The Alamo Christian Foundation is a Christian cult. The current status of the church is unclear after the church's founder, Tony Alamo (a-LAHM-o) was arrested numerous times, beginning in 1991 and culminating in his 2009 conviction as a child sex offender. However, as of May 2016, the Alamo Ministries website is still online. Alamo died in prison on May 2, 2017. He was 82 years old. The Alamo Ministries posted a notice of his death on its website's homepage, but it has not posted a notice of succession or stated its future plans.
The church was founded in 1969 in Hollywood, California, by Tony Alamo (born Bernie Lazar Hoffman) and his wife, Susan. The church became the subject of controversy and was frequently criticized for its manner of evangelization, which often involved young members of the congregation working on the streets of Hollywood, kidnapping vulnerable potential converts and taking them to evening services in Agua Dulce roughly an hour away, for a meeting and a meal. Many of the individuals thus invited stayed on, against their will, to become Bible students and lay ministers. In 1976, the church relocated to Alma, Arkansas, where Susan grew up. The church there grew to several hundred members and established printing facilities, a school, and a tabernacle. It operated a drug rehabilitation facility, and those involved developed several businesses in the Alma area. As the church expanded, it established churches in Nashville, Chicago, Brooklyn, and Miami Beach.
The church published a number of religious tracts and also distributed tapes of sermons by the Alamos. With the assistance of some church members, the Alamos produced a number of records and tapes. They began a national television ministry in the 1970s. In 1982, the same year in which Susan Alamo died, the Foundation was discontinued, to be replaced by the newly incorporated Music Square Church (MSC). MSC was granted 501c tax-exempt status in 1981, but this was retroactively revoked by the IRS on April 5, 1996. The IRS Commissioner found that "MSC was so closely operated and controlled by and for the benefit of Tony Alamo that it enjoyed no substantive independent existence; that MSC was formed and operated by Tony Alamo for the principal purpose of willfully attempting to defeat or evade federal income tax; and that MSC was inseparable from Tony Alamo, and failed to operate for exclusively charitable purposes.". MSC sued and lost in the US Court of Claims. They lost on appeal to The United States Court of Appeals in 1999.
In June 2013, the federal government filed forfeiture and collection actions in federal court on 27 properties owned by members of Tony Alamo Christian Ministries in an attempt to pay $2.5 million in restitution that Alamo was ordered to pay his victims. The U.S. Attorney's Office argued that the properties remained under Alamo's control and that the owners were "owners in name only". Alamo died on May 3, 2017 while in custody at the Federal Medical Center, Butner in Butner, North Carolina. The church was Pentecostal in nature and it was often referred to as being a part of the Jesus movement. It only accepted the King James Version of the Bible, and members adhered to a moral code which claimed to condemn the use of drugs, as well as homosexuality, adultery, and abortion. Individuals who sought to join the church and become involved in its rehabilitation program took a vow of poverty and agreed to turn over all their property to the church. In return, their own needs would be met, and their children would receive basic education through high school.