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Ginny Kubitz Moyer Answers:
Religious imagery is found in many gangs, for a variety of reasons. In the case of Our Lady of Guadalupe, she is a cultural and national icon as much as a religious one (as the patron saint of Mexico, she is a familiar and beloved figure). That said, people who work with gang members say that gangs often derive a certain feeling of power or protection from images of Mary or of Jesus. Many gang members (even those from Catholic families) are not particularly knowledgeable about the teachings of Catholicism, but they do recognize these religious images as being important and inherently worthy of respect. On another level, the fact that gangs often invoke religious figures may indicate that the members are searching for some larger meaning in their lives. (If you want to read more, this article has some good information .)