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Tony Alamo

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Tony Alamo is an American preacher, singer, entrepreneur, and religious evangelist. He and his then-wife Susan are best known as the founders of a radical fundamentalist organization currently known as Tony Alamo Christian Ministries. The organization is based in and around Fouke and Alma, Arkansas, United States, and has been referred to as a cult.

He can often be found on television networks including CNN and Fox when they need to trot out a high profile fundamentalist Christian nutjob. He's one of the more entertaining religious wackos who seems to have an unlimited array of conspiracy theories.

Hoffman was born in Missouri to Jewish-Romanian parents in 1934. As a child he moved with his family to Montana, where he was briefly employed as a delivery boy for Helena's Independent Record newspaper.

In the early 1960s, Hoffman moved to Los Angeles, California. He assumed the names Marcus Abad and Mark Hoffman and pursued a career in music. He was briefly incarcerated for a weapon-related offense. Hoffman married Helen Hagan (Born Helen Alice Muller in New York, New York) in 1961. On May 25, 1964, the couple had a son, Mark Anthony Hoffman. While married to Helen, he met aspiring actress Susan Lipowitz (born Edith Opal Horn in Dyer, Arkansas), a Jewish convert to evangelical Christianity who was nine years older than Hoffman and married to a man whom Hoffman would later describe as a "small time Los Angeles hood". After both Hoffman's and Lipowitz' divorces, Lipowitz and Hoffman married in a 1966 Las Vegas, Nevada ceremony, and the couple legally changed their names to Tony and Susan Alamo.

Together, the couple established the Tony and Susan Alamo Christian Foundation in 1969 in Hollywood, California. They also manufactured and sold a line of "Tony Alamo" brand sequined denim jackets, a business that would eventually land Tony in prison for tax evasion.

Susan delivered the sermons on the Alamos' syndicated TV program during the 1970s while Tony appeared to sing a gospel song. She died of cancer on April 8, 1982 and he claimed that she would be resurrected.

In 1984 Alamo married Birgetta Oyllenhammer, owner of a clothing design and manufacturing company in Southern California.

In 1985 Alamo targeted the Pope and then-president Ronald Reagan. "Did you know that the Pope and Ronald Reagan are a couple of Anti-Christ Devils and that they are selling us all down the drain?" asked a tract entitled Genocide. A federal grand jury in Memphis, Tennessee, charged Alamo with filing a false income tax return in 1985 and he failed to file returns during the following three years.

He then married Elizabeth Amrhein. After a custody battle, they lost control of her children. In February 1991 Alamo ordered his followers to bring along his second wife's body when they evacuated the Tony and Susan Alamo Christian Foundation compound in Crawford County, Arkansas. The compound was about to be raided by federal marshals in the wake of a civil lawsuit against Alamo.

Alamo was ultimately arrested on tax-related charges and was convicted in 1994. He completed a prison sentence, and was released on December 8, 1998. He then went to a halfway house in Texarkana.

Alamo's followers sometimes distribute his writings publicly. The tracts -- often in the form of a six "page" trifold pamphlet filled with relatively small type, have been found placed in the windshields of cars in shopping centers, for instance. The tracts predict impending doom and Armageddon and invite the reader to accept Jesus as his or her savior while condemning Catholicism, the Pope and the American government as a Satanic conspiracy behind events such as 9/11, Pearl Harbor and the Kennedy assassination. Tracts currently being distributed include a picture of Alamo circa 1986.

In an unusual tract distributed shortly before the siege of the Branch Davidian establishment in Waco, Texas, Alamo protested the media's use of the word "compound" to describe the "campus" of his "seminary", and the word "cult" to describe his "ministry".


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