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. wowgold

    It's a unique religious show! xD

    July 28, 2011 at 5:01 am |
  2. Mark

    This is like critisizing Rosanne Barr for how she sang the national anthem. When you say a prayer or you sing the national anthem... you can be expected to be judged if you are tacky and treat the event like it is your own personal comedy act. And just like the flag wavers flipped out over her handling of the event, there will be people flip out over this pastor using a prayor more like the conversations you would overhear in a strip club. There have been so many things in the bible that are just ignored because it eventually becomes 'not cool' or starts cutting into profits. Not working on the Sabbath (sunday)... that sure went out the window fast! Not eating Shellfish. And there is certainly a LOT of scripture about conducting prayer WITH THE UPTMOST SERIOUSNESS!! Not just one or two passages but many. That is why this is shocking to many because pastor's when they actually go into prayer and talk directly with God are really not supposed to be trying to create a comedic event for a mass Nascar audience. He may as well just made some farting noises and thown up his middle finger. But that is for people who REALLY believe in God to worry about. Most likely this guy is just trying to grow his flock so he can get bigger and bigger checks!

    July 28, 2011 at 4:58 am |
  3. Kris Wood

    If his wife, is, in fact, smoking hot...who else would be responsible BUT god? Or the fact he has his hands in a big juicy church walle...ohh

    July 28, 2011 at 4:35 am |
    • pray

      wow that was a leap, from off color comment to Embezzlement? This is so atypical of Americans these days, btw, where were the comments made by Rev Wright?

      July 28, 2011 at 4:55 am |
    • Prometheus

      Actually given what others perceive as reality and not fate or divine providence is pretty unlikely that a man like the Rev would attract a 'Smokin Hot Babe'. Statistically speaking you understand. However if you flip the stats and add wealth into the picture...do you see where I am going with that?

      July 28, 2011 at 7:25 am |
  4. pray

    I have to say one thing, is CNN seriously a news outlet or a media machine for some other purposes? I come to cnn.com everyday and get about 10% news and the rest is garbage filler and inflamatory pieces. This news source is not a news source at all. If you think a Minister saying his wife is smoking hot is news then you need to find a new venue for income, might I suggest joining the taliban?

    July 28, 2011 at 4:26 am |
    • pray

      I hear they are recruiting suicide bombers and the perks are supposedly pretty good!

      July 28, 2011 at 4:27 am |
    • Jake

      I'm a stand-up comedian.......I come here for the material.

      July 28, 2011 at 4:33 am |
    • pray

      Same here, you stealing my ideas? Grin

      July 28, 2011 at 4:35 am |
  5. wow

    George Carlin would have a f-ing field day

    July 28, 2011 at 4:20 am |
  6. Phil

    Religion! What a silly waste of time and energy. Grow up, you stupid humans. There is no god. Sheesh!

    July 28, 2011 at 4:16 am |
    • pray

      you better hope you are right

      July 28, 2011 at 4:22 am |
    • Yura


      July 28, 2011 at 4:32 am |
  7. Yura


    July 28, 2011 at 4:14 am |
  8. Jake

    I'd like to thank God for people with a sense of humor

    July 28, 2011 at 4:10 am |
    • Greg

      Exactly! I think a sense of humor is one of the greatest gifts given humanity by God! I thought his prayer was great!

      July 28, 2011 at 4:42 am |
  9. Jake

    I'd like to thank God for people with a sense of humor.

    July 28, 2011 at 4:09 am |
    • pray


      July 28, 2011 at 4:57 am |
  10. Yura


    July 28, 2011 at 4:05 am |
    • wow


      July 28, 2011 at 4:08 am |
    • MumboJumbo

      Get over it. We have enough seriousness with religions as it is. Christ almighty, STFU already!!!!!!

      July 28, 2011 at 4:15 am |
    • pray

      I am sure however that Jesus himself was not a dour pessimistic sort of fellow, I bet he could joke with the best. God is not a God of hate and darkness, but of lightness and happiness.

      July 28, 2011 at 4:23 am |
    • Philip

      That EPHESIANS fellow sure could deliver a good punch line!

      July 28, 2011 at 4:32 am |
    • Epidi

      So, you believe God created everything, and you don't think he (or she) has a sense of humor? C'mon! A deity MUST have a sense of humor, if not, what's the fun in creating anything?

      July 28, 2011 at 4:32 am |
    • Yura

      Epidi>>>>> sense of humor can be used somewhere else, but not on a prayer!!! or is it a comedy show????? lets be holly when we pray, so God would really hear us

      July 28, 2011 at 4:59 am |
    • Mark

      YOu don't think this guy actually believes the bible do you???

      July 28, 2011 at 5:03 am |
    • Yura

      Mark we all may believe but there is a difference between believing and execute

      July 28, 2011 at 5:14 am |
  11. John

    This pastor is obviously grateful for his wife, which really is a good thing, but I can’t help but question his choice of words, and the platform he used to express them. For a pastor to refer to his wife as “smokin’ hot” in prayer on a public stage is certainly going to appeal to the masses, especially in a society that largely celebrates things lustful. So naturally it’s time for celebration and to revel in having a “holy man” in the membership. Congratulations, and here’s to the hundreds of pats on the back you got for that one pastor. The only thing missing from that scene was the masses cheerfully singing “For he’s a jolly good fellow..” What am I missing here folks? Isn’t one of the most basic themes reiterated throughout the bible, God’s calling for his people to do away with their old nature and fleshly desires? Pastor, do you realize that if I were to look at your wife and agree with you that she IS smoking hot, then according the One you represent, you could have caused me to commit adultery, let alone the millions of others?! Matthew 5:27-28 27 "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." Jesus didn’t speak these words if he didn’t mean them. I am just a man like you pastor with my own struggles and make my share of mistakes as I believe you did here, but I look to people like you to help guide me in my battle against the temptations of the flesh, not condone them. Perhaps the most upsetting thing here is the fact that so many young men heard this pastor refer to a woman as “smokin’ hot”. As a father of a 17-year-old son, how in the world am I supposed to guide my boy to look upon young ladies with utmost honor and respect and to remain pure until marriage when a Pastor is being lauded for calling a woman “smokin’ hot”, even if it is his wife. Thanks, but no thanks.

