“It is erroneous of the public to believe that the crusades’ only goal was to drive Muslims out of Jerusalem and the Holy Land,” Scott McElroy, a 57 year-old computer consultant of Las Cruces, New Mexico, exclaims. “The crusades were launched against all enemies without and within. Take the Albigensian Crusade, for example. The church had to fight Cathar heretics to preserve itself. These deviants lived in France, in the heart of Western Civilization and Christendom, but they had it all wrong and had to be uprooted.”

McElroy is soft-spoken, and only an occasional widening of his eyes betrays the fervor with which he pursues his dream of calling Christians in America to arms and fight all those, “who condone evils in His Church.”

McElroy was a hardworking family man in his early forties, when a spiritual crisis shattered his peace. “I was looking around me, and I couldn’t fathom why I wanted to lead this life I was living at the time. Sure, my kids gave me great pleasure, but beyond my doorstep the world I had once loved had ceased to exist. Teenagers listened to aggressive and loutish songs, my next-door neighbors were homosexuals living openly in sin, and strip malls were covering every inch of open space. Abortions were legal, people had premarital sex and spread AIDS, and I thought, I can’t go on doing nothing about all this.” His priest was understanding, but even in the ranks of the clergy McElroy sensed “the presence of homosexuals and deviants.”

In 1985, on his way home from a convention in Albuquerque, his car gave out. “There I was, stranded on the side of the road, and I’d had enough. I screamed, I kicked the car, I actually took a screwdriver from the toolbox and punctured the tires.” McElroy laughs, shaking his gray head. “I went nuts. But then, suddenly, out of nowhere, a voice said to me, “It’s not your car. It’s your life.”

McElroy turned and his anger subsided. He stared at the figure in front of him and fell to his knees. “He looked exactly how I had imagined Him,” he says. “Long hair, beard, white gown – all the portraits I’d seen of God’s son in church, they were true. They got it right.”

Jesus told McElroy to walk away from the car, into the desert. After about a mile, He bade him to kneel down. “And this cactus in front of me, whoosh, it goes up in flames.”

Jesus then instructed McElroy to take the cross against homosexuality, abortion, and bad education. “AIDS is a plague and shall continue as long as you condone homosexuality. There will be suffering and it shall go on until the sinners have been stopped. AIDS is a penance from my father, the Lord, and the sinners will either see the evil of their ways or perish.”

Then Jesus continued to bemoan the fall of education, abortion, and euthanasia. At last he ordered McElroy to gather true believers and fight these evils. When the cactus had burnt down, Jesus disappeared, but not before demanding, “Pray! Pray, but act, too. Prayers without action are like placing a feast on a dead man’s grave.”

McElroy has built a shrine at the location of his first meeting with Jesus, and he returns often to the site, to speak with Jesus and ask Him for guidance.

He had heard of the crusades, but it took him several months to research the holy wars and to figure out a way to start his own. “You know, these lords and knights had large estates, sold land to afford the pilgrimage. So why had Jesus chosen me? I was a computer guy.”

He started out by printing flyers and mailing them to churches around the country. The first few years were quiet, but slowly, he says, “a storm was gathering.” Every month he was receiving messages from Jesus and the Virgin Mary at the shrine in the desert, and he mailed them diligently to his subscribers.

McElroy’s project experienced a quantum leap with the advent of the Internet. It allowed him to post holy messages as soon as he received them, and to reach people who were not organized in churches. “I finally knew why Jesus had chosen me,” he confesses. “I knew what to do with the new technology.”

“What doomed the crusades of old,” he explains, “is that it was never a grassroots movement. The popes and bishops, they didn’t want everyday people to join, because they couldn’t fight, couldn’t afford horses, and held up the warriors on their way to the Levant. So it was only an elite fighting to free Jerusalem. And Jerusalem was lost again soon enough.”

McElroy adds, “Today, everyone can afford arms, can afford to travel, and we will seize that opportunity. I’m not a preacher, but the web allowed me to reach out to my brethren. The Brotherhood of the New Knights for Christ is ready to strike.”

In many states, an armed militia, with secret meeting places and hidden weapons is taken for granted. McElroy spoke to many militia leaders in Michigan and Oregon and was impressed with their organizations’ degree of sophistication. He and Siegfried Newman, the brotherhood’s treasurer and owner of a regional chain of supermarkets, keep in close contact with militia leaders to learn about modern warfare and guerilla tactics.

