Mexican Cartels and Street Gangs Create ‘Narco Saints’ to Moralize Crime
Joshua Philipp - Epoch Times
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August 20, 2017

A growing number of Mexicans are turning to Santa Muerte, instead of to the official patroness, the Virgin of Guadalupe, in a practice that the Catholic Church has publicly condemned as blasphemy. WSJ's Amy Guthrie reports. (Wall Street Journal)

Drug cartels and street gangs in Mexico are creating their own religions and altering beliefs in existing Catholic saints, in a move to create a new “narcoculture” that tries to morally justify crime and violence.

Some of these new figures of worship are existing Catholic saints, most of which have had their meaning altered for the narcoculture. Some are pulled from Aztec gods worshipped through human sacrifice, while others are new creations altogether.

The two most popular figures of worship in Mexico are products of this new narcoculture. The most popular is St. Jude Thaddeus, also called “Saint Judas,” while the second most popular is a newly created folk saint called Santa Muerte, “Saint Death.”

What is taking place in Mexico is a form of “spiritual appropriation,” whereby the existing religion is being altered to justify a criminal insurgency, according to Robert J. Bunker, adjunct research professor at the Strategic Studies Institute at U.S. Army War College.

There is a spectrum of beliefs in Mexico that ties directly to the growth of crime. Bunker said at one extreme, there are those who adhere to traditional Catholicism and other morally based religions. At the other extreme “would be those individuals whom we consider to be ‘evil’ in their value system.”

Yet as the narcoculture continues to develop, it is becoming harder for people to differentiate the legitimate figures from the newly created “narco saints.” Bunker noted the case of Saint Judas, a legitimate Catholic saint now commonly worshipped for protection by smugglers, bandits, gangs, and drug cartel members.

Read the rest at Epoch Times

Related: Los Angeles Statue of Catholic Saint Who Devoted Entire Life to Jesus Christ Covered in Red Paint, Swastika (IJR)

Related: Pilgrims Bow Down Before Saint of Death in Mexico (

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