Who was Tony Alamo? How Christian evangelist became a twisted cult leader

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The BBC documentary Ministry of Evil: The Twisted Cult of Tony Alamo, delves into the chilling tale of the Alamo Christian Foundation, a cult founded by Tony and Susan Alamo in 1969.

The four-part series features survivors recounting their harrowing experiences, shedding light on the abuse and manipulation perpetrated by the Alamo family.

Opening with footage from the hippie era of the late 1960s, the documentary draws parallels to the Manson murders, exposing the exploitation and abuse endured by the Alamos’ followers.

It also delves into the legal troubles faced by the foundation, including tax issues and criminal proceedings.

The BBC documentary paints a disturbing portrait, revealing the dark underbelly of religious fanaticism and the lasting trauma inflicted upon its victims.

Who was Tony Alamo?

Alamo’s life was marked by criminal activities, including abuse, manipulation, and exploitation, which ultimately led to his conviction on multiple charges.

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Born into a Jewish family in the 1930s, he initially pursued a career in Hollywood as a pop singer under various aliases, including Mark Hoffman and Marcus Abad. Alongside his entertainment ventures, he owned several record labels, indicating his early forays into entrepreneurship.

In 1966, he married his wife Susan, and they formed the Alamo Christian Foundation in 1969, purportedly with the mission of saving lost souls.

However, their religious endeavours quickly evolved into a nightmare for many of their followers, as Tony Alamo engaged in rampant abuse and exploitation of vulnerable children.

His crimes came to light over the years as survivors bravely spoke out over the atrocities they endured and in 2009, he was convicted of 10 counts of transporting minors across state lines for sexual purposes. He died in prison in 2017.

Who was Susan Alamo?

Susan Alamo, born in the mid-1920s, played a significant role alongside her husband in the founding and operation of the Alamo Christian Foundation.

Her life was marked by a tumultuous journey from aspiring actress to cult leader. She converted from Judaism to Christianity, where she eventually crossed paths with Tony.

Throughout the documentary she is described as charismatic and cunning, playing a key role in recruiting new members to the cult and exerting control over its followers.

Her manipulative tactics, coupled with Tony’s brutal leadership style, created a toxic environment characterised by fear and submission.

Susan Alamo died from breast cancer on 8 April 1982.

What happened to the Alamo Christian Foundation?

In 1982, the same year that Susan died, the foundation was discontinued and replaced by the newly incorporated Music Square Church (MSC). However, MSC was hit with legal battles, financial troubles, and dwindling membership.

In the aftermath of Tony Alamo’s conviction and death, the organisation struggled to maintain its operations. Legal actions, including forfeiture and collection proceedings, were initiated, with the US government’s seeking to collect restitution for the family’s victims.

Without clear leadership or a successor, the foundation faced internal turmoil and membership dwindled.

How do I watch Ministry of Evil: The Twisted Cult of Tony Alamo?

The series will air on BBC Four at 10pm, followed by a second episode at 10:45pm. In case you miss it, episodes will be replayed on the BBC iplayer.

Content retrieved from: https://inews.co.uk/culture/television/tony-alamo-christian-foundation-cult-2997566.

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