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. Lanfear

    Lighten up, anal Christians!
    And when will people wake up and realize that "God" is just a force of nature, "God" is a natural process. Not some man in the sky who's judging everything you say and do.

    July 28, 2011 at 10:49 am |
    • pithymcgee

      If God is nature, or a natural process, then we are all God. Everything – all matter and energy and information – is God. That means there is no "god", just naturalistic expressions. This isn't an issue of semantics as much as some would like to make it.

      July 28, 2011 at 10:54 am |
  2. jt

    giggling god ur an idiot

    July 28, 2011 at 10:49 am |
  3. atheist in cleveland

    To One of Em – are you really one of us, or are you from Pittsburgh?

    July 28, 2011 at 10:45 am |
  4. NativeOregonian

    Never put a word out about anything before – but had to when I saw this. Whatever that was it was NOT a prayer.

    July 28, 2011 at 10:41 am |
  5. Bill

    Was this not a 'Talladega Nights' reference? I'm pretty sure Ricky Bobby says the exact same thing.

    July 28, 2011 at 10:40 am |
    • pithymcgee

      Yeah, and because Talladega Nights was soooooo Christian friendly, the reference is totally appropriate.

      July 28, 2011 at 10:45 am |
    • Jeroen

      Yes, this is explained in the video, but not in the article it seems.

      July 28, 2011 at 10:46 am |
    • jt

      i thought it was awsome u jesus freaks have to lighten up

      July 28, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • Anti Christian Taliban Schizophrenics


      Yeah, and because Talladega Nights was soooooo Christian friendly, the reference is totally appropriate.

      Well the movie was pretty accurate to the region which is full of religo drippy droolies.

      July 28, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
  6. Debbie Dominy

    I didnt like it. It was if he was playing a marketer giving each business their 3 seconds of ad time. There he was, in the oppotunity many pastors would LOVE to have, addressing probably millions, with the chance to really affect people about God, and THAT"S what he choses to say?? Disappointing. If he wanted to say something about racing and the companies they use.. do so, BEFORE YOU PRAY... then really give people something to think about with a meaningful prayer. What about praying for the driver's safety, their families, the fans lives, etc??? Pathetic!

    July 28, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • pithymcgee

      He's not going to "affect" a thinking person with his ridiculous pandering to corporations in the middle of what's supposed to be his pandering to a nonexistent bearded dude in the sky.

      July 28, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • PRISM 1234

      "He's not going to "affect" a thinking person " .......Lol ! ! ! And you do surely show of what depth YOUR thinking is ! ! !

      July 28, 2011 at 11:56 am |
  7. myweightinwords

    You know there was a time I would have found this scandalous. Now I look at it and I can see the humor, I can laugh at the man's attempt at levity.

    You know what? If I had a smokin' hot wife, I'd be thanking my deities for her too. If your deity can't handle that, maybe it's time to find a new one that can.

    July 28, 2011 at 10:37 am |
  8. vsw

    Loved the humor and the smiles that brought.

    July 28, 2011 at 10:35 am |
  9. Angel

    I think it's brilliant. A. Everyone is grateful for different things. For example – I guarantee 3-year olds give thanks for their toys. B. God has a sense of humor and I think he would appreciate the pastor going out the way to connect with a specific audience. People who stick with cold-hard scripture will never reach outside of their pews. I say, good for him.

    July 28, 2011 at 10:33 am |
    • Giggling God

      God has a sense of humor. That's why he invented cancer and tornados.

      Nowhere in the Bible does it say that God has any sense of humor at all. Anger, yes, lots of it, but humor, not a mention of it. Jesus was not one for a laugh either. Nor were the disciples or Paul or anyone. Nobody has a goood laugh in the Bible.

      So all you people who say God has a sense of humor, you totally made that up . . . just like everything else about God was made up.

      July 28, 2011 at 10:39 am |
    • heidi

      I agree! Jesus definitely has a sense of humor

      July 28, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • antioch

      @Giggling God.

      God has a sense of humor all right. Don't doubt it.

      Take the comedian Sam Kinnison for instance. The guy - a former minister - constantly got laughs by making fun of how much he hated marriage, the silliness of religion, and the wonders of excessive drinking. Then he was killed in a motorcycle accident on his honeymoon on Easter Sunday by a drunk driver.

      God has a sense of humor, and his favorite form of humor is irony.

      July 28, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • Amy

      For Giggling God: God is very funny, he gave me to my very serious husband, check out Proverbs 17:22, Psalm 126:2, Ecclesiastes 3:4, Psalm 2:4, just a few, and one of my favorites for humor Genesis 17:17 – Abraham and Sarah – seriously He could have made a show of power any ole way, but that really makes people laugh out loud. I really feel bad for you that all you have learned about God is pain and suffering. Maybe you should go visit this guy's Baptist Church...

