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'Exorcism' planned for BP Whiting Refinery
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'Exorcism' planned for BP Whiting Refinery

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Could that be hellfire burning atop the refinery flare stacks? 

Is that pungent odor that hangs over the BP Whiting Refinery perhaps a sign of demonic possession?

Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Gospel Choir, a New York City-based street theater activist group, will see if the power of Christ can compel the BP Whiting Refinery to be more environmentally friendly.

The group, which was featured in the Morgan Spurlock-produced documentary "What Would Jesus Buy?," plans an "exorcism of the toxicity brought to Northwest Indiana by BP" Sunday.

The exorcism will be from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday at Marktown Park on Broad Street in East Chicago. Organizers describe the event as a flash mob with singing, preaching and testimony.

"They're activists, but in a more theatrical way than just protesting with signs," said Becky Noteboom, who helped organize the event with East Chicago-based artist and activist Thomas Frank. "Performing as a Baptist preacher with a gospel choir with the intent to spread awareness is more interesting than just the numbers and facts."

Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Gospel Choir started out protesting rampant consumerism, but recently focused more on environmental causes, including the tar sands oil that is refined in Whiting.

The performance will focus on an array of issues, including last year's spill into Lake Michigan, petcoke, oil trains, the local environment and the demolition of homes in the historic Marktown neighborhood.

"The big issue is climate change," Noteboom said.

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.

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