The Barely Legal Empire of Tony Alamo

The nutty evangelist rebuilds his young-girl-lovin' empire—with help from New Yorkers

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."

Alamo doesn't seem likely to get additional young female friends from New York. At a recent meeting, the few locals who seemed to be recent recruits were down-and-out men, including a former Nation of Islam member and two immigrant workers speaking Spanish. When one newcomer was too shy to go up to the "altar" to be reborn, the pushy followers eventually relented. "You can be saved over the phone if you want," one woman suggested, giving out the 1-800 prayer line for the ministry.

Remember the Alamo: After prison, preacher Tony rebuilds.
Remember the Alamo: After prison, preacher Tony rebuilds.
The come-on: Armful of Help’s website
The come-on: Armful of Help’s website

Later, the group shared a meal of rubbery turkey burgers and salty fries after the service—red meat and dairy have been forbidden by the aging pastor—and another woman explained that the church provides them with food, jobs, and housing. "The church takes care of us," she said.

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