      July 28, 2011 at 11:10 am |
    • I = rubber, U = glue

      @ antioch

      You seem to know how god works. Which is interesting because I have been told several times that I, as a mere human, cannot possibly comprehend the mysteries and motives of an all-powerful being. Good thing you have figured it out and have filled us other mere humans in on how things work.

      I sure hope you're wrong about god finding humor in killing a man.

      July 28, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • antioch


      I'm at peace with my understanding of God and life and death and that's all that matters.

      I'm more than 100 percent certain that after Sam died, he nudged God with his elbow and said, "Nice. That was too d**n funny."

      As far as laughing at someone's death, we all have to go sometime. No one gets out of life alive. The sooner you realize that, the less uptight you'll be.

      July 28, 2011 at 11:28 am |
    • Giggling God

      Big fail, Amy. Almost all of your quotes refer to people other than God laughing. The only one that refered to God's laughing was Psalm 2:4, where he laughs in his ANGER – read the next lines. He is not laughing oout of a senses of humor but out of a sense of power and rage.

      Big fail.

      July 28, 2011 at 11:40 am |
    • I = rubber, U = glue

      @ antioch

      So Sam made it into heaven, even with his blasphemous lifestyle? Good for him.

      I think this will be my last post to you, (I doubt that you care), because you are more than 100% sure in your unsubstantiated belief in god's humor. It sounds like you have convinced yourself that you are right, and with no reasons as to why this is you will have a hard time convincing me.

      July 28, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • antioch


      You're right. I don't care.

      Who said it was my job to convince you in the first place? I can't save your soul. You're responsible for your own spiritual well-being.

      July 28, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • I = rubber, U = glue

      @ antioch

      You were trying to convince us that god has a sense of humor. In your reply to Giggling God, you told a story about Sam Kinnison as your reason why this is. I replied that this does not convince me and is a terrible reason, so now you post that you weren't trying to convince me?

      Dang, you tricked me into responding to you again. BTW, i am not insecure in my beliefs either. I just like to try and understand why people, such as yourself, have such strong convictions in their beliefs and how you validate these beliefs (ie scriptures, personal experience, preacher...)

      July 28, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • antioch

      @ i=rubber

      I really wanted to be obtuse in my response to you, but I didn't have the heart.

      So if you're truly trying to understand why I have such strong conviction in my beliefs and how I validate them, then I will tell you. Be aware, though, that my answer is not meant to convince you of anything and it applies only to me.

      When your life is inverted by things like alcoholism and depression like mine were, it's helpful to approach life like you would if you were floating down white-water rapids. You recognize that you can't control the current on the river of life, but you quickly appreciate that you can learn from the journey others have made and you can arm yourself with the proper tools for the trip.

      I started by letting go of my desire to be in total control. I then started meditating, praying specifically for faith, wisdom and the ability to discern truth-speakers from shysters. (There are more of the latter than the former.) I started reading a lot and journaling about my personal experiences. And then I started reflecting on what I had written in those journals. Most importantly, I started listening to my heart and stopped taking my life so seriously.

      BTW: I'm not the alcoholic or the depressed.

      July 28, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
  10. One of em

    ...and I thank God every day for my smokin' hot wife.

    July 28, 2011 at 10:33 am |
  11. Mountaineer

    I don't see the reverance to God or Christ but it's not for me to judge. It appears to be materialistic, promoting a NASCAR race! Not in the best of taste. Just glad it wasn't a Democrat or Liberal leaning preacher. Fox would have had a field day or three on this!

    July 28, 2011 at 10:33 am |
  12. Thoth-Amon

    NASCAR & X-tianity: Bread & circuses and a state religion for simpletons.

    July 28, 2011 at 10:33 am |
  13. One of em

    You know God has a sense of humor. He created athiests and Cleveland.

    July 28, 2011 at 10:30 am |
    • Dan

      TOO FUNNY!!!!!

      July 28, 2011 at 10:31 am |
    • pithymcgee

      So he specifically created Atheists? He made people who would, by definition, not be able to worship him and thus be eligible for a spot at the coolest eternal club when they die? Wow. Great logic. Fvking moron.

      July 28, 2011 at 10:49 am |
    • antioch

      PithyMcGee: Actually she said He created athiests. Not atheists. Not sure what the difference is, but I'm sure there is one.

      God didn't create atheists. I believe He created you and gave you freewill to choose whether or not you believe in Him. It does say in the Bible that not all people will believe in Him. If you choose not to believe, then so be it. It's not the believer's fault that you don't believe, and if you blame a believer for your inability to believe, then I believe that's your problem.

      You sound a little bitter. I know a way to aleviate that.

      July 28, 2011 at 11:05 am |
  14. Erica

    LOL! Seriously, its not that deep. I need folks to understand that God has a sense of humor as well. I would like to think that people would be excited that at least he (the pastor) thinks his wife is smoking hot and that he has a sense of humor. You are allowed to laugh during a worship experience and if God were as offended as some of you make Him out to be we would all be in big trouble.

