It’s rough out there right now. Worry is at an all time high. Young Wall Street professionals are taking Xanax and Lexapro more often than Adderal these days. We stare into the void everyday looking for answers, yet none come. What are we to do? According to Pastor Jay Bakker (son of televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye and star of IFC’s One Punk Under God) of the Revolution Church the answer is have faith.
Flavorwire: You run your services in a Williamsburg bar. Is God OK with beer?
Jay Bakker: I grew up in a conservative church. Alcohol was off limits. Other churches like the Lutherans love their beer. I mean, remember there are monks who brew beer still. There are those conservatives that are like “what do you think you’re doing!” but it’s these same people who put up these buildings they call churches and expect people to come to them rather than meeting the people where they’re at. I mean I don’t want to be a street preacher and force my message on anyone just passing by but as far as God’s concerned I definitely think God’s cool with beer.
FW: Is there a drink special during church? Like a holy happy hour?
JB: No but there should be! That’s a great idea.
FW: Since the economy went south do you see more or less attendance at church?
JB: I know for the most part a recession will bring more people into the church. I don’t really see a big change in our congregation but I do see the amount of people getting our message online through our Web site and podcasts increasing.
FW: What’s the hardest thing you think your faith has helped you get through?
JB: When my mom died and my wife left me two weeks after. That was tough. I knew my mom was going to die but you’re never prepared. And watching someone with cancer, I mean her body literally shrank away. Then my wife and I split two weeks later. I’m a recovering alcoholic. I’m surprised that I didn’t pick up a drink. I’m surprised I didn’t take my own life at certain points because I got pretty low. I took a few months off and that helped but also there where a lot of great Christian people who showed up for me.
FW: The adage is that money is the root of all evil. So are we all better off right now spiritually since we’re all broke?
JB: I think where you see money as the root of all evil is when greed is involved in the equation. I don’t want to say we’re better off but it has caused at least my community to depend on each other more. Now I eat a lot more meals with my friends in their homes. I mean I have a lot of worries about my own bills, month to month so [the recession] has made me re-prioritize what’s important in my life.
FW: What advice would you give shady bankers and execs to help them save their eternal souls?
JB: I would tell them that God loves them. I actually would want to scream “I hate you and you ruined it all,” but that’s not my job. My job is to tell them God loves them despite their mistakes, but maybe if they had a bit more of moral compass we wouldn’t be in this mess. It’s funny that people make sin out to be this weird spiritual thing, but the idea of sin really is rooted in when we do something that hurts other people or ourselves. Really though, I think it’s common sense that these folks have lost and that was because of sheer greed.
FW: I’m pretty lonely these days. Do you think God could help me out, you know, maybe meet someone if I came to church?
JB: (Laughs) Usually if you go somewhere with a large amount of people you can meet someone and honestly it’s probably a better bet meeting a girl at church than in a bar (though our church does happen in a bar). As a single man for the first time in a long tome I think about that too, but I wouldn’t want to date someone from the church because I most definitely don’t want someone who is dating me because I’m a pastor.
FW: What’s next for Revolution?
JB: Well I used to have bigger goals but right now I’m just focusing on Revolution as it stands and getting our message out. Whether that be support gay rights, or don’t buy goods manufactured in sweatshops, that’s what we are focusing on.
FW: Are you doing any outreach to the community on the altruistic front that we should know about?
JB: Yes and I’m always looking for people to lead more of these kinds of things. We run locally grown potluck dinners to make people aware of the importance of buying local produce. We are doing a lot more environmental outreach lately. I mean the message isn’t just, let’s save a tree. By saving trees you save lives. We show documentaries every few months on these topics at the church and we did one on bottled water and how these companies where destroying communities because they were just draining their water source! You don’t think about the fact that somewhere in the world someone else needed that water and it’s not an inexhaustible natural resource. At Christmas we’ve done toy drives. Toys for Tots. We actually did a book drive for prisoners and folks behind bars. We’re not changing the world in huge leaps. We just want to be part of the process that makes things better.
The Revolution Church has branches in Brooklyn, NY; Charlotte, NC; and Atlanta, GA. Information regarding services as well as services in podcast format are available at revolutionchurch.com.