By Stephen D. Foster Jr. | 24 August 2015
It could be the end of the line for televangelists who fleece their own flocks to make themselves wealthy, and it’s all thanks to John Oliver.
Last Sunday, Oliver spent 20 minutes eviscerating prosperity gospel televangelists who advocate a sort of trickle-down policy when it comes to donations. According to preachers like Creflo Dollar, the more money people donate so that he can be wealthy and own mansions and private jets, the more likely it is that God will favor them and make them prosper in return.
“They preach something called the prosperity gospel which argues that wealth is a sign of God’s favor and donations will result in wealth coming back to you,” Oliver explained the scam.
“That idea sometimes takes the form of seed faith – the notion that donations are seeds that you will one day get to harvest. The argument is ‘sow your money into the ground, you will reap returns multiple times over,’ except as an investment you’d be better off burying your money in the actual ground because at least that way there’s a chance your dog may dig it up and give it back to you one day.”
The scam has resulted in a transfer of millions upon millions of dollars from church-goers who are already struggling while their pastor gets to live a wealthy lifestyle completely funded by the congregation. For years, televangelists have gotten away with this by taking advantage of the tax system by declaring their operations as religious organizations. Current tax law allows churches to be tax-exempt and the IRS largely fails to investigate to make sure that churches are churches and not scams by so-called “pastors” designed to make themselves rich.
But all of that could now change.
According to a new report by CBS, the IRS is under a lot of pressure to tax televangelists in light of John Oliver’s exposure of the corrupt practice of prosperity gospel. The IRS did not comment on the story, but if true, it would be a huge change that could finally crack down on phony preachers who merely pretend to be holy as a way to make money.
These preachers are slowly ruining the lives of their parishioners with the promise that God will help them prosper if they give their money to them to help them get rich first. It’s a scam that is even played by conservative Christian televangelist Pat Robertson who constantly urges people to donate money to him. “It’s just $20 a month,” he said. “And if all of us do it together, it gets to be millions and millions and millions of dollars!” Yeah, millions and millions of dollars for him. And no one else.
And that’s why it is time for the government and the IRS to shut these schemes down.
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