The Last Week Tonight host went after televangelists Sunday, exposing some of them for taking advantage of impoverished followers for their own financial gain. Oliver explained that preachers such as Robert Tilton use the Prosperity Gospel, which claims wealth is a sign of God's favor, to convince people to donate as much money as they possibly could. Considered "seeds," donations, they say, will eventually grow into unlimited wealth that people could harvest later on.
"As an investment, you'd be better off burying your money in the actual ground," Oliver said. "At least that way there is a chance your dog may dig it up and give it back to you one day."
The Daily Show alum cited televangelists who had earned so much money from their tax-free havens that they've been able to acquire multiple private jets and huge mansions, all paid for by donations. To really drive the point home, Oliver donated money to Tilton, which resulted in a long-running correspondence with the preacher that always asked for more money.
At one point, Tilton sent Oliver a dollar and asked him to send it back but with more money. The preacher warned of dire consequences should Oliver disobey, and disobey he did. "You know what? I kept that one dollar bill because f--k him," Oliver admitted.
Another letter from Tilton contained an outline of his foot and a request for—you guessed it—more money. It also asked for Oliver to send an outline of his own foot, which the HBO star joked was ridiculous but then took a more serious tone.
"This is all hilarious until you imagine these letters being sent to someone who cannot afford what he's asking for," Oliver said.
Not wanting to feel left out, Oliver and his fictional wife, Wanda Jo Oliver, played by actress Rachel Dratch, formed their own church, Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption. Was the process difficult? Apparently not! Calling it "disturbingly easy," Oliver launched his own church complete with a website where, of course, pleaded for cash.
Watch the video above to see Oliver take down televangelism.
And here's another helpful lesson from John Oliver and his A-list friends: