Video: Commercializing the NASCAR Invocation

UPDATE Pastor Joe Nelms defended the invocation he gave before Saturday night’s Nationwide race where he gave thanks for the different car manufacturers, Sunoco, Goodyear and, in taking a line from “Talladega Nights," he also gave thanks for his “smokin’ hot wife.’’

Nelms was on Sirius Satellite Radio’s “Tradin’ Paint’’ on Monday and talked about the invocation he gave. Here is part of what he said in the interview conducted by Rick Benjamin and Chocolate Myers.

On the prayer:

NELMS: I never seem to be able to rehearse the prayer. This is my fourth time doing the invocation in the last two years at the Nashville track and I’ve never had it in mind. I think that’s part of why it goes over well with the fans and with the drivers because they can tell it’s not staunch and rehearsed, it’s something that’s coming from the heart. I’ve been a race fan ever since I can remember. That was a Sunday afternoon tradition at our house, come in, eat Sunday afternoon lunch after church and sit around the living room watching racing.

“I always said if I get a chance after God told me to preach … to pray at one of the events of the track, I don’t want to do the cookie-cutter prayer, not that we don’t need to thank God for our military men and women, absolutely, we wouldn’t be here without them, not that we don’t desire safety for all of the of the officials, workers and drivers, we certainly don’t want anything to happen to anybody out there. We need a safe race. But it’s the same prayer week in and week out and I’m not sure anybody is even listening to it anymore. So I said, I want to get somebody’s attention, so that’s been our desire every time we’ve been up there, to try to make an impact on the fans and give them something they’ll remember and maybe they’ll go home on a Friday night or a Saturday night and say, “Maybe I ought to get up and go to church in the morning.’’

About giving a prayer from the heart:

NELMS: The very first one I did was at a truck race … but just for instance, it was on YouTube and I thought it was a very emotional prayer. I was praying for them as they trade paint, bumper to bumper, three wide in the turns. Everybody at the track went nuts. “I’m not saying they’re not Christians at the race … but you know probably the majority of folks in the stands even a lot of the drivers and crew members aren’t Christians, they’re not church-going folks. A lot of them have been turned off by it because they have the impression that only good people go to church and if you’ve ever done anything wrong, then you’re not allowed in and everybody is looking down on you.

“While I don’t condone sin, I don’t think it’s OK and Jesus is not OK with us just breaking the rules, sort of speak. … I think that we need to let folks know that accepting Christ as your savior and letting God into your life is not an end to living but it’s a beginning. I’ve had more fun since I got saved as a 13-year-old boy. The Bible talks about He desires for our joy to be full. Our heart’s desire was to show people that side. … I wanted to put the fun in fundamental. Some folks took it irreverently and there was some flack over it, some negative comments, but you’re going to have that anyway. I didn’t take to heart too many negative comments. “I had one guy, believe it or not, showing his IQ I guess that said, “you arrogant SOB, you know God’s a Chevy fan and you didn’t mention them.’ I thought, he doesn’t understand what GM Performance cars and technology is.’’

On the smokin’ hot wife line:

NELMS: “My wife and daughter were actually packing. We were getting ready to go on vacation. They heard it on TV. Again, I don’t rehearse it, so she was hearing it for the first time. She said my daughter laid on the floor laughing. She didn’t even hear me say her name for laughing at me saying, “smokin’ hot wife.’ ''

About giving a prayer before the race:

NELMS: “What a great sport that we have a prayer. Where else are you going to get to watch prayer on national TV but at a NASCAR event? I’ll take the good (reaction) with the bad any day as long as they just keep praying.

07/24/11 Pastor Joe Nelms gives NASCAR fans and racers a commercialized invocation at the 2011 Nashville nationwide race. Only in NASCAR!

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