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. sheppard

    Some so-called Christians need to lighten up and stop being so judgmental. God gave us a sense of humor for a reason. On more than one occasion I've been known to say Thank you, Jesus for finding a parking place. He should be a part of our every day lives – not reserved just for when we get on our knees and try to sound pious...

    July 27, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
    • Sue

      So, sheppard, what do you say to your sky fairy when you don't get the parking space that you asked him for? Or anything else that you asked for???

      July 27, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
    • Melvin

      Sue, if you're implying that there is no God because YOU don't always get what you want after a prayer, I'd say that you've done a good job of describing the extent of most atheists logic.

      July 27, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
    • The Guy

      Melvin, that's the dumbest thing i think i've ever heard someone say.

      So an atheist is an atheist because he/she doesn't get what they want when they pray? Well since an atheist wouldn't believe in god to begin with, they wouldn't be praying to something of non-existence.
      See what I did there? That's called logic.

      Also, atheists tend to rely on reason and scientific facts for their beliefs, something I can't say of Christianity.

      July 28, 2011 at 8:55 am |
    • SCAtheist

      Tell me what prayer you have ever had answered. The results of prayer are equal to results of not praying. Many studies have shown that, but of course you're a science denier when it's convenient.

      July 28, 2011 at 9:07 am |
    • Jesus

      ...and his wife prayed, "thank you for the smokin' hot gardener and pool boy...it makes up for my obese and homely pastor husband".

      July 28, 2011 at 10:14 am |
    • Melvin

      The Guy-all i'm saying is that Sue sounded bitter. Like she had once believed in God and then stopped believing because her prayers weren't answered the way she wanted. Otherwise, if she has always not believed in God and never prayed, how would she know prayers are or are not answered?

      July 28, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
  2. justathought

    //////////////////////////////////////////////////// No that is not true there are many scientific facts, for instance, if you drop an apple, will fall because of gravity. There's to my knowedge, nothing in the Bible about that, but it is a scientific fact. /////////////////////////////////////////////

    July 27, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
  3. Brandon

    He thanks God for his smokin' hot wife? Pretentious nut.

    July 27, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
  4. Draeggo

    Amen Pastor Nelms! AMEN!

    July 27, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
  5. justathought

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// I want to make a challenge to the athiests: Give one scientific FACT, not a THEORY, and I will give you a scientific FACT from the Bible that wasn't proven until hundreds, even thousands of years later, there are several, so com'on. //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    July 27, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
    • The Bobinator

      Tell me about the scientific fact of sacrificing and burning animal flesh to cure leprosy.

      July 27, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
    • stejo

      justathought-less – a scientific theory is an current explanation for many, many observed, proven facts. So in many ways, a fact is subservient to a theory – Theory of relativity, theory of gravity – those are 2 that come to mind.

      July 27, 2011 at 7:48 pm |
    • SCAtheist

      Okay justathought let's hear one of your scientific facts from the bible. I actually read the dumb book myself. I doubt you have.

      July 28, 2011 at 9:10 am |
    • Hmmm...

      Why didn't "god" create humans in the first place, instead of going through microbes, dinosaurs, and various types of monkeys? Just a science experiment until he "got it right"? With the billions of galaxies in the universe, and the probability of other life forms, are they all exactly like us, based on god's image? Did the "son of god" also visit their planets with enlightened hope & religious miracles? Did god just not create any of that, so he/she doesn't care? I have plenty more questions without answers. But, I'll wait for the answers to these.

      July 28, 2011 at 10:09 am |
  6. TAK

    This pastor realizes that "Talledega Nights" was mocking the NASCAR/redneck/christian sub-culture... doesn't he???

    July 27, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • Anti Christian Taliban Schizophrenics


      This pastor realizes that "Talledega Nights" was mocking the NASCAR/redneck/christian sub-culture... doesn't he???

      Nascar fans are proud of being "stupid" and a "redneck".

      July 27, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
    • DianD

      Mocking, problably not. He probably thought the references are quite complimentary!

      July 28, 2011 at 3:42 am |
  7. justathought

    I would like to challenge the athiets. Give me a 'proven', not a 'therory' a scientific 'fact' that Christians don't believe, and I wii give you a scienific fact in the Bible that wasn't proven until hundreds, even thousands of years later. There is more than one, so com'on!

    July 27, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      In science, EVERYTHING is a theory up for revision.

      July 27, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • The Bobinator

      > In science, EVERYTHING is a theory up for revision.

      Facts are not theories. Facts are facts.

      July 27, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
    • HamsterDancer

      in science everything is considered a theory to allow for revisions as Doc Vestbule said. What we commonly call the Law of Gravity is actually Gravitational Theory because more can be learned about it. This was the case of Einsteins Theory of Relativity. It added more to our concepts of gravity but didn't change it.
      This doesn't mean it's not true. It's just that science works by two things: what can be observed and experiments that can be repeated and get the same results. This means whether you are a Christian, Muslim, atheist, Buddhist, or whatever you always get the same observations and the same results for an experiment. This way everybody KNOWS it's true. They are basically FACTS. It's objective.
      Religion is subjective. Only the person experiencing it can say it is true for THEM, not for anybody else. Hope that clears it up.

