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Evangelist Tony Alamo is back in Arkansas, and making news again.
Once based in Alma, Arkansas, Tony Alamo Ministries essentially went out of business when its leader went to prison in 1994 for tax evasion. After his release in 1998, he set up shop again, this time in the town of Fouke, near Texarkana.
Now, the church is officially listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors such organizations.
SPLC spokesman Mark Potok says Alamo’s hate is largely directed at one target: the Catholic church, which he blames for everything from communism and Nazism to pornography and the Jonestown Massacre.
But it’s not just the anti-Catholic rhetoric. Potok says dozens of women have accused Alamo of engaging in polygamy and sex with underage girls.
- Source: Tony Alamo Ministries is listed as a hate group by SPLC, KUAR, USA, Oct. 22, 2007
In a recent report on Tony Alamo Ministries, the Southern Poverty Law Center writes:
Alamo blames the Catholic Church for every evil imaginable, including communism, Nazism, the two world wars and even the Jonestown Massacre. "Narcotics, prostitution, pornography, booze and black market - every filthy thing – can be traced right back to the Vatican," the cult leader has written. Hatred of Catholics isn't Alamo's only unorthodox belief. In 1993, he published a tract called "The Polygamists" which argued, "the Holy Scriptures proclaim polygamy to be righteous." Fourteen years later, he still pushes that message, producing daily radio broadcasts that are beamed around the country and the world and proclaim a holy man's right to take multiple wives.
It doesn't stop there. Alamo, who has three children by three different, current "wives," also has been justifying sex with underage girls over the radio waves in recent years. It's hard not to be reminded of similar attitudes among other cult leaders, from Warren Jeffs, the jailed leader of the polygamist Fundamentalist Latter-Day Saints, to David Koresh, the late apocalyptic chief of the Branch Davidian sect in Waco, Texas, and a man Alamo says was "like a brother to me." Both Jeffs and Koresh have been accused of having sex with children.
Alamo argues that girls should marry once they start menstruating — even if they are as young as 10. In one September 2006 broadcast, he put it like this: "God impregnated Mary when she was about 11 years old. So the government idiots, the people that don't know the Bible, what you're going to have to do is get a hold of God now, you're going to have to get up there and 'cuff him and send him to prison for statutory rape."
It's a theme that Alamo keeps coming back to. In a radio show just this Feb. 24, the preacher cited the alleged promiscuity of first-graders as grounds for marrying them before the legal age of consent.
It's these kinds of statements from the purported prophet of God that have helped drive mounting concerns among ex-followers and others familiar with Tony Alamo, even as his churches — in Saugus, Calif., Elizabeth, N.J., and Ft. Smith and Fouke, both in Arkansas — continue to grow. Some with long memories recall the end of Alamo's first reign, when a 1991 government raid on a mountain ridge in Arkansas left his headquarters compound abandoned and in disrepair, and wonder whether the same thing is coming again soon.
Cult expert and deprogrammer Steve Hassan, the author of Combating Cult Mind Control, has followed the activities of the Alamo cult since Alamo's release from prison in 1998. Like many others, he is surprised Alamo is still free.
"Tony Alamo is power-hungry, deluded, paranoid and exploitative, certainly as far as what he's doing with young girls," says Hassan. "I don't know if law enforcement is either corrupt or [too] nervous to pursue him."
Officials with the Arkansas State Police, where ex-followers have made a series of complaints against Alamo in recent years, would not say if the cult leader is under investigation. "As a matter of policy, the Arkansas State Police does not address questions or publicly discuss elements of any investigation that may be open," said spokesman Bill Sadler.
So, for now, Fouke residents and ex-Alamo followers plan to continue turning up the heat in hopes of bringing increased scrutiny to Tony Alamo Christian Ministries and its leader. "I'd like to see him arrested immediately," Susan Groulx says. "There's no reason why he should be free and no reason why this should drag on any longer."
EDITOR'S NOTE Based on evidence compiled recently by the Intelligence Report, the Southern Poverty Law Center is adding Tony Alamo Christian Ministries to its list of hate groups. Future listings will include active chapters of the group.
- Source: The Ravening Wolf, Catholic-Hating Organization Reemerges, By Susy Buchanan, Intelligence Report, Fall 2007
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