John Oliver And His Church Are Doing The Lord’s Work
God bless and keep John Oliver. The man has, in only about a week, raised a huge amount of money for Doctors Without Borders while also raising consciousness about our country’s insane tax laws when it comes to the shady-if-not-criminal enterprise of faux Christians getting rich by preaching “the Prosperity Gospel” on TV.
Oliver asked viewers to send in “seed” money to a P.O. Box in New York, and “to be honest,” he said last night, “slightly more of you responded than we were expecting.”
To acknowledge the “separation of church and show,” Oliver transitioned into his “Pastor” role before he revealed the massive “harvest” he had received from his new followers. After castigating those who sent in actual bags of seed, Oliver thanked people for sending in actual money, including one viewer who mailed a check for $65 billion, “which you may have sent in as a joke — but guess what? — we’re fucking cashing it, so who’s laughing now?”
“The more money you send in, the more blessings will be returned to you,” Pastor Oliver reminded his viewers. “And that is still something I’m amazingly, legally allowed to say.”
Perhaps some background information is in order. Oliver used the pulpit of his HBO show to sermonize about televangelists in the best and most practical way he could: by becoming one himself. The Washington Post explains:
Oliver used the common seed-harvest metaphor to explain the theology: Followers give “seed faith” to their pastors, in the form of monetary donations, which, the pastors promise, will then come back to the worshipers in a harvest — provided they prove themselves to be faithful enough. That proof, it is often implied, is connected to how much that person seeds. …
Oliver’s point is not just that he finds the fundraising tactics employed by many prosperity preachers to be troubling. It’s that the ministries he singled out operate as tax-free entities, under the U.S. tax code.
“Robert Tilton, Kenneth Copeland and other pastors of their ilk have been taking advantage of the open-ended IRS definition of the word ‘church’ and procuring a litany of tax breaks,” Oliver wrote on the Web site set up for Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption.
Oliver says his church is registered with the IRS. If so, and if past practice is any indication, it is extremely unlikely that his piles of seeds, bills and beef jerky will face an audit anytime soon.
It’s not so different from people who embrace The Secret, really, though I don’t believe the IRS gives people who believe in that preferential treatment. Wanna test that theory? Start a Secret-based church and let us know how it goes!
Meanwhile, I wondered, how do Christians feel about the prosperity gospel? At least some of them find it embarrassing and fraudulent, as this recent article in Relevant Magazine makes clear:
There are endless lies with this theology. It results in misplaced hope, a skewed reality and wishful thinking.
Wealth is Not the Goal
God never promises His Followers financial wealth. The Apostle Paul warns the church in Ephesus on this matter: “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs (1 Timothy 6:10).”
Jesus didn’t die on the cross to be our genie. He knows that while money isn’t bad in and of itself, an excessive amount of money (or things) often harms us. That is why He commands His Followers to “store up treasures in heaven.” …
Here’s the original (fantastic) Oliver video ripping televangelists — who come off as about a half-step up from Nigerian spammers — and introducing America to his own official church, Our Lady Of Perpetual Exemption, which is now open for business.