Tony Alamo’s poster campaign against Catholics

1984-05-25 - The Washington Times - Religion - There’s no way to call off the hornet
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The Washington Times
May 25, 1984

By William E Willoughby


Say it ain’t so, Tony, my friend. Say it ain’t so.
I speak of my dearly beloved friend. Tony Alamo. We’ve had some side-splitting good times together two quite different people, on different wavelengths about lot of things. Different in almost every way, but kindred in spirit in ever so many delightful ways.

Yes, in my heart of hearts I have rejoiced time and time again over the power of the Gospel in the lives of thousands of young people he and his late wife Susan worked their very souls out to win. I saw lives wonderfully transformed through God’s Spirit blessing the tireless and thankless work of the Tony and Susan Alamo Christian Foundation. I love him as a brother; no I even more than a brother.

But now my heart, because its love and its loyalty for a friend will not and cannot change, grieves. Tony, I myself, even if you do believe all that spiteful stuff about the pope and the Vatican and the Catholic Church, why do you have to turn it into a hate campaign, mistaking it for evangelism, for attempts at winning people to the Gospel? Why do some really fine Christian people get distracted in this way? Why you? And I know your answers, Tony. I know them well. I know also that you, true believer that you unflinchingly are, can only conclude: Bill, you’ve sold out to the enemy. Well, hardly. Such words contain no truth. But like the sticks and the stones that may break my bones, such words indeed also can hurt. I care an awful lot about truth, sometimes, painfully, too much.

So also, does the tract that you distribute in all your zeal, cause hurt. The one titled “The Pope’s Secrets,” with a caricature photo of the pope. And even though I know you are convinced that it is so, where is the proof you present that the Vatican is responsible for the assassinations of Presidents Lincoln and Kennedy? Isn’t this just as irresponsible as the news media which you so roundly attack and which did, indeed, in the past, unconscionably attack you?

One can plaster the margins of “Mein Kampf” or “Das Kapital” with scripture references if he likes, but that proves nothing. Likewise, in what purports to be a tract promoting the Gospel, can 1,001 scriptures be cited, but like worrying, such citation adds not one cubit to the stature.

It is one thing to believe that the pope and the Vatican are responsible for World War II and even the Holocaust, or that the Vatican controls international banking, the Federal Reserve System, the labor unions and the powerful elements of the media. I’ve heard and even studied all those claims before, a hundred times. But what, besides rhetoric and opinion, is the proof?

One might readily conclude that members of the Mafia are Catholics, but is that proof that the Vatican is behind the Mafia? And merely because some Catholics may be involved in, contrary to the dictates of their religion, dealing in prostitution, pornography and narcotics, isn’t it specious logic to conclude that the Catholic Church itself has destroyed morality in the United States?

And the Vatican sponsoring international terrorism and communism, when in fact the pope him-self came close to death because of a terrorist? And one of the few men in this world who has stood up to communism so forcefully and effectively as Pope John Paul II, and you still say the Vatican is fostering communism? Is this some new logic, where white is not white, but black?

“We must be doing something right,” one of your young fellow workers exclaimed to me the other day. “Look at all the reaction we’re getting.”

How stupid, I thought. How stupid! So stupid that it seemed stupid even to try to refute.

People react instinctively against a swarm of hornets coming at them, perhaps even irrationally. But reaction is the only rational counteraction. It hardly makes sense to equate pouring ‘acid on someone with achieving success just because you get a reaction.

Anyone who lives in a city of any size in America, Washington being only one of them, in recent weeks probably has had his or her sense of decency assaulted by virulent posters denouncing everything Catholic. I asked your fellow worker if you were indeed behind the posters themselves. I had strong, but hope-it-isn’t-so, suspicions

“Tony’s in agreement with them,” he said. But he stopped short of saying they were the work of your foundation. Little comfort there, since the posters and their claims are of the same genre as your tract. Even so, I hold onto a faint glimmer of hope that it ain’t so.

But whoever is behind those posters being plastered all over our cities, such activity in the name of the Gospel should cease. It is one thing to preach such things, if one feels such conviction in his bones, in the pulpit. But to foist it upon the public — completely without proof of the allegations made — and not to expect justifiable recrimination from that public is another thing.

It won’t do to call it persecution for the Gospel’s sake this time. I witnessed religious bigotry one terrifying Sunday afternoon in California, when two members of a motorcycle gang literally stoned Tony, a man blinded by glaucoma, and menaced his wife. For my efforts at trying to meet the two hoodlums on neutral, rational ground, I ended up having my head pounded nearly into the ground. That was persecution for the Gospel’s sake, unquestionably.

This is another matter.
Despite one’s convictions about the Catholic Church, the Moslems, the Moonies, the Mormons — anyone-about whom there is a religious gripe — there is nothing justifiable in mounting this kind of attack.
Open debate, yes. With facts, yes. But charges with no substantiating proof only words?

There can be no defense.
I believe with all my heart that there can be no compromise with error. The Gospel teaches that but there can be error in fighting what one believes to be error. And friend though you are and always will be, I know no way to call off the hornets.

In: 1980-1989

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