Ministry of Evil: The Twisted Cult of Tony Alamo

tony susan alamo

Sundance TV is currently showing the series Ministry of Evil: The Twisted Cult of Tony AlamoAlamo and his wife Susan were popular Evangelical evangelists and TV preachers in the 1970s-1990s, and are still revered by many people. Ministry of Evil details the Alamos’ rise out of the Jesus Movement of the 1960s to cultism and, later, Tony’s incarceration for sexually assaulting children. The program is a disturbing look at how easily and quickly Evangelical churches can become full blown cults. The seeds of cultism can be found in virtually every Evangelical church. That why I consider Evangelicalism a psychologically and, at times, physically harmful sect. No, I am not saying all Evangelical churches/sects are cults, but many of them are. As I watched Ministry of Evil, it was easy for me to pick out the similarities between the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement and Alamo’s Pentecostalism.

Tony and Susan Alamo are dead but, sadly, their cult lives on. (Tony died in prison in 2017.) For some True Believers®, no amount of evidence will convince them that their prophets (and gods) are false.

My editor suggested that I define for readers my use of the word cult. According to TheSage VII dictionary, a cult is:

  • An interest followed with exaggerated zeal.
  • A system of religious beliefs and rituals.
  • A religion or sect that is generally considered to be unorthodox, extremist, or false.
  • Followers of an unorthodox, extremist, or false religion or sect who often live outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader.
  • Followers of an exclusive system of religious beliefs and practices.

Most religions, then, are cults. Evangelicalism, the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement, Islam, and Roman Catholicism most certainly are, as are many other sects and churches.  Of course, these groups don’t they are cults. In their minds, cults are other sects beside theirs; other beliefs beside theirs. Every sect believes they are right, and all other sects are false. Welcome the wonderful world of religion!

Note

TheSage dictionary is the primary dictionary I use when writing. You can purchase it for $10 — a worthy investment.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 61, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 40 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

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6 Comments

  1. przxqgl

    my friend Isaac Bonewits came up with this, in the early ’80s. i’ve found that it works well for just about everything that could be considered a “cult”. it’s called the

    Advanced Bonewits Cult Danger Evaluation Frame

    or ABCDEF for short… 😉

    http://www.neopagan.net/ABCDEF.html

    Reply
  2. Kris

    The interesting thing is his cult still considers him to a prophet of god despite his use of slave laborer and raping under aged girls. Despite the fact he was sent to prison for this.

    Being convicted of child molestation is among the most shameful things that can happen to someone; it exposes you to shame a ridicule and the rejection of your friends and family. Yet they remained with Tony. They said he was sent to prison by god in order to minister to those in prison. He still ran his cult from prison.

    There is an interesting parallel with Jesus in specific with apologetic arguments for his resurrection. Apologists note crucifixion was a highly shameful death; yet his followers did not abandon him and continued to spread his message after death. They of course argue only his physical resurrection would have solved this problem, but we know from looking at cults this isn’t true. Cults continue to spread their messages after events like this because that’s what they do.

    Once again reality rains down on religious claims

    Reply
  3. Kris

    The parallels to Jesus continue. Jesus’ followers proclaimed him to be innocent and that his trial was a shame.

    Guess what?

    So do Tony Alamo’s followers

    http://www.alamoministries.com/false_accusations/merryanne.html

    “At Pastor Tony’s trial, the jury could not find him guilty because there was no evidence to prove any of the accusations. When the jury asked the judge what they should do, he said, “You know what to do, follow your instructions!!”
    We paid our attorneys a lot of money to defend our pastor and church. When they were asked why our witnesses were not being called to testify, and why they were not defending Pastor Tony, their answer was, “If we told the whole truth of this case, and defended Tony and the church accordingly, we would be tarred and feathered!!” They were afraid.
    Please, in the name of God in Heaven and everything that is decent and true and right, HELP!!!”

    Jesus was persecuted. So was Pastor Tony http://www.alamoministries.com/false_accusations/historypersecutions.pdf

    Tony’s prophecy against his judge was fulfilled, according to his followers-https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2009/may/04/circuit-judge/

    Tony preached against the secular powers and predicted the end times http://www.alamoministries.com/content/english/Gospel_literature/another_pearl_harbor.html

    Seriously the parallels with Jesus are fascinating.

    Once you realize Jesus was just a cult leader it all falls in place.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      I’m rarely shocked by anything these days, but I was quite surprised Alamo still has followers. Evidently, sexually assaulting children and abusing adults aren’t reasons enough for people to stop worshipping Tony and Susan.

      This is yet another reminder that religion can and does cause harm.

      Reply
      1. Kris

        Cognitive dissonance is a powerful force.

        Reply
  4. Suzie Alcatrez

    Strangely, Alamo’s jackets made by his cult in the 70’s are real collectors items today.

    Reply

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