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The Anomaly of Tony Alamo Christian Ministries: A New Testament-based Call for Christian Polygamy

Spencer L. Allen
Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions
Vol. 17, No. 4 (May., 2014), pp. 61-82
DOI: 10.1525/nr.2014.17.4.61
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/nr.2014.17.4.61
Page Count: 22
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The Anomaly of Tony Alamo Christian Ministries
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Abstract

Currently serving a 175-year prison sentence for transporting underage girls across state lines for sexual purposes, new religious movement leader Tony Alamo (b. 1934) of Tony Alamo Christian Ministries contends not only that Christian men should be polygamous but that they actually are commanded to be by Old Testament polygamy laws. Alamo bases this interpretation primarily upon Jesus’ statement in Matthew 5:17 that he came to fulfill the law, not abolish it. Numerous other New Testament passages regarding marriage and the law are likewise reinterpreted through a polygamous lens, and the Old Testament’s “Holy Men of God” (e.g., Abraham, Jacob and David) are provided as role models. This article examines Alamo’s unique exegetical approach to justify Christian polygamy in twenty-first-century America; further, it compares his methods of maintaining his legitimacy among his followers with those of another modern American proponent of polygamy, the also-imprisoned leader of the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints, Warren Jeffs.

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