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(RNS) Evangelist Tony Alamo was charged Thursday (Sept. 25) with transporting children across state lines for sexual activities, just five days after authorities raided his Arkansas ministry.
Alamo, 74, was charged after police and social workers interviewed six girls who were removed from the compound on Sept. 20, The Associated Press reported.
The former street preacher, who leads Tony Alamo Christian Ministries, has said that he believes girls are suitable for marriage when they become sexually mature.
“Consent is puberty,” he said in a recent interview with the AP.
FBI spokesman Steve Frazier would not disclose what the children told authorities, but he said he did not think children were with Alamo when he was arrested at a resort near Flagstaff.
In FBI documents, Alamo was identified by his birth name, Bernie Lazar Hoffman, the AP reported. He has said he was born Jewish but became a Christian convert.
Alamo and his late wife Susan were street preachers on Hollywood’s Sunset Strip who went on to form a commune near Saugus, Calif. When his wife died of cancer in 1982, Alamo claimed she would be resurrected. He kept her body on display while their supporters prayed for six months.
In 1994, he was convicted of tax-related charges and served four years in prison after the Internal Revenue Service said he owed $7.9 million to the government.
— Adelle M. Banks
Copyright 2008 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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