In the wake of a widely popular segment aired on John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight this Sunday, the IRS is getting rising pressure to crack down on televangelists and their tax-free donations.
In the segment, Oliver slammed televangelists for utilizing what he called “seed faith,” a doctrine disseminated by preachers which tells followers that their cash donations will reap high rewards from heaven.
“The argument is, sow your money in the ground and you will reap multiple returns many time over,” Oliver said after showing a stream of clip from televangelist sermons. “Except, as an investment, you’d be better off burying your money in the actual ground because at least that way there is a chance your dog may dig it up and give it back to you one day.”
Ole Anthony of the Trinity Foundation, a group that investigates religious fraud, told CBS News that televangelists are able to receive millions in tax-exempt dollars because the IRS has turned a “blind eye” to their churches.
“They keep trying to send more money, more money, more money so they can get healed,” Anthony said. “A few years ago, the IRS named Scientology a church. Since that happened, anybody can call themselves a church.”
According to CBS News, the IRS only conducted three church audits from 2013 to 2014 after suspending them completely from 2009 to 2013.
Watch Oliver’s segment below, via Last Week Tonight: