Alamo Christian Foundation

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Alamo Christian Foundation
Tony Alamo
Susan Alamo
Pentecostal (Protestant)

The Alamo Christian Foundation is a Christian cult founded in 1969 by Tony Alamo and his wife, Susan Alamo.[1][2] Susan Alamo died in 1982. After years of legal troubles, Alamo was convicted of child sex offenses in 2009, and remained in prison until his death in 2017.


Tony Alamo [20 September 1934 – 2 May 2017(2017-05-02) (aged 82)] was born Bernie Lazar Hoffman.[1][2] He worked in Hollywood as a pop singer under the names Mark Hoffman and Marcus Abad.[3]:358

Susan Alamo [25 April 1925 – 8 April 1982(1982-04-08) (aged 56)] was born Edith Opal Horn in Alma, Arkansas. Twice married and with a daughter, she came to Hollywood in the attempt to become an actress.[4] Converting to Christianity, she became an itinerant evangelist before meeting Hoffman.[3]:358

After divorcing their respective spouses, Horn and Hoffman married in a 1966 Las Vegas ceremony, legally changing their names to Tony Alamo and Susan Alamo.[5]

History of Alamo Christian Foundation[edit]

Early Years[edit]

Tony and Susan Alamo founded the Alamo Christian Foundation in 1969 in Hollywood, California.[6][7]:42 The church became the subject of controversy and it was frequently criticized for its manner of evangelization, which often involved young members of the congregation working on the streets of Hollywood, inviting converts and taking them to evening services in Agua Dulce roughly an hour away, for a meeting and a meal. Many of these individuals chose to stay on to become Bible students and lay ministers.[7]:42

In 1976, the church relocated to Dyer, Arkansas, near Alma, Arkansas, where Susan had grown up. There the church 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.[7]:42 The church's projects included Nashville's largest country and western clothing store.[8]:115

The church published a number of religious tracts and it 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.[7]:43

Death of Susan Alamo[edit]

Susan Alamo died of breast cancer in 1982 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at the City of Faith hospital. In the reported belief that she would rise from the dead,[3]:359 her embalmed body was kept on display for six months,[4] before being entombed in a heart-shaped marble mausoleum on church property.[9]

In 1991 the federal government confiscated the property, finding when they arrived that Susan's body had been removed. Her estranged daughter, Christhiaon Coie, brought a suit against Tony for stealing the body, and her stepfather obtained a court order requiring the body to be returned.[10]

Tax problems and criminal proceedings[edit]

In 1982, the same year that Susan Alamo died,[11] the Foundation was discontinued and replaced by the newly incorporated Music Square Church (MSC).[7]:43 MSC was granted 501c tax-exempt status in 1981,[12] 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."[12] MSC sued and lost in the US Court of Claims. They lost on appeal to The United States Court of Appeals in 1999.[12]

Tony Alamo was arrested numerous times, beginning in 1991[11][7]:43 and the arrests culminated in his 2009 conviction on ten counts of transporting minors across state lines for sex.[13][14][15][1][2]

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 under Alamo's control and that the owners were "owners in name only".[16]

Death of Tony Alamo[edit]

Alamo died on May 2, 2017, while in custody at the Federal Medical Center, Butner in Butner, North Carolina.[1][2] He was 82 years old.[1][2] The Alamo Ministries posted a notice of his death on its website's homepage, but it has not posted a notice of succession or stated its future plans.[17]

Beliefs and practices[edit]

The church was Pentecostal in nature and it was often referred to as being a part of the Jesus movement. It only accepted the King James Version of the Bible, and members adhered to a moral code which claimed to condemn the use of drugs, as well as homosexuality, adultery, and abortion.[7]:42 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 basic education through high school.[7]:42


  1. ^ a b c d e Associated Press (May 3, 2017). "Tony Alamo, Apocalyptic Ministry Leader Convicted of Sex Abuse, Dies at 82". The New York Times. Retrieved May 8, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e Aric Jenkins (May 3, 2017). "Christian Cult Leader and Child Sex Abuser Tony Alamo Dies in Federal Custody". Time Magazine. Retrieved May 8, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c Ruth A. Tucker (1989). Another Gospel: Cults, Alternative Religions, and the New Age Movement. Zondervan. ISBN 978-0310404408.
  4. ^ a b Guy Lancaster, Tony Alamo profile, Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture
  5. ^ Fisher, G.R. & Goedelman, M.K. (2001). "Remember the Alamo!". Personal Freedom Outreach. Archived from the original on 2006-10-14. Retrieved 2006-12-29.
  6. ^ "Cult Evangelist Tony Alamo Convicted On Sex Charges".
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h Lewis, James R., ed. (2001). The Encyclopedia of Cults, Sects, and New Religions (2nd ed.). Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books. ISBN 978-1-57392-888-5.
  8. ^ Karl Keating (1988). Catholicism and Fundamentalism: The Attack on "Romanism" by "Bible Christians". Ignatius. ISBN 978-0898701777.
  9. ^ Southern Poverty Law Center, Intelligence Report, 2008
  10. ^ James A. Beverley, ed., Nelson's Illustrated Guide to Religions, Thomas Nelson Inc, 2009
  11. ^ a b Lewis, James R. and Jesper Aagaard Petersen, eds. (2005). Controversial New Religions. Oxford University Press. p. 8. ISBN 0-19-515683-8.
  12. ^ a b c "Music Square Church v. United States". Archived from the original on June 7, 2011. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
  13. ^ "Federal Verdict Slip" (PDF).
  14. ^ "Evangelist guilty of taking minors across state lines for sex". CNN. July 24, 2009.
  15. ^ "KHTV Little Rock (Local Coverage)". Archived from the original on 2011-09-28.
  16. ^ "Feds Target Jailed Evangelist Tony Alamo's Property". ABC News website. Archived from the original on 28 August 2013. Retrieved October 24, 2014.
  17. ^ "Message regarding Pastor Alamo". Alamo Ministries. Retrieved 8 January 2018.

External links[edit]