A year after the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Report published allegations of physical abuse, statutory rape and polygamy inside Tony Alamo Christian Ministries, authorities raided the cult's headquarters in Fouke, Ark. Some 100 state and federal agents entered the compound Saturday night, apparently searching for evidence of child abuse and child pornography.
The Report's investigation details the sordid history of Alamo, who was released from federal prison in 1998 after completing a sentence for tax evasion. Alamo had also been charged with felony child abuse in 1989, but that charge was finally dropped in 1995. However, the family of the 11-year-old boy who allegedly was subjected to 140 blows on Alamo's orders for minor academic infractions filed suit and won a $1.4 million judgment.
As detailed in the Fall 2007 issue of the Report, Alamo in recent years has argued that girls should marry once they start menstruating, even if they are as young as 10. In a 2006 radio broadcast, he said: "God impregnated Mary when she was about 11 years old. So the government idiots, the people that don't know the Bible, what you're going to have to do is get a hold of God now, you're going to have to get up there and cuff him and send him to prison for statutory rape."
In early 2007, Alamo cited the alleged promiscuity of 1st-graders as grounds for marrying them before the age of legal consent. "I've found out from people's parents that their daughter started having sex when she was 6 years old and had sex every day of her life," he said in another broadcast. "So right there, by the time she's 15 years old, she's had sex thousands of times. I mean, this is just reality."
The Report's story also explores the Alamo cult's strange background and its leader's raging hatred for Catholics and homosexuals. Alamo has blamed Catholics for "every filthy thing," including communism, Nazism, the two world wars, the Jonestown massacre, drugs, prostitution and pornography. He has also attacked his many detractors in Fouke, saying that God would "destroy" what he characterized as his "Vaticanite" critics.