Children of Polygamists and Tony Alamo Get the Dr. Phil Treatment

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a Voice news blog
May 27. 2008
by Maria Luisa Tucker

Children of Polygamists and Tony Alamo Get the Dr. Phil Treatment

Polygamists were a hot topic on TV late last week; As headlines broke that that the Eldorado, Texas polygamists may get their kids back, Dr. Phil was interrogating a mother of eleven who escaped from Tony Alamo’s Arkansas church.

First, the big news from Texas: A state appeals court found that child protective services did not have enough evidence of abuse to warrant the March removal of more than 400 children from compound run by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The state is challenging that ruling, but in the meantime it looks like at least some of the kids, now in foster care, will be reunited with their parents.

Meanwhile, alleged polygamist Tony Alamo — a 73-year-old pastor whose New York business practices were investigated by the Voice — was the topic of conversation on the Dr. Phil show.

At least for hot minute.

What was billed as a story about cults morphed into another tale of child protective services and whether four particular kids might be better off living in a polygamist church compound than with their mother.

It started with Anna, a mother of eleven who was a member of Alamo’s church from 1989 to 2000. There, she says she was pressured into an arranged marriage and terrorized by her husband. One of Anna’s daughters told the audience how she was forced to fast for weeks at a time as punishment for minor infractions, and was beaten at times with a paddle. After escaping and gaining custody of her kids, Anna’s ex-husband managed to kidnap the four youngest and take them back to Alamo’s compound, where they remain.

Dr. Phil was supposed to help her get those three back, but after Anna’s parental skills came into question, all talk of the evils of Tony Alamo got sidetracked. Apparently, several of Anna’s older children were removed by child protective services after she was accused of abuse and neglect; she admitted to emotional abuse and one vicious fight with a teenaged daughter involving a curling iron.

And thus it ended with Dr. Phil asking: “Do you think that the right thing to do is to get those four kids out of this sect or cult, as you call it, and bring them back to you?”

“Not now, no,” she replied.

A good day for polygamist cults everywhere, or a just a very, very bad day for the kids?


Dr. Phil is a sensationalist idiot who will do anything for ratings and money.
Attorney and Court-Appointed Representative for children
Posted by: at May 28, 2008 10:38 AM

Once again, Maria Luisa Tucker, you have captured the absurdity and ridiculousness of the Alamo story. You are truly a brilliant writer. Thank you for this follow-up. I saw the Dr. Phil show and could not understand how the first part about Tony Alamo fit with the second part about Anna. It didn’t make any sense.
Posted by: B. Hoffman at May 28, 2008 5:12 PM

It was suppose to be about getting Annas kids back. We found her ex and at least one of her boys maybe two, when it all went downhill. What was not told was Anna was dignosed with post- traumatic stress disorder when she got out before. And the cause of the big caught on camera blowup, was due to a 16 yr old, not Annas, who was given a place to stay after her escape from Alamo’s house, deciding not to follow the rules. Dr Phil blew this. He was more interested in ratings than the welfare of the 4 kids still under Alamo’s cult.
Posted by: PACA at May 28, 2008 10:35 PM

“Dr” Phil lost what crediblity he may have had when he spoke to the press after being hired by Brittany Spear’s family to help them with an intervention.
In doing so, he violated one of the most important ethics standards in any kind of medical practice, but most particularly in psychological practice: honoring a client/patient’s right to confidentiality and privacy.
If the guy is licensed to practice (which I doubt) his license should be stripped.
Posted by: Daisy Inu at May 29, 2008 9:56 AM

what the hell. The government should ask the kids. Its not like were going to make a huge story about rape. Everyone of the polygamists can go to hell.
Posted by: Jordan at June 3, 2008 10:42 PM

I was born and raised in the cult in question… NO ONE escapes that place unscathed; you just simply can not.
What people don’t understand is, its not a church you go to once a week or even twice a week. You LIVE there. Every meal is planned and prepared and served to you at what ever time they decide. If Alamo says you have sinned and you have to fast, you do it. He places people on 40 day fasts, drinking only water, regularly. They choose where you work and how many hours, as many as 20 hours a day. They parent your children. You become a spectator in your own life. FEAR reigns supreme. Your sleep is taken from you… your body is theirs to give to which ever man Alamo believes God tells him you must marry. Female children are given a brief education until they reach puberty and are married and males until they are stong enough to work to bring in money to support the life style. Physical abuse is inflicted on adults and on children. Everyone is beaten with paddles and belts and fists. It is a society where Alamo is the dictator and in order to be in his good favor everyone snitches on everyone. There is no such thing as trust, loyalty, love, self preservation…. every single basic survival technique is stripped from members.
This woman Ana, whom I have never personally met, is likely a shell of a person, after being exposed to the Alamo cult for 12+ years. She may very well need parenting classes as well as life skills classes…. But to say that her children are better off in a polygamist cult that encourages the marriage of pubescent girls and extreme physical abuse is absurd!
Dr. Phill destroyed any belief that I ever had that he was any kind of good, helpful, loving Doctor. He is a piece of hollywood garbage.
Posted by: Rebecca at September 24, 2008 10:12 AM

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  1. Shannon Cavanaugh Says:

    Dr. Phils producers tried to turn my story around and when they couldnt get garbage, they no longer wanted me on the show. He is a rat. He is no help. He preys on the weak. I quit watching because he makes me sick.

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