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Title Alamo - The Ravening Wolf: Catholic-Hating Organization Reemerges

Alamo - The Ravening Wolf: Catholic-Hating Organization Reemerges October 5th, 2007 -

LOS ANGELES, Calif. -  Clad in matching T-shirts with bejeweled cross logos, members of Tony Alamo Christian Ministries are once again saving souls on Hollywood Boulevard. Since the late 1960s, followers of notorious cult leader Tony Alamo have recruited and distributed literature on this star-studded sidewalk. [...]

Scattered former acolytes have long accused Alamo of mind control, con artistry, and mental and physical abuse of his followers. Now, momentum to hold accountable the man known as 'Papa Tony' is on the rise. In the last two years, former followers have come together on the Internet, establishing online forums where they offer mutual support and document a litany of personal horror stories. Even more importantly, a number of ex-cult members and family members of several of those still inside have reported to law enforcement allegations of serious crimes including physical abuse, statutory rape and polygamy. At the same time, neighboring townsfolk in Arkansas are organizing against the cult. Yet despite the controversy once again roiling about their pastor, Tony Alamo's army of followers remain nonplussed, continuing to recruit new members with beatific smiles and energetic cries of 'Praise the Lord!' [...]

As cheery and devoted as his Hollywood followers may seem, over the years their pastor's ideology has taken a frightening turn, drifting from Bible-based teachings into the murky depths of Alamo's growing paranoia.

In the early years of Alamo's ministry, his long-time wife Susan did most of the preaching, delivering end-times fire-and-brimstone sermons on their weekly TV show while Tony crooned off-key gospel tunes in the background.

But ex-members say his wife's 1982 death from cancer changed Alamo. "She was some kind of restraint on him," says Susan Groulx, who for years edited and copied Alamo's messages from prison to followers. "After her death, it was like he could do anything and get away with it. He became intoxicated with his own power."

Alamo - who declined several requests to be interviewed for this story - also became convinced of a deeply rooted Catholic conspiracy to persecute his church and grew increasingly paranoid. "Once he started talking about the anti-Catholic stuff, that seemed to be all he talked about," recalls Groulx. [...]

Alamo blames the Catholic Church for every evil imaginable, including communism, Nazism, the two world wars and even the Jonestown Massacre. [...]

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. "I've found out from people's parents that their daughter started having sex when she was 6 years old and had sex every day of her life," he said at one point. "So right there, by the time she's 15 years old, she's had sex thousands of times. I mean, this is just reality." [...] In 1966, Alamo married Edith Opal Horn, a gruff platinum blonde and failed actress who quickly reinvented herself as an evangelist and changed her name to Susan. In 1969, the couple started the Tony and Susan Alamo Christian Foundation, which would later be renamed Tony Alamo Christian Ministries. They informed their first handful of converts - and the thousands who came later - that anyone who left the church would burn in hell. Without the holy protection of the Alamos, the devil would kill them, turn them into homosexuals or make them insane. [...]

Alamo obligated male members, or 'brothers,' to rotate two-hour watch shifts patrolling the compound every night, they say. He encouraged followers to file grievances against one other, husband against wife, child against parent. "We were taught, and we taught our kids, that this is Papa Tony, he's a prophet of God," recalled Sue Balsley, a member from 1971 through 1989. "You were taught to shut off what you felt and believe what they said." [...] But trouble was around the corner. In 1976, the Alamos were accused of violating the Fair Labor Standards Act for failing to pay cult members working in Alamo-owned businesses. Still, while their lawyers battled the case in court - it would only be concluded in 1985, when they finally lost on appeal - the Alamos continued expanding their mini-empire, purchasing property in an idyllic nearby spot known as Georgia Ridge. It was there that Tony Alamo lived high above Alma ' and the law ' for more than a decade. [...]

Alamo didn't spoil the children of his cult and he didn't spare the rod. Stories of brutal beatings are commonplace, according to ex-cultists' online accounts and interviews with the Intelligence Report. At the Saugus, Calif., compound in January 1988, for instance, 11-year-old Justin Miller wore a leather scarf without permission and asked a science question during history class ' two infractions promptly reported to Alamo. The punishment Alamo dictated via speakerphone was 140 blows with the heavy perforated paddle that Alamo had designed and named 'the board of education,' while his classmates looked on.

"He said I was a goat among sheep and he was going to have to beat the devil out of me," Justin testified later. The boy was held down by four men and walloped until his buttocks bled. For several days after, Justin bled through his pants and had to be sent home from school to change, a teacher of his recalls. [...]

[...] Alamo was convicted on the tax charges. The court also found that his 'church' had raked in more than $9 million during the four years he had cheated on his taxes. He was sentenced to six years in prison, of which he ultimately served four. At his sentencing hearing that year, former church members, including ex-'wife' Jodie Fryer, testified that Alamo had recently begun practicing polygamy and had taken multiple wives, several of them barely into their teens. [...] Alamo took several more 'wives' while he was 'married' to Jael, she says, including a 9- and a 10-year-old girl. Alamo was calculated and adept when he began to groom young girls, Jael says. "Every little girl starting to develop wants to feel beautiful, and he was very good at making them feel that way," she recalled. "He preyed on the fact that we were alienated from our parents. [T]hey worked and worked, and some of us hadn't seen our parents in a very long time.' lthough he was incarcerated during most of their 'marriage,' Alamo kept in touch through regular prison visits where Jael and other wives present at the time allege that he would fondle the younger girls as older wives blocked the view of the prison security cameras. He allegedly spoke to the girls in graphic terms about group sex and whips, says Jael, who became terrified of him.

At the time, Jael says, she was still in awe of Alamo. She worked 18-hour days transcribing the tapes Alamo would record for his followers, she says, editing out his curse words. "I would have killed for him. I would have killed my child or anyone for him, even though I hated him," Jael says now. "I had become his little demon, finding sick joy in telling people horrible things on orders from Tony."

Finally, in 1998, Alamo walked out of prison a free man. This time, the cult leader decided to set up shop in the little town of Fouke, Ark. Residents of Fouke, where Alamo has built a small empire over the last nine years, were unaware of Alamo's history until recently. [...]

Ex-follower Sue Balsley told the Report that her teenage son was suspended in the air by four men as he was allegedly given 140 blows on Alamo's orders for sending a love letter to a female classmate. Cyndi Jo Angulo wrote she was 15 and already married to someone else when she was summoned to Alamo's house to become his 'wife' in 1995, only to discover that her 11-year-old sister had already been taken as his 'bride.' She also says she was one of the girls Alamo allegedly fondled during prison visits.

Nikki Farr told the Report of fleeing Alamo's house in 1999 when she was 15 years old, after enduring what she described as three years of lewd talk during prison visits. Determined not to marry her then-65-year-old pastor, she says she escaped from the cult by crawling through ditches and over barbed wire after Alamo caught her making an unauthorized phone call and knocked her unconscious.

It's a pattern of abuse that many suspect continues to this day. The thought that this might be going on in their hometown is both frightening and heart wrenching to Fouke residents, including Frazier. [...]

As Frazier and others spread the word around town about Alamo, more and more Fouke residents became alarmed. One of the small town's eight City Council members is a member of Alamo's cult and anti-Alamo residents claim that four other council members also are beholden to the cult leader. Alamo has become a hot button issue in Fouke. Attendance at recent monthly City Council meetings has been so high that residents bring their own chairs and wait patiently in a long line outside City Hall for the doors to open. [...]

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.' [...] 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. This is a summary extract from the full article as it appeared on Southern Poverty Law Center, Fall 2007 Full Article