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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. Mrs.B

    I am, by my own admission, a terribly smug liberal atheist. That being said, I found Pastor Nelms' prayer hilarious, honest, and refreshing. So many religious leaders and their followers- Christians included- spend so much time preaching fire and brimstone and taking every opportunity to remind others of their impending judgement.

    Pastor Nelms obviously appreciates things that most Americans take for granted. He still finds his wife of 10 years "smokin' hot" after she had two children. That's not disrespectful in any way! A successful couple's physical attraction to one another has to be supported by an emotional bond too. Sadly, many people never find that in their lives. I hope that the Pastor encourages his congregation to foster that in their own lives. Those calling this a family of rednecks and pigs have no concept of genuine love.

    Cars and machines are pretty neat. I see technology as a testament to the human mind, he sees it as a gift from God. Either way, try spending 10 minutes a day to consider something simple. Getting stuck in traffic is frustrating but at least you're not in a horse-drawn buggy. Sure, your cell phone might drop a call or your GPS might tell you to go the wrong way on a one-way street, but that phone contains more technical wonders than that which was used 42 years ago to put men on the moon.

    Simple things make life good regardless of your belief system. Personal beliefs aside, I am positive that Jesus and his disciples did not conduct their travels and ministry by being dour doomsayers. I am pleased to know that there are still people out there that are thankful for everyday life in general.

    July 29, 2011 at 10:58 am |
  2. Lyn Kendis

    I'm a strong committed Christian, have been all my life. God expects us to be thankful for even the littlest, unconsequential aspects of this world he created for us. Having to use IVF to conceive my children, I was thankful for the person's he created, with the desire to explore and research ways to help make that possible for me. Oh my goodness! We had comments from every "peanut gallery" telling us it was wrong, we were taking over for God in creating life. HA! What simple minds. Being thankful for the technology that allows people to experience the racing thrill they enjoy, their God given drive for danger and speed, may be a little thing – but he did command us to give him thanks for everything – which is what this humourous thank you to God entailed. That he thanked God for his "smokin hot wife and children"? Whether it was a quote is beside the point, whether you believe she is, again is beside the point. Thanking God for everything in our lives is not just fabulous it's a commandment!! I was thrilled at 47 to hear my husband of 27 years say he asked God as a young man to give him a wife he'd be attracted to for 50+ years and God honored his prayer. Wow! Thats a great God! He even worries about the little things that give us pleasure, he loves us as his highly wanted children. He rejoices in the little things we find enjoyable on this planet he gave us to play on. Remember, he didn't intend on life being hard for us, man's sin caused that, not God. I believe he delights in watching us work hard as well as having fun! Lighten up people! Religion is Religion, your relationship with God & his son is what matters most. When I'm asked why I believe in Jesus, I only have to look back on my life and hindsight shows me there is no way many things "just happened" it was the hand of God through the grace of his son Jesus, who guided my path, slammed the doors I shouldn't go in and gave me peace and loved me even when I really screwed up, Wouldn't want to go on without him! I'm thankful for Christians who are fun, not judgemental and love everyone as the bible commands, Christians who focus on their relationship with Christ instead of worrying about everything we can find to worry about! Christians who treat everyone better than they would like to be treated. That's truly Christ centered!!

    July 29, 2011 at 10:45 am |
    • Reality

      What about the husbands whose prayers were not answered? Tis the luck of the draw and accidents of birth. Had Lyn K been born in Saudi Arabia, she would be one of the four wives of some nomad.

      To wit:

      "John Hick, a noted British philosopher of religion, estimates that 95 percent of the people of the world owe their religious affiliation to an accident of birth. The faith of the vast majority of believers depends upon where they were born and when. Those born in Saudi Arabia will almost certainly be Moslems, and those born and raised in India will for the most part be Hindus. Nevertheless, the religion of millions of people can sometimes change abruptly in the face of major political and social upheavals. In the middle of the sixth century ce, virtually all the people of the Near East and Northern Africa, including Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Egypt were Christian. By the end of the following century, the people in these lands were largely Moslem, as a result of the militant spread of Islam.

      The Situation Today

      Barring military conquest, conversion to a faith other than that of one’s birth is rare. Some Jews, Moslems, and Hindus do convert to Christianity, but not often. Similarly, it is not common for Christians to become Moslems or Jews. Most people are satisfied that their own faith is the true one or at least good enough to satisfy their religious and emotional needs. Had St. Augustine or St. Thomas Aquinas been born in Mecca at the start of the present century, the chances are that they would not have been Christians but loyal followers of the prophet Mohammed. " J. Somerville

      July 29, 2011 at 10:56 am |
    • Albert

      “He rejoices in the little things we find enjoyable on this planet he gave us to play on.”

