Televangelists who preach the prosperity gospel with strings attached are being called out by none other than political comedian John Oliver. Oliver accused several pastors of fleecing Americans out of millions of dollars yearly to fund their elaborate lifestyles. Monday headlines from EOnline! and Rolling Stone gives a nod of approval to Oliver as he blasts some of the more popular televangelists: Robert Tilton, Mike Murdock, and Kenneth Copeland.
After doing a little investigation, Oliver concluded that the televangelists of health and wealth are targeting members to fund extravagant purchases and luxuries and furthermore rob the contributor of basic funds for treating medical conditions, paying bills or providing for their own families. Oliver participated in a seed money campaign to learn how the operations work, corresponding with Robert Tilton over a period of time. Oliver learned quickly that all correspondence comes with a plea for additional donations.
Exposing the prosperity preachers for lavish lifestyles is nothing new, but John Oliver’s actions are certainly making the exposition in a unique way. According to Rolling Stone on Monday, Oliver has a mission: “There are roughly 350,000 congregations in the United States, and many of them do great work: feeding the hungry, clothing the poor. But this is not a story about them. This is about the churches who exploit people’s faith for monetary gain.”
Oliver decided to form his own tax exempt church a move that has probably crossed the minds of many Americans. After confirming guidelines with the IRS, has formed his own tax exempt church Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption.
The newly formed church has its own website exhibiting a large donate button and the hours of meetings. There is no mention of what is done with the funds on the donation page, save that in the event of dissolution, all funds will be donated to the charitable entity Doctors without Borders. There are four states prohibited from donating: Mississippi, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina.
Is this simply brilliant advertising or a legitimate church? Whatever it is, the sarcastic and in your face creation is a brilliant way to expose fraud and scams that exist in every facet of life – including churches.
John Oliver is best known as an English comedian and actor. He is best known in the U.S. for his work on “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart and for HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.” In related news Oliver is coming to Chicago Theatre and will be performing a night of stand up comedy on December 30, 2015. Monday’s report by the Chicago Tribune gives details about Oliver’s December performance.