In the aftermath of the March 2019 Christchurch attack in New Zealand, shooter Brenton Tarrant was quickly ‘sainted’ by militant accelerationist subcultures online, who depicted him in visual propaganda as a Christian saint in the style of a religious painting (Fig.1). Since then, a collection of so-called ‘Saints’ has expanded, as the community has anointed other far-right terrorists as ‘Saints’, bestowing upon each new attacker a quasi-religious character. This deification is deliberate; it is meant to encourage further attacks by glorifying terrorist violence and sanctifying its perpetrators as martyrs – whether they are living or dead. Today, this ‘Saints Culture’ has emerged as a prominent vector for radicalisation and mobilisation to violence within the militant accelerationist ecosystem.
This Insight will analyse the phenomenon of Saints Culture, examining its evolution and situating it within the context of the broader milieu of militant accelerationist subcultures. In doing so, it will examine the lineage of these Saints and assess their significance as drivers of both online radicalisation and offline violence within online communities that promote militant accelerationism and the glorification of violence.