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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.


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.