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July 27th, 2011
12:40 PM ET

Reaction to pastor giving thanks for 'smokin' hot wife'

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

A Baptist preacher giving thanks to God for a "smokin' hot wife" in a prayer that opened a NASCAR race last weekend has generated reams of online commentary, with one religion blogger summing up some Christian reaction: "Shocking, I tell you, that a pastor might have a little fun."

The prayer came from Tennessee Pastor Joe Nelms, who told CNN he was taking a line from the Will Ferrell movie "Talladega Nights." In addition to the way it gave thanks for his spouse, Nelms' prayer was noteworthy for invoking NASCAR sponsors:

Thank you for the Dodges and the Toyotas. Thank you for the Fords. Thank you for Sunoco racing fuels and Goodyear tires.

Nelms told CNN that the prayer wasn't officially sponsored. "There were no endorsement deals," he said. "But I’m not against them."

The pastor ended his prayer by quoting NASCAR Hall of Famer and Tennessean Darrell Waltrip: "In Jesus’ name, boogity, boogity, boogity, amen."

"It means 'Go get after it, boys," Nelms told CNN. "It's Southern for 'Get to it.'"

Reaction to the prayer has been mixed. From the twitterverse:

@ChrisElrod: I don't (get) what the rub is with this ...I thank God for MY smokin' hot wife every day.

@brandonreagor: Pretty sure this is not how you approach the God of the Universe: NASCAR Pastor's Head-Turning Prayer

@MorgannSpicer: Okay, so that was a powerful prayer. Wow. Never heard a man say a thank you for his "smokin' hot wife" LMAO

"We should definitely pray for the safety of our soldiers and public officials,” Nelms told The Christian Post, explaining his prayer. “But nobody seems very interested in it. We wanted to do something to get their attention.”

What do you think? Hilarious/innovative or blasphemous/offensive?

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Prayer • Sports

soundoff (1,644 Responses)
  1. John

    The Scriptures caution us about " . . .not praying to be heard of men." "They have their reward." (And it is not from God,)

    July 28, 2011 at 1:55 am |
    • Phil in Oregon

      Every man, pastor or not, should be able to say that honestly. And every woman the same thing.

      July 28, 2011 at 1:57 am |
  2. Jamie

    Sounds kind of cheezy, but what's the harm? If he's thankful for her, why not say it? Why not turn some heads and get some attention, make people laugh-AND get the point across? I think it's cool, and good for him for having the guts to do it!

    July 28, 2011 at 1:51 am |
  3. ruemorgue

    Was this Pastor Plastered?

    July 28, 2011 at 1:51 am |
  4. Jesus C Girau

    I think the reason why some people are judgmental about this prayer is because their are use to the traditional way a prayer is "supposedly" to be said with a certain style and a certain tone. Whatever happen to the pure joy for God and really saying what is in your heart but not what is right according to what religious people might say. Yes I believe in God and pray everyday but come on, why the tradition? If the Pastor wants to give thanks for the Lord to give him his "smokin-hot wife" then by all means let the man express his true feelings. Just because the pastor is giving thanks for the race cars, and the gasoline does not mean he is getting money for it, even though the Pastor does appreciate donations for his church.

    July 28, 2011 at 1:49 am |
    • Dan

      It's not the style or tone that he used that upsets people. It's the irreverance.

      July 28, 2011 at 3:08 am |
  5. porto

    Looking like he does he should thank God for any wife at all.

    July 28, 2011 at 1:48 am |
    • Cynic23

      He's from the south, bro. Attractiveness of the males is inversely related to the attractiveness of the females.

      July 28, 2011 at 1:55 am |
  6. pael

    This was completely disrespectful..he showed no humility before God what so ever. God is Holy and when you come before His throne you are there to worship. This was a display to impress worldly people and had nothing to do with honoring God.

    July 28, 2011 at 1:45 am |
    • BBB

      I totally agree with you...this was not a prayer to God. To all of you who say lighten up, there are somethings reverent and this certainly should be to a Pastor!
      Prayer should not be a mockery to someone who claims to believe...this prayer was!
      To you atheist I am not sure why your reading this if you truely don't believe. I don't read any articles about the Easter bunny or santa, I don't even care if you believe in them.

      July 28, 2011 at 2:34 am |
  7. Manda

    Tell me when the last time people talked about prayer with a smile on their faces ??? Can't can ya lol... I THINK HE MADE EVERYBODY'S DAY .. Who listens to the opening prayer at Nascar ????? WELL WE ALL HAVE THIS WEEK !!!!!!!!! I think his man got te job done .

    July 28, 2011 at 1:44 am |
  8. Steph

    I'm sorry, but that was just a GREAT prayer! Look at all the conversation it has sparked. I don't mean that from either side of the aisle. I'm just stating an observers point of view. I really don't see why he was expected to give a hell and damnation prayer at a lively sporting event. If anything, he made sure he truly had the attention of those listening and may have lifted everyone's mood and spirit more than a usual opening prayer. Just think how positive the rest of the race day may have been for those in attendance. Besides, why not thank God for the fuel, tires, and cars in the race– wouldn't be much of one without them!! Have a great day everyone!!

    July 28, 2011 at 1:44 am |
  9. tallulah13

    The negative comments are more proof that some christians have a lousy sense of humor. They only laugh when they think of other people suffering for eternity.

    July 28, 2011 at 1:43 am |
    • Dan

      I don't know any Christian who laughs when they think of anyone in hell.

      July 28, 2011 at 3:13 am |
  10. ron

    It wouldn't have been near as good if the Rev had been from Boston instead of Tennessee.

    July 28, 2011 at 1:41 am |
  11. Deby D.

    Completely lame!

    July 28, 2011 at 1:36 am |
  12. Kate

    Loved it!

    July 28, 2011 at 1:35 am |
  13. camiwa

    Personally, one of my favorite prayers was given by Father Guido Sarducci at the Rally this summer. That was EXCELLENT!!!!!

    (and I'm agnostic, but it was REALLY REALLY good. You should watch it if you haven't. He made quite a point.)

    July 28, 2011 at 1:28 am |
  14. Scott

    my smoking hot wife thanks god in bed (someone had to make the joke)

    July 28, 2011 at 1:24 am |
    • camiwa

      loved it! Made me laugh out loud...

      July 28, 2011 at 1:26 am |
  15. Sam Hernandez

    Relax everybody GOD has a sense of humor!Freedom of speech what a wonderful thing Boogity I got to go now and thank GOD for my red hot smokin wife

    July 28, 2011 at 1:20 am |
    • Joe

      Sure, freedom of speech is great, humor is great. But what does any of that have to do with Christianity? Nothing. Using the Bible as a guide, what would Jesus pray, if he were kicking off a huge sporting event and wanted to make a splash? Absurd. Religion always conforms to the popular values of the time, that's why it survives. Doctrine is a moral and intellectual *follower* of popular culture, not a leader. And that's why it's pretty much useless.

      July 28, 2011 at 1:50 am |
  16. Beadles

    What's wrong with the prayer? Just look around you – obviously God has a great sense of humor.

    July 28, 2011 at 1:19 am |
  17. mark

    got paid to show up and because he said thank you god it was tax free....

    July 28, 2011 at 1:17 am |
  18. kat

    first off he was quoting a movie when he said the thing about the wife, I doubt his wife is hot at all. but i think his prayer was inappropriate overall. you shouldn't really quote movies when talking to god.

    July 28, 2011 at 1:15 am |
    • Heather in SoCal

      To quote another movie: 'Lighten up, Francis!"

      July 28, 2011 at 1:24 am |
    • Jay G

      If it makes you feel better, God wasn't listening.

      July 28, 2011 at 1:29 am |
    • Kate

      If you can't talk to God anyway you want, then you don't have a God worth talking to.

      July 28, 2011 at 1:34 am |
    • Michael

      So, you know what God likes and what he doesn't? I talk to God all the time and I say whatever is on my mind, I think that's how he would like it, I don't know, just like none of us know, but I'd imagine he looks into the heart of people and not just at the words that are being spoken. It was a light hearted jesture, the pastor meant nothing ill by it.

      July 28, 2011 at 1:36 am |
    • lacpeb

      You can't quote a movie in a prayer? Where on earth would you get a silly rule like that! What makes this prayer especially powerful is all the attention it's getting. There's no harm in anything that was said.

      July 28, 2011 at 1:43 am |
  19. Brian

    Religion in this country is a mile wide and an inch deep.

    July 28, 2011 at 1:15 am |
  20. PDXdeej

    Lighten up Francis!

    Not enough suffering in his light hearted prayer? Is there such thing as a light hearted prayer? ? Nothing wrong with a little fun people...jeeze

    July 28, 2011 at 1:11 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.