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Comedian John Cleese starts Church of JC Capitalist

John Cleese founds the Church of JC Capitalist in a short video uploaded to YouTube on July 28, 2016. Photo via screen grab

(RNS) Praise be British comedian John Cleese — that other famous “JC” — who announced online last week he is starting the Church of JC Capitalist.

And it all will have been worth it, he said, “if we save just one solitary soul from eternal torment.”

Plus, there are “huge tax advantages.”

In a video posted Thursday (July 28) on YouTube, Cleese — no stranger to religious-themed comedy in Monty Python films like “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” and “Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life” — appears dressed in a red robe and miter, sitting in front of a cartoon building that features both stained glass windows and the yin-yang symbol.

He also zings some churches’ seeming disinterest in the poor (“They’re all right. They will get their reward in heaven.”), their focus on sexual morals and, as the name of his church implies, links to politics and capitalism.

“We’re here to call ourselves the Church of JC Capitalist because here in the United States of America, Christian teaching is, of course, the cornerstone of the capitalist system. Televangelists in particular are setting a fine example to us all in the accumulation of great personal wealth and illustrating the worldly rewards that real faith can bring us if we are truly humble — and have good marketing skills,” he said.

Cleese’s video follows a similar send-up of televangelists’ tax-exempt status in the U.S. by John Oliver, host of “Last Week Tonight.” Oliver gained legal recognition in 2015 for Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption, reportedly raising thousands of dollars in donations he later sent to Doctors Without Borders.

Commenters on Cleese’s YouTube video were enthusiastic and full of puns:

“Praise be. In Cleese we trust. May Cleese be with you. Amen,” wrote a commenter who identified himself as Doug Harris.

“Quite E-Cleese-iastical!” wrote commenter Eric Johnson.

And “Friendly Atheist” Hemant Mehta even said he’d line up to be baptized in the church.

Alas for those early devotees, it isn’t clear from the video, which has no caption or additional information, where donations can be sent.

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About the author

Emily McFarlan Miller

Emily McFarlan Miller is a national reporter for RNS based in Chicago. She covers evangelical and mainline Protestant Christianity.

13 Comments

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  • I hope he stops “making us laugh” now! That old man is going to know the truth about Jesus Christ soon…

    God save his soul from Hell.

  • Ah, yet another rich entitled British twat who wants to make a statement about how it should be his ~right~ to take money from us disenfranchised religious minorities, just so he can stick it to some other rich evangelist twats.

  • Oh please! Monty Python’s The Life of Brian has more to say about Jesus, his followers and the religion which sprang up around him than pretty much any film made “For the Christian Market” today. Plus it has the best lines ever said on the subject of insurgency.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9foi342LXQE

  • Hahaha hahaha! John Cleese is smart and funny. His religious satire is so biting because it’s so much based on the truth a few Christianists really want to hide and deny.

    There are wonderful Christian people and a few others? Not so much.

  • No way. The Passion of Christ is true art.

    Monty Python is almost exclusively overrated garbage. Only the bitter kind of Secularist enjoys their material past adolescence. It’s pseudo-intellectual.

  • Passion of the Christ is for people who liked the torture porn sub genre but didn’t want to admit it to friends. Life of Brian also had gratuitous full frontal nudity, some hilarious bits, and a great ending song. A song so beloved that sailors who survived the attack on the HMS Sheffield sang it as they bobbed in the water waiting to be rescued.

    Always look on the bright side of life. How Christian is that?

  • Did you hear that giant WOOSHING sound? That was the point of this satire zooming over your head. He doesn’t feel like it “should be his ~right~ to take money from [you] disenfranchised religious minorities”. In fact he DOES have the right, and this sarcastic satire is him criticizing the practice.

  • Ha, absurdist satire is pseudo-intellectual, and a snuff film is true art? Was your dictionary written by Orwell?

  • “more intellectually pathetic than I thought” – Yeah, this was my first comment on your comment, so are you claiming precognitive ability now?

    “… the disgusting pornography you watch when you’re lonely” – Nice straw man argument. You don’t know me. I don’t know you. Which is why I only commented on your comments.

    And in reference to you tone toward me I wonder if you are actually familiar with the teachings of Jesus Christ. Have a great day judging others in direct opposition to the teachings of your chosen lord.

  • That comment joins the ranks of those which convey far more derogatory information about the speaker than its intended target.

  • The satire is that he doesn’t like the fact that religions are not taxed for practicing their religion. Because some horrible corrupt people get rich off of religion.

    But even if you tax religions, the horrible corrupt people will still be rich, they’ll just be less rich. Meanwhile, if you tax religion, then you are asserting that you and everyone else deserves a cut of the cash every single time one of us minority religions does anything. We rent a venue, you take your cut. We organize an event, you take your cut. That isn’t your money and you have no right to it. But you do not care because you are totally willing to sacrifice religious minorities merely to snub a few corrupt rich people.

    “In fact he DOES have the right”

    Show to me where in the law John Cleese is entitled to take money from religious minorities. Citation desperately needed.

    The government NOT TAKING MONEY away from John Cleese in NO WAY is the same thing as John Cleese taking money away from ME.

    On the other hand, if religions are taxed that IS the government, DIRECTLY, taking money away from me and penalizing me for anything I spend in practice of my own religion.

    And why?? YOU are permitted to donate money, TAX FREE, to POLITICAL ORGANIZATIONS, even when those politicians are LITERALLY just in it for their own personal enrichment.

    Corrupt priests getting free money donated from people is SO IMPORTANT to you that you think all religions need to pay some cash to the government, even though taxed or untaxed the corrupt priests will still be rich. But you don’t bat an EYE at the fact that corrupt politicians can also receive free money and enrichment from people they convince to donate to them tax free. Why can donating towards a religious belief be taxed but not a political one??

    You don’t seem to be calling for taxing all non-profits. In other words, if someone donates to a belief that is not religious you don’t demand it be taxed. So why tax EXCLUSIVELY religious beliefs??

    Ultimately, at the end of the day, if I want to buy a few religious books and organize a book study to provide members of my religious community with better understanding, why do YOU deserve a cut of the money I spent??

    And why, if I do the same thing but make it a non-religious book from a non-profit organization, do you not also demand a cut of that??

  • Heard the capitalist’s ultimate wet dream Bible story in church this morning; the Parable of the Talents. Yes, J.C. was indeed a capitalist wanker of the ‘bend-over-and take-it up-the-arse-without-complaining’ type. If we had listened to this accountant’s best friend we would still have Thatcher’s hated Poll Tax with us. Cleese is right, Christianity supports Capitalism because it is molded in capitalism’s image.

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