No author is listed for this piece, which is just as well. It is an embarrassment. It softly offers up uncritical support for the religious statue (emphasis mine):
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.
Oh? Many said they want more Jesus statues in public? How many, dear anonymous AP writer? 10? 50? 1 in 10 people surveyed out of 6,000? Or 3 of the 10 people you called on the phone but didn’t bother to source?
In the very next sentence the reporter is at it again, uncritically mentioning that church official had to build a walkway, on account of so many people stopping. How many is so many? Was the walkway built do to a massive outpouring of support for Jesus and the church? Was it built to accommodate the few people who did stop? Was it built later on regardless of the number of people coming, simply as a wise addition to the church? No answers are provided, just the presumed word of church officials without a hint of sourcing, evidence or what lay people might call proof.
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.
Are statues built to either help or impress? How about persuade? The clear evangelistic angle of the statue looming over a public highway is left entirely out of the equation. Surprising since earlier in the same article the church is referred to as the “evangelical Solid Rock Church”. (As of this writing their website is currently down).
The article makes it seem as though the giant Jesus statue intruding into public life was either a surprising curiosity or a welcome reminder of religion, which enjoyed wide support. Perhaps appropriate for an article concerning religion, no proof was offered.