    For those of you who take issue with the way he prayed check this... he said he was joking. Not only that check the scripture regarding the Pharisee who was pompous and arrogant in his public prayer and the tax collector who was honest about where he was and how he was feeling. Same concept, get a grip. No wonder people don't want to come to church nowdays.

    July 28, 2011 at 10:30 am |
    • StormDeCastle

      Grow up! God does not exist!

      July 28, 2011 at 10:35 am |
    • Wondering

      Where in the Bible does it say God has a sense of humor?

      July 28, 2011 at 10:41 am |
    • Amy

      You are soooooo very right Erica.

      God created humanity, men and women and every good thing that happens between them, and Humor. This Pastor knew the audience before him, their traditions, and was quite appropriate for the space an time.

      July 28, 2011 at 10:51 am |
  15. *SIGH*

    I don't mind he thanked God for a smoking hot wife. I just hope she really is smoking hot, or else she's simultaneously thanking God for her husband's poor eyesight.

    July 28, 2011 at 10:29 am |
    • Gross.....

      Google her......far cry from smokin

      July 28, 2011 at 10:35 am |
  16. SAM

    To pray in Jesus name, the highest name, above all others and to make a mockery of it is a disgrace! God does not want us to act as if we are dipped in pickle juice and while you can ask ANYTHING in THAT name, this pastor went to far and should be ashamed. God is HOLY and HE is Worthy and should be Worshipped not Mocked.

    July 28, 2011 at 10:26 am |
    • Dan

      Really? "
      God does not want us to act as if we are dipped in pickle juice and while you can ask ANYTHING in THAT name, this pastor went to far and should be ashamed"

      you know this to be truth? this is the problem with the world today, people are too sensitive. Would it have been ok to for him to give thanks to his "beautiful" wife? Does it really make a difference?

      July 28, 2011 at 10:29 am |
    • God


      July 28, 2011 at 10:30 am |
    • StormDeCastle

      Jesus was one of the greatest scam-artists in our history! Diety's do NOT exist – there is no Santa clause! It's time to grow up and stop believing in imaginary friends...

      July 28, 2011 at 10:33 am |
    • peter lawrence

      dear Sam...if jesus was to hear that prayer he would be laughing as well...u on the other hand have no sense of humor and probably no life. ..go get a life..go have some fun and stop being an ass!

      July 28, 2011 at 10:37 am |
    • Lacey18

      What's wrong with thanking God for your wife? I thought it was cute, and just in fun. People take things too seriously – I see no mockery here.

      July 28, 2011 at 10:40 am |
    • Jeroen

      "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven."

      I love how a lot of religous folks on the internet seems to be picky what they take from the bible. No need to judge the man, god will do that for you. Beside that I am sure claiming to know what gods thinks and how gods wants us to behave might break a few rules from the big book.

      July 28, 2011 at 10:45 am |
    • God

      Hey guys, God here....thought I'd clear this up for all of you, since there seems to be some confusion and disagreement.

      People are people, it was funny, get over it. Stop sensationalizing everything and start focusing on your lives. What did I tell you guys a few thousand years ago? Oh ya I remember, "don't judge, lest ye be judged" or something like that. All of you trying to defend my honor are just passing judgement and failing at my doctrine horribly. I think I'll go light up a spliff and contemplate sending all you tight @sses to hell

      July 28, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • Learner

      Relax, SAM !

      July 28, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • PRISM 1234

      Sam, I agree with you wholeheartedly.... But according to the posts you can see for yourself, so many people have the understanding and discernment to be to compared to the depth of a mud puddle!
      And tragic part of it is, many claim to be Christians! They do NOT KNOW God nor His character, or else they would not be taking His Name in frivolous fashion, nor ascribe to Him their style of "humor"....

      There are MANY surprises comming to this generation ! ! !

      July 28, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
  17. JuJu

    I thought it was cool! Not boring at all like the business of church and prayer can easily be but, alas, we attend out of a sense of duty. Why not believe that God laughs and has a sense of humor?

    July 28, 2011 at 10:24 am |
  18. TexaStar

    It was appropriate for the occassion and in good fun.

    July 28, 2011 at 10:23 am |
  19. Emily

    With this country's problems right now it is nice to know that SOME of us still have a humorous side...OMG folks, lighten up and be thankful that we still have a few hours of relaxation and enjoyment...NASCAR!!!

    July 28, 2011 at 10:23 am |
  20. Don

    God doesn't mind, he has a good sense of humor.

    How else would you explain the platypus?

    July 28, 2011 at 10:22 am |
    • lovechild11

      Hahaha Don this made me chuckle out loud! thanks for the laugh this morning 😉

      July 28, 2011 at 10:32 am |
    • serenity2112

      Don, I think you should sincerely apologize to all Platypus enthusiasts out there who are offended by that thoughtless comment about the Platypi.

      July 28, 2011 at 10:48 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.