Loaded Magazine: Church of the Poisoned Mind
by Will Storr
The Church of Euthanasia want you dead. You're a tool-wielding ape,
they say. You're a parasite. You are shit. This profoundly
alternative C of E preaches that humans are destroying the earth and
that, if you really want to do something about it, you should kill
yourself. It's certainly not a church that believes heaven awaits
those who seek peace, charity and justice for all. "I'm not
interested in justice for people," says it's leader, the Reverend
Chris Korda, "I'm interested in eliminating people. For me, progress
is aborted foetuses, dead bodies and sterilised people. That's
Attracted by the brutal strangeness of this American Church's extreme
philosophy, and photographs and videos that I'd seen of their bizarre
and blackly hilarious rallies, I decided to contact Korda. What kind of
a person advocates suicide on a massive scale? Could anyone really
be that misanthropic? I arranged to meet him in Barcelona,
where he'd been asked to display the Church's incendiary banners and
posters as part of an art exhibition. Once we arrived, though, the
Reverend became frustratingly elusive.
After I'd spent the first day trying to contact Korda, he eventually
picks up his phone at 8pm. I ask if we can meet that evening.
"We've been working 12 hour days. We're exhausted," he answers in a
slow, precise voice.
"And I've hurt my ankle."
"Shall I call you in the morning, then? I was meant to be with you today..."
"Yes, I'm sorry, but we're very busy. I'll call you."
The next day, worried that I might not receive the call, I decide to
find the gallery myself.
In the bright heat of Barcelona's city centre, Spanish shoppers pace
by, either oblivious or utterly non-plussed at a 20ft photo of Britart
pin-up Tracey Emin that's being fastened to the outside of the
Santa Monica arts centre. She is spread-legged and appears to be
giving birth to a load of money. This, I think, is probably the place.
Inside the gallery, the Church of Euthanasia's area ups the
look-at-me stakes even further. There are instructions on how to tie
your own noose, a list of 'CoE recommended suicide methods' and a
huge poster that implores us to 'Join the Church of Euthanasia
Goodbye Cruel World Tour - there will be plenty of barbiturates and
liquor to go round'. The small-print at the bottom contains a
disclaimer. 'The CoE accepts no responsibility for encouraging people
to kill themselves en masse'.
The whole display is a torrent of
taboo-fisting text and pictures, all in some way relating to the
CoE's conviction that humans beings should be wiped out in order to
save the earth: 'DRIVING DRUNK? TAKE OFF YOUR SEATBELT'; 'HONK IF YOU
NEED AN ABORTION'; 'PREVENT AIDS - AIM FOR THE CHIN'; and 'SAVE THE
PLANET - KILL YOURSELF'.
The Church was founded in Boston, America, in 1992 after Korda (now
39) had a vision. "It basically told me," he says, "that people are
stupid monkeys and that there should be less of them." He founded the
organisation on the advice of right-hand-man Pastor Kim. Although
they only have 'about 300' fully-registered members, there are
thousands of people who write in pledging support and money, and many
more that take part in Church rallies. These 'actions' often take
the form of protests against protesters. For example. if Christian
pro-lifers hld a rally outside an abortion clinic, (with their
virulent anti-people stance, the Church is profoundly pro-abortion)
the CoE will gather up their 'EAT A QUEER FETUS FOR JESUS' and their
'FETUSES ARE FOR SCRAPING' banners, along with the equipment they
need to barbecue 'fetuses'(that are, in fact, made from meat
substitute Pectin), and cause absolute chaos. Judging by videos I've
seen, some of the Christians clearly believe that Satan himself has
rolled up with his troops and is about to give them mass-cunnilingus
with his very own forked and fiery tongue. It's absolutely hilarious.
There are many pictures of these and other actions lining the walls
of the gallery. After an hour of perusing them, I wonder if I'll
ever meet Korda. Perhaps he's killed himself. Then, suddenly,
It's the Reverend, perfectly turned out in an unfussy black
dress, crimson lipstick and a smart black bob. Korda, as you might
have gathered, is a cross-dresser.
"Have they moved that light again? If that woman has moved that
light again I am going to punch her." He struts over to the wall that
the rogue light is shining on and squints at it.
"Chris? I'm Will."
"Oh, hi. Have you met Marilyn?"
He motions towards a bona-fide woman and marches off. Marilyn,
another CoE member, takes me to one side.
"So, what's Loaded magazine like?" she asks, fixing me with lawyers eyes.
"It's sort of like Esquire was in the seventies. Heavy-weight
features. Politics. That sort of thing."
"Well, me and Chris saw your website and we're a little worried."
This, then, explains Chris's apparent change of heart towards us.
"Oh...that site's nothing to do with us," I stumble, "It's done by,
um, other people."
"Okay," she sighs, looking at the floor, clearly unconvinced. "That's a relief."
The Church of Euthanasia may sound extreme, but, in Europe at least,
popular opinion is increasingly heading in their direction. We know
the world's population is increasing by one milion every four days.
We know that global warming is a reality and may well spell the end for our
species. We know, too, that we're poisoning the earth and have
destroyed countless species of plant and animal. The more our
technology and society develops, the more the natural world unravels
and breaks down. Our social evolution, in other words, is causing
Most of us are under the impression that
this can be reversed. If we put wind-farms in our chimneys, recycle
our organics and outlaw steam-engines, we'll be just peachy. Chris,
however, isn't so optimistic.
"I have fully accepted that we're going to pave the earth," he
asserts, during our interview in a back room of the gallery. Korda
has me fixed in a steady gaze and moves only to emphasise some point
If you've accepted this, I ask, then why bother? The Reverend leans
forward and widens his eyes.