      Play on really? That’s why Christians are destroying the very thing they claim their God gave them..

      “When I'm asked why I believe in Jesus, I only have to look back on my life and hindsight shows me there is no way many things "just happened" it was the hand of God through the grace of his son Jesus, who guided my path, slammed the doors I shouldn't go in and gave me peace and loved me even when I really screwed up, Wouldn't want to go on without him!”

      That’s not Jesus or God that is your own self love being interpreted falsely Things do just happen that change people’s lives but it doesn’t mean there is a God. Its call the power of positive thinking.

      “Christians who are fun, not judgemental and love everyone as the bible commands, Christians who focus on their relationship with Christ instead of worrying about everything we can find to worry about! Christians who treat everyone better than they would like to be treated. That's truly Christ centered!!”

      Too bad the Christians on this blog don’t actually do what you are trying to preach.

      July 29, 2011 at 10:58 am |
  3. Baba O'reilly

    Good to see that our holy men are spending more time quoting Will Ferrall, thanking sponsers, and NASCAR superstars then studying the bible and taking care of our souls...

    July 29, 2011 at 10:10 am |
    • GodPot

      They know there's no such thing as an everliving soul so they are getting theirs while the gettins good.

      July 29, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
  4. mark

    I'm puzzled...You expect more from nascar? This is really consistent w/ the nascar fans...

    July 29, 2011 at 8:20 am |
  5. Col

    wow! simply how amazing a few simple words that we've all said, heard or thought of before about another person, can cause such hysteria. What on earth is the problem with what he's said!! who has the right to judge this pastor?!! all these christians that are shocked and against what he's said, go read your bible again....."Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things" Romans 2.1

    July 29, 2011 at 3:40 am |
    • Jokersmom

      You said it beautiful! There is nothing wrong with what this man said. A little more humor in all our lives is needed! Maybe with a little more humor as this pastor gave the world wouldn't be so filled with hatred. Christians should know this! If they are so appalled by it then they are the ones with the problem and I doubt their true Christianity! Blees you Pastor! I loved your sermon! Might be a lot more people in church if they all were more like this pastor! The pews might be full!

      July 29, 2011 at 10:03 pm |
  6. Servant2All

    I'm an atheist, but who wouldn't be thankful for a "smokin' hot" wife/husband or girlfriend/boyfriend? Those making an issue of this need to just get a life!

    July 29, 2011 at 12:39 am |
  7. Reality

    Dear Pastor Joe Nelms,

    As we "thu-mp" along with rational thinking, conclusions and reiteration to counter the millennia of false and flawed religious history and theology repeated to/by "red-necks" 24/7 during their worthless gatherings.

    For your next NASCAR "prayer meeting":

    The Apostles' Creed 2011: (updated by yours truly based on the studies of NT historians and theologians during the past 200 years)

    I might believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven.

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
    Jerusalem.

    Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
    many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
    ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    Amen

    July 28, 2011 at 11:44 pm |
  8. Jarin Udom

    Hi, I'm a Christian and everything is SUPER SERIOUS OK

    July 28, 2011 at 11:28 pm |
    • Atheist

      Manbearpig is real you guys!! I'm SUPER SERIAL!

      July 29, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • BigGayChristian

      I'm SUPER Thanks for askin!!

      July 29, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
  9. Christina

    Why are so many Christians so uptight. If there is a God, he surely must have a sense of humor. How else do you explain male genetalia. Hilarious!

    July 28, 2011 at 11:14 pm |
    • SimpleReally

      It was at least original...and catered to the crowd.

      Was it Biblical though? ... Jesus is quite precise on prayer.

      Even though his prayer appears to break Jesus' precise instruction on prayer in Matthew 6:5-13 it does happen to also include –

      However in Matthew 6:5 Jesus says And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

      So this Pastor has his reward... "A hot smoking wife"... Ha!

      July 29, 2011 at 1:53 am |
  10. Helio Fausto Narciso Filho

    The position of pastor as well as the various reactions to their behavior inconvenient shows how the churches in America are completely corrupted, not intended for the purpose for which God put on earth which is the Salvation and Eternal Life to those who obey their doctrines.

