Meet Rev. Billy and the Stop Shopping Gospel Choir

What better way to kick off the holidays – and 31 days without Walmart – than with a look at Rev. Billy and The Church of Life After Shopping.

Featured in the documentary “What Would Jesus Buy”, Rev. Billy and his theatrical troupe, The Stop Shopping Gospel Choir, travel the country with their message: Be warned, the Shopocalyse is upon us.

In the video above, for example, Rev. Billy Talen and his choir invade a Disney store in an attempt to encourage shoppers to consider where those products were made. It’s something they’ve done all over America, from malls to Walmart headquarters in Bensonville, AK, often getting arrested or at least escorted off the premises.

It’s part comedy, part theatre, part activism, and whole lot of common sense built around the idea that consumerism is killing America.

While the religious aspect of the theater troupe is a bit tongue in cheek – Rev. Billy prays to The Great Unknown, for example, and he’s branched out to perform”unmarriages” of straight couples in support of gay marriage – his point about consumerism is exactly what Americans need to hear. “What was Christmas before shopping started,” Rev. Billy asks in the documentary. “Christmas is the birth of a child that we  believe will grow up to teach us peace.”

Giving gifts isn’t about buying gifts, and the notion that we they have to spend ourselves into debt at Christmas not only misses the point, it destroys it.

If you knew, for example, that the t-shirt you bought at Walmart was made using child slave labor in a Third World country, would you still wrap it up in pretty paper and proudly display it under the Christmas tree? Would Jesus want you to keep up with fashion trends at the expense of someone else’s life?

In the documentary “What Would Jesus Buy,” choir director James says, “We say ‘stop shopping’ just to get your attention. Certainly nobody can stop shopping. But you can have a conscience about your shopping, think about how it affects other people, just explore the options, that’s all we ask.”

Just something to think about when you head out to do some Christmas shopping.

You can learn more about Rev. Billy and The Church of Life After Shopping on their website.

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