Dear John Oliver: Preach it, brother

John Oliver of HBO’s Last Week Tonight takes it to greedy televangelists and those preaching the “prosperity Gospel” and “seeding”. Give money (seed) to get money. And people give…

But it gets worse, some preachers push faith healing and collect money for their claims that God will heal. And people give…

Oliver exposes the bizarre legality of such religious fund-raising and their tax exempt status. He reveals that his show has been in communication for seven months with Robert Tilton to see how he runs his ministry.

The clip is not particularly funny in terms of jokes but is impressive due to its hard hitting documentation of exactly how slimy these churches can be. Oliver takes it to the limit though, and sets up his own church to test the legal and financial limits of what religious entities are allowed to do.

Visit Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption

Yes, this is totally ridiculous. But it’s LESS ridiculous (because we are self-aware) than the gimmick perpetuated by people like Robert Tilton, Creflo Dollar and Kenneth Copeland.

In the past 10 years, satire from the likes of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert have been instrumental in getting people thinking about and involved in world events. Their schtick has been more informative than “fair and balanced” news channels. Therefore, this is kind of historic and important. And it’s legit.

Here is the underlying disclaimer from the show’s Facebook page:

Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption will not be able to accept donations from Church supporters from the states of Mississippi, Nevada, Pennsylvania, or South Carolina. We apologize for any inconvenience. Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption may choose to wind down and dissolve in the near future. Upon dissolution, any assets belonging to the Church at that time will be distributed to Doctors Without Borders, a non-profit charitable organization that is tax-exempt under § 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (EIN: 13-3433452) and which provides emergency medical aid in places where it is needed most.

Oliver shows what he received in the mail from Robert Tilton

Oliver shows what he received in the mail from Robert Tilton

Please consider that this activity is not about religious freedom or bashing Christianity – it’s about fairness and the intent of the religious exemptions legally provided in the US that are clearly being abused for preachers lavish lifestyles. People who can’t afford these donations are being coerced into giving –  what are they getting in return? Fleeced. That’s just not right.

Praise Legal and Loopholes.

Praise Legal and Loopholes.

  15 comments for “Dear John Oliver: Preach it, brother

  1. Perry
    August 17, 2015 at 6:54 PM

    “… not particularly funny in terms of jokes but is impressive due to its hard hitting documentation …”

    The jokes are just the ‘sugar’ to help the ‘medicine’ of go down. Oliver has more freedom on HBO to speak the truth so I’m glad he and his staff are taking advantage of that. I particularly like these kind of culture-jamming exposés.

    It will be interesting to see what Colbert will do with his new show.

  2. Andrea Monticue
    August 17, 2015 at 7:09 PM

    Ever since James Randi took on Peter Popoff in the 1980s it seems that televangelists have been low-hanging fruit for skeptics. Just like cockroaches, they’re everywhere. And just like cockroaches, they’re tough to kill. Popoff has made a comeback and is popular again.

    On the other hand, if we convince the IRS to harden their rules and crack down on televangelists, I can only see this as an opportunity for some to claim persecution of the faithful.

  3. BobM
    August 18, 2015 at 12:08 AM

    I did some research on televangelists as an undergraduate. Making a comeback seems to be SOP. Disappear for a while, reappear on radio to avoid recognition, and then try to work your way back up to your lavish lifestyle. Probably sleep like babies too.

  4. SmOakley
    August 18, 2015 at 6:54 AM

    Perhaps I am a jerk, but, a fool and his money are soon parted. No?

  5. jockmcdock
    August 18, 2015 at 7:56 AM

    SmOakley, in some cases it’s people who are already in debt who lose what money they don’t have. Mike Murdoch tells people who have credit card debt to sow a “seed” of $1000. How do they do that? They rack it up on their credit card!!

  6. Haldurson
    August 18, 2015 at 8:33 AM

    John Oliver has become my favorite fake news broadcaster. Colbert, and Stewart have also been great. But I really like that “Last Week Tonight” is able to delve into stories in much greater depth. (BTW, Larry Wilmore, another product of the Stewart school of satire, while not quite as good or consistent, is also worth watching).

  7. Haldurson
    August 18, 2015 at 8:41 AM

    They are victims not so much because they are fools, but because they are too trusting. Skepticism is not something that most people are born with — it has to be taught, preferably when you are young. You cannot blame someone for being taken advantage of, when they’ve been indoctrinated all their lives into a community where ‘religious’ is synonymous with ‘honest’, and ‘good’ and ‘reliable’.

  8. Mike C.
    August 18, 2015 at 9:55 AM

    Religion is the biggest and longest running scam ever.

  9. One Eyed Jack
    August 18, 2015 at 6:52 PM

    Except John Oliver is not a fake news broadcaster. Like Jon Stewart, he reports on real news, using humor and satire to get at the heart of the hypocrisy.

    It’s a sad statement that our most honest reporting comes from shows like the Daily Show and Last Week Tonight. “Real” news agencies have forgotten how to report the news, opting instead for regurgitating sound bites and keeping the world up to date on which vapid celebrity had the latest case of stupid.

  10. James G
    August 19, 2015 at 2:16 AM

    Can you take lunch money from a child and claim ‘the weak and their money is soon parted?’ I don’t see how fleecing the foolish or ignorant is any different. We’re all born with different attributes, and some of us are more trusting, or less critical, than others. We shouldn’t be penalized for that.

  11. Mac
    August 19, 2015 at 12:15 PM

    I’m with Mike C. These guys are the same as any other religion. One broadcasts from the crystal palace, one from the vatican, one from a mega church in Lakewood, one from a boat offshore, etc. These are just the latest in the great scam.

  12. Tony
    August 19, 2015 at 4:31 PM

    Yesterday, I mailed the Right Reverend Oliver a taped-together one dollar bill that’s been sitting in a drawer for years and look forward to a bountiful harvest.

  13. Trish Mink
    August 20, 2015 at 12:26 AM

    I agree on religion being a big money scam. I would appreciate them more if they said. We believe in God, and we have decided we are giving these churches money so we can belong, and have our own group. We know they will spend it on what they want to and we don’t care.

    As far as tax exemption, I think the day has come to get rid of it. If they can afford a mansion to live in between Sunday services and their parishioners don’t care, then they should pay for it as much as billionaires and corporations…….Nuff said.

  14. Rob
    August 28, 2015 at 4:23 PM

    Why can’t I , a person who lives in South Carolina give? I wanna!

  15. August 28, 2015 at 5:52 PM

    Must be something with the laws. State’s rights, you know. I can’t donate OR get wine delivered, either. Bummer.

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