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The Earth Wants YOU!
Reverend Billy, author of The Earth Wants YOU!
Original Date: Monday, April 25, 2016
William Talen moved to New York City from San Francisco in the early 1990s, where he had originally created a character that was a hybrid of street preacher, arguably Elvis, and televangelist called Reverend Billy. In New York, Talen began appearing as Reverend Billy on street corners in Times Square, near the recently opened Disney Store. Whereas other street preachers chose Times Square because of its reputation for sin, Reverend Billy's sermons focused on the evils of consumerism and advertising—represented especially by Disney and Mickey Mouse—and on what Talen saw as the loss of neighborhood spirit and cultural authenticity in Rudolph Giuliani’s New York.
Talen is the author of various books, including What Would Jesus Buy?, which was also the title of Morgan Spurlock’s 2007 documentary about Reverend Billy and his mission. Though Talen does not call himself a Christian, he says that Reverend Billy is not entirely a parody of a preacher, and his Church of Stop Shopping has grown to number in the thousands.