Churches all over the United States do great work: volunteering in underprivileged communities, donating to the poor or cleaning up neighborhoods. But some churches are just up to no good.
In a scathing profile of televangelists, John Oliver excoriated some of the most undeniably unethical church leaders from all over the country — Pastors who ask for money from people that don't have it, and then do their best to convince them their donation will reap financial gains when that never happens.
First, Oliver starts by discussing the scope of the problem.
There are 350,000 congregations in the U.S., all of them tax exempt. Among those congregations are some very, very rich pastors and church leaders. Kenneth Copeland, for instance, has a $17.5 million jet and a $6 million church owned lakefront mansion. Creflo Dollar found himself in the news again after pushing his congregation to donate money so he could get his own $65 million private luxury jet.
Even Robert Tilton, who was exposed decades ago, is still making money off of his television sermons and donations from congregants.
Mike Murdock got his plane, then bragged about it.
"I had enough money to buy a beautiful Cessna Citation jet, cash," Murdock told his congregation. "And since there is so much jealousy in this room tonight that I can feel over this... a few weeks later I bought another one worth three times what that one was, cash. Act happy over my blessing folks."
Kenneth Copeland and his wife were caught lying about how they use the plane.
"This is a preaching machine," Copeland said of his jet. That was until a local news group broke open the story that Copeland had been using the jet for ski trips and hunting trips all over the country.
But it gets crazier...
Take the story of Bonnie Parker...
She was a woman who listened to Kenneth Copeland's wife when encouraged to "sow the seed" of money by donating to the church and neglecting treatment for her cancer.
"Bonnie Parker gave thousands of dollars to the Copeland's church because she believed it was her best shot at curing cancer," Oliver summed up succinctly. While it sounds crazy to interpret "donate money and get God's good will" as "spend money on us you could spend on chemotherapy," Oliver explained why it actually isn't too far off from a fair interpretation; all you have to do is listen to one of Gloria Copeland's sermons.
"We know whats wrong with you, you've got cancer," Copeland says. "The bad news is we don't know what to do about it except give you some poison that will make you sicker... now which do you want to do? Do you want to do that or do you want to sit here on Saturday morning, hear the word of God and let faith come into your heart and be healed? Hallelujah!"
And the worst part is how easy this all is...
Because churches operate on a tax exempt basis, the money they take in from donations isn't even taxed. On top of that, the requirements to be designated as a church are incredibly loose. As a result, families like the Copelands end up living in homes like this:
But Oliver doesn't stop there.
In order to show just how easy this all was to execute, Oliver created his own church: Our Lady Of Perpetual Exemption. Though we're not sure what the money is for, we do know Oliver is already accepting donations. Check out the full expose in the video below:
Like this story? Click the button below to share!