Perhaps you have run across the website Spiritually Smart in your online travels. It was a sprawling and exhaustive archive of Jesuit perfidy, Catholic misdeeds, and general paranoia, established and maintained by a young Long Island native who renounced his Catholic upbringing after reading some Chick tracts and the outrageously bogus stories of Alberto Rivera. Thomas Richards believes that the Holocaust was engineered (not just enabled) by the Vatican, that Alex Jones and other alternative media figures are Jesuit agents (or, as he calls them, “temporal coadjutors”), that Jim Jones was a really nice guy and that Vatican-affiliated government agents colluded with Timothy and Grace Stoen to destroy his beautiful commune, and a lot of other things that really don’t make much sense. Richards is gullible in a big way, but he seems like an earnest, likable person who’s just trying to make the world a better place in his own special way.
So I was surprised to learn that he threw in the towel on Sunday. As he explains in his parting message, Spiritually Smart was established not just to share Christ’s message, nor only to expose the Catholic Church and the Jesuit order, but to defend a minister named Tony Alamo.
You see, Richards believed that the Catholic Church tried to destroy the ministry of Tony Alamo by falsely implicating him as a child molester.
Bernie LaZar Hoffman converted to evangelical Christianity from Judaism in the late ’60s, changed his name to Tony Alamo, and founded Tony Alamo Christian Ministries with his second wife. They created an outreach program for alcoholics, drug addicts, and the homeless.
Based in Hollywood, the couple also launched a line of sequined jean jackets. Alamo also claims he was a top talent agent during his time in California, and has said he possesses a never-released album recorded by the Beatles when Pete Best was still the drummer.
In the ’70s, Susan Alamo became a televangelist, with Tony as her sidekick. Her death in 1982 left an opening for Tony to become a full-time preacher for the first time in his life, and he got off to a shaky start by proclaiming that Susan would be resurrected. Thirteen years later, her lifeless body was still enshrined in his ministry compound, and Susan’s daughter had to sue Alamo to get it back for proper burial. Despite this booboo, Alamo became a successful evangelist. He also married a woman who worked in clothing design and manufacturing and built up his retail clothing business. He re-established himself in Arkansas.
Alamo’s preaching relied heavily on conspiracy theories: depopulation, Reagan as an antichrist figure, the Vatican as a seat of great evil, the government assassination of JFK, Pearl Harbor and 9/11 as false flag operations, etc. He also said he and his second wife were swarmed by UFOs while driving near Vegas; he took these to be angelic visitations, another sign of the endtimes. Many of his teachings were published as tracts that Alamo’s followers handed out on street corners.
In the ’80s and ’90s he had a few setbacks relating to his reluctance to pay income tax. His property was siezed, and he served most of 1994 to 1998 in federal prison. In 2006 he told a reporter that the tax evasion charges were totally false, created by a cabal of drug-addicted and sexually immoral church members who resented his rebukes. And Vatican agents, of course.
By 2008, Alamo’s kingdom was restored. He had a small but devoted corps of followers, and a large ministry compound in Fouke, Arkansas. Then local law enforcement began to receive reports of strange behaviour on the part of Tony Alamo: “Marriages” to underage girls, sexual molestation, physical abuse. Federal and state law enforcement agents served a search warrant on the compound in September 2008. Alamo was arrested a week later and charged with violating the Mann Act with two little girls. Later, charges involving four more little girls were added.
Just as he did when charged with income tax evasion, Alamo chalked up the allegations to a complex conspiracy involving those who wanted to silence his godly truth-speaking. Namely, Catholics and the government. Alamo’s website message of July 17th declared, “My trial is government vs. the Bible. The five young women who are falsely testifying against me have all been convinced to do so by the FBI”, which is “against the Bible, Christianity, God, and all Christian churches.” Never mind that a huge percentage of FBI agents are Christians.
Weirdly, Alamo didn’t attempt to deny all the charges against him. Instead, he quibbled over the age of consent, arguing that the Bible says a girl has reached sexual maturity when she begins to menstruate. Nor does the Bible condemn polygamy, he points out.
Way to be innocent, guy.
Another page at the Alamo Ministries website lays out all the reasons why he was framed.
Alamo’s trial began on the 13th of this month and concluded on the 24th, with Alamo being found guilty of all charges. Young women testified about being forced to “marry” the preacher when they were children or teens. One 18-year-old woman described how she was “married” at the age of 8, then sexually assaulted by Alamo from the age of 9 until her escape from the compound in 2006. He was already “married” to a 15-year-old when he took the third-grader as his wife. A 25-year-old woman testified that she “married” Alamo while he was serving his tax-evasion sentence. No parents have been charged in connection to these crimes, though numerous young girls were removed from their families during the investigation. Many of them have not been returned.
It was this testimony that finally convinced Thomas Richards that Tony Alamo wasn’t framed. In his farewell message, he wrote, ” I am embarrassed now that I EVER even mentioned ‘Tony Alamo’ and I’m sorry to all my readers for this… I probably wont even come back to spirituallysmart.com after this. And I gladly suffer the reproach in public for my errors in the past.”
He is at the end of the road that paranoia leads you down; mistrusting everyone except for the people you should trust least, blaming shadowy conspirators for personal failures, enabling deeply troubled people to do the same, and generally wasting your life looking for the bad guys. Far too late, he realized that Tony Alamo’s conspiracy theories were completely untenable smokescreens for his own evil plot: To sexually assault as many little girls as he could.