"I want people to feel guilty about what they're doing. I want them
to know the suffering they're causing - to animals, to plants, and
even to themselves."
He fixes me with a wide glare and arches a delicately plucked
eyebrow, as if to say 'a-ha! you weren't expecting that!'
"Even to humans," he repeats, whispering.
Outside, the Church are about to hold an action. I ask if I can
help and Korda leads me outside and hands me an enormous black
banner. It reads 'THANK YOU FOR NOT BREEDING'. As I struggle to
hold it steady, Korda kicks the action off by shouting
"People are shit! The earth is shit!" through a
megaphone. An old lady walks past, rummaging in her handbag for
something. A packet of Polos, perhaps.
"Oooh, I have to have this new TV!" Chris continues. A police car
drives towards us. And drives on.
"I have to have a computer, isn't that fun?" Chris taunts, strangely.
I don't think many people are being made to
feel very guilty about the 'suffering they're causing'.
It's completely different to
previous Church actions I've seen on video, with over-zealous police
threatening arrest, so-called libertarians threatening violence, and
Christians threatening to pray. Openly. With rosaries.
After the rally, Chris and Marilyn go to an 'artists dinner'. I am
That night, I call Chris at his hotel. I've had an idea that will, I
hope, help thaw Korda's glacial attitude towards me.
"Well...." it's the first time I've heard him speechless.
"That's an unusual request...but I guess so."
The next evening, in Chris's hotel room, I find myself significantly
more comfortable in his company, if not in the navy blue dress that
my gut is bursting out of. My plan seems to have worked. Korda and
Marilyn have spent the last hour transforming me into a gender bender
("I call them bendies!" - Marilyn). They've picked an outfit, a pair
of tights and agonised over whether or not I
should shave my legs. As Chris delicately paints another layer of
crimson bitch-gloss onto my thumb, I mention that I think the Church
just enjoy going out to shock.
"Of course!" he smiles.
"We want to confuse people. We want them to scream 'Please! Tell me!
What the fuck are you doing?'"
I wonder what school was like for him. Was he bullied? If so, is he
now simply 'bullying' other people as a result?
"No, it's not from that.." He stops, and glances out of a window.
"That's a hard question."
Were you bullied?
"Yeah, I got beaten up and got my glasses knocked off.
I wasn't much for sports, y'know. When they
picked the teams for dodgeball, I would get picked after the girls."
We both laugh.
"But that's not why I do this. Everything I do with the Church comes
from a very, profound, poetic awareness, a very strong feeling of
With me dolled up like an ugly butch dyke with bad posture, we leave
for the preview where I help sell stickers, t-shirts and copies of
the CoE's CD, the cover of which shows Korda lying inside one of the
holocaust people-ovens at Dachau concentration camp.
Amongst their customers is a clearly fascinated Tracey Emin. She buys
a 'Thank You For Not Breeding' T-shirt for her boyfriend, and we head
out into the city to celebrate the opening of the show.
A couple of hours of later, with an unpleasantly cold breeze wafting
up my gusset and an increasingly wierd paranoia developing about the
size of my arse, I notice Chris and Marilyn getting astonishingly
physical. She is pawing the front of his dress in a way that suggests
she may well be busy, passionately not having babies with him.
"Will! Will!" Chris shouts.
"Look! Look! I've got a tattoo!"
The Reverend Chris Korda is showing me a white mark that his
neckchain has left in the middle of a swathe of angry sunburn on his
chest. He is clearly completely pissed.
The next morning, I meet Chris at his hotel, where he's just had
breakfast with Emin.
"I showed her the Dachau CD cover. She was horrified - she said 'how
would you have liked to have been in one of those ovens?'"
She has a point, surely?
"But that's an emotional response. I have a serious intellectual
conviction that however terrible the holocaust in Germany was, a
holocaust is still going on today on a much huger scale. Only it's
not humans that are being wiped out, it's plants and animals."
And the only way we can stop this is by destroying ourselves...
"Well, we only require our members to commit to not having children.
Suicide isn't compulsory."
Coulnd't we just become vegetarian or recycle our newspapers or something?
"You can recycle for your whole life and be a vegan and you'll
wipe out all of the good you've done, immediately, by having a child."
Will you kill yourself one day?
"Yes, I think so."
Why haven't you done it yet?
"I think there's still too much for me to do. I'm still
more useful alive than dead."
I noticed you and Marilyn getting all feely last night. Are you partners?
"Yes we are."
What would you do if she killed herself?
Chris looks unnerved. He shifts in his seat.
"That would be a surprise."
Would you try and stop her?
"I don't know. It would depend on the reasons."
What if she was doing it for the church?
"That's a hypothetical question."
Oh, come on, you'd be devastated.
"But, if she was doing it for the right reasons...I'm not saying I
wouldn't miss her, but...I'm in favour of people doing things for the
With that, I reach for my tape player to end the interview. But he
stops me. He looks genuinely upset.
"So...so does that make me some kind of barbarian? Do you think
that's very strange?"
I just think that on some level...
"One of my close friends did kill herself."
And how did that make you feel?
"I feel sad. I miss her," he says, quietly.
"But that doesn't stop me from doing what I'm doing."
With that, I leave him to go and pack.
On my way home, I pick up a newspaper. "DISASTERS WILL OUTSTRIP AID
AS WORLD HEATS UP", it declares. The Red Cross has produced a report
that says that soon, international aid will not be able to provide
adequate relief for all the global warming related disasters that
will occur over the next decade. I don't know whether to laugh or