Let it never be said that John Oliver and his team at “Last Week Tonight” aren’t thorough in their investigations.
On Sunday’s episode, Oliver revealed that his main story, about unregulated churches “who exploit people’s faith for monetary gain,” was seven months in the making.
In order to research the tactics by televangelists like Robert Tilton and Kenneth Copeland, who preach “the prosperity gospel,” which, as Oliver explained, “argues that wealth is a sign of God’s favor, and donations will result in wealth coming back to you,” the “Last Week Tonight” host voluntarily began a correspondence with Tilton’s church back in January.
By the time of last night’s airing, Oliver had made donations amounting to $319, per Tilton’s regular requests. And what he discovered was that “if you’re registered as a religious non-profit, or especially a church, you are given broad exemptions over taxation and regulation.”
Oliver admitted that this is “hilarious, until, you imagine these letters being sent to someone who cannot afford what [Tilton] is asking for.”