John Oliver took us to church during Sunday night's episode of Last Week Tonight. More specifically, it was one he founded that goes by the name of Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption and is trying to officially establish with the IRS.
However, Oliver wasn't motivated by an epiphany or some higher power to create his own church. He's doing it to prove a point.
Oliver tackled the topic of televangelism during Sunday night's episode of Last Week Tonight, you know, those preachers that purport to deliver healing to viewers through the TV. As they do so, they also ask for donations from viewers, which Oliver showed may sometimes be used to fund their private jets or ski trips, not necessarily their religious organizations. And all of this is legal and tax free because televangelists operate as churches or religious organizations.
Oliver found that last fact to be pretty mind blowing, to put it mildly, so he decided to see just how easy it is to register a church or religious organization with the IRS. The Last Week Tonight team enlisted the help of an actual tax attorney to go through the 14-point test of guidelines for a group wanting to be classified as a church or religious organization under the IRS.
As of Sunday night, it looks like Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption is still waiting on that tax-exempt status, but with the Last Week Tonight studio as a place of worship, Oliver successfully registering his church as a non-profit corporation in the state of Texas and the studio audience as congregants, the idea of Oliver becoming a full-fledged religious leader may not be so far-fetched after all.
In the meantime, Mega-Reverend and CEO of Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption Oliver still tried out this whole televangelist thing with the help of special guest star Rachel Dratch filling the role of his loving wife by his side. The couple basically asked for money from viewers, which can be donated through Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption's website and the toll-free number 1-800-THIS-IS-LEGAL, both of which actually exist.
Watch the full Last Week Tonight segment below.