Brother Stair

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Ralph Gordon Stair (1933–2021)[1][2] better known as Brother Stair, was a nutty radio preacher who leased airtime on many AM stations and on shortwave. He ran a commune cult of followers in South Carolina where he allegedly had a great deal of control over them, going so far as to not let them have sex without his permission.

Brother Stair believed in: King James Only, speaking in tongues, young Earth creationism, Jesus-only baptism, New World Order conspiracy theories, rejection of modern technology/medicine (except for, obviously, radio and the inter-tubes), living in an isolated agrarian community like the Amish, rejection of the celebration of holidays like Christmas and Easter, men having to wear beards and women having to keep their hair in buns, etc. You get the idea. If it's on the lunatic fringe of Christianity, Stair probably believed it.

Stair claimed to be the "Last-Day Prophet of God" (or sometimes, the "seventh" such prophet, with William Branham being the sixth). He spent much of his radio broadcasts denouncing just about every other Christian minister as a false prophet. He claimed to have prophesied Hurricane Katrina and 9/11 back in the 1980s, and also did prophesy that Ronald Reagan would be removed from office and nuclear attacks would wipe out many U.S. cities by 1988, the latter two of which didn't happen.[citation NOT needed] Oops… so much for the "Last-Day Prophet of God."

Stair's ministry is noted for buying large blocks of airtime on US-based shortwave radio stations.[note 1] Stair is unintentionally keeping many of these stations, and shortwave radio in general, active and profitable.

Legal troubles[edit]

Stair was arrested in 2002 and plead guilty in 2004 to charges of misdemeanor assault and battery (fondling two underage members of his commune), but after serving 77 days[3] returned to preaching as if nothing had happened. In 2007, a jury found him liable for over $700,000 in damages in a civil suit brought by former followers.[4]

On December 18, 2017, Stair was arrested at his compound in South Carolina and charged with sexual assault, kidnapping, burglary and sexual conduct with a minor amidst an ongoing FBI probe.[5][6][7][8] He reportedly told several women the alleged sexual acts were "God's will."[9] Ten days later, on December 28, 2017, the following notice was posted on the Overcomer Ministry website:

Attention Overcomer Listeners:

Due to legal difficulties, as of January 1st, 2018, the Overcomer Ministry will not be broadcasting on AM/FM radio and Shortwave. The Overcomer Broadcast will continue on satellite, telephone, and this website stream.

At the time of his arrest, Brother Stair was by far the largest client of private shortwave broadcasters in the United States. The cancellation of his broadcasts adversely affected several shortwave broadcasters for a short time,[10] but shortly after the outrage died down Stair resumed broadcasting as if nothing happened.

Stair was released on a US$750,000 bond on January 25, 2018[11] and shortly thereafter resumed broadcasting new radio shows.[12]

Death[edit]

Stair died on April 3, 2021.[13] Despite this, his voice continues to pollute the airwaves on dozens of stations in the United States and Europe. One of the characteristics of the Brother Stair cult is that many people who join give their life savings to the ministry.[14] This money is then spent on purchasing airtime on radio stations in North America and Europe. This is likely why the ministry continues broadcasting Stair's old rants over and over despite of being six feet under.

External links[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. Including, but not limited to, WWCR, Nashville TN; WBCQ, Monticello ME; WHRI, Cypress Creek SC; and WRMI (formerly WYFR), Okeechobee FL. Several of his time slots overlap, so it is possible to hear him at the same time on more than one station.

References[edit]

  1. He called himself "an 84 year old man" on his shortwave radio show on February 10th 2017.
  2. Colleton County pastor Ralph Stair dies. live5news.com, 4 April 2021.
  3. Religious commune leader pleads guilty in fondling case by Andy Paras (1 December 2004) Post and Courier (archived from December 15, 2004).
  4. Stair is ordered to pay $731,679 by Jared Goyette (27 April 2007) The Press and Standard, South Carolina (archived from 7 Jul 2013 13:02:39 UTC).
  5. South Carolina preacher arrested following sexual assault allegations amid ongoing FBI probe by Michael Majchrowicz and Angie Jackson (December 18, 2017) The Post and Courier.
  6. Arrest of Brother Ralph Stair confirmed on multiple charges. walterborolive.com, December 18, 2017.
  7. Drew Tripp, Colleton County preacher Ralph Stair arrested for sex assault, other charges, deputies say. abcnews4.com, December 18, 2017.
  8. Michael Majchrowicz and Angie Jackson, Several radio stations pull S.C. preacher's program in light of sex assault charges by Michael Majchrowicz and Angie Jackson (December 19, 2017) The Post and Courier.
  9. Women at South Carolina religious compound say preacher sexually assaulted them in the name of God by Angie Jackson and Michael Majchrowicz (18 December 2017) The Post and Courier.
  10. Overcomer Ministry to halt radio broadcasting in 2018. One blogger on The SWLing Post commented:

    A number of private broadcasters had already pulled his programming after his arrest last Monday. Now that Overcomer has announced the halt of all radio broadcasting–and the voice of Overcomer, Brother Stair, is in jail–their satellite and online feeds will likely replay old content. While I’ll certainly not miss Overcomer programming on shortwave, the numerous private broadcasters who had Overcomer as a primary client will feel the loss of revenue in no insignificant way. Indeed, I believe this could even lead to the closure of some private broadcasters this year.

    The SWLing Post: 28 December 2017.
  11. Bond set for alleged Colleton Co. cult preacher accused of sexual misconduct by Harve Jacobs & Alissa Holmes (25 January 2018) live5news.com (archived from January 25, 2018).
  12. Overcomer Ministry broadcast schedule. Snapshot from archive.us, 25 February 2018.
  13. Katie Turner, Overcoming the Overcomer Ministry: Sexual assault victims furious that Lowcountry pastor never had to face trial before his death. counton2.com, 7 April 2021.
  14. Overcomer Ministry community brochure.

    All have given all their worldly goods and monies to the Lord, large or small, and no one owes anyone anything but to love and no one owns anything.

    Note: In the bizarre world of the Brother Stair cult, he is referred to as "the Lord."