John Oliver has made a name for himself by taking typically boring-but-important issues and making viewers aware of them in an entertaining way. He's attacked everything from beauty pageants to Americans' high sugar intake to the crumbling prison system. The most recent episode of HBO's Last Week Tonight brought attention to the problem of megachurches and televangelists taking advantage of vulnerable believers and loose IRS regulations. To prove how easy it is for these organizations to be deceitful, John Oliver started his own church, complete with a website.
Oliver's church, Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption, pokes fun at these religious institutions. However, the farce also calls out organizations that take "seed money" as an expression of faith from parishioners. Some of the leaders have bought multi-million-dollar "parsonages," or even luxury jets.
On the show, Oliver explained that the IRS doesn't even specify what a "church" is. The only two stipulations for the beliefs of an organization is that they are "sincerely held" and not illegal. Such requirements could be met with any belief system. So if you believe that Mindy Kaling should control Hollywood, or that cheesecake should replace all regular cake (as I do), then you could base a church around that. Therefore, Oliver registered Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption, a process that he said was incredibly easy, as a way to call out this ridiculous system. Here are the best aspects of its hilarious website.
The Opening Statement
In true Oliver fashion, the opening statement contains sarcastic quips and a pseudo-serious tone.
This photo is a spot-on satire of similar evangelical websites. At least Oliver now knows he has the look of a real televangelist.
The regulations also say that there must be a house of worship for the "church," and Oliver's studio meets that requirement. The website advertises that the services can be watched through HBO.
The Photo With A Parishioner
He is ready to take every scrap of money from his "parishioners." This image is priceless.
The Donation Page
Even the wardrobe is perfect.
I would follow that boyish grin into any cult.
Like the churches that Oliver criticized, his church accepts and encourages donations. Unlike them, however, these go to Doctors Without Borders. At least somewhere, good is being done.
Images: Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption