As social justice becomes the new meaning for church among radical progressives, ACORN’s own Bertha Lewisseems to have found a home with Rev. Billy Talen and his anti-capitalist, revolutionary, Earth worshipping Church of Earthalujah. Many of us were treated to the video of her now infamous “Walmart sucks” performance at the church, but are left wondering what kind of church sings anti-capitalism hymns at their services? Is this what church is all about now for the progressive movement?
On May Day we stand with workers and immigrants and take to the streets! We’ll be marching as Reverend Billy and the Stop Big Boxes Gospel Choir along with Bertha Lewis, who will be our saint later that night at 7:30pm at The Church of Earthalujah!
And now, as so many New Yorkers are awash in sentimental Wal-mart ads, Bertha is not among those who are resigned to the arrival of this Giant Devil to the city – she’s leading the charge against the right-wing big box. For that, she will be our newest Fabulous Saint!
When the Rev. Billy Talen brought Bertha up to accept her “canonization,” he spoke of the importance of the attack on ACORN and promised they would “attend to it.”
Speaking in the flamboyant style of Jeremiah Wright, Bertha spoke to the congregation/ticket holders/Marxists or whatever the audience calls themselves:
Acorn is recognizing the struggle, the attacks that the Devil put upon us which was a precursor to Wisconsin. But there’s a New Deal going on right tonight…
She then launches into a moving diatribe (worship song?) about the evil Walmart and its’ oppressed, discriminated-against employees, crescendoing into a rousing chorus of “Walmart sucks.”
As it winds down, she declares:
…as long as I am a saint of the church of Stop Shopping Now, ain’t nobody gonna be shopping there. Amen.
We have to wonder what kind of church would bring out the passion in Bertha like this, and just what are they all about? Let’s start with their leader, the colorful Billy Talen, who ran for Mayor of New York against Bloomberg in 2009.
Rev. Billy is always on the go, as he has been for years. In his latest performance on May 11th, he was arrested for tresspassing at an anti-Koch brothers rally. Rev. Billy relates the horrifying incident this way:
The “Guerrilla Drive-In” at Lincoln Center was an experiment that many of the activists of New York attended – as if this cliff-hanger protest might reveal the future (which, yes, it has). Brave New Foundation, Agit-Pop, The Other 98%, Yes Lab, Critical Mass, the Rude Mechanical Orchestra and our own Church of Earthalujah worked in concert.
I enjoyed a role like that of a band-leader, motioning the congregation toward the west wall of the New York State Theater Building, preaching there a while from the top of a planter. Meanwhile guerrilla projectionists focused giant and savagely funny images of the Koch brothers on the white edifices.
The whole thing was over in a little more than an hour. As we were walking toward our car with our troupe’s director and my partner Savi, who carried our 13 month old Lena, we noticed three muscle-men running toward us through the darkness of the Avenue. SWAT-team-like, they pushed around a while shouting in my face, cuffed me and pushed me into a black car. I vanished into the system for 24 hours in this continuing fetish the NYPD has for jailing the “Billy preacher guy.”
Here are some recent ponderings from Rev. Billy’s blog which should clarify the stance of the “church”: