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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. Stacie

    Interesting...no one seems to be wondering what his wife thought about the prayer. Does she like to known as smoking hot or would she prefer to be known for something else. And maybe that's the problem...no one seems to want to know or cares what she thinks. I'm guessing if the prayer were for a man, the media would have had a microphone in his face faster than you can say Talladega Nights asking for his response. Maybe the problem isn't the prayer but our beliefs about women.

    August 10, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
  2. heyimjason

    I don't care about this guy, his beliefs, or NASCAR. Is this really news?

    August 10, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
  3. donnielee

    hey he got our attention! i hope the big#1 saw the race.BOOGITYBOOGITYBOOGITY nuff said.

    August 10, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
  4. regina

    stupid.... just stupid! now go watch those cars go round and round, never really going anywhere , and all those people hoping you wreck! wow ! stupid! i would not attend his church and if i had i would leave quickly! once again southern people are made out to be morons!

    August 9, 2011 at 11:05 pm |
  5. Hanna

    I don't know if some of you are aware or not but I believe Nascar is the only sporting event that allows a prayer with a reference to God or closes the prayer in Jesus Name. I have been of long time fan of Nascar and I am a Christian and I found no fault with the prayer. The Bible says to give thanks for ALL things

    August 9, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
    • Anti Christian Taliban Schizophrenics

      Well that explains the simpleness of Nascar and how it really isn't racing. Simple racing for simple minds endorsed by deslusional simpleton jesus.
      AMEN!

      August 9, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
  6. BL

    Well, is she or isn't she?

    August 9, 2011 at 10:06 am |
  7. emergencyartrobseven7

    religion, for the most part, already makes a mockery of god, so that assertion holds no water....product placement in prayer?....bring it on.....it crazy time!.....

    August 8, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
  8. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    I won't be bothered by the lowest common denominator.

    August 8, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
  9. Marisa Morgan

    Awesome. Nice to see some pastors have a sense of humor!

    August 8, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
    • Steve McGrew

      You should attend my church, my pastor could have been a stand-up comedian! he has the congregation laughing every Sunday. Best preacher I ever heard preaching. Sunday mornings are the highlight of my week.

      August 11, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
  10. wf1213

    PRAISE THE LORD. GOD LOVES IT WHEN WE LAUGH AND ENJOY LIFE.

    August 8, 2011 at 5:17 am |
  11. Laura

    I'm not a NASCAR fan, and even I immediately recognized the reference to Talladega Nights! Lighten up, people! Read a book or see a movie once in a while.

    August 7, 2011 at 8:59 pm |
  12. Rose Cantos

    Seriously people, God has a great sense of humor, especially more than those that pretend to be offended and pious
    by one man's prayer. Lighten up.

    August 7, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • Gardener Jesus H. Christos

      Of course He has a sense of humor, just look at the middle east, or the r@pe of nanking or hell- how about Somalia and Rawanda? Yeah, great sense of humor He has alright

      August 8, 2011 at 2:34 am |
  13. dude

    I just feel like boogity boogity boogity amen sounds racist. the rest is funny to me though.

    August 5, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
    • pj

      are you serious? racist? theres NOTHING remotely racist about "boogity boogity boogity amen", you are stupid.

      August 9, 2011 at 5:20 am |
    • KY

      Nah, I don't think it's racist, but it's not something I'd like to hear my pastor saying out loud in front of thousands of people... And PJ, most people learn in about the first grade that it's not nice to call people stupid. Grow up.

      August 9, 2011 at 10:30 pm |
  14. Justin Lerner

    A couple of years ago I was in a singles bible study with more than 70 persons age 30-50 and the singles minister said something similar in the middle of his message with his comment, "my wife is hot". I just shook my head, wondering what that had to do with anything in the message and where the state of spiritual awareness, reverence and sincerity is in the ministry in the modern era.

    That being said, there are places to have fun and better ways to demonstrate it, than with a flippant prayer that children may not understand at a NASCAR event. To some it borders on a mockery of the God, who sees and hears. Yes, every person will someday stand account for their faith and living or lack thereof, but I suppose God won't have accolades for the lack of reverence which pervades many Protestant denominations or pulpits. There is a time and place for fun and a right expression for having fun, but don't demean the value and seriousness of real prayer and thankfulness with triviality and irreverence.

    August 5, 2011 at 5:22 am |
    • gijane

      AMEN AND AMEN Justin Lerner

      There is a reason why He is God, the Father. He's not some random god or a guy from the street named TOM! We should come to the Lord with serious reverence! Prayer is powerful, sacred, beautiful, a gracious gift from the Lord. It is our means of communicating with the Lord! It's not a joke or something to please the people with! Christianity in America is not Christianity at ALL! You would never see a Muslim approach Allah like this because there is respect and fear for who they believe in. This is (once again) a crying shame to Christians!

      August 6, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
    • Sneaky Jones

      Jesus, save me from your followers...

      August 8, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
  15. Steve

    You bible bangers need to lighten up. By the way, what signs or evidence have there been in the last 2000 years that God actually cares what you do or say? God is an absentee Father. God has left us all on our own with no hand in our development. Perhaps the Bible is a manual to live a worthy life, but what kind of parent just leaves a book for their child and then expects them to flourish and learn everything important on their own from birth? Perhaps that is why the human race is in the state it is. Far too often people with no business being parents procreate and then leave the job of parenting to someone else.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
    • Kim

      Probably the same ones who didn't laugh at Bruce Almighty. That's why I never liked to go anywhere with the church group. They don't know how to have fun.

      August 8, 2011 at 6:59 pm |
    • Scott

      Probably your parents.

      August 11, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • Steve McGrew

      He shows himself to me all the time. If I thought you hated me I'd avoid you, too.

      August 11, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
  16. A free man

    That man is a liar. His wife is a dixie cup full of cold diarrhea

    August 4, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
  17. Tina

    I love this!!! Right when I saw the caption regarding the "smokin hot" wife....I knew it was about Ricky Bobby!!! This is just awesome!

    August 4, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
  18. matt

    this pastor in all the controversy probably brought more public attention to God than any other prayer. Good going!

    August 4, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
  19. JR

    The prayer is as it has been for as long as there has been religions. Tell the people what they want to hear, control the "mob" congregation with speech, then take their money or their backing, for your own good. Nothing new..

    August 4, 2011 at 6:11 am |
  20. Jaine

    Good Lord people – and yes! He is Good!! It was a fantastic prayer – full of spirit, joy & enthusiasm – just as our God who loves us intends us to be – joyful in all things!!! It was just really great, with all the sadness, evil, and ugliness that covers our TV screens and news reports – to hear and see such a great reminder that God is among us – even at a NASCAR race! I hope you, too, will find some joy in it – I myself have watched it over and over and laugh out loud every time! Thanks Pastor! You made me happy!

    August 3, 2011 at 9:01 pm |
    • Usaidit

      Amen!

      August 5, 2011 at 2:03 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.