In the wake of recent, more interesting news, the child-sex trial of cult leader Tony Alamo — whose followers used to circulate his full-color newsletters under windshield wipers all around Austin and elsewhere — has been playing out largely under the radar. What stuns me about all of this is not just the ghastly spectacle of a senior citizen "marrying" little girls as young as eight or ten. It's the way in which Alamo — or, shit, any authority figure at all — can exert such a powerful and hypnotic hold over his followers that the very parents of these little girls themselves became active participants in the violation of their children.
This is the authoritarianism of religion taken to its sickest inevitable extreme, and it illustrates the profound danger of accepting absolute authority as a concept in the first place. And I see this whole trial as a perfect chance to engage mainstream Christians, who, I suspect, would not hesitate to condemn Alamo's actions in the strongest possible terms. Yes, what Alamo did to these girls is unspeakably appalling, no less so than that he justified it by claiming it's what God wanted. But look at scripture, and you'll see episodes of child abuse either directly prompted by divine command (Abe and Isaac) or carried out with tacit divine approval, such as the scene in Genesis 19 in which Lot offers his two virgin daughters to a lust-crazed mob (who, being gay, say no thanks).
Lot's daughters don't seem to have been all that offended at being offered as sexmeat by their father, since, later in the same chapter, they get him drunk and fuck him. Those biblical family values, I tell ya! Anyway, the point is: Is what Alamo did to children in the name of God any more reprehensible than what God either orders or tolerates seeing done to kids in the Bible, and the way their parents are so agreeable to it?