Tony Alamo, Apocalyptic Ministry Leader Convicted of Sex Abuse, Dies at 82

Calling themselves “Jesus Freaks,” Mr. Alamo’s followers preached a wrathful version of Pentecostalism, which is known for its spirited worship practices and belief in modern-day revelation and miracles.

Mr. Alamo claimed to be unique among Christian preachers because he was born a Jew and had a “supernatural experience” through which he became a born-again Christian.

In the 1970s and ’80s, members of his ministry made elaborately designed denim jackets that were sold to celebrities, including Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson and country music stars.


Mr. Alamo leaving his detention hearing in Arkansas in Oct. 22, 2008, after a federal magistrate ordered him held until his trial on charges that he took minors across state lines for sex.

Evan Lewis/Texarkana Gazette, via Associated Press

At its height, his ministry claimed thousands of members nationwide, drawn to Mr. Alamo’s virulent anti-Catholicism and apocalyptic speech, in which he claimed that God had authorized polygamy, professed that gay people were the tools of Satan, and believed that girls were fit for marriage. “Consent is puberty,” he told The Associated Press in 2008.

From a 300-acre compound in northwest Arkansas, Mr. Alamo presided over several businesses — including gas stations, a hog farm, a grocery store and a restaurant — that funded his ministry. Ultimately, the Internal Revenue Service claimed Mr. Alamo owed $7.9 million in taxes and federal agents raided his properties in 1991.

He was convicted of tax evasion and served four years in prison. After he left prison he started a new compound in the tiny southwest Arkansas town of Fouke, joined by about 100 followers.

State and federal agents raided the compound in September 2008 in an investigation of child abuse and pornography and charged…

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