|Drink the Kool-Aid|
|But you WANT to stay!|
|Cults of personality|
Tony Alamo[note 1] (1934–2017) (accent on the second syllable), known also by other names such as Bernie LaZar Hoffman, Mark Hoffman, and Marcus Abad, was an American cult leader, child abuser, and figure of the Christian right. Alamo and his followers were known for leaving their literature, much of which was anti-Catholic and anti-American government, on car windshields across the country, as well as Alamo’s wild denim jackets that are quite sought after.[note 2]
It’s not a compound, I swear
Alamo and his congregation lived in a compound (although he wanted us to call it a "campus" or his "seminary") in rural Crawford County, Arkansas. Alamo was known for finding people on the streets, such as drug addicts, and bringing them to his "campus" to work for his "ministry" for little more than room and board, effectively modern day slavery.
He was also known for being paranoid and vehemently anti-Catholic and anti-American government. In 1985, he distributed a pamphlet with a paranoid title about the following about Ronald Reagan and the Pope:
Like other far right wing Christian fundamentalists, Alamo was steeped in conspiracy theories, such as the famous ones dealing with September 11, as well as less famous ones, like the American government being responsible for Pearl Harbor.
He was also accused of collecting money, supposedly for charity, that later got funneled back to Alamo himself. Other finances included his famously elaborate denim jackets that plenty of celebrities have worn.
Descent into the bizarre
In 1982, his wife Susan Alamo (née Edith Opal Horn) died of cancer. He became unhinged and, convinced he could raise her from the dead, kept her embalmed body on display for six months with members of his church praying around it. Her body was finally placed in a heart-shaped mausoleum, but it was found to be missing when the government seized the property in 1991. Her estranged daughter Christhiaon Coie sued Alamo for stealing the body, and her stepfather obtained a court order to have the body returned and finally entombed in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Crime and punishment
“”Mr. Alamo, one day you will face a higher and greater judge than me. May he have mercy on your soul.
|—U.S. District Judge Harry F. Barnes after giving out Alamo's sentence.|
“”In the Bible it happened. But girls today, I don't marry 'em if they want to at 14-15 years old. We won't do it, even though I believe it's OK.
|—Tony Alamo, child abuser|
Alamo was incarcerated on several occasions, including a weapons-related offense in the 1960s and a tax-related charge in 1994, for which he served a six-year federal sentence. Besides the crimes for which he was imprisoned, Alamo was accused of multitudes of other offenses. He was accused of rape by dozens of former members of his "congregation", and former members have reported that he had as many as seven "wives", whom he married when they were still children. Alamo claimed that women are the property of men, and once a girl reaches puberty, she needs to marry and begin having children. Like all cult leaders before him, he justified this behavior by claiming
voices in his head God talked to him and instructed him to do what he did.
Alamo's cult compound was raided by federal agents in September 2008 after reports of child sexual abuse. A few days later, he was arrested and charged with multiple crimes involving child sexual abuse and transporting minors across state lines for those purposes. He proudly declared that the age of consent is puberty. In 2014, several women who alleged they were sexually abused as children by Alamo were awarded $525 million by an Arkansas judge a week after the church failed to respond to a lawsuit.
He died in prison serving a life sentence[note 3] under his birth name "Bernie LaZar Hoffman" at the United States Penitentiary in Butner, North Carolina. His former cult compound, long abandoned, exists in a dilapidated state in 2017. The website is still active and continues to produce literature for the group.
- Alamo Ministry website — in case you're curious
- Tony Alamo — profile at the Encyclopedia of Arkansas
- Tony Alamo News — a website exposing Tony Alamo
- The Barely Legal Empire of Tony Alamo — Village Voice profile
- Susan Alamo Speaks Out — videos of a TV show featuring Tony's wife
- Not to be confused with Antonio "Tony" Alamo, Jr., chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission.
- The Bad Jacket Michael Jackson wore was actually designed by Alamo.
- Technically, he got a 175-year sentence, but he still wasn’t getting out.
- Tony Alamo, Hollywood street preacher convicted of sexually abusing girls, dies at 82. Los Angeles Times, May 3, 2017.
- Stephen D. O'Leary, Arguing the Apocalypse: A Theory of Millennial Rhetoric, Oxford University Press, 1994, p. 258. ISBN 0195121252
- Glenn Hauser, DX Listening Digest 10-49, 8 December 2010.
- Siege of the Alamos, People Magazine, June 13, 1983.
- Inside the Arkansas compound, tales of abuse and neglect. The Oregonian, September 21, 2008. After Tony Alamo's announcement of Susan's resurrection, local radio stations responded by playing the Everly Brothers' single Wake Up Little Susie.
- Body of Cult Leader’s Wife Stolen From Mausoleum. religionnewsblog.com,, February 20, 1991.
- Susan Alamo entombed in Tulsa. Associated Press, August 11, 1998. Archived from the original at rickross.com.
- Susan Alamo at findagrave.com.
- Alamo, 75, gets 175 years
- Evangelist Alamo faces charges in child sex probe. Archived from the original at rickross.com.
- Tony Alamo victims awarded $525 million; L.A. properties may be sold. Los Angeles Times, March 1, 2014.
- Federal Bureau of Prisons Inmate Locator, BOP Register Number 00305-112. Bernie Lazar Hoffman, Register Number: 00305-112, Age: 82 Race: White, Sex: Male, Deceased: 05/02/2017.
- Alamo Mansion in Disrepair, Entered Now on a Dare. Arkanasas Democrat Gazette, April 9, 2017.
- Message regarding Pastor Alamo Tony Alamo Christian Ministries