His New York-based Church of Stop Shopping has grown over the years to include a gospel choir that sings as Reverend Billy exorcises cash registers. On one of his last visits to Orange County, the preacher came to Disneyland on Christmas Day in 2005. Singing anti-Disney songs with his choir along Main Street U.S.A., Reverend Billy was arrested by an on-site Anaheim police officer.
The scene was the culmination of Morgan Spurlock's What Would Jesus Buy? documentary on the church.
Lo! The shopocalypse is coming as Reverend Billy returns this weekend
(well, to Long Beach anyway) at the invitation of the Orange County
Peace Coalition for a fundraising appearance."They called us just a few
days after we knew we'd be here," he tells the Weekly from a family reunion in San Diego. "Providential as they say, amen!"
These days, the preacher has the planet on his mind. After trying a run for New York mayor on the Green Party ticket in 2009, Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping has turned its attention to global warming and the related loss of biodiversity.
"Languages are disappearing as animals and plants disappear. Eventually what will be left is this consumer monoculture," he says. "We're the Church of Stop Shopping. An interesting life can't be lived anymore when everything is the same. As we say in the church, 'It's a sea of identical details, children!'
Climate change is a serious subject that Reverend Billy meditates on in The End of the World his newly published book. In it, he warns of the coming rapture upon our ecosystems unleashed by rapacious, unfettered capitalism. The preacher also protests, joining in an effort to pressure JP Morgan Chase to divest from mountaintop removal practices in Appalachia.
"JP Morgan Chase is the number one creator of climate change. Everything that's hurting the earth, JP Morgan Chase will be found among the lead bankers," Reverend Billy says. "Jamie Dimon is the devil!" he adds, excoriating their CEO.
The Church of Stop Shopping now goes into bank lobbies with their inspirational songs. They bring with them odes to the extinct like the golden toad, or the "hallelujah toad" the church calls it, that disappeared in the Costa Rican forests in the late 80's. "What's happening in the earth right now is just simply so radical. We have to actively look at our children–I have a 2 year-old–and think what are we leaving them," Reverend Billy reflects.
"Nothing is worse for the earth than war," the good reverend adds in the 'Peace on earth' biblical spirit. "Peacealujah! Earthalujah!
Reverend Billy appears with the Local Vocal Peace Choir at the Found Theatre, 599 Long Beach Blvd., Long Beach. Sat., 4 p.m. $10 and with the Weekly's Exene Cervenka and the Triple Goddess Gospel Singers, at the Echo, 1822 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles. Sun. 2 p.m.