There are a lot of weird religious stories coming out of Colorado Springs -- the city that two decades ago set out to recruit religious-organization headquarters as an economic development move. But this could be the weirdest. Looks like it's time to change that sign on the stretch of I-25 known as the Ronald Reagan Highway to "Focus on La Familia."
Many people have been inspired by Focus on the Family, the granddaddy of all the religious headquarters that relocated to Colorado Springs. John Eldredge, for one, who took a job as an instructor with the group in 1991, then started his own ministry, Ransomed Heart. In 2000, he wrote a touchy-feely book advising men on how to become warriors for God, Wild at Heart.
"A man must have a battle to fight, a great mission in his life that involves and yet transcends even home and family," Eldredge writes. "He must have a cause to which he is devoted unto death, for this is written into the fabric of his being. Listen carefully now: you do. That is why God created you -- to be his intimate ally, to join him in the Great Battle."
And plenty of men have signed on for that battle, with Eldredge's book selling more than 2.5 million copies. A few of which have made their way into the hands of La Familia Michoacana, the newest, most violent of the drug cartels -- whose leader, Nazario Moreno Gonzalez (El Mas Loco), has made Wild at Heart required reading at his training camps, according to a Mexican justice department report.
"People have used the Bible to justify a lot of evil actions," Eldredge says in a statement responding to questions about the bizarre cartel connection. "It brings me sorrow and anger to know they are doing this, and I renounce their use of my words in this way. If they'd actually read the book, they would know that submission to Jesus is central to the entire message. They seem to have missed the central point which gives context to everything else."
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Yes, there are a lot of weird stories coming out of Colorado Springs. But this one, which stretches all the way into the heart of Mexico, could be the weirdest.