I have an interest in Mexico, having done volunteer work there, and so the cover story of the May 31 New Yorker caught my eye. The article, by William Finnegan, is titled "Silver or Lead: The drug cartel La Familia gives local officials a choice: Take a bribe or a bullet." (Unfortunately, this article is unavailable online unless you are a subscriber). The article describes the reign of terror committed by a crime syndicate in Mexico:
On the morning before his arrival, the dismembered body of a young man was left in the middle of the main intersection. It was an instance of what people call corpse messaging. Usually it involves a mutilated body and a handwritten sign. “Talked too much.” “You get what you deserve.” The corpse’s message—terror—was clear enough and everybody knew who left it: La Familia Michoacana, a crime syndicate whose depredations pervade the life of the region.This use of terror to enforce control over that region is horrific but effective. What caught my eye, though, was a passing reference in the article to the relationship between the group that commits these acts and evangelical Christianity:
La Familia's corpse messaging often mentions divine justice. Its soldiers are said to be required to carry Bibles or, alternatively, a self-published volume of epigrams by the gang's leaders, who is also known as El Chayo, or El Más Loco (the Craziest). El Chayo is inspired, in turn, it has been reported, by the muscular Christianity of John Eldredge, an American evangelist whose self-help best-seller "Wild at Heart" is reportedly studied, in Spanish translation, at La Familia training camps.The author of the article moves on to other topics after making that comment. A good description of the use of Eldredge's "muscular Christianity" as a basis for the terrorism of La Familia can be found in this blog entry from last year, who in turn quotes from another blogger who explains what "muscular Christianity" is:
Eldredge’s books are targeted primarily at men and his writings have great appeal for men, many of whom feel that society has forced them to be like Mr. Rogers – harmless and just a little effeminate. Eldredge encourages men to be real men – to head to the wilderness and be the rugged warriors we all want to be if we look deep inside ourselves. Eldredge continually writes about William Wallace of Braveheart or Maximus, the main character in Gladiator – real manly men.”La Familia has also been tied to a Christian extremist group called the New Jerusalem movement.
One of the messages left behind with a group of severed heads was the following: "La Familia doesn’t kill for money, doesn’t kill women, doesn’t kill innocent people. It only kills those who deserve to die. Everyone should know this: Divine justice."