If televangelists hated Wal-Mart, they would probably look and sound something like Bill Talen.
Talen - better known as "Reverend Billy" - led a choir and two-dozen acolytes of his "Church of Stop Shopping" down Massachusetts Street on Wednesday afternoon, part of a nationwide campaign against holiday consumerism.
"We're saving Christmas from the Shopacalypse!" Talen shouted. "Amen, hallelujah!"
Though attired in a TV preacher's blonde pompadour and pastor's collar, Talen's "church" has no religious intent. He started his satirical congregation in the late 1990s, in response to growing corporate control over New York's Times Square.
On Wednesday, he was accompanied by a documentary crew making a movie about Talen's Christmas campaign, a New York-to-Los Angeles trip covering 4,500 miles in the three weeks before the holiday.
During his Lawrence stop, Talen preached against big-box stores and sweatshops, heard "shopping sins" in a confessional and proclaimed local merchant Ernst Hardware a "saint."
If you must shop, Talen said, shop local.
"Go to Massachusetts Street, go to a proprietor whose name you know," Talen said, before interrupting downtown traffic.
In Lawrence, Talen's followers said, he was probably preaching to the converted.
"Lawrence," said Matthew Roth, a spokesman for the campaign, " is one of the model towns in the country for supporting local businesses."