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. ziggy18

    I see a lot of folks talking about being good Christans, yet they are throwing stones. Practice what you preach before you lecture others on acceptable behavior.

    July 27, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
  2. Tom

    This pastor just stamped his ticket......... straight to HELL!!!!

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

      Hell doesnt exist.. its just a way to keep the church monkeys in line.. (i was gunna go w/ church sheep, but i thought monkeys was better bc of the religous lack of belief in natural selection, lol)

      July 27, 2011 at 7:53 pm |
    • poolchick

      You really think he is going to hell? I don't know what God you have but I know that my God would never turn one of his children away for something like this. At least he is not ashamed to pray infront of thousands and he introduced God into the lives of those who don't pray.

      July 27, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
    • Sandy

      I agree. It will be hot in hell. We need to be clean inside and out. A clean mind. We also need to be saved, ask God to come into our lives and change us. This is what is wrong with the world. This world is not my resting place. God will bring down his kingdom some day and what a rejoicing day it will be. Like the Bible says, no more sorry and no more tears.Except him tonight into your life. You will be very happy I guarantee it.

      July 28, 2011 at 1:15 am |
    • 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 “smokiin’ 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 5:32 am |
  3. Dave

    God made the smoking hot wife..................and I'm sure even lined the two of them up...............so trust me ............God is not shocked or mocked by such a prayer. He enjoys hearing from his kids.................about their joys in life. He may have even been in the stands watching...................who knows? He made us to enjoy all sorts of things...............and is not surprised when we enjoy them. For those who push God off at this point in your life.............God accepts us back up to the point of death. He will take you anytime you are ready........obviously he would prefer now so he can spend a life time with you. Pray on pastor!

    July 27, 2011 at 7:47 pm |
    • David, CA

      why do you......insist.......on typing......like an idiot.......and saying......moronic bee ess..........every day.......question.....mark.

      July 27, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
    • Sandy

      PLEASE pray for this Pastor.

      July 28, 2011 at 1:19 am |
  4. ziggy18

    geezzz people....grow a funny bone! I love NASCAR and I can honestly say I think that will be a NASCAR moment I will never forget. How many people can say they remember a prayer, or one that has been quoted as much as this one?

    Get a sense of humor people.

    July 27, 2011 at 7:47 pm |
  5. Sandy

    This man is not a Christian based Pastor. He should ask for forgiveness immediately. I am from the Baptist faith and my Pastor would never speak that way. We need to watch what we say at all time. If it is not for the glory of God then do not say it. We need to pray for him, the Pastor of this Church. We also need to speak out for Christ.

    July 27, 2011 at 7:46 pm |
    • David, CA

      Judgemental much?
      "Time to get over yourself."

      July 27, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
    • ziggy18

      Sandy, I too am a Baptist, and I did not take offense. Sorry you are not allowed to have any good clean fun at your church. This pastor is trying to reach folks that normally would tune out prayer...did you ever think he might be trying to gain believers? I doubt it because you are too hung up on him complimenting his wife and giving thanks to the things he enjoys to look past it. But don't worry...you are forgiven...can you be as forgiving?

      July 27, 2011 at 7:53 pm |
    • Isis

      Ha ha Sandy,

      I'm sure Jesus loves you speaking for him. OR "ZEUS" – which is his Real Name –
      It would be "interesting" if people on Planet Earth learned their History better, or for that matter,
      minded their own business.

      xox. Isis.

      July 27, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
    • Sandy

      I totally agree with you Sandy. God deserves respect! Our God is a holy God and we must praise his holy name if we want eternal life. Oh on that judgement day I would not want to be this preacher. He will have to answer to God for this.

      July 28, 2011 at 1:02 am |
    • ScottybudLite

      ziggy: well put. I've nothing to add.

      August 19, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
  6. TG

    Joe Nelms showed gross disrespect for our Creator, Jehovah God. Of course, God was not listening, for he only listens to the prayers of those who are humble. Jesus gave an illustration of a Pharisee and tax collector saying a prayer, whereby the Pharisee made boasts about himself, whereas the tax collector was not even willing to raise his eyes heavenward, but just humbly requested: "O God, be gracious to me a sinner."

    Jesus said of the humble tax collector: "I tell you, This man went down to his home proved more righteous than that man; because everyone that exalts himself will be humiliated, but he that humbles himself will be exalted.”(Luke 18:9-14)

    July 27, 2011 at 7:46 pm |
    • David, CA

      So called "christians" show worse respect on a daily basis. Need proof? Look at the judgmental holier than Jesus posts on this board. Better yet- read your own pontificating pile of crap.

      July 27, 2011 at 7:53 pm |
  7. sam

    Well, wasn't the good lord the one who made her "smokin hot"?? Why wouldn' t you give thanks for that? In fact, I'd be a little more thankful than I would be for "daily bread".

    July 27, 2011 at 7:45 pm |
  8. Wasabilover

    How can they run this story without posting a picture of his wife?!

    July 27, 2011 at 7:45 pm |
    • frank


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

      Watch the video cause there are pictures in there of the family. He thinks she is hot and that's all that matters. 🙂

      July 27, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
  9. poolchick

    I did not hear blasphemy. What I heard in that clip was a pastor thanking God for what they have. What is wrong with thanking God for the products they have to enjoy a safe,fun and entertaining race for all involved? Some people make mole hills into mountains and those people need to relax and just enjoy life instead of nit picking. He quoted a movie,(meaning the part about his hot wife) he did not insult God. I thought it was pretty good considering so many people don't have God in their lives. It was just another way of introducing God to people again and was done in a humorous way. There are way too many people out there that use religion as an excuse to do evil. ( Warren Jeffs for example) This guy made a prayer fun for those who don't pray. I say " Good for him".

    July 27, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
  10. Nare

    Interesting...not that I mind, but, would this be an example of shoving it in other peoples' faces or down other peoples' throats?

    July 27, 2011 at 7:40 pm |
    • David, CA

      For christians it's acceptable only if they do it.

      July 27, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
    • BG

      I'm sure his wife might have something to say about that.

      Great prayer. Fit right in with the ads on the cars.

      July 27, 2011 at 8:01 pm |
  11. dore

    Gee.. somehow someone got the idea that fun and g-d don't mix. How sad.. good prayer- least he kept gd in the picture.. There is more to g-d and faith than mournful prayer.. sometimes you gotta have fun- I think it makes Gd smile

    July 27, 2011 at 7:40 pm |
    • Anon_e_mouse

      Agreed. And I'm sure G-d has a sense of humor... if not, how else could he explain politicians (of all kinds)?

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

      Just like how I write funny letters to Santa to make him smile:)

      July 27, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
    • Sandy

      actually it makes God very sad. Judgement is coming, we need to fear God. He is a God of wrath. No one will go unpunished.

      July 28, 2011 at 1:24 am |
  12. Tim

    Nothing cruel, but that's one of the ugliest fish in the sea. So glad he reeled her in because I would have used her for bait to catch a real tuna of the sea.

    July 27, 2011 at 7:39 pm |
    • Bsolomon

      Speaking as an atheist and a guy who has never watched NASCAR before, I say "Who cares?" Honestly, I don't understand why we hold some people above others. Is a pastor unlike any other man? Does he not have a sense of humor and varied interests possibly including women and cars?

      The only part I take issue with is the bit about accepting payment for corporate endorsements. It seems to me that if religious convictions are to hold any meaning at all, they can't be sold to the highest bidder. Aside from the delusional minority of Biblical literalists, I have to believe that most Christians hold to their convictions for the same reason that all people do. It means something to them. But how long will that remain the case when you find yourself walking into the Church of Goodyear to pray?

      But I expect he was joking about the endorsements and mentioned Goodyear and Toyota only because he's a very big NASCAR fan and considers NASCAR to be a source of southern pride, as many others do.

      July 27, 2011 at 7:56 pm |
    • Alex

      @Bsolomon, We hold people to a higher standard if they have influence over others, and rightly so.. i.e. teachers, celebrities, ect..

      July 27, 2011 at 7:59 pm |
  13. chris

    So unoriginal. Did he just watch Taladega Nights? "Pastors" prayer was lifted from the movie.

    July 27, 2011 at 7:38 pm |
  14. Izzy

    I doubt the Lord took offense to his prayer. I think the important thing here is to look at how many people are paying attention to this story and are actually discussing prayer and what it means or doesn't mean. A little humor has caused a lot of discussion.

    July 27, 2011 at 7:37 pm |
  15. Aaron Hunsucker

    Lighten up people, in the world of religious zealots killing people I think we can be happy that this man appreciates what God has given him

    July 27, 2011 at 7:36 pm |
  16. Norm

    Good stuff. God's got a sense of humor and I'm sure a smoking hot wife himself. He is God afterall. I wonder who he thanks...?

    July 27, 2011 at 7:36 pm |
  17. chris

    Christianity – or those who supposedly follow it – is full of contradictions and stupidity. Who cares what some dipstick pastor has to say about his "hot wife" or anything else for that matter. It's 2011 and if people are dumb enough to give credence to make-believe and magic – they have bigger problems.

    July 27, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
    • kendallpeak

      You are missing a key point of logic. If several people report seeing bigfoot, I can safely guess that they are simply deranged. But when millions and millions of people , over many generations, feel that they are experiencing a spiritual dimension, and feel it so strongly that they dedicate much of their lives and time to such an experience, I must conclude that there is something there that I am not experiencing. As an intelligent being it would behoove one to dedicate a great deal of time and effort to finding that experience as opposed to simply brushing it off.

      July 27, 2011 at 8:08 pm |
  18. Bill

    Can anyone just claim to have the holy spirit in them and call themselves a preacher? Where do these guys come from? I know Catholics and Church of England have to actually be ordained, but how does a fundie do it?

    July 27, 2011 at 7:33 pm |
    • sam

      Well, you start with a pompadour........

      July 27, 2011 at 7:46 pm |
  19. justathought

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////// Hi Carrie Ann, You are right, until modern times, ships were navigated by the stars. Perhaphs I should have qouted the whole text of Palm 8:8, it has nothing to do with navigating ships, it's talking about fish following the paths of the sea. Not all fish follow the currants of the sea to migrate, but some do, and this what the text is refering to.

    July 27, 2011 at 7:33 pm |
    • Alex

      you know what my favorite all time quote is? this one: “My feeling as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. ….. As a Christian ……I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice.” Adolf Hitler

      July 27, 2011 at 8:04 pm |
  20. Val

    I have been a NASCAR fan for 25 yrs & that was absolutely the best prayer I have ever heard! I bet there were 50 more people in his church on Sunday morning! He wasn't plugging sponsors, he was thanking various people for making the event possible. Maybe more of us should thank God for our blessings, no matter how small or trivial they may seem.

    July 27, 2011 at 7:32 pm |
    • Alex

      Sorry to be the one to tell you this.. but god doesnt exist.. he was created by our subconcious to help us deal with the horrible fact that we are mortal.. Just a coping mechanism primarily.. sorry u have to hear it from me:(

      July 27, 2011 at 8:02 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.