Friday, November 13, 2009

Tony Alamo, 'Those Evangelists,' and Labels

I've mentioned Tony Alamo occasionally in this blog. ("The Pope, the Antichrist, and Fu Manchu" (October 2, 2008), for starters) That's partly because he was such an outstanding example of a particular sort of off-the-rails spiritual leader with a roll-your-own brand of Christianity.

He's in the news again. His followers may assume that the latest development is some sort of popish plot:
"his legal problems may be a Popish plot. CNN quotes Tony Alamo: 'We don't go into pornography; nobody in the church is into that,' Alamo said. 'Where do these allegations stem from? The anti-Christ government. The Catholics don't like me because I have cut their congregation in half. They hate true Christianity.' "
("Evangelist Tony Alamo won't fight extradition" CNN (September 26, 2008).)
(October 2, 2008)
This time it isn't allegations of sexual improprieties, it's a conviction:
"Evangelist Tony Alamo was sentenced Friday to 175 years in prison for taking underage girls across state lines for sex, effectively punishing him for the rest of his life for molesting children he took as 'brides' in his ministry.

"During Friday's hearing, some of Alamo's victims testified about how their families were destroyed while the evangelist took over their lives...."
"Convicted over the summer of taking five underage girls across state lines to have sex with them, evangelist Tony Alamo was today sentenced to 175 years in prison by a judge in Texarkana, Ark...."

"Evangelist" and Other Labels

News services tend to use convenient labels for people, like "anti-abortion activist," "terrorist," and "evangelist." These labels are, certainly, convenient - but may be misleading. For example, an "anti-abortion activist" is, for America's dominant culture, someone who is against a "woman's right to chose." Like the fellow who murdered Dr. George Tiller.

An "evangelist" is, when the word isn't capitalized, "a preacher of the Christian gospel" (Princeton's WordNet).

Mr. Alamo claimed to be a preacher of the Christian gospel - and, by his own personal standards, may have been. He also fits the profile of a 'typical' Christian preacher - by the standards of some of America's self-described best and brightest. (August 3, 2009)

As a matter of fact, there was a time - not too many years ago - when American evangelists were in the news rather regularly. At the peak of those sex scandals, it might have been easier to announce which prominent televangelists hadn't been caught with their zipper down.

And, yes, there was the matter of those pedophile priests. (July 25, 2009)

I know that it's convenient to call Tony Alamo an "evangelist." It may - by a stretch of the imagination - even be accurate. But I'd be hesitant to put Mr. Alamo in the same category as, say, Billy Graham and Robert A. Schuller.

But then, I'm not running a news service.

Sort-of related posts: In the news:

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Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.