John Oliver Tackles Terrifying Televangelists, Brilliantly Exposes the Scam of Tax-Exempt Churches (Video)

john-oliver-churchesIf you’re not already following John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight on HBO, I’d highly recommend that you start. Honestly, it’s worth paying for an HBO subscription. In fact, my only real complaint is that his show only airs once a week on a channel that not everyone has access to. The show is basically a mixture of random, often funny stories with the bulk of the show being dedicated to issues that actually matter.


Take for instance last night when he absolutely tore into the ridiculous nature of televangelists and the fact that even in 2015 these con artists are scamming Americans out of tens of millions of dollars. 

Oliver took particular offense (as should most people) to these “pastors” who are raising millions of dollars – to buy private jets. Yes, there are people who are so stupid that they’re donating to these so-called churches knowing that the money they’re giving is being spent on buying private jets.

Oliver played a clip of Mike Murdock who, without hesitation, bragged about buying two private jets while calling them a “blessing.”

“F*ck the haters, act happy for me,” Oliver quipped. “That’s not a sermon, that’s the first draft of a Rick Ross single.”

You see, there’s something called the prosperity gospel which, as Oliver points out, preaches that wealth is a sign of “God’s blessing.” Amazing isn’t it? An entire religious belief predicated on greed being a sign of “God’s love.” While it’s certainly appalling, it’s also an absolutely genius scam. You can be the head of a massive tax-exempt church, conning your followers out of tens of millions of dollars for your own personal enjoyment, and that’s perfectly acceptable because there are idiots out there who believe doing so is just part of “God’s blessing upon you.” I guess using their logic, if you’re poor – God hates you.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that these scam artists don’t place much emphasis on the many times Jesus Christ (you know, the person on which Christianity is based) spoke out fiercely against greed.

But silly me, there I go trying to put the Christ in Christianity.

Oliver then turned his attention to tax-exempt churches, calling out the IRS for how easy it is for these “churches” to get tax-exempt status by pointing out how vague tax laws are regarding religious “non-profits.” He also went on to point out that the IRS has only audited three churches in the last two years, which is absolutely ridiculous.

But then Oliver showed his true brilliance. Apparently for the last seven months he had been sending money to infamous televangelist Robert Tilton to see exactly what would happen.

To summarize his dealings with Tilton (though I would highly encourage everyone to check out the video of the segment) he ended up sending him $319 over seven months, received about one letter a week (usually asking for more money) often carrying random items like oils, cutouts of paper mountains and even some odd insert that contained an outline of his foot.


If that all sounds extremely bizarre, it should, because it is.

So, naturally frustrated by all of this, Oliver did what any logical person in his position might do – he started his own church.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to John Oliver’s Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption

And yes, it’s real.

Please, if you have some time today, watch the segment. It is a magnificently scathing takedown of the entire nature of these very for-profit “non-profit churches” and how they’re exploiting our tax system to get rich because for some reason there are still millions of people who are sheepish enough to continue giving these frauds money.

Watch the segment below via HBO:




Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.

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  • Jillz

    It was a brilliant piece. John Oliver exposed just how corrupt these televangelists are. And it was all legal 😉

  • londontexas

    Years ago Tulsa minister Oral Roberts claimed to have seen a 600 foot tall Jesus. Subsequently, syndicated columnist Mike Royko wrote (paraphrasing)…” “I have supported Oral Roberts ministry…and if he says he saw a 600 foo t tall Jesus I believe him….but I would have thought one of the neighbors would have noticed a 600 foot tall man in the backyard”.

    Or Benny Hinn who claimed that God told him to raise money for a hospital…and after raising 6 million dollars said God had changed his mind.

    Bill Graham said years ago that if you want to donate money to a church donate it to your local church. Still good advice today…

    • noah vail

      don’t forget when Oral Roberts had to raise $8M or god was going to “call him home”…he didn’t raise the money and god didn’t seem to give a shit…

      • Cemetery Girl

        Isn’t being called home supposed to be a good thing?

        Ernest Angley is the one that I find disgusting. His restaurant has been investigated. I know that in the past they operated by members of his church working on a volunteer basis. (I’ve never been there and don’t know if the last investigation shut it down.) He has the on air ministry, complete with begging for donations, I’ve heard that his actual church is less open. Locally I have heard of complaints that his church members are encouraged to divorce if the spouse won’t join and to cut contact with friends and family that won’t join the church. He has a weird reputation in Ohio. He’s fairly wealthy, although how wealthy remains a mystery. I’ve happened to drive past his house (not that you can see it.)

      • londontexas

        I had a friend that was sales manager for an electronics company when Oral Roberts dropped his “God will call me home comment”. My friend sent a memo to his sales people that is they didn’t write 8M in new business he was being called home…

    • Exactly. Donate to your local church… or in the South, donate to one of the churches active in the areas you feel need support I.e. Those who help single mothers and poor families, those who help education funds, those who operate food pantries, those who provide prenatal services, those who find homes for homeless. Don’t buy into the “keys to success” doctrines. Just give to those who turn around give to the areas of society that need help.

      • Saying “in the south” just because there is a church every mile.

  • noah vail

    corrupt “christians”? why I’m just shocked and appalled…hahahahahahaha

  • Robert0

    Good choice, Tilton. A true scumsucker, with a couple of rip-roaring exposes behind him. I wish this country weren’t a morass of theocratic idiots who send money to these grifters. I wish people invested in Christianity were willing to learn more about the object of their affection, not smegma like those who claim to represent him. I wish we had a better educational system. But, if a cliché is any comfort, “it is what it is.” In “Hannah and Her Sisters,” Max von Sydow’s character reports he’s been watching TV, and has witnessed televangelists. He says, “If Jesus Christ could come back and see what is being done in his name, he’d never stop throwing up.”