    We know, according to the Bible itself, without the observations of the Doctrines, and without obedience to God there is no salvation, so these types of these churches and pastors are good for nothing but collect money from patrons of these churches.

    July 28, 2011 at 10:23 pm |
  11. calvin cloud

    I think he is much more interested in being accepted as a good old boy by the race crowd than in getting the ear of the Lord. I am embarassed for him and by his speech- it certainly was not a prayer.

    July 28, 2011 at 10:13 pm |
  12. Sandy

    Hi there Mr. Pastor. It is the second day and I hope you repented. It is very important in case you die tonight. My heart goes out to you and to all of the people in the entire world that are not believers. Jesus is coming soon, and we must get ready for that day. That's what the Bible says, and that's what I believe in. The King James version is superior. John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." It speaks the truth~

    July 28, 2011 at 10:04 pm |
    • yomster

      @Sandy, What is wrong with what the pastor said? Good grief and get a good life.!!!!!!

      July 28, 2011 at 10:32 pm |
    • JOHN

      AMEN !!!!!!!!!

      July 29, 2011 at 1:36 am |
    • Spud J Dog

      Thanks, but keep your heart to yourself. I'm quite happy without the obvious foolishness of your savior and bogus brain damage called religion.

      July 29, 2011 at 10:20 am |
  13. tecjug

    I like to picture Jesus in a tuxedo t-shirt, cause it says, like, I want to be formal, but I'm here to party.

    July 28, 2011 at 9:15 pm |
    • Sara B

      Best comment EVER. 🙂

      July 29, 2011 at 9:30 am |
  14. Nascar Lovin' Cleetus

    It's NASCAR dagnubbit! Prayers are SUPPOSED to sound like a cross between Hee-Haw and a pig-calling contest! And I'm sure he got paid real good for all those product advertisements, just like all those other fellas with that same stuff on their jacket.

    NASCAR is God's country, and we can pray any way we want to, who dun cares if it don't match the bible none too good. God loves us and he hates you. And he likes NASCAR and he loves red necks and he must have been sleeping the night they drove ole Dixie down, cuz God loves the South a lot more than he loves anywhere else and made us better. Exceptin maybe for all the tornados and crime and hurricanes and poverty and fires and stuff. But aside from all that, he loves us better.

    July 28, 2011 at 8:59 pm |
  15. Coolius Unroolius

    A pre-race invocation? It's no surprise that studies done on NASCAR fans show how low their average education levels are. The dunces of America, fat, lazy, and ignorant ... too lazy to mow the lawn, yet opposed to illegal immigration. Too lazy to study technology in university, but glued to their HDTVs. This is why I'm always happy to see a car tire go flying into the stands: it's eugenics in motion.

    July 28, 2011 at 8:37 pm |
  16. Jesus

    his wife is butt ugly, maybe if he wasn't praying to him imaginary friend and actually looked for a REAL hot wife he would have something to pray about.

    July 28, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
  17. Kim

    People need to lighten up! I loved it, and God is LOVE..............so maybe if more preachers had a better sense of humor, they would have better attendance in church! Just sayin' ...

    July 28, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
    • LH

      YEAH, nothing like a good tickling of the ears to do exactly what the Bible says not to... A good preacher doesn't water down the Gospel with jokes.

      July 28, 2011 at 9:32 pm |
  18. Tom

    A smokin' hot wife needs some nicotine patches and air conditioning.

    July 28, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
    • Barney Fife

      No, she needs better taste in men.

      July 28, 2011 at 9:01 pm |
    • Greta

      You made me chuckle. Thanks!

      July 28, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
  19. derp

    How stupid are you people? This whole thing was a joke. He stole the line from "Talladega Nights". The guys wife is a huge fat woman. There is nothing hot about her. Go to his website and look at the pictures. He was quoting Rickey Bobbie!!

    I am regularly stunned how dumb christians are. You dim wits are debating the merits of a PRE NASCAR RACE sermon given by a guy who quotes Will Farrell. Uuugghhh!!!!! you people are stupid.

    July 28, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
    • Bill the Human

      couldn't agree more

      July 28, 2011 at 9:44 pm |
    • Martin T

      I never watched that movie, nor do I watch NASCAR. Having said that, how would I know it came from Rickie Bobby, or whoever it is. By the way, I'm an atheist, I thought the thing was darn funny..

      July 28, 2011 at 9:59 pm |
  20. More Truth in Mencken than Jesus

    "We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart." H. L. Mencken

    July 28, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
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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.