Mama Said

A Daughter’s Escape from the Alamo Christian Foundation

  • Author(s): Coie, Christhiaon with Rob Schriver
  • Series:
  • Imprint: University of Tennessee Press
  • Publication Date: 2022-06-28
  • Status:
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“Looking through the lens of a daughter, Christhiaon Coie presents a dimension of a cult leader never before seen, the personal sides of Susan Alamo. . . . This memoir is more than a story. It is a significant behind-the-scenes exposure of the complete persona of a cult leader.” —Debby Schriver, author of Whispering in the Daylight: The Children of Tony Alamo Christian Ministries and Their Journey to Freedom


There are many books on the cult phenomenon that bloomed in the wake of the social upheaval of the 1960s, and many discuss the abuses of cult leaders; the physical, mental, and emotional challenges of breaking free; and the lived experiences of those who manage to leave and begin to heal. With Mama Said: A Daughter’s Escape from the Alamo Christian Foundation, we get a unique angle—what the daughter of a cult leader could see from the inside.

Christhiaon Coie grew up “Little Susie,” the daughter of Susan Alamo and stepdaughter of Tony Alamo, founders of the Alamo Christian Foundation. Coie continued to embrace the faith as she got older, but she was not a little girl anymore and began to realize that people don’t go to church and leave with the offering. She did not embrace the “faith” her mother was peddling, and she saw the financial grift that exploited the vulnerable followers. This is a story about the complex, unremitting relationship between a daughter and her abusive mother. Coie shares insight into Susan Alamo before her foundation days and reveals what it was like to grow up as her daughter between the 1950s and early 1970s. Across thirty-six chapters, she chronicles life within the Alamo cult and the twisted mother-daughter dynamic that persisted through it all. As Coie’s story unfolds, we see Little Susie transform into Christhiaon, navigating a manipulative mother and the distorted biblical teachings enlisted to her cause.

With a foreword from noted Alamo cult historian Debby Schriver, Coie’s gritty memoir is a true survivor story. What she survived, however, was not the cult only but the cruel double bind of what “mama said.”


CHRISTHIAON COIE was born in Los Angeles, August 2, 1950. She’s the daughter of Soloman and Susan Lipowitz. In her early years she sang hymns for her mother as a guest in churches as well as backup vocals with record producers. Later she would sing on her own with studios and her own band.

ROB SCHRIVER develops training curriculum for the Oak Ridge National Lab. He is also a freelance writer and editor for the University of Tennessee Press. He teaches night classes for Pellissippi State Community College.