Gay-Bashing Preacher Hit with Sex Charges

Extremist Cults

For more than 20 years, Brother R.G. Stair called sinners to his South Carolina compound, telling them to abandon their earthly life and railing for hours at a time about the supposed sexual deviance of his favorite target — homosexuals.

"The last two Gay Pride Days have resulted in an awesome earthquake that shook the entire Western area of the country and a flood that devastated the entire Midwest," the right-wing radio evangelist thundered in a typical broadcast. "You mark my words, ladies and gentlemen, they are going to bring total destruction to a pagan, immoral, un-Godly, wicked, sin-loving nation such as ours."

But the real sinner, police charge, is Brother Stair.

Ralph Gordon Stair, the 69-year-old founder and leader of the Overcomer Ministry, was charged with two counts of criminal sexual conduct in May.

After two young women claimed that the preacher forced them to have sex with him over 70 times, police charged that he "used coercion to accomplish this battery by enforcing his religious/personal beliefs with the victim." In other words, they said, Stair told the women that God wanted them to do his bidding. Bond was denied.

Stair was also charged with two counts of breach of trust. Police say he took a total of $29,635 from an unnamed man's retirement investments.

Brother Stair is a self-proclaimed prophet who preaches to a worldwide audience over AM and shortwave radio, including a 24-hour-a-day broadcast over one of the 100,000-watt transmitters of Nashville shortwave station WWCR, home to many extremist shows.

While he has concentrated for years on gays, Stair also targets Catholics as "Mary worshippers" and the pope as "the great whore." And he has specialized in doomsday predictions, like the times he prophesied that the American economy would collapse, Philadelphia would be destroyed by nuclear war, and Ronald Reagan would shortly be "removed from office."

For years, Stair has asked Americans to sell their possessions, leave the cities, and come join his community, which until recently had about 100 members, in Canadys, near Walterboro, S.C. Now, former members, who have reportedly turned over amounts ranging up to $500,000 to Stair, are saying they were deceived.

The former members describe a world in which sex between married couples is allowed only if specifically authorized by Stair. Television, alcohol, tobacco, sugar and profanity are outlawed — as is laughter. Members are allowed no money, and are discouraged from communicating with outside friends or family. Many have accused Stair of engaging in numerous sexual liaisons with young women.

"He is very cunning, very artful and very practiced," Michael Rowland, a former follower, told the Intelligence Report. "What he does is use the Bible for his springboard, which is a great tool, a very powerful tool to back him up."