    July 28, 2011 at 4:00 am |
    • Yura


      July 28, 2011 at 4:12 am |
    • MumboJumbo

      Get over it. We have enough seriousness with religions as it is. Christ almighty, STFU already!!!!!!

      July 28, 2011 at 4:16 am |
    • pray

      hence the concept of free will in a nutshell!

      July 28, 2011 at 4:24 am |
    • Jake

      Hi John,

      I mean this as a very honest question and mean no offense......I am actually very interested in your response.

      With regard to your question of......"how in the world am I supposed to guide my boy to look upon young ladies with utmost honor and respect and to remain pure until marriage when a Pastor is being lauded for calling a woman “smokin’ hot”, even if it is his wife"

      Isn't that the point of being a parent? Figuring out how to help guide your kids through a world that they very little control over as well as share with 6.8 billion other people? To help them make the right decisions for their own well-being regardless of what others do?

      And really, does it have to come down to a judgement rather than taking it for what it is and having a chuckle at a joke?

      July 28, 2011 at 4:31 am |
    • John

      Jake, thanks for your response to my posting. My only point regarding raising a child is that in trying to get my 17 year-old to consider things beyond his hormones, like respecting a lady for who she is and not what she looks like, it doesn't help when a pastor is on national news referring to a lady as smoking hot which I believe communicates the wrong thing to a teenage boy. Isn't a Pastor someone who should be a good model for your kids? I don't mean to sound judgmental here. I am sure he is a good man, and a good pastor, but I believe he really made a mistake here...but that is between him and God. I'm no "holy roller" or "fanatic" in fact this is the first time I have ever posted a comment on a news site like this. I am an average christian man who is saddened that so many people take the Word of God too lightly these days and twist scriptures to accommodate their lifestyle choices. I just don't see in scripture where God has this tremendous sense of humor everyone is talking about. He is a God of love who wants us to be joyful through a relationship with Him and yet all the while a God of judgement who should be feared.

      July 28, 2011 at 6:05 am |
  12. ChurchBoy

    The only people who are perplexed about this probably have never stepped inside of a church. They have a skewed perception that Christians are all boring and uptight. God has a sense of humor. It's not uncommon for great pastors (not saying he is one, since I've never attended his sermons) to mix humor with their teachings in order to interact and find common ground with the audience.

    July 28, 2011 at 3:59 am |
    • MumboJumbo

      Wrong. Haven't you seen some of the comments of the self-righteous Christians in this forum? Quoting scripture about how this was wrong, or at the very least inappropriate, or bad timing with this or that going on, etc.

      July 28, 2011 at 4:19 am |
    • Enough

      Right! Mumbo if you think that the self-righteous "Christians" who comment on here represent the majority of us then I guess that the self-righteous atheists represent every atheist as well. I tend to gloss over the Belief Blog comments because I know that most of them will be from the extreme sides of both – the small percentage – who need to yell the loudest and strut around. Church Boy is correct that good pastors mix humor and love with their sermons, and are the first ones to stand in line to admit their sins and faults as human beings. I don't assume that all atheists are like the ones that comment on here just like I know that not all Christians behave like those on the boards. That's a ridiculous assumption.

      Besides, how do you know that the comments on here are from Christians? People put comments on here all the time just to enflame others and start fights – doesn't mean that they believe what they post in any way.

      July 28, 2011 at 6:14 am |
  13. lol

    burn in hell

    July 28, 2011 at 3:58 am |
  14. Joe

    Since when has Christianity NOT been about shilling a product?

    July 28, 2011 at 3:54 am |
  15. kcautotech


    July 28, 2011 at 3:52 am |
  16. jesse

    Oh for god's sake, he was just having a little fun. If god, no matter which one you believe in, didn't have a sense of humor, why do you think humor exists at all?

    July 28, 2011 at 3:38 am |
  17. DianD

    It would be funny if the pastor does the other Ricky Bobby prayer; "Help me Jesus, help me Jewish God, help me Allah... HELP ME TOM CRUISE! HELP ME TOM CRUISE!" LOL.

    July 28, 2011 at 3:36 am |
  18. epona41

    p.s. reverence is in the eye of the beholder. although i am no longer a religious person, i do think that your god and his son would like you to be joyful. if god didn't have a sense of humor, we wouldn't be here. *snort* his prayer brought a lot of people joy. how can that be wrong?

    July 28, 2011 at 3:33 am |
  19. unowhoitsme

    It's a religious SHOW. There's no humility or sincerity about it. It's all about collecting bucks for a great religious show. it's that what God's about these days?

    July 28, 2011 at 3:30 am |
  20. borisjimbo


    July 28, 2011 at 3:29 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47
About this blog

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.