by Debby Schriver

University of Tennessee Press / Coming Early 2018

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Access to cultic life and how it’s perpetrated like never before.

“What is new about this book is that it describes the journey of second-generation former cult members (SGAs) who were rescued from the cult as children or teenagers . . . The section on the interviews with the children in which they described their own post-cult growth was incredibly interesting. Gaining insight into the lives of these children while they were in the cult and after they left has not been done before in this way. I appreciated this new approach to information in the cult field.”

—Lorna Goldberg L.C.S.W., Psy.A.
Director, Institute for Psychoanalytic Studies
Past President, International Cultic Studies Association

Whispering in the Daylight Synopsis

Whispering in the Daylight takes readers on a vivid journey of the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries, beginning in 1969 with a bus ride from the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue to the church properties in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas. Three generations tell the tale: the hopeful youth of the Jesus movement building the foundation; their children earnestly following Tony and Susan Alamos’ biblical teachings; and finally the children taken in the 2008 FBI raid and their transition to a world they believed condemned to destruction by God. The stunning cast of real-life characters includes Buster, a one-armed financier and business leader; John Kolbek, the “enforcer” who carried out beatings and physical punishment ordered by Tony; Wilma and Drucker, FBI informants who helped rescue children from the compound in Fouke; and Randall Harris, the FBI lead agent on the case; and notable townspeople of Fouke, Arkansas.

The story of Tony Alamo is one of greed, corruption, and socio-pathology. Whispering in the Daylight explores why anyone would join a cult, and why everyone would not just leave. The hunter and his prey are intertwined by opposites – power and insecurity, strength and vulnerability, self-sufficiency and helplessness. Once indoctrinated, Tony Alamo holds his prey by every means available to him. His rules for eternal salvation deny all aspects of the world outside his “church.” He destroys family structure by separating children from parents, spouses from spouses, and banishing the “backsliders” from their homes. He takes all money earned in wages, sent by families, inherited and government payments such as social security and disability. Until his death on May 2, 2017, Alamo’s influence over his followers was so strong that he maintained his power from his residence at the federal penitentiary.