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George Floyd and the “American Spring" - Secular Martyrs, Democratic Uprisings, and the Radical Religion of Trumpist Fascism by Ellen Amster

A new paper by Ellen Amster, Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies and Department of Family Medicine has been published in The Journal of Interreligious Studies.

Mar 24, 2021

George Floyd’s death was a secular martyrdom that sparked a 2020 “American Spring,” reminiscent of the democratic “Arab Spring” uprisings in the Islamic world of 2011.

The popular democratic revolutions in Syria, Egypt, and Tunisia also coalesced around the murder of an innocent by security forces; these modern-day martyrs reveal the religious and corporeal nature of politics itself. Martyrdom, a concept from religion, is instructive because it describes a way politics function as lived experience, a reality for which politics itself has no precise language. Secular martyrs like Floyd render the abstraction of political injustice visible and visceral, inspiring others to collective action. A second role of religion in US politics is Trumpist Christianity, a radical religion designed to support the revolutionary fascist movement coalescing around Donald Trump, or “Trumpism.”

Trumpism seeks to replace the American republic with a white ethnic authoritarian state through violence. Comparative international histories illuminate the functions of religion in modern politics and the importance of religious studies methodology to “reading” the dynamics of contemporary politics.

Read the entire paper in The Journal of Interreligious Studies.