The latest episode of “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” started off simply enough. Oliver began his dissection of deceitful evangelism via a brief history of TV evangelists, using old ads and modern statistics to illustrate how they raise funds and who they take it from is less than saintly. It was all as damning and well-researched as any of his other programs, but then things took a turn.
Around the 10-minute mark in the video above, Oliver tells his audience he’s been sending letters to evangelist Robert Tilden for seven months. He then reads the impossibly odd responses to each donation before announcing he’s founded his own church — “Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption” — established primarily to see if the government will audit the seemingly legitimate new religious entity. (They don’t often look into churches.)
If you call 1-800-THIS-IS-LEGAL, you can hear a message from “Pastor, Mega-Reverend and CEO” John Oliver, as well as be read the address where you can send donations. But by all means, watch the video first before calling. Your money may not be coming back to you as promised.