“Once we’ll call our knights to arms,” Newman, one of McElroy’s first followers, declares, “they will turn out in great numbers.” The brotherhood is said to have armed members in all fifty states. They intend, in Newman’s words, “to rise and root out evil, drive it out of our great nation and back to Hell.”

The crusades of the Middle Ages were sanctioned by the papacy and carried out by kings and emperors. Who will legitimize the brotherhood’s crusade?

“You’d be surprised,” Newman says during a recent meeting in the living room of his comfortable home on the outskirts of Las Cruces. The air conditioning is fighting off the 110-degree afternoon, and three glasses and a giant pitcher of iced tea have been set out by his Mexican-born maid. Newman is in his fifties, dressed in a Brooks Brothers suit and red tie, despite the weather. He carries a pronounced paunch and has a red face, and his every gesture seems forceful and determined. “Politicians at the very top want us to succeed,” he says, without divulging names. “We have brothers in state legislatures, in the courts, and even on Capitol Hill.”

Once the Brotherhood of the New Knights for Christ becomes active, McElroy and Newman imagine, their first target will be the city of Las Vegas. “It will be our first big test. We’ll shut down the brothels and casinos. We will be merciless against everyone who stands in our way and raises their hand to interfere with our cause,” McElroy says between sips of iced tea.

The new crusaders will drive armored pickups, Humvees and trucks, and will carry handguns and rifles, machine guns and light artillery. They don’t expect casino owners to lie down without a fight, but “once we take Las Vegas, our numbers will increase dramatically. People will realize how strong we are and what we are capable of doing. We’re all about character, and the good Lord is with us. We’ve had four million red cloth crosses shipped to our brothers in arms, and we will wear them as proudly as our forebears. Who can stop us?”

Skirmishes with police, the National Guard or the Army, McElroy hopes to avoid. “Will people get killed? Sure,” he admits. “Will innocent, righteous people be harmed? Absolutely not. Once the government recognizes that we are after the heathens, the deviants, and evildoers, they’d better back us. We are strong enough to even march against Washington if that is the Lord’s will.”

Newman even counts on support from the armed forces. “Soldiers are Christians too and hate to see our nation defiled by smut and people who close their eyes to lewdness. In the end, we will fight side by side. This is a big movement, not a flash in the pan. Forget Waco, forget McVeigh. That’s not us. We are businessmen, family men, we’re the people. We will be the tidal wave that sweeps the dirt off our nation.”

After Las Vegas, Newman expects to take Los Angeles. “Maybe it’s an obvious choice, but think of the Big Whore of Babel. Would you spare Babylon just because everyone knows how bad things are? Of course not. Los Angeles will once again become a desert, without celebrations of black masses, and voodoo priests dancing through rings of fire in producers’ mansions.”

“There are places that shouldn’t even be there,” McElroy chimes in. “L.A. was built in the desert as a toy for the rich and perverted. Does anybody need the city? I don’t think so.”

Once Sodom and Gomorrah have been razed, how long will the New Knights fight their holy war?

“Is there an end to the War on Terror? To the war on vice? I think the answer is No,” Newman says. “And we will not stop until homosexuals will repent, until the Bible will be taught in our schools again. And then we might be able to put down our arms and once more let our president lead the country, a president who believes in God and His kingdom and is willing to sacrifice the few for the welfare of our country.”

“But that is the future,” McElroy concludes. “Today we must fight. It is time to get down on our knees, pray, and take the cross once again.”

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STEFAN KIESBYE is the author of Next Door Lived A Girl. His second novel was recently published by Tropen/Klett-Cotta Verlag in Germany; the American edition, titled Your House Is on Fire, Your Children All Gone will be released by Viking/Penguin in 2012. Stefan lives in Los Angeles with his wife Sanaz and their dogs Dunkin and Nozomi.

25 responses to “The Crusader”

  1. Irene Zion says:

    Tell me you’re making this guy up.

  2. Don Mitchell says:

    Oh no, Irene. Not a chance.

    I was driving cross-country in 1985, in an old Ford Escort wagon, just me and my Chinook dog, and outside of Albuquerque — west, it was, on I-40 about where Indian Service Route 491 comes in — I saw that burning cactus. At first I thought, Who cares? It’s just a burning cactus, but then I saw this guy kneeling in front of it, and that got me excited.

    I was thinking I’d finally scored a look at the Brotherhood of the Burning Saguaro. This was pretty damn exciting for an anthropologist, especially because I knew that part of their ritual was called “the extinguishing of the cactus,” so I stopped the Escort, grabbed my fire extinguisher, ran over to this guy, and put out the cactus.

    However, it was McElroy and not one of the Brotherhood, and the burning cactus was Jesus (or so he said) and because I’d extinguished Jesus from this world, he (McElroy) beat the shit out of me for disrespecting Jesus.

    So, Irene, I have a couple of badly-healed ribs, a chipped tooth, and my left nut still hurts.

    Don’t talk to me about making shit up. No, don’t.

    • That was you in the Escort Station wagon? McElroy still has it imbedded in his hand.

      Burning Saguaro? Hmm…like the sound of it.

    • Irene Zion says:

      You anthropologists certainly know how to meddle, Don!

      • Don Mitchell says:

        That was after I lost my license, so it was OK.

        • Irene Zion says:

          Your anthropologist’s meddling license?
          Which bureaucracy gives them out, anyway, Don?

        • Don Mitchell says:

          No, the American Anthropological Association license, which prohibits interference. One strike and you’re out.

          Stefan turned me in, the bastard, but in retaliation I sold him the Escort and made him take the dog. He’ll deny it, but it’s true.

        • Irene Zion says:

          I try to tell people that you can’t turn your back on Stefan, but saddling him with the Escort was just desserts, Don. I feel bad for the dog, though.

        • Don Mitchell says:

          No, the dog was for dessert. He ate it. Really. He’ll deny it, but it’s true.

        • Irene Zion says:

          Is there no end to Stefan’s descent into depravity?

        • Don Mitchell says:

          When the Big Whore of Babel is destroyed — that will be the end of his descent, and desserts, and deserts, and decencies.

          Why isn’t he commenting? He must be taking a nap. He’s over 40, you know, or else the white-hot brilliance of our comments is too much for him.

        • Irene Zion says:

          I think he’s been struck dumb by our contretemps, Don.

        • Don Mitchell says:

          Entrenous, contrenous.

          This has spurred me to spend the rest of the day writing something for TNB — something that Stefan Himself got me going on months ago. He knows how.

          Damn, I have to do it or risk being unmasked for the fraud I am. Or not post the comment….mouse hovering over “Add comment”….

        • Here I am, back from puppy class. We got a new dog, which is true. And I do deny everything, especially that part about Dunkin. And yes, following you two is a lot of fun.

          But to straighten things out: I bought the wagon, because he threw in two shotguns. Also, a visit to a certain ranch. We’re talking Nevada.

          And no, there is no end to my descent into depravity. I think the fact that I’m still friends with the guy who sold me a wagon, two shotguns and a ticket to said ranch speaks volumes. Don is a great teacher. However deep I fall, he’s already marked the territory.

  3. Erika Rae says:

    After this post and Don’s comment, I don’t know what to believe anymore. I do believe, however, that whenever the trump sounds, they’re coming for me first. Devangelical. Heh. It sounded so clever at the time…

    I do love this: “So why had Jesus chosen me? I was a computer guy.”

    I don’t know why I love that so much.

    I’ll be locking my door more often now. Four million crosses shipped. Jiminy Christmas.

    Stefan, you get high points in my book for this post.

    • I can see you peering out of a tank, several guns strapped to your body, flaming sword and all. The Evangelical have no idea what they lost when they let you go. Or maybe they do. In that gravatar picture of yours, I can see you hold a dagger-stake-cross behind your back.

  4. Dang, Stefan. You’ve sure been keeping some interesting company these days, bro.

  5. […] 2011, I was thinking about another another marathon and Stefan Kiesbye talked me into a new kind of […]

  6. Matt says:

    I really want to laugh at this. I mean, the thought of an armed Christian militia staging a full-on assault on Las Vegas (with mobbed-up casino owners fighting back) is a pretty entertaining mental image.

    But I’ve met too many guys like these over the last couple of years.

  7. Do you live in Michigan?

  8. Gerald says:

    Despite the morality of using violence to achieve personal or political aims, the fact remains that Countries exist because of wars fought against their neighbours or rivals. Independence is largely secured through the employment of armed forces and the willingness to fight if threatened, this alone prepares us all for such an eventuality.

    I commend you on your site it contains a lot of quality information and is well done.

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