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John Oliver takes on televangelists in blistering Last Week Tonight segment

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HBO

If John Oliver’s blistering, investigative, commercial-free journalistic smackdowns have ever felt like church — you’re not wrong.

In a 20-minute long segment on Sunday’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, the host took on televangelists who exploit people’s faith for money, calling them out by name as he mocked their belief that “wealth is a sign of God’s favor.” But behind every publicly funded jet is a collection of vulnerable people donating more “seed money” than they can afford, and on their behalf, Oliver had only genuine anger.

“At this point, I think it’s clear that seed faith is the most disgusting seed-based concept since whatever the f— chia seed pudding is,” Oliver said.

To back up that anger, the host then announced that he had spent the past seven months corresponding with the church of Robert Tilton, one of the prosperity gospel’s most vocal proponents. Over those months, Oliver answered Tilton’s requests for a total of $319 before hitting on a realization:

“The message Robert Tilton was sending me was that I should set up my own church to test the legal and financial limits of what religious entities are able to do.”

So he did.

Working with a lawyer, Oliver and his team worked to meet the IRS’s vague requirements for churchhood, which turned out to be even easier than expected. Watch the full segment above to see how it went, which SNL alum stopped by to offer a (lupus-curing) hand, and what phone number you really, really must call.

HBO

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