The death of evangelist and cult leader Tony Alamo on Tuesday in a North Carolina prison hospital did not pass without comment. Known, in part, for his rambling religious and anti-government commentary, several of his former followers had a few words of their own to share.
Rebecca Gay, 42, who now lives in Georgia, spent the first 14 years of her life at the compound on Georgia Ridge. She posted a message Wednesday on Facebook about Alamo's passing.
"Last night Tony Alamo the leader of the religious cult where I was born and raised, a man who was an annihilator of lives, the fracturer of families, and a thief of innocence took his last breath," wrote Gay. "It feels strange—like someone cut the invisible tie that bound me for so long. I'm still processing. So many thoughts."
Dorothy Curry, 72, of Fort Smith, said she had mixed emotions.
"I don't rejoice, but I'm kind of glad," she said. "I don't want to celebrate somebody's death. I'm not jumping up and down. We were all hurt by that ministry—spiritual abuse is what you call it. Some people have gotten over it and some haven't.
"Part of my testimony is that I was in a cult for 25 years. The cultish practice is the control, and we submitted to that."
Curry said her sister Ann, who's 82 and a former Alamo follower, was in a much more celebratory mood Wednesday.
"My sister was saying 'Thank you, Jesus! Thank you, Jesus!' She's thankful because (Alamo) doesn't have power over anyone anymore," Curry said. "What a relief for a lot of people, a lot of people who grew up in there and were dealing with the abuse."
Curry said she can't imagine anyone taking over as the leader of Tony Alamo Christian Ministries.
"I'm just rejoicing because his reign is over," she said. "You can't imaging anyone else taking over that ministry. His doctrine was unGodly. It wasn't the doctrine of Christ."
Bill Bowden of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette did the reporting on this story.