Becoming a national joke synonymous with amoral swindlers in the 80s wasn't enough to stop televangelism. It's still going strong, but at least now we have Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption.
In this video, John Oliver spends the first 15 minutes doing a wonderful exposé and takedown of televangelist churches and pastors, showing how they prey on the sick and lonely to send them money that could be going towards health care in the vain promise of receiving miracle cures and financial windfalls. This, of course, turns out to be a financial windfall for the preachers, who are miraculously cured of their lack of private jets.
Since he can do that much more in-depth than I can, let me talk about the last part, which will make you significantly less furious with people who truly embody the word blasphemy. John Oliver (with special guest Rachel Dratch) has founded a new church, Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption, which is, for all legal purposes, a real non-profit church you can donate your money to by calling 1-800-THIS-IS-LEGAL. If you call that number, this is what you will hear:
Here's a transcript of that message, created by redditor kkeenn123:
Greetings, Caller! Praise be to you! You have reached 1-800-THIS-IS-LEGAL, the official toll free telephone number for Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption Church. This is your pastor, Mega-Reverend, and CEO John Oliver speaking. If you are interested in sending us money, praise be, please send it to the following address. Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption, PO Box 1954, New York, New York, 10113.
I'll say that again, caller, praise be, praise be, Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption, PO Box 1954 like the year, New York, New York, zip code 10113. Zip code one more time cause it's important, 10113, praise be caller praise be.
If you send us money you will be greeted by many miracles, caller, many miracles! Uh-Miracles being a term so subjective it's technically meaningless and many be defined for the purposes of this call as a number that could indeed be zero. Obviously you do not need to send this money to be a member of this church however, if you don't send this money, God will be extremely angry with you. His words, not mine. If you are not interested in sending us money right now, please get off the phone and go find somebody who is.
Do it. Do it. Do that. Get off the phone; get off the phone right now and find someone who is willing to give me money. Go now! Put the phone down now and go get someone with money! Go do it NOW! Get of this phone NOW and go find someone to GET ME MONEY. GIVE ME SOME MONEY. GO FIND THEM, I WANT MONEY. GIVE ME MONEY. breathing
I am going to presume that you are doing that, praise be caller, praise be. One more time the address while you are waiting, Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption, PO Box 1954, New York, New York, 10113. I'm presuming that you are get/finding someone who will give me money. Is there someone with money there? Hello? Do you have money? Hello? No? Well I'm going to hang up then, Glory be, yadda yadda yadda, SEND ME MONEY
[someone else] The fundraising activities of Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption are not directed at persons in Mississippi, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina. Residents of those states may not donate.
The message here, much like the message sent by the Colbert Report when they created their own SuperPAC, is that the laws here are obscenely open and subject to abuse. No one (among the population of the one guy writing this article) is saying churches shouldn't be tax-exempt or that people shouldn't be able to make tax-deductible donations to them—but maybe someone should start checking into preachers who literally promise to cure cancer and then turn the money they get into mansions and jets. They might not even find anything wrong (they will), but it might be worth checking.