John Oliver’s Brilliant Televangelist Segment Is Proving a Great Point and Putting a Lot of Pressure on the IRS


On last week's Last Week Tonight, John Oliver nailed a brilliant segment that hilariously took down televangelists and the absurd concept of seed faith and "the Prosperity Gospel." (Essentially, a grip of evangelists appear on TV networks to encourage viewers to donate money, which is technically tax-free, so that God or some Higher Power will reward them. The specifics beyond how these people, who turn around and use the money to buy private jets in the name of God, court their followers are ridiculous and available in the video below.) Aside from the religious figures at the center of the debacle, Oliver also set his sights on the IRS, because he believes the agency is too lax when it comes to policing such malarkey. CBS News reported that the IRS, that most permissive of government entities, only conducted three church audits from 2013 to 2014, after it had suspended them from 2009 to 2013. Yikes. Smooth, IRS. To prove the point that virtually anyone can do this and to show how criminally insane this whole thing is, Oliver created a fake church, Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption, and asked viewers to donate.

In Sunday night's latest installment of Last Week Tonight, the Daily Beast noted that Oliver had an update. Reappearing as Pastor John Oliver, Mega-Reverend and CEO, the HBO show host said: "For those of you who have sent U.S. currency, blessings unto you. We have received thousands of envelopes with thousands of dollars. ... The more money you send in, the more blessings will be returned to you. And that is still something I’m amazingly legally allowed to say." (Don't worry — the donated money is going to Doctors Without Borders.) Nice work, John. Here's the original segment, which, thanks to its popularity over the course of the last week, is putting some much-needed pressure on the IRS: