The following are transcripts of excerpts from interviews conducted by Arkansas Department of Human Services caseworkers with four of the six girls taken into custody during a Sept. 20, 2008, raid of the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries compound in Fouke by Human Services and law enforcement officials. Videos of the interviews, conducted Sept. 21 at the Children's Advocacy Center in Texarkana, were sent anonymously to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Interview with a 14-year-old girl
Interviewer: Um, tell me about some of your doc- I use the word doctrine. Do you know what doctrines refer to?
Interviewer: I've been learning about some of your doctrines over the past 24 hours, as you know. You've explained some to me. Um, and they intrigue me, you know. Tell me more about the marriage... I don't know what the right word would be, but more about the marriage procedure or marriage, um, what you'd have to go through in order to be married... in the church.
Teen: Well I, personally, haven't gotten married...
Interviewer: You haven't, you haven't, I know you haven't and that's not the point. But you one day... do you one day want to be married?
Teen: As of right now I don't want to but...
Interviewer: OK. Do you know anybody that wants to be married?
Teen: (Shakes head no.)
Interviewer: Then how are ya'll gonna grow as a church? You've got to get married and have kids...
Teen: I mean, I'm sure there's people who want to get married. If you want to get married, that's fine, just, you know...
Interviewer: OK. Alright.
Teen: Plus most of us...
Interviewer: You're playing hardball with me today...
Teen: Most of us...
Interviewer: ... and you're hurting my feelings, OK? 'Cause you talk so well to me. I'm not here to trip you up or anything. I'm really not, I mean, you know, the only reason I ask questions is because I don't know answers.
Teen: Well most of us aren't even old enough to get married so it's not like... even if we wanted to get married, which I don't know if any of us do, we couldn't get married anyway. 'Cause you can't get married till you're 18.
Interviewer: Says who?
Teen: The law, the government.
Interviewer: (Shakes head no) What if I told you that my mom got married when she was 17?
Teen: Well... (shrugs shoulders) everyone says you can't be married until you're 18, so...
Interviewer: Who's everybody?
Teen: I don't know, that's just...
Interviewer: You've never asked me. I would have told you.
Interviewer: You could have asked me. But you didn't know me, I'm just teasing with you. But I mean, you know, who specifically tells you, has told you that you've got to be 18 to get married?
Interviewer: And who specifically would stop you if you wanted to get married?
Teen: Just... for instance say I want to get married. I would say, "Pastor, I have feelings for so-and-so, can I get married?" And he would say, "Well you are underage."
Teen: And he would say "if you want to, you would either have to wait or if you're gonna do that, you can't do this in this ministry 'cause I'm not gonna be accountable for what you guys are going." So it depends on the person. Are they gonna stay or are they gonna go out?
interviewer: Now if I, if I... I'm fixin' to make a statement and if I'm wrong, you correct me.
Teen: (Shakes head yes)
Interviewer: If you are 17, and you want to get married, you have to make the decision to either stay in the church or leave the church.
Teen: As far as I know. But I am not 17 and I haven't attempted to get married...
Interviewer: But that, I mean, is that basically what you told me?
Teen: (Shakes head yes)
Interviewer: OK. Alright. Um, I don't even know if I wanna ask this question. What would you do if you thought that Pastor Alamo asked ya'll, and I don't mean ya'll as kids, but ya'll as a church, being the whole body, not just one person, to do something that you thought went against the Bible.
Teen: Then I would say, "Pastor, I was just wondering... I, for some reason, I think this goes against the Bible, um, this is what I think and this is what you're saying." And he'll either correct me or he'll say "OK. Thank you for telling me I'm wrong."
Interviewer: Has that ever happened with you specifically?
Teen: Not me specifically.
interviewer: Um, I've heard, you know, this talk around about, um, well... no, I haven't heard. I've read some of the Bible, most of the Bible and, you know, there are things in the Bible that happened that God tells us about that aren't good -- that you know, that other people have done. And there are some things that they did back then that were OK with God that we don'f do today. Does that make the things that happened back then wrong because we can't do them today?
Teen: (Shakes head no)
Interviewer: Should we be able to do what they did back then?
Teen: Well there's differences, like they did sacrifices, they sacrificed animals but after the Lord died and he rose again, we don't do sacrifices anymore.
Interviewer: Um, what about marriage back then?
Teen: Well back then they could get married at puberty but now you can't because it's against the law.
Interviewer: When is puberty?
Teen: When you start your period.
Interviewer: What about for a boy? When's puberty for a boy?
Teen: I don't know.
Interviewer: It it the same, is it?
Teen: It's different for girls as far as I know then for boys because there was a boy who was at puberty at a young age or whatever, and he can't support his wife and kids so there was no way he could. They'd be broke and out on the streets. You have to have someone who's stable enough to support you. That's just common sense.
Interviewer: So... under no circumstances will the church allow someone under the age of 18 to get married?
Teen: Not as far as I know.