John Oliver Has Started His Own Church To Help Expose Exploitative Evangelists
The investigative work of the team behind John Oliver at Last Week Tonight is unparalleled. Between exposing FIFA corruption scandals, breaking down ostensibly dull issues such as pharmaceutical benefits schemes and patent hogging in new and interesting ways, and interviewing Edward Snowden, the HBO show has earned much of its persisting viral audience off the back of some pretty impressive journalism. Now, they may have outdone themselves.
In his monologue devoted to the practices of TV evangelists last night, Oliver tore predictable shreds into preachers who prey on their audiences and solicit unreasonable cash donations. It’s a sad and all too common practice that targets some of the most vulnerable subsections of society and operates within a strange legal loophole due to the lack of restrictions around churches. Despite the fact preachers were literally bragging about buying jets on TV, the IRS told the show they’d only audited three churches in the past two years.
And, because of all this, Oliver was right at home in exposing them for the horrendous old soul suckers they are.
Then, around the 11-minute mark, things took a turn as Oliver revealed he’d been in continued correspondence with one of the worst offenders for seven months. Determined to figure out exactly what notorious evangelist Robert Tilton and his church were actually telling people, he started writing letters to get a first-hand glimpse at the “prosperity gospel” they were teaching. After sending 26 letters enclosed with a total of more than $300 and receiving nothing more than small sachets of coloured oil and requests for more money, he decided to get a look from the other side.
John Oliver, the internet’s favourite preacher, now has his own legitimate church: Our Lady Of Perpetual Exemption.
Meeting every Sunday at the HBO studio in New York, the disciples of this particular church practice a ritual of “mediating on the nature of fraudulent churches”. They have an official standalone website, a real hotline at 1-800-THIS-IS-LEGAL, and they’re accepting real tax-exempt donations. As they “may choose to wind down and dissolve in the near future”, all assets will eventually be distributed to Doctors Without Borders.