Tuesday, August 25, 2015

8.25.15 Bee-otch of the Day: televangelists

Bee-otch of the Day honors are awarded Monday through Thursday, Bee-otch of the Week is awarded Friday on Chuck69.com.



Names: various
Ages: various
Occupation: preachers
Last Seen: various
Bee-otched For: readying for an IRS asswhuppin'

It's always amazing that a comedian on HBO is more investigative than NBC, CBS, ABC and (yup) Fox.

A week ago Sunday, Last Week Tonight starring former Daily Show correspondent John Oliver did a 20-minute review on televangelists and the "prosperity gospel" they preach. The televangelists tell their viewers that if they pay them money, they'll get more back. Sadly, some of these hucksters aim their message towards the poor and downtrodden and many use their celebrity to beg their followers to give them enough money to buy them everything from $65 million jet planes - such as the pleas from Cleflo Dollar, Kenneth Copeland and Mike Murdock - to huge mansions that they claim to be "parsonages" since their ministries technically own them. Therefore, they don't pay taxes on them. He even touched on a woman who died of cancer and refused treatment all because she thought that paying Copeland thousands of dollars would cure her.

Oliver revealed that he gave one such preacher, Robert Tilton $319 and all he got from him was a ton of letters, oil, cloth and one dollar bills. In the segment, Oliver revealed that the IRS only audited one church in 2014 and two the year before. Even starting a church is beyond easy. The IRS doesn't even have a real definition of a church. Just as long as you have a building, meet every Sunday, yadda yadda yadda, well, there you go.

It reminds me of when WOOD-TV 8 here in Grand Rapids did an investigation on tax-exempt charities some time ago. Reporter Dani Carlson decided to name her charity after her dog, Dexter. Apparently, you don't even need to be an actual human to even form a 501(c)(3).

Now, because of Oliver's segment, the IRS is being pressured to investigate religious groups accused of taking money from individuals and using it to fuel their fortunes. This could be one of the biggest religious busts since the 1980s when Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, Jimmy Swaggert and others were all caught and some of them ended up seeing steel.

In the beginning, Oliver did touch that not all religious groups are bad. Some ACTUALLY do God's work, such as feed the hungry and clothe the poor. One town that's near and dear to my heart is Ellsworth, a small town of 379 about 50 miles north of Traverse City. Twenty-five years ago, the town had two grocers, a hardware, a bank, a few restaurants, a feed store that also served as the gas station and a few other small businesses. By 2008, the last grocer closed and downtown was loaded with for sale signs. Then, a group of local residents, including clergy formed an organization called Front Porch Ministries that established a community cafe that also helps the needy. They do recommend that people pay for their meals, but if money is an issue, they understand.

To me, that's what would Jesus do: help those in need, but force people into paying for jet planes and mansions. God bless those like John Oliver for exposing what's wrong with religion so we can fix it. It's because of people like Kenneth Copeland, Pat Robertson and others that I stayed away from organized religion for years. But, I found a light in the tunnel and now, I'm proud to be a part of one of the most-liberal churches in Grand Rapids. They don't own mansions, planes and they don't beg for money every two minutes. I see God there every Sunday, not excuses.

Remember, it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to go to Heaven, even if it's God's money.

Got a Bee-otch to nominate? E-mail us @ chuck69dotcom@gmail.com. All suggestions (except for me) are welcome!

Bee-otch of the Day Archives can be seen on http://beeotchoftheday.blogspot.com!

Bee-otch of the Day is a production of Chuck69.com, Grand Rapids' site for Stern, politics and more!

No comments:

Post a Comment