A Brief History of the Alamo Christian Foundation
By Eric W. Francke
Tony Alamo was a popular entertainer, record producer and health club owner in California the 1960’s. After a dramatic conversion early in that decade, Alamo and his wife Susan, began a new life as fundamentalist evangelists. In 1969, they started the Alamo Christian Foundation, an organization that quickly gained notoriety for it’s intense evangelistic methods and “in your face” approach to sin in the Hollywood culture at large. In 1976, the ministry moved it’s headquarters to Alama, Arkansas, childhood home of Susan Alamo.
The next few years saw exceptional growth of the ministry, which now had facilities in Tennessee, Arizona, Florida, Oklahoma and New York. Besides the evangelistic outreaches, the ACF was also involved in drug rehabilitation and job training for former addicts. They also opened a printing shop, grocery store, restaurant, service station, hog farm, trucking firm and began manufacturing an “Alamo” line of clothing. Many of the “employees” of these operations were former addicts who Alamo considered “volunteers” to the ministry and had indeed pledged to work as their “service unto the Lord”. In return, the workers received room and board, training, healthcare, and had all of their other basic necessities met. Even many of those with outside employment were asked to turn over their paychecks and assets to further the work of the ministry.
It was the manpower practice with the church owned businesses, however that was the impetus of the first lawsuit against Tony Alamo and his church. In 1976, the Labor department brought charges against Alamo that his lack of financial recompense to his employees was a violation of the Fair Labor Standard Act. Alamo lost his suit and lost in appeal to the US Supreme Court in 1985. In that same year, the IRS moved against Alamo’s church, (Now incorporated as Music Square Church) and revoked it’s tax exempt status retroactively for the years of 1977-1980.
Over the next few years, Tony Alamo was besieged with lawsuits and controversy. He was accused in 1988 of beating an 11 year old child in the community, via ordering the parent of the child over the telephone to do so. This prompted a raid on the Saugus California community, where much church property was confiscated and the child in question was taken by the state. Stories were starting to leak out from ex-members alleging that Alamo wielded such control in his communities that he literally would split up families and rearrange marriages at will. Rumors also spread that after the death of his wife Susan (d. 1982, of cancer) Alamo took two 15 yrs olds in his community as “wives”. In September of the same year, Robert Miller, who was the operator of the Church’s trucking company, alleged that Alamo had embezzled $100,000 and essentially stole the trucking company from him. Meanwhile his clothing company was suffering from the bad public relations which Alamo attributed to the activities of a number of anti-cult groups. Alamo sued the several anti-cult organizations, but was unsuccessful in court.
Tony Alamo did not appear in court in 1990 to answer the charges involving the trucking company, and was ruled in default and a judgment was given against him. Simultaneously, the IRS had filed liens for nearly 8 Million dollars for church-business income taxes, and employee withholding. The IRS within the year seized the Alamo businesses and communal properties all over the country. .
In February of 1993, a Memphis grand jury indicted Alamo on charges of filing a false income tax return for 1985, and failing to file tax returns for the years of 1986, 1987 and 1988. In April of 1993, Alamo was arrested, and one year later, in May of 1994, his trial began before U.S. District Judge Jon P. McCalla. On June 8, 1994, Alamo was convicted of all four tax charges and sentenced to six years in prison.
In 1998, Tony Alamo filed suit under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) that his denial of parole in 1996 substantially burdened his church followers from being able to practice their religion. The case was dismissed.
In late 1998, Tony Alamo was released from prison. He is once again “World Pastor” of the Alamo empire, which has been greatly diminished through all the controversies, and government seizures.
Alamo, to his credit, stayed fairly orthodox in his views on conservative, Pentecostal Holiness Christianity. He is tends to emphasize the strictness of God's moral commands, as well as God's judgment upon sin. However, most would agree that remaining orthodox is faint praise if the allegations about his abuse of power towards his followers is true.
What makes the tale even more tragic are the themes that have eclipsed his preaching in the last decade. Alamo has always held to the idea that the Pope is controlling every world political and religious figure, and that all current events are simply the detailed orchestrations from the Vatican. Here is a selection from his website that was initially written several years before his imprisonment. This, unfortunately is not atypical of his messages.
“Then the Vatican will have no further need for the ‘cover of government’ and they can totally dispense the Oaths of Office, which they totally break anyway, and install whomever they please to run their police state. All of this is on the drawing board for 1993, courtesy of the Pope’s Clinton Administration. Check it out for yourself. Clinton, as a child, attended Catholic parochial school, graduated from Catholic Georgetown University, and received a Catholic Rhodes scholarship to Catholic Oxford University in Oxford, England. For political reasons, Clinton temporarily became a Baptist; now as President, he is unashamedly and zealously showing his true Catholic colors. By the way Clinton is obediently performing for Rome, he can, with assurance, predict future bloody Christian massacres. If he continues being faithful to the Popes evil leadership, why maybe he could even plan on being the next Furher (the new Heir Hitler). Won’t Hillary be proud of him !!? First Arkansas, then Washington, und den der velt!!….
The Cult Awareness Network (Editor’s note: referring to the old CAN), the A.D.L., the J.D.L., both divisions of B’nai B’rith, with offices in many Catholic archdiocese in the U.S. and Rome, are all Catholic Jesuit C.I.A. cult arms of the Roman Catholic cult. The Process Church of the Final Judgment, another government and Satan Lucifer-worshipping cult of Rome which recently changed its name to "Foundation Faith of God," is linked with the Cult Awareness Network and all the other one-world government agencies, as well as the judicial and media branches of government. There are literally dozens of other dangerous Catholic government cults that have corrupted the United States.”
The rhetoric against Catholics, the old CAN, and the IRS intensified to a fever pitch during the 1990s. Many of his messages contained references to his belief that the Pope was actually behind the massacre of 6 million Jews in WWII, and Hitler (as was Stalin and Roosevelt) just his lackeys. Most recently, Alamo has become very friendly with the Church of Scientology owned “New CAN”, not only because they share a hatred of the anti-cult experts of the Old CAN, but also, the New CAN was able to acquire the files of the former organization, and Alamo needs those files in his ongoing effort to clear his name, as well as wreak vengeance on those who were behind publicizing his problems. He has only glowing words for the New CAN. Likewise, the New CAN reciprocates with the highest recommendations for any group mentioned on their site.