Alamo Christian Foundation
|Alamo Christian Foundation|
Hollywood, California, U.S.
The Alamo Christian Foundation is a Christian denomination. The current status of the church is hard to determine after the church's founder, Tony Alamo, was arrested numerous times, beginning in 1991 and culminating in his 2009 conviction as a child sex offender. However, as of February 2012, the Alamo Ministries website is still online.
The church was founded in 1969 in Hollywood, California, by Alamo and his wife, Susan. The church became the subject of controversy and was frequently criticized for its manner of evangelization, which involved the often young members of the congregation working on the streets of Hollywood inviting potential converts to evening services in Saugus, roughly an hour away, for a meeting and meal. Many of the individuals thus invited stayed on to become Bible students and lay ministers.
In 1976, the church relocated to Alma, Arkansas, where Susan grew up. The church there grew to several hundred members and established printing facilities, a school, and a tabernacle. It operated a drug rehabilitation facility, and those involved developed several businesses in the Alma area. As the church expanded, it established churches in Nashville, Chicago, Brooklyn, and Miami Beach.
The church published a number of religious tracts and also distributed tapes of sermons by the Alamos. With the assistance of some church members, the Alamos produced a number of records and tapes. They began a national television ministry in the 1970s, which would later be contracted considerably. In 1982, the same year in which Susan Alamo died, the Foundation was discontinued, to be replaced by the newly incorporated Music Square Church. Music Square Church was granted 501c tax-exempt status in 1981, but this was retroactively revoked by the IRS on April 5, 1996.
The IRS Commissioner found that "MSC was so closely operated and controlled by and for the benefit of Tony Alamo that it enjoyed no substantive independent existence; that MSC was formed and operated by Tony Alamo for the principal purpose of willfully attempting to defeat or evade federal income tax; and that MSC was inseparable from Tony Alamo, and failed to operate for exclusively charitable purposes.". MSC sued and lost in the US Court of Claims. They lost on appeal to The United States Court of Appeals in 1999.
In June 2013, the federal government filed forfeiture and collection actions in federal court on 27 properties owned by members of Tony Alamo Christian Ministries in an attempt to pay $2.5 million in restitution that Alamo was ordered to pay his victims. The U.S. Attorney's Office argued that the properties remained in Alamo's control and that the owners were "owners in name only".
Beliefs and practices
The church was Pentecostal in nature and was often referred to as being a part of the Jesus movement. It accepted only the King James Version of the Bible, and members adhered to a moral code which condemned the use of drugs, as well as homosexuality, adultery, and abortion. Individuals who sought to join the church and become involved in its rehabilitation program took a vow of poverty and agreed to turn over all their property to the church. In return, their own needs would be met, and their children would receive education through high school.
- Lewis, James R. and Jesper Aagaard Petersen, ed. (2005). Controversial New Religions. Oxford University Press. p. 8. ISBN 0-19-515683-8.
- Federal Verdict Slip http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/24/tony.alamo.verdict.pdf
- CNN Breaking News Coverage http://www.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/07/24/arkansas.evangelist.trial
- KHTV Little Rock (Local Coverage) http://www.todaysthv.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=88474&catid=238
- Lewis, James R. (1998). The Encyclopedia of Cults, Sects, and New Religions. Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books. ISBN 1-57392-222-6.
- "Music Square Church v. United States". Archived from the original on June 7, 2011. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
- Feds Target Jailed Evangelist Tony Alamo’s Property, abcnews.go.com; accessed October 24, 2014.