Seed Money

Taking money from the poor and weak has to be the worst act of a scoundrel, and yet it goes on every day in America right under our noses. John Oliver’s latest episode of Last Week Tonight points out what can be easily seen from your recliner; televangelists are conning people into sending them money. So what’s new? This has been going on for decades. What’s new is seed money.

The Seed Money Con

Seed Money hinges on the belief that tithes, or gifts to televangelists, will be returned many times over in riches from God. In the plainest terms, you reap what you sow. In these recessionary times, where labor is under assault, and jobs are paying less than a living wage, the idea that prayer and a little contribution will get your family out of the hole is a powerful message, especially if you hear about all the people who are now rich because of this simple act. Seed money televangelists constantly recount incidents in which a little seed money is returned in riches that save this person or that one from financial ruin.


Televangelism is the last hope for the hopeless, because it promises you your dreams. For years televangelists have come into your home and offered emotional healing, and physical healing. Now they have seized on what could be their greatest cash cow; fiscal healing. There is nothing about salvation in this message; this is about living large.

 Blessed Are The Sleek

For years, televangelists have been telling their viewers that the meek shall inherit the earth. It was okay to be poor, as long as you were righteous. The righteous sent money, but the hook was vague. A better life in heaven does not put food on the table. Enter the prosperous Christian. He does not petition God for redemption. He petitions Him for cold hard cash.

The Rich Man Now Owns Heaven

This is a big switch. Creating a new God that doles out cash is somewhat complicated. There has to be a conversion from the Man who gave all his riches to the poor, to the emergence of the new Messiah of the prosperous. In this new, improved Tele-Gospel, getting through the eye of a needle is not important; cash is.

John Oliver cites several televangelists that are turning seed money into a real profit. For themselves. Robert Tilton, Creflo Dollar, and Mike Murdock, to name a few. They promise that you will really reap what you sow, many times over. It is working for the televangelists, who boast private jets and luxury digs. These folks are living large.

It’s Your Fault If Seed Money Fails

Of course, if your seed money does not return you riches, you know why. It is not the fault of the televangelist now, is it? You are not worthy. You may not have given enough. Perhaps your sins are too much of an affront to God. Either way, it is your fault. This is religion at its worst. Preying on the poor and desperate, on those who have very little left to give, by promising them riches in return for a donation.

The New Money-Changers In The Temple

The heydays of Jim and Tammy Baker are long gone, but televangelism continues to innovate, and thrive. There are literally dozens of channels on cable television, and dozens of tele-Christians on each channel, each looking for ways to separate the poor from what little money they have left. These new money-changers are the worst.

Last Week With John Oliver