On Monday, [Evangelical preacher Tony] Alamo spoke of the allegations with a mix of denial and defiance, saying that he never promoted sexual abuse but that he believes there’s a mandate from the Bible for young girls to marry.
“In the Bible, it happened. But girls today, I don’t marry ’em if they want to at 14, 15 years old. Because we won’t do it, even though I believe it’s OK,” Alamo said.
On Saturday, he had said that for girls having sex, “consent is puberty.”
Interestingly, the headline to the CNN story reports it as, “Evangelist: ‘Puberty’ is age of sexual consent.” But that’s not exactly what Alamo said. There was nothing about the age of consent — he said that consent is puberty. Both statements would be disturbing, but Alamo’s actual words take it to a whole new level. At least “age of consent” implies some sort of agency on the part of the girl who is considered old enough to consent to sex; “consent is puberty” takes her decision out of the picture and pretty much says that hitting puberty means that girls consent to sex. It’s minor semantic quibbling to be sure, and I’d still be posting this if he had used the phrase “age of consent,” but it’s telling nonetheless.
Of course, we are talking about a cult leader who seems to have some serious issues. He kept his dead wife’s body on display for six months, convinced she would be resurrected. He calls himself a “completed Jew” who doesn’t trust gentiles, but then says that he never believed in Judaism. He’s a convicted tax cheat who made his money selling elaborately decorated denim jackets to clients like Mr. T (no word on whether a Bedazzler was involved, but a girl can dream). He goes on bizarre rants on his radio show, recently threatening media figures (including Nancy Grace) who were covering the raids on the polygamist Mormon compounds (“The Lord is going to take the firstborn of everyone that’s involved. . . . I am telling all you people, including Nancy Grace, to back off if you love your twins. Back off if you love your little twins.”). His organization steals from Hurricane Katrina victims. He runs a fake charity to scam people into donating to Alamo Ministries.
And the authorities just removed several children from his compound.
But Alamo isn’t just some random weirdo cult leader with a small following in Texas. His followers are all over the country, and they apparently hold meetings a few blocks from my apartment. According to a young woman from New York who eventually escaped Alamo’s cult:
Alamo eventually ordered Sarah and Angie, the two youngest, to live at his house for months at a time while their mother remained in another of the church compounds five hours away—Sarah because she needed to be watched, and Angie because she was being groomed to be Alamo’s next wife. Phoebe and Sarah say that Angie went to live at Alamo’s house permanently when she was 12. By 13, she was wearing a wedding ring, and, at 14, she was spending the night in Alamo’s bedroom. Eventually, Sarah was kicked out at age 15 for kissing a young man that Alamo didn’t approve of; she says she’s glad to have been ejected from the church.
These days, Sarah takes jabs at Alamo every chance she gets, making fun of his ridiculous rules: When babysitting, the girls needed permission to hold the male infants and were outright banned from changing their diapers, lest they be sexually tempted. “He says everything is about the temptation of the devil,” she says, “which is crazy, because they’re little kids!”
In recent radio broadcasts, Alamo waxed poetic about menstruation: “The Bible is filled with stories where God commanded young women to get married. When they start their periods, they are women, according to God’s word. They should be able to be married at 13, 14, 15 years old, and in cases if they’ve menstruated already, 12 years old.” He also contends that Mary was as young as six at the time she conceived Jesus, and sarcastically asks if God could be considered a pedophile: “You want to take the Almighty God to jail, because He wanted the Son of God to be born of a young virgin? But you, Satan, you wicked people in the Vatican, and all the rest of you want people—men—to be married to old bags! You want [girls] to wait until they’re 18 years old, and them having had sex with possibly up to 100 men!”
While Alamo publicly says he’s not a polygamist, and challenges outsiders to “find marriage licenses about me being married to anybody,” ex-members say he has unofficially “married” at least eight girls as young as eight years old, and many others live in his house.
Alamo seems to think that all the ex-members upset with him are just unhappy that they didn’t get more of his affection: “You get a young girl and you get them mad at you, they’ll lie that you’ve had sex, that you’ve raped them or something. This is just the nature of women, especially if you don’t continue to have relationships with them. They will leave, and they will tear you to ribbons with their lying tongues.”
Thanks to Joanne for the link.
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