Many of us believed that televangelism would disappear following 1992’s Leap of Faith starring Steve Martin, but over twenty years later, shoddy U.S.  tax laws continue to make it possible, turning sharp-tongued conmen into millionaires. We here at Comedy had been working on a scathing report on the issue but Last Week Tonight with John Oliver beat us to the punch with a fantastically harsh segment on televangelists and the laws that enable them.
It’s easy for us reasonable people with very few problems to laugh at these idiots, especially the ones with funny names—‘Creflo Dollar’ specifically. But the reason they’re able to buy multiple private jets and sprawling estates is because vulnerable people with real problems do believe them and end up emptying their wallets guided by the promise that God will reward them down the line. Since the IRS has a very loose definition of what a “church” is, televangelists enjoy tax exemptions that are supposed to benefit actual churches that actually help the poor.
It’s all explained very well in the first half of Oliver’s segment but the real fireworks begin in the second half when John gets a mischievous grin on his face. For the past seven months the show has been corresponding with televangelist Robert Tilton’s church to find out what it’s like to put your faith in one of these guys, which inspired Oliver to set up his own church called Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption that now legally exists in the United States. This feels like the right time to shut up and let you watch the segment but if you’ve enjoyed what we’ve written, send us a letter and ten dollars and we’ll send you our report.

Those of you with the guts to subscribe to HBO Canada can check out new episodes of Last Week Tonight Sundays at 11:30PM ET/MT.