with stipulations that we would have to advertise for PETA,” she said.  No word on whether the NRA has stepped up.