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Chronicling a Cult

Chronicling a Cult

Author who wrote about Tony Alamo's influence will sign books on April 23

March 11th, 2018 by Gazette Staff in Texarkana News

The city of Fouke, Ark., will host a book signing next month for author and human rights activist Debby Schriver's recently published book about cult leader Tony Alamo.

The signing for "Whispering in the Daylight: The Children of Tony Alamo Christian Ministries and Their Journey to Freedom" will be from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. April 23 in the Stanley Davis Community Center in Fouke.

"We're excited something good is coming out of this, with the proceeds being donated to the cult survivors," Fouke Mayor Terry Purvis said.

The book discusses the road to revealing Alamo's cult and the journey to freedom the children of his "Christian" ministry took. The leader and some of his followers lived in Fouke.

Alamo died last year in the federal prison where he was serving a 175-year sentence for child sex abuse. Contrary to his promise, the days following his death did not bring Christ-like resurrection. Alamo's wife and partner Susan has been dead for 36 years.

The children of Tony Alamo Christian Ministries are learning to thrive thanks in part to the work Schriver has done on their behalf.

The group the Alamos started in 1969 in Saugus Canyon, Calif., has torn families apart. It continues to produce second- and third-generation members, some of whom have broken free of its control.

Second-generation adults are born into a cult, immersed in its practices and ignorant of life as we know it. They must be introduced to the modern world and its social mores. Survivors are finding success and learning what it means to be free in a society that does not exert power over every aspect of life and to build trust within a community that does not abuse its members, Schriver said in the introduction to her book.

The book details the stories of several second-generation adults and their progress. The trust Schriver developed with them is a landmark in the cultic studies and counseling communities. Her inroads have particular relevance to the treatment of individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Newsletters produced by Tony Alamo Christian Ministries are finding their way out of small towns and into big cities, even New York. Over 50 years and 2,500 miles, Alamo's cult still has influence.

"Whispering in the Daylight" aims to bring all this to light so the persistence of cults may be acknowledged and the hard work of dismantling them may be a little easier—with a lot more support.

Shriver also appears as an expert in an upcoming Sundance TV docuseries, "Ministry of Evil: The Twisted Cult of Tony Alamo," produced by NBC Peacock Productions and World of Wonder Productions.

"Whispering in the Daylight" comes from the University of Tennessee Press. Schriver is establishing a nonprofit organization to deal with the damage cults cause and provide resources and access to counseling for those seeking help.

Schriver is available to speak to groups or read from her book. Email contact@whisperinginthedaylight.com.

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