Comedian Jamie Foxx has called on religious activists to lighten up after he was criticised for branding U.S. President Barack Obama "Our Lord and Saviour" at a recent awards show, insisting it was meant as a joke.

The Ray star made the controversial comments while onstage at the Soul Train Awards, which were televised in America on Sunday (25Nov12) but recorded in Las Vegas a few days after Obama was re-elected for another term in the White House earlier this month (Nov12).

He told the audience, "It's like church over here. It's like church in here. First of all, give an honour to God and our Lord and Saviour, Barack Obama."

The comparison prompted Christian campaigners to take aim at Foxx, with Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights President William Anthony Donohue stating: "Foxx's epiphany is startling. It just goes to show that even though Obama did not succeed in stopping the oceans from rising (as he promised to do in 2008), he did succeed in convincing Jamie Foxx, and no doubt legions of others, that God exists."

However, the actor/singer insists his declaration was made in jest and detractors shouldn't take comedians' comments so seriously.

He tells U.S. news show Entertainment Tonight, "I'm a comic (and) sometimes I think people get a little too tight (serious). And, it's getting a little tougher for us comedians (because) some people take it and want to make a huge story out of it, but it's a joke."