Holy Smoke' is a religion-mocking song, in the same vein as Metallica's 'Leper Messiah' and 'The God That Failed'. The song focuses on the greed and hypocrisy of T.V. preachers and the lyrics are actually very sharp and intelligent.
Believe in me Send no money
I died on the cross and that ain't funny
The first verse is obviously looking at the preachers from Jesus's point of view (whether or not he has really existed seems to remain open to speculation and some links provided may help to gain further insight into this matter). Basically, he's not impressed to realise that some unscrupulous characters are making money out of what was originally a free charity and a message of love and tolerance. Many preachers are more interested in "Saving your souls by taking your money" than in anything else and it's obvious that "They ain't religious but they ain't no fools". Those who want to get rich out of others' gullibility are probably in the best trade to become millionaires.
I've lived in filth, I've lived in sin
And I still smell cleaner than the shit you're in
This is a sharp and ironic statement that reminds us of the truth behind whatever "Jimmy Reptile and all his friends" are saying. Incidentally, this "Jimmy Reptile" mentioned in the song is in fact Jimmy Swaggart, a homophobic Bible-thumper who was advocating the utter respect of family values, but was caught with prostitutes in a cheap motel at the time. That rat apologised publicly on air, cunningly shedding a few crocodile tears, asking for the forgiveness of God and his flock, which earned him even more followers. As Voltaire is supposed to have said, "Religion began when the first scoundrel met the first fool"...
I've got a book by Jimmy Swaggart at home, Music: The New Pornography, with a big picture of Steve on the front! It was sent to me by a Bible-basher and a quite sincere letter came with it, very sincere. She sent me a copy of the Holy Bible, which was good because I didn't have one and I needed one to research for some songs.
Unfortunately the lyrics of 'Holy Smoke' are not enough to save this song, which lacks that elusive deep and compelling mood. Maiden don't seem to be at their best with political or contemporary subjects instead their strength resides more in History, films, and literature.
This is about TV preachers and all the various lies they tell and I just had this big image of all those ovens in the death camps with the preachers' feet sticking out and holy smoke going up.