George González

The 2023 Edward Bailey Keynote:
"Prismatic Religion: The Stop Shopping Church and
the Post-Religious Critique of Post-Secular Capitalism."
Implicit Religion UK
May 19-21, 2023 Online BST

"Prismatic Religion: The Stop Shopping Church and the Post-Religious Critique of Post-Secular Capitalism."
George González
The 2023 Edward Bailey Keynote

Since the dawn of the new millennium, the radical performance community, the Stop Shopping Church, has occupied and politically exploited the spaces between art activism and religious community in order to advance its sophisticated anti-capitalist critique. Today, more than twenty years later, the group, which now has a London-based satellite choir, has traded its parody of American religion for what it calls ‘sincerity’ and has evolved its anti-consumerism into a broader political ecology that centers ‘Earth Justice’, partnering, too, with activist groups and allies around issues of anti-racism, immigration justice, and queer and feminist struggle. What I call contemporary 'post-secular' capitalism is invested in the brand form and a cybernetic account of social organization and embodied subjectivity that stretches reason beyond its dispassionate, disembodied, secular costuming. Drawing from four years of fieldwork with the group, I suggest that, from the beginning, the activist performances of the Stop Shopping Church mapped the discursive displacements of ‘religion’, ‘art’, and ‘economy’ that accompanied the turnings of postindustrial society and suggested the ways in which 'secular' reason is inadequate to the task of critique. The Stop Shopping Church’s performances of North American religion speak to its prismatic valances within this welter: from consumer religion’s collective socialization of our imaginations, to the historical co-implications between neoliberal capitalism and conservative Evangelical Protestantism in the American scene, to the group’s individuated and coordinated critique, to the 'post-religious religion' the group believes must support activism and collective life going forward if we are to avert the environmental catastrophe of the Shopocalypse. In all of this, the activist labors of the Stop Shopping Church present a veritable smorgasboard for scholars of North American religion and beyond.


George Gonzales , Headshot
George González is Assistant Professor of Sociology and Anthropology (Religion and Culture) at Baruch College-CUNY. He is the author of Shape-Shifting Capital: Spiritual Management, Critical Theory, and the Ethnographic Project (Rowman & Littlefield, 2019) a critical analysis of the ‘spiritual’ turn in organizational theory and workplace practice. Among his recent peer-reviewed or invited publications: 'Towards an Existential Archeology of Capitalist Spirituality.” In Religions7:7. 2016; “The Ritualization of Consumer Capitalism: Catherine Bell’s Ritual Theory,2015; "Ritual Practice in the Age of Starbucks.” InImplicit Religion 18:1; 'Shape Shifting Capital: New Management and the Bodily Metaphors ofSpiritual Capitalism.” InJournal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 42:3
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Study of religion as an analytical discipline