On Sunday night, comedian John Oliver took a look at the Televangelism industry and "seed faith" -- the belief that sending money to Televangelists is the equivalent of planting seeds of faith for which the seeder will be rewarded. After exposing some of the more notorious Televangelists and illustrating what happened after he sent $20 to one of them, Oliver showed how easy it is to create a new, tax-exempt "church" entity by creating (and legally registering with the federal government) the Church of Perpetual Exemption.
In classic Televangelist fashion, Oliver splashed a phone number on the screen and plugged a website, both of which can be used to donate to the new church.
It's a shame that anyone would take advantage of people of faith and laws intended to protect legitimate places of worship in order to make money and we applaud John Oliver for exposing these shadowy operations.
As for donations to the Church of Perpetual Exemption, that money will be turned over to Doctor's Without Borders.
One week after Last Week Tonight with John Oliver aired a segment on televangelism and announced the creation of the Church of Perpetual Exemption, there has been a huge response. Not only has the "church" received thousands of dollars in donations from viewers, but CBS News is reporting that pressure is mounting on the Internal Revenue Service to launch a formal investigation into televangelism and to review the tax-exempt status of these organizations. We'll keep you posted as developments continue.
You can watch the original segment from Last Week Tonight below. Warning: there is some language that may not be suitable for work.