Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Televangelists
August 18, 2015 2:41 AM - Season 2, Episode 25 - Subscribe

This week.... Cuba allows their US embassy to reopen for the first time in decades. Historians confirm that US President Warren G. Harding had a child out of wedlock. New Zealand is considering changing their flag, and held a competition for people to suggest designs. John Oliver points out some particularly ludicrous entries. And Now: Six More Actual Flag Designs Submitted to the New Zealand Goverment, With Descriptions of What They Look Like. Main story: Televangelists, those forgotten scourges of the poor, their tax-exempt status, and the surprisingly legal things they get away with. YouTube (20m) To demonstrate the extent of the problem, LWT started their own church, "Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption." Said church has a website, Metafilter thread about the episode.

Yoani Sanchez in The Atlantic on the reopening of the US Embassy in Cuba.

The Washington Post printed some of the weirder New Zealand flag entries, including a few that didn't make it on the show.

The mailing address of Our Lady Of Perpetual Exemption: P.O. Box 1954 NY, NY10113
Their toll-free phone number: 1-800-THIS-IS-LEGAL, or 1-800-844-7475

"New Zealand: Australia's Australia"
posted by JHarris (8 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
posted by Pendragon at 4:10 AM on August 18, 2015 [4 favorites]

This is the funniest half hour of TV I've seen in so long. I want to see more Preacher John with Sister Mary Jo. She was AWESOME.
posted by Measured Out my Life in Coffeespoons at 10:30 AM on August 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

I just sent $2. Will report back if I receive anything.
posted by the bricabrac man at 6:19 AM on August 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm really intrigued to see how much money they actually raise and then what they do with that money.

I would like to see Last Week Tonight continue on as a tax exempt entity for as long as possible, just to see how long they can do that.
Especially if they scrupulously account for all the tax they should have paid and store it up somewhere and then spend it (as well as the donations) on something beneficial.

That would make a great coda to the episode, especially if they tied it to the infrastructure maintenance episode.
I can see John Oliver saying with his usual glee, we raised x thousand dollars from not paying the taxes that we should and from being a fake church, and we also exposed how lack of tax revenue was causing America's infrastructure to crumble so we bought a fucking bridge!
And then just make one bridge somewhere immaculate or something.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 8:06 AM on August 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

From their donation page: Upon dissolution, any assets belonging to the Church at that time will be distributed to Doctors Without Borders.
posted by Gary at 10:44 AM on August 20, 2015 [3 favorites]

My only problem with "Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption" is that it sounds Catholic. The Catholic church isn't paying taxes either but John went straight to the televangelists for the majority of the segment.

Televangelist churches have much friendlier names. Creflo Dollar runs "World Changers Church International", Osteen has the "Lakewood Church", and Pat Robertson runs the "700 Club". John would have been better off naming it something stupid like "Success-N-Life", except that's already the name of Robert Tilton's show that he sent money to.
posted by Gary at 11:13 AM on August 20, 2015

Via Reddit: Mail has arrived for believers. Praise be.
posted by Gary at 10:10 AM on September 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

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