“Whispering in the Daylight: The Children of Tony Alamo Christian Ministries and their Journey to Freedom”

“Whispering in the Daylight: The Children of Tony Alamo Christian Ministries and their Journey to Freedom”

Debby Schriver

10.17.2018

Debby Schriver

Debby Schriver is a native of Chicago residing in Knoxville, Tennesee. She attended the University of Tennessee, Knoxville for both her graduate and undergraduate studies. Her interest in the ways that people develop psychologically and sociologically—especially during their formative years—led Schriver to have a career in higher education. She served as Associate Dean of Student Conduct and Orientation for 13 years and Manager of Employee Training and Organizational Development for 18 years. Her main responsibilities were counseling first-year students who were having difficulties transitioning to university, and selecting and overseeing student orientation assistants for incoming freshmen.

For her work in student development she has been honored by the National Orientation Directors Association (NODA) and the American College Personnel Association (ACPA). Schriver was the first woman to serve as president of NODA, and served as chair of the Commission for Admission, Orientation, and Retention for ACPA. Schriver has been honored by her fellow University of Tennessee Alumni, who established the Debby Moberly Schriver Endowment to grant scholarships to students working with first-year students in their capacities as Orientation Leaders.

In addition, Schriver is actively involved in local, civic organizations. She volunteers for the Girl Scouts, the Red Cross, and is a member of the Rotary Club. She developed a “Poet’s Corner,” a poetry writing class for local, third graders. She has been appointed a member of the Foster Care Review Board by the Knox County Juvenile Court. For her civic engagement, she is the recipient of numerous awards including: the American Red Cross Volunteer of the Year, University of Tennessee Chancellor’s Citation for Outstanding Achievement, University of Tennessee Woman of Achievement, and the Thanks Badge for Outstanding Leadership from the Girl Scouts of the USA.

Schriver’s newest work tells the stories of the children rescued from the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries, and their new foster families. Schriver received a phone call two years ago from one of such families who asked her to write the story of their family.

Following a 2008 raid on the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries, these children, who lived their entire lives separated from the outside world as members of their cult, now struggled on their path toward stability. They had suffered both physical and mental abuse, and their journey toward freedom was extraordinarily painful, but, not without joy.

Up until his death in 2017, Alamo still ran his church from a federal penitentiary with the support of his faithful wives and followers. Experts estimate there are 5,000 cults in the United States, and that number is growing. Schriver feels that the experience of these children, now free from Tony Alamo gives us hope.

Schriver’s other works include: To Read My Heart, the Journal of Rachel Van Dyke 1810-1811, In the Footsteps of Champions: The University of Tennessee Lady Volunteers, the First Three Decades, and Ice ’n’ Go:  Score in Sports and Life.