Alas, the self-proclaimed End Times prophet of God, Ralph Gordon Stair, has been taken into police custody on eight criminal charges. Stair leads the “Overcomer Ministry,” a virtual cult compound with about seventy members located near Walterboro, South Carolina, with a global outreach “ministry” through AM, FM, satellite, and shortwave radio broadcasts. He has been charged with criminal sexual conduct, kidnapping, second-degree assault, first-degree burglary, and third-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor.
This is not the first time Stair has been in police custody. In 2002, he served two thirty-day jail terms for fondling two young female members of his cult. He later claimed, “It was a consensual simple act of committing fornication or committing adultery… It was not a rape or an assault.”
As is common among cult leaders, groping and raping are simply a way of life. They feel they have divine rights to the women in their compound, married or otherwise. And if the women dare to resist the leader’s sexual advances, they are warned they are resisting the will of God and risking both expulsion from the community and eternal damnation. In other words, manipulation through fear and guilt.
Because the Overcomer Ministry program airs on WACE, I’ve followed Stair for about fifteen years. He regularly makes such statements as,
- ‘I am the last prophet of God.’
- ‘If you disagree with me, you disagree with God.’
- ‘Jesus Christ will return before I die.’
- ‘This is the last generation. Prepare to meet your God.’
Perhaps the most ludicrous statement Stair has regularly made is, “Jesus Christ is coming in your lifetime!” In your lifetime? In whose lifetime? In the lifetime of a two-year-old or a ninety-year-old? Stair, who is himself eighty-four years old, is shrewd. He’s invented an motto for his sensational predictions which, in order to disprove, you’ve got to die.
A constant feature of Stair’s broadcasts is his virulent anti-Catholicism. He denounces the Church as pagan and satanic, and has many times referred to the popes as antichrists. I well remember him mocking Pope Saint John Paul II as he was dying of Parkinson’s Disease and bearing heroic witness to the values of both life and suffering before a world that respects neither. Stair implied that, if the pope was truly a man of God, then he wouldn’t be dying. The suggestion was that John Paul’s Parkinson’s Disease was a divine punishment.
Stair once so angered me with his anti-Catholic rantings that I contacted him by email. He had claimed the Church was leading the world in its rebellion against God, and that the popes were collaborating with such national organizations as the United Nations in an effort to control the world. I asked him why, if such was the case, was the Church experiencing an increasing amount of persecution for her teachings – including from the UN – and why, in fact, was she shrinking in both size and influence. Clearly, the world was becoming increasingly opposed to all things Catholic, including the pope himself (Pope Benedict XVI, at the time).
We went back and forth for a day or so. His emails contained a curse, misspellings of common words, and nearly incoherent sentences. The gist of his response was, ‘I can’t explain why what you’ve said is the case, but I still believe what I’ve said anyway.’
The videos below show several of the recent events at his services that led police to investigate him. Note the laughter and approval of the congregation as Stair touches the girls and refers to them basically as sexual objects.
We can only hope and pray that Stair’s Overcomer Ministry is quickly approaching its own “End Times”.