      July 27, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
    • Nonimus

      There is also the type of fact (English is an imprecise medium) that is essentially data; observation of specific measurable phenomena that can be verified. For example, the high temperature was 101F yesterday.

      July 27, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
    • Nonimus

      However, what I think most are trying to say is that there are no Proofs in science, that is Mathematics. Scientific Theories are well substantiated explanations of how the world works, based on Observations/Facts, Laws, and other Theories.

      July 27, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
    • Nonimus

      Okay, here's one:

      The Earth is spherical, or a spheroid, but not circular.

      July 27, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
    • David Johnson


      Well said, and exactly right! Personal Revelation only works for the person.


      July 27, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
    • Alex

      @justathought, dude go back to the woods were u can stay uneducated, ty:)

      July 27, 2011 at 8:07 pm |
  8. Wild Bill

    I've heard all my life that God created me in his image, and gave me my emotions including, the sense of humor. Even the Bible points out that God must deal with man in a humerous manner, because He is so much more advanced in intelligence than the smartest man on earth. Pastor Nelms prayer was a fresh approach to the cut and dry offerings we hear over and over again. He spoke from the heart, he prayed with a sense of humor, and I'll guarantee you he not only got our attention, his prayer went straight to Heaven. God has a lot to deal with these days, and I know He got a kick out of this. Do you honestly think when Bob Hope passed the pearly gates he was silenced? "Judge not, that you be not judged" Guess where that came from? And, aside from all of this.... I didn't think a Baptist minister had it in him! HA!

    July 27, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
    • Alex

      Humor can be explained scientifically... think about the funniest situation you've ever seen.. got it... ok.. now i would bet a lot of money that the funny situation is based upon something bad happening.. ie. getting hit in the nuts by a football, awkward situation, ect.. You see.. Humor is a social interaction, but primarily its a coping mechanism.. laughing at horrible situations puts a possitive spin on a bad situation.. it keeps the brain positive and healthy.. these memes (instinctual behaviors are passed on through generations) are important bc humor protects us from depression/suicide, ect.. ITS EVOLUTION BABY!..

      July 27, 2011 at 8:20 pm |
  9. getagrip

    I have a great sense of humor and I tell those who believe or don't believe to go with what you know and in the end, when we all die then We'll get our answer...I don't hate anyone for what they do or don't believe in because it's not my place to judge...I only worry about my family and what I need to do to get through everyday with a smile on my face and alot of love to show my family how much I appreciate them... So, let the preacher preach!!! Opinions are like problems, everybody's got'um

    July 27, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • Aaron

      Talk about "getting a grip." News flash - it is a BOOK.

      July 27, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
  10. getagrip

    I believe the people who get offened need to have a sense of humor..I'm sure GOD will not condemn him or band him from heaven for a prayer...it doesn't matter what you pray for as long as you pray and are thankful...It doesn't say anywhere in the BIBLE that you'll be cast out of heaven or enjoying your prayers...I'm sure GOD has a sense on humor...There are worst things in this world to worry about than a preachers prayer...GOD BLESS THE PREACHER, HIS "SMOKIN' HOT WIFE AND THEIR FAMILY".... Don't worry Preacher man the people that condemn you need to get a life and embrace it!!!

    July 27, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
    • wait

      you are right, probably he gets your sense of humor, probably humans will not get his sense of humor when the time comes...

      July 27, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
  11. Prayer

    Prayer is a powerful way to connect to God.
    PLEASE do not mock this...it shows how we as human show such callous disdain to our CREATOR....

    July 27, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
    • Brian

      I prefer to believe that we were created in his image and, therefore, He has a sense of humor, too.

      July 27, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • PlagueDoc

      @Brian Plus I think its important for God to know that guys tend to appreciate some "images" more than others.

      July 27, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
    • Anti Christian Taliban Schizophrenics


      Prayer is a powerful way to connect to God.
      PLEASE do not mock this...it shows how we as human show such callous disdain to our CREATOR....

      Does he talk back to you? Do you hear his voice?
      Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that makes it difficult to tell the difference between real and unreal experiences, to think logically, to have normal emotional responses, and to behave normally in social situations.
      As the illness continues, psychotic symptoms develop:
      • False beliefs or thoughts that are not based in reality (delusions)
      • Hearing, seeing, or feeling things that are not there (hallucinations)

      July 27, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
    • yep

      You can hear him if you listen, from the sound of you look like you love to rave and rant and do not want to listen.
      Read the Bible for starters and you will hear him talk to you.
      Don't hang out with your Beer, now that you would be you talkin to yourself and delusional...

      July 27, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • Frogist

      You know we always hear from the believers who like to troll here saying how atheists are always picking on every little thing. Here is a pastor, just having some harmless fun, and the believer trolls think he's horrible too! Is it just in their nature to overreact? Kinda puts things in perspective, doesn't it?

