John on July 20, 2009 at 7:45 am
The title of the article is Drug Dealing for Jesus: Mexico’s Evangelical Narcos. The content is interesting, though as you’ll see there’s a problem. After a description of narco-warfare in Mexico, the author explains:
The gangsters, who had bought ads in newspapers and given an interview to a leading Mexican magazine, claim that although they traffic drugs, they protect their local community and purport to be devout Evangelical Christians. All members are disciplined to abstain from narcotics themselves and care for their homes and children, La Familia says. They are also made to study a special Bible authored by the gang’s spiritual leader, Nazario Moreno, alias El Mas Loco, or “The Maddest One.”
Federal agents seized one copy of La Familia’s Bible in a raid last year. Quoted in local newspapers, the scripture paints an ideology that mixes Evangelical-style self help with insurgent peasant slogans reminiscent of the Mexican Revolution. “I ask God for strength and he gives me challenges that make me strong; I ask him for wisdom and he gives me problems to resolve; I ask him for prosperity and he gives me brain and muscles to work,” Moreno writes using terms that could be found in many Christian sermons preached from Mississippi to Brazil. But in the next page, it switches to phrases strikingly similar to those coined by revolutionary Emiliano Zapata. “It is better to be a master of one peso than a slave of two; it is better to die fighting head on than on your knees and humiliated; it is better to be a living dog than a dead lion.”
Now it may be the case that the gang call themselves “evangelical Christians.” Honestly, it’s not clear from the story that they do, since no one is quoted using those words. What is absolutely clear is that they aren’t evangelical Christians in at least two important ways: They aren’t Christians. They don’t appear to be evangelicals.
I realize most secularists think of religion as a grey area where anyone can say anything because nothing really has any meaning, but here’s an axiom you can take to the bank: People who create their own Bibles aren’t evangelical Christians. Period. Those two concepts are irreconcilable.
And, not to put too fine a point on it, but any “Christian” who believes “it is better to die fighting head on than on your knees and humiliated” seems to have missed a rather central tenet of Christianity, i.e. the death and humiliation of Jesus by the Romans as God’s chosen means of salvation.
I realize religious literacy among J-school grads is low, but come on people. Make a little effort.