Illinois 'Penis Church'—Visible From Space?

DIXON, IL—If you listen to the clergy at the new Christian Science Church at 324 West First Street, they'll tell you that the reason they built their new digs in the shape of a penis—unintentionally, of course—was to protect the large old oak tree at the corner of the property, and so they could have plenty of windows for "natural light."

Still... "It's a little bit of a stretch" to say the new building, which is actually on the corner of West Second Street and Highland Avenue, looks like a sexual organ, claimed licensed architect John McLane, who did a little work on the recently-completed project, but left before the final design was approved. But he also said that even an architect wouldn't necessarily have seen the shape just from looking at the plans.

The new building replaces an older church that had to be torn down because the land it was built on had been contaminated from more than a century, and Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) ponied up nearly $750,000 for the demolition and reconstruction, which is due to be completed in December.

"We didn’t design it to be seen as what they’re seeing," said church official Scott Shepherd. "And we didn’t design it to be seen from above."

Of his congregation's recent notoriety on the internet, Shepherd will only say, "The Internet has great capability for good and great capability for gossip and destruction," though he has no kind words for negative commenters:  "I feel sorry for them. Jesus didn’t tell us to turn the other cheek to take more abuse. He told us to turn the cheek so we won’t behave like these people."

However, whoever handles the church's Facebook page has a sense of humor: That person posted a message, "Giant fig leaf coming soon," with a photo of the leaf covering the "naughty bits" of the building.

But like it or not, lots of people are having fun with the juxtaposition of a conservative church now being represented, at least on Google Maps, by a decidedly non-conservative penis—and it might just turn out to be the first human genital shape visible from space.