You know the ’80s have returned when . . .

Feb 16th, 2009 | By | Category: Ireland

. . . there is sectarian literature in your letter box.

In the name of the truth and in a fervent desire to share “good news” with the reader, tracts would come through the door; the most appalling bigotry could be couched in the most pious language.  A smattering of verses from the King James Version of the Bible would be thrown in to convince the wavering that God shared the opinion of the writer.

Sectarian words came with a strong pedigree, the leading political figure in Northern Ireland was still preaching stuff like this into the new century:

“So the slide is on. The downgrade is about. Well thank God my Saviour still reigns. It says He is consuming Antichrist. At this very moment what does He consume the Antichrist with? With the Words of His mouth, the Power of His Holy Word, for Rome cannot stand up to the Word of the Living God. That is the sword that penetrates even the entrails of the Pope and brings him down, the Word of the Living God.

Moving to Dublin, ten years ago, meant a move out of the world of the tracts; the vast majority of which were delivered anonymously and which carried no contact details.  People so sure of their own convictions seemed oddly shy when someone might want to question them about some point in their leaflet.

Not a single piece of sectarian literature for ten years – until this morning.

At the bottom of the mail box, underneath the morning’s post, a glossy newsletter from “Tony Alamo Christian Ministries”, inside which is folded a black and white leaflet declaring that Pope John Paul II is a Nazi war criminal (“is” not “was” the leaflet seems to date from 1990).  The colour newsletter has testimonials from correspondents in various African nations – it declares “All the letters are recent, from 2003 to 2005”.

It seemed odd that someone should go to the lengths of reprinting material from 1990, but not include up to the minute news of Pastor Alamo.  Perhaps they missed the stories.  CNN reported on September 21st 2008,

Federal and state police raided an evangelist’s compound in Arkansas late Saturday to investigate whether any children have been physically or sexually abused, officials said.  The raid is part of a two-year investigation into a compound near Texarkana, Arkansas, owned by Tony Alamo Christian Ministries, said Bill Sadler of the Arkansas State Police. About 100 agents were on the 10- to 15-acre site late Saturday and met with no resistance, he said.

Alamo, reached by phone in Los Angeles, California, denied any wrongdoing.  “It’s a hoax,” Alamo said. “They’re just trying to make our church look evil … by saying I’m a pornographer. Saying that I rape little children. … I love children. I don’t abuse them. Never have. Never will.”

Asked why authorities were searching the property, Alamo compared himself to Christ.  “Why were they after Jesus?” he asked. “It’s the same reason. Jesus is living within me.”

The story made the Irish Examiner and the Irish Independent.

On 25th September Fox News reported “Compound Leader Tony Alamo Arrested in Child Porn Probe”.  Alamo remains in jail on federal charges.

What is the response from the Alamo side?

They say it’s all about “False Accusers”, but they are not worried, God is on their side.

The most worrying thing is that there is someone in this community, someone who has deliberately come to my letter box (it wasn’t delivered to my neighbours), who believes this stuff.  There is someone who believes that the Catholic church is Satan’s church and that the United States is controlled by Catholic Nazis.

It is stuff worthy of the worst tracts from the 1980s and, like then, done anonymously.

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  1. Here you also get long, long, rambling six A4 page letters that go to great pains to highlight the problems with the Apostles’ Creed and where it is wrong! Or detailled explanations about the errors of a particular church (the one of which you happen to be the rector!) and why everyone should return to the King James Version… Some things don’t change here! Sorry that they’re creeping into your mail box too.

  2. Did you check out the link to Alamo’s website? He says, amongst other things, that puberty in girls should be the age of consent to prevent fornication. Grim stuff.

  3. Sadly he’s not alone, there’s a myriad of these pentacostal style Churches popping up everywhere although I’ve never received mailings like that – ever.I like to think of it as American Paranoia but sadly, it’s permeating ours and other societies. Fanaticism on all levels is a thing to worry about.

  4. Just checked the site….hard to believe that folk believe that sort of stuff. And why don’t sins of injustice, selfishness, violence, etc.,etc. get mentioned…? Where is the rant about homelessness, poverty, greed…?

  5. Ian,

    We still get tracts from time to time. They come under the cover of darkness and those who deliver them are past masters at a silent delivery – no rattle of the letterbox!

  6. The problem is that there are always those that will believe anything providing that it is served up in the right way, there are some that live in a village near where I live.

  7. What right has such a man to teach Christian morality? He is four times married, twice imprisoned and condones child abuse. It’s nearly laughable but terrifying at the same time.

  8. Alamo stands in a long tradition according to Wikipedia:

  9. Peter….Think I know who you mean!!!!

  10. Yes Les, I think you probably do

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