      July 27, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
  12. CW

    I can't judge the pastor for his prayer. Here is what I would say though..for me when I approach God...in prayer I want to say what is in my heart..in reverence..in respect..and most of all in thankfulness.

    By the way..I heard an excellent story on the radio....there was an atheist(don't know the name)....he went on this massive study to disprove God exists...Atheist finds mounds upon mounds of "HISTORIC" evidence that shows that Jesus DID indeed walk the face of the earth...that he was crucified.....THEN...he says...."after finding all this fact it would have taken more faith to believe in NO God." Well folks there you have it...another atheist has left the little group....more to go soon I'm sure.

    July 27, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • Anti Christian Taliban Schizophrenics

      Thats special CW, how about stay on topic or are your going to keep using this blog to preach your fear and tell us about your lack of faith?

      July 27, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
    • CW

      @ Anti Christian Taliban Schizophrenics,

      You say:

      Thats special CW, how about stay on topic or are your going to keep using this blog to preach your fear and tell us about your lack of faith?


      I say:

      I think I address the topic....but to further address I do believe when you pray to our Lord...notice I said "our" Lord..at least for me I will never poke fun or make smart remarks....thanking God a wife is a good thing but I would drop the "smok'n" part. By the way I've read your comments....you can make fun of God, Southerner's...all you want...trust me all of us will stand before God and have to answer to him for any and all mistakes we have all made.

      July 27, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • AvdBerg

      For a better understanding we invite you to visit our website http://www.gaychristian101.com

      July 27, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
    • Nonimus

      Well, I would say that you're story describes a somewhat poor (intellectually) Atheist. If all one needs is being persuaded that someone named Jesus lived and was crucified, in order to believe in the Christian God, then he didn't really understand why he was an Atheist in the first place. In other words, even if a person named Jesus existed, that does not in itself say anything about God's existence.

      July 27, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
  13. stevarreno

    Smokin' hot, she may be, but what he said is still inappropriate. There are better, more spiritual ways of putting it. Prayer in this manner makes me think he really doesn't take what he is doing very seriously. This does nothing more than demean everyone involved.

    July 27, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
  14. Doc Vestibule

    Way to perpetuate redneck stereotypes, Pastor!

    July 27, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • Anti Christian Taliban Schizophrenics

      I find it funny when they race on the 2 road course races.....teams bring in special drivers who can turn more than one direction...ARE YOU SERIOUS...you have to "hire" a drvier that not only can turn left but can also turn right....lol Simple racing for simple minds.

      July 27, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
  15. GSA

    It was entertaining prayer for sure but I don't believe him at all, I mean look at his wife, c'mon.

    July 27, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
  16. Virginian

    Funniest part is obviously his wife's voice in the video. Did no one watch it? It is a man. No doubt about it.

    July 27, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
  17. Anti Christian Taliban Schizophrenics

    God bless the people of the South/Walmart shoppers.... simple minds just cant help themselves. Nascar is the laughing talk of the world. Merry go round racing at its best.

    July 27, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • stevarreno

      It is laughing "stock," Mr. Literacy, not laughing "talk."

      July 27, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
    • Anti Christian Taliban Schizophrenics


      It is laughing "stock," Mr. Literacy, not laughing "talk."

      I know...I stated it for a reason. I didn't want to confuse the nascar fans by saying "stock".

      July 27, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
  18. Mesa Mick

    And the France family that owns NASCAR wonders why their "sport of Dixie" is held in the same esteem as "pro-Rasslin" when you have yeehaws like this character Nelms "prayin" to the baby Jesus before each race and then TELEVISING IT for all the world to mock...

    July 27, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • CW

      @ Mesa Mick,

      And yet every Sunday its on....the stands are packed...and not just the east cost races but on the left coast too.

      July 27, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
    • Anti Christian Taliban Schizophrenics


      @ Mesa Mick,

      And yet every Sunday its on....the stands are packed...and not just the east cost races but on the left coast too.


      Because mindless drippie droolies watch the race does not qualify it as "real" racing. Nascar is a "slow" man sport. Meaning not complicated merry go round racing.

      July 27, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
  19. Kathy Mauler

    AMEN!!!! I believe GOD has a great sense of humor and loved every word he spoke!

    July 27, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • Martin T

      You mean the pastor has a great sense of humor, and god is nothing more than a myth. Myths can't have a sense of humor.

      July 27, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
  20. David Johnson

    What does it matter? It's not like god is real. Right?


    July 27, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • Steven


      July 27, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • Mesa Mick

      You nailed it DJ – gawd is a delusion made up to counter the fear of not knowing found in the minds of most humans.

      July 27, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Everyone please pull out your physics books, turn to chapter 3, while we view the MS Presentation graphic of how it all LIKELY happened, rather than some 4,000 year old set of contradictory oral traditions passed down by barely-historic man.

      July 27, 2011 at 1:58 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.