Rev. Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping

Do you ever experience that queasy sickness in the pit of your soul after buying something that you know you don’t need and vaguely suspect you don’t even want? Psychologist call that feeling “buyer remorse.” But somewhere out there is a man of God who thinks this feeling is much more spiritual in nature.

Welcome to Rev. Billy’s Church of Stop Stopping. Rev. Billy and his followers believe that rampant consumerism is destroying our souls and our identities. By buying products branded more on image than substance, we are all playing into the hands of a corporate culture that controls us in much the way the Catholic Church controlled people during the Middle Ages. By being told what is “cool” and what is “trendy” and, even more egregiously, what we “want” big corporations are more to blame for the death of God and religion in American than liberal politicians.

Rev. Billy is very concerned about the reality and authenticity of experience. Huge faceless stores like Walmart, Target and Best Buy have removed the personal touch from the experience of shopping. Most people under thirty don’t know it, but once upon a time people could actually go into a store and be known by name by the owner. Try that in your local Walmart! Rev. Billy’s church is those big faceless stores; he likes to preach his message of anticonsumerism right up in the grill of the enemy.

The real centerpiece of the Church of Stop Shopping are the events. What are events, you may ask? Well, for one, there’s a deliciously fun little thing called Whirlmart. Get as large a group of volunteers as possible and enter Walmart, or any other store requiring shopping carts. Each of you take a shopping cart and push it, empty, around the store. This works best when you have a large enough number of volunteers to use up every single available cart. If you’ve got them, then nobody can buy anything, see?

Do you like opera? No? Well, you’ll like Cell Phone Opera. Get about 25 buddies and enter into the store. Each one of you has been sent to this store to buy a gift, but when you get in there you start arguing with the person on the other phone about the gift. Pretty soon there are 25 people spread throughout the store arguing very loudly over their cell phones, annoying customers and disrupting business.

At Rev. Billy’s web site you will find more information on these and other perfectly legal tactics designed to drive multi-billion dollar conglomerates making hundreds of millions in profits while employing sweatshop workers absolutely insane. Because you aren’t breaking any law, there’s nothing they can do! Rev. Billy’s personal appearances at events like these have even led to a book titled “What Should I Do if Reverend Billy is in My Store?” The book actually outlines in excruciating detail how store managers and employees should react to one of Billy’s media events.

ITake the opprotunity to invite Rev. Billy to explain why companies like Walmart are destroying America and why people don’t need to buy something just because it was advertised on television or because their friends own it. If his schedule allows, you can actually have Rev. Billy speak at your school or function.

No article can do justice to Rev. Billy’s own web site. If you find yourself feeling buyer’s remorse more often and are beginning to wonder if maybe, just maybe, there might be more to life than consumerism, then I wholeheartedly suggest you at least check out Rev. Billy’s web site. Once there, you just might make the decision to join the congregation.

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