Welcome to the Church of Stop Shopping!

Reverend Billy & The Stop Shopping Choir is a radical performance community based in New York City, with 50 performing members and a congregation in the thousands.

We are wild anti-consumerist gospel shouters and Earth loving urban activists who have worked with communities all over the world defending community, life and imagination.

We compel action in those who have never been activist,  revive exhausted activists, and devise new methods for future activism. We also put on a great show.

Upcoming Dates

Our Blog

Earth Rights/Human Rights

tamir.jpgI urge activists who live in their isolated outposts called "issues" - including those of us who reside within issues that we think include all the others, the big ones like Peace activism and Environmental activism, to understand that state-sanctioned violent insanity of the kind we see with Tamir Rice is a death gene that is in each of our bodies now.

This is not a tragedy. This is not tragedy that needs healing and closure. It is racialized murder coming from political leadership in suits and uniforms with straight faces. And oh let us demand of each other that we refuse to slide into some kind of purgatory of bloggy snarkiness over this. There is no witty comment that survives this. We can't drink, have sex, make money - to head-fake our way out of this.

We must reclaim our last goodness for this, as ripped and shredded as it might be. We can't possibly be free of this as long as it exists, and it is a flourishing killer, expanding in our bizarro reversed-out morality. This militarized-and-marketed racism is designed to seamlessly merge with all the old verities like "freedom" and "security" and "prosperity." Certainly no American can say that this is not central to their work if they are dedicated to health, to democracy, to growing loving communities.

Racism kills people, yes. Racism kills a 12 year old with a toy gun in a playground and slams his sorrowing big sister to the ground and handcuffs her but racism just as surely kills a smartly dressed hipster a thousand miles away living on save-the-world foundation grants. Racism kills all the good causes and so it has become the only progressive cause at this time in our history. Racism is the only issue until we are killed by it or we are free of it and we are all free.

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Public Safety After 9/11

copstanding.jpgPublic safety after 9/11 is identified with law enforcement.  The safety built up by the sharing of culture by many different kinds of people – with uncontrolled things like humor, large gestures and tom-foolery, loud-voiced speechifying, children as central and music as ever-present – that “eco-system” of culture was actively discouraged, especially for black, brown, poor or queer citizens.  (In most cities this is much of or most of the population.)  For years in New York, the police take people to jail from their front stoops.  Singers in the Stop Shopping Choir tell stories of being told to “move on” when they are talking to friends in the doorway of their own apartment house. 

There is always the threat that you will just be hand-cuffed on the spot, without explanation or cause, and that after some days and nights in the system you will be granted “credit for time served” for pleading guilty, a ritual of humiliation before the judge.  This “sentencing-by-police” has grown to epidemic proportions over the years.  It is extra-legal.  And of course, it makes any protest of government or corporate abuses a risky outing.  We proceed with our arms penned with the numbers of 1st Amendment lawyers and loved ones.

In Grand Central Station, a raised voice, a group of people gathered in common purpose, placards that suggest criticism of official violence – all such activity is quickly surrounded by police and solders, Homeland Security and state troopers.  In the winter season, the famous old train station is the spot where an ordinary voice can carry to the maximum number of fellow citizens.   But the fear of the message is palpable.  So our pride in the message must over-ride that official fear. 

Now is the time to trust the creative safety that is grown by uncontrolled free speech of citizens.  We have so much to build in our communities, and so much work to do to live in a nonviolent way with the Earth.

 

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