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John Oliver Church.png

'Last Week Tonight' Takes On Televangelists, But The Big Loser Is The IRS

By Emily Cutler | Videos | August 17, 2015 |

By Emily Cutler | Videos | August 17, 2015 |

Listen, folks, more important than the segment itself is this news: you can now worship John Oliver with the government’s expressed approval.

Or more accurately, you can join Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption Church where John Oliver is the founder and head preacher. Because after researching the televangelist racket, you’d be stupid not to try getting in on it yourself.

It not like Last Week Tonight is the first to point out the ridiculous amount of leeway given to religious beliefs. Or the first instance of preachers of the prosperity gospel being exposed. But it is the first time I can remember someone pointing out the main culprit: the tax law.

Which is super rough for the IRS. They’re in a terrible position. They didn’t write the tax law that grants non- profit status to religious organizations, they’ve been rendered completely toothless when it comes to auditing these churches, and they’re still seen as the biggest reason that televangelists get away with conning their congregants. Oliver’s plan to set up his own church accomplishes the first task of proving that non- profit status is a dream for potential con men. But it unfortunately doesn’t lay out the case for the actual solution: churches need to give up their non- profit status.

I know, I know. That’s not a popular opinion, and actually making it happen probably won’t happen. We mostly still think about the small, local churches that feed the hungry and care for the poor when justifying the non- profit status. But bear in mind the Westboro Baptist Church is still considered a non- profit. Their “deeply held, personal beliefs” are sanctioned by the U.S. government as being an established religion. The government and the tax code shouldn’t be responsible for stating which beliefs are valid and which ones aren’t. And as long as people are preying on the spirituality of others, it’d be smartest for the government to get out of the belief game altogether. It wouldn’t solve all of religions problems, but it would at least cut off the avenue for such blatant corruption.

I’m not exactly counting on that to happen though. I’ll instead focus energies on making it to church every Sunday at 11pm.