Televangelists have joined the list of issues that have sparked a John Oliver rant. On Sunday’s episode of Last Week Tonight, the comedian looked at the absurdity of their work in his usual hilarious style, going so far as to correspond for months with one, and then taking it even further: opening his own church. That’s right: John Oliver is now the head of Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption Church.
Oliver uses footage to show just how mercilessly televangelists prey on their viewers. Some even try (often successfully, sadly) to convince their cable congregation that they should use money that they don’t have to donate to the church. They claim that God will eventually wipe out their debts and that the “seeds” they plant will be sown.
The message has apparently been heeded. Using still more clips of actual televangelists, Oliver shows where that money is going. One church leader, Mike Murdock, proudly proclaims that he bought a private jet in cash, and then a bigger one — also by paying cash — and that others should act happy over his “blessing.”
“‘I bough a jet — cash. I bought a bigger jet — cash. F**k the haters, act happy for me,'” paraphrases Oliver. “That’s not a sermon; it’s the first draft of a Rick Ross single.”
The segment goes on to examine how churches uses these funds, how easy it is to become a church, and how little oversight there is from the IRS. It’s so easy, in fact, that Oliver was able to consult with a tax lawyer to legally create his own church. Like other televangelists, he urges viewers to send their seeds (aka money, of course) and provides the church’s contact information.
In case you’re curious, the phone numbers, 1-800-This-Is-Legal or 1800-844-7475, actually work, and callers are greeted by a hilarious recording of John Oliver, Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption’s “pastor, mega-reverend, and CEO.” He again asks for donations, saying, “If you send us money, you will be greeted by many miracles … ‘miracles’ being a term so subjective it’s technically meaningless, and ‘many’ being defined for the purposes of this call as a number that could indeed be zero.”
Is anyone else tempted to do it?