Our church is a radical performance community based in New York City.
Statement of Belief
Let’s talk about the Devil. Corporate Commercialism has sped up to a roar, virtually unopposed. Consumerism is normalized in the mind of the average person, sometimes we even refer to ourselves as consumers forgetting that we are also citizens, humans, men, women, animals. We forget that we share many resources, public spaces, libraries, information, history, sidewalks, streets, schools that we created laws and covenants and govenerments to protect us,, to support us, to help us… The subjugation of these resources and these laws to the forces of the market demands a response.
We are a post religious church. We hold “services” wherever we can, in concert halls, theaters, churches, community centers, forests, fields, parking lots, mall atriums, and perhaps most importantly, inside stores, as close to the cash register as we can get, within spitting distance of the point of purchase.
We sing, we dance, we preach, sometimes we perform small “interventions”, invisible plays, acts of ritual resistance. We exorcise cash registers and remythologize the retail environment, we illuminate the Devil. We make media and send it out around the world. We get hassled by security guards and sometimes get arrested.
Above all we try to complexify the moment of purchase, to snap people out their hypnosis and back into the mystery of being human. We remind people that things come from somewhere, that products have a resource past, a labor past. Someone made It, and It is made of something, we trace the route a product took to get on the shelf, the life it might have when we throw it away. We animate the objects that surround us and in so doing we re-animate ourselves. We become citizens again.
Liberation is a radiant process, it spreads. We think freedom from consumerism is virulent, contagious. Tell your neighbor you stopped shopping and it gives her permission to do the same. One day we can all live in richly varied and hilarious neighborhoods, with people who seem to have invented themselves, and so are endlessly fascinating, something beyond entertainment. Yes there IS a Life After Shopping!
Remember children... Love is a Gift Economy! — Rev
MissionThe Church of Stop Shopping is a New York City based radical performance community, with 50 performing members and a congregation in the thousands. They are wild anti-consumerist gospel shouters, earth loving urban activists who have worked with communities on 4 continents defending land, life and imagination from reckless development and the extractive imperatives of global capital. They employ multiple tactics and creative strategies, including cash register exorcisms, retail interventions, cell phone operas combined with grass roots organizing and media activism. They are entertainers and artists, performing regularly throughout The US and Europe.
HistorySince 1999 our project has expanded from a one-man performance artist preaching against consumerism in Times Square to a 40-person choir and 5-person band with dozens of original songs, a critically acclaimed stage show, a major motion picture and multiple media platforms. Our performance community hails from all over the US and the world. We are all ages, races and sexes. Together we have demonstrated commitment to educating people about ever expanding commercialism and the over-consumption it demands. We maintain that consuming less is a critical, immediate step individuals can take toward halting the climate crisis.
We use theatrical forms to build a surprisingly moving, powerful critique of economic systems and environmental practices and instill a sense of responsibility in our audiences, leading them to simple actions they can take immediately (committing to ride their bike once a week, calling an elected or picking up trash in their local park) and others that require more work and cooperativity (defending a community garden, mobilizing a divestment or a boycott).
We often partner with large NGO’s and advocacy groups, while they negotiate and lobby for policy change we raise the profile of the effort and involve citizens more directly- creating classic inside/outside campaigns. Our successful campaigns of this kind include an effort to stop Victoria’s Secret from using Virgin Boreal Forest for their ubiquitous underwear catalogs. We pressured both the Starbucks Corp and international trade bodies to endorse the appellation of Sidamo, Yirgajefee and Harar coffees in Ethiopia. The new trade marking agreement allows Ethiopian coffee farmers to demand higher prices for their legendary coffees at market. Most recently we joined a number of groups in pressuring JP Morgan Chase to divest from the surface mining practice known as Mountaintop Removal (MTR) in the Appalachian Mountains of the US. (Other examples of our creative campaigns can be found at our website www.revbilly.com). This work is important not just for the achievement of a worthy goal but because each is a model by which other campaigns can be created. We have performed in venues on 4 continents and on or in literally hundreds of fields, malls, streets, and sidewalks. We have been invited guest artists at more than one hundred institutes of higher learning and 23 primary schools. We have won an Obie Award, a Glickman Award, and the Alpert Award in the Arts. In 2009 Reverend Billy Talen was a candidate for mayor of New York City on the Green Party ticket.
We are avid media makers, with two full length professionally produced CD’s, 3 documentaries films, including What Would Jesus Buy produced by Morgan Spurlock, which played on 125 screens in the US and European television. An earlier film, Preacher With an Unknown God won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival. Bill Talen has published 2 books (What Should I Do If Reverend Billy is In My Store and What Would Jesus Buy) with two others forthcoming in the next 18 months. We produced eight 28-minute television shows, The Last Televangelist, and broadcast them on cable and community access TV stations across the country. Our post-religious church is the subject of a small revolution on the Internet, where anti-consumerist fans have posted more than a thousand homemade Reverend Billy You Tube films of actions and shows.
We are frequent guests of news media appearing on The Today Show, CBS Evening News, Nightline, Fox News, Al-Jazeera, Glenn Beck, Hannity & Colmes, Democracy Now, NPR’s “All Things Considered” and “Marketplace,” Geraldo Rivera, CNN, The Tavis Smiley Show, The BBC World Service, BBC 1 and numerous other local and regional affiliates and International print outlets. Many people across the western world have joined us in resisting Consumerism and it’s enabling twin Militarism.