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Ruth Carter Stapleton

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Ruth Carter Stapleton (1929-1983) was a faith healing Christian evangelist and the sister of U.S. president Jimmy Carter.

A Baptist by denomination and a Pentecostal in practice, she was best known for advocacy of a form of faith healing known as "healing of memories". This movement which also goes under other names like "inner healing" and "healing of the mind", involves recalling painful memories, or attempting to recover "repressed" memories, and then dealing with them; the Christian version of this promoted by Stapleton involved recalling those memories and then bringing Jesus into the picture to "heal" or "forgive" those events. Stapleton's teachings were controversial among some Christian fundamentalists, who considered them an extra-biblical borrowing from the law of attraction and other New Thought doctrines.[1]

Among those who converted to "born again" Christianity under her influence include Larry Flynt (whose conversion was short lived), and her brother Jimmy. She also attempted to convert Harvey Milk by promising he would be cured of homosexuality if he accepted Jesus as his personal savior, and in her 1976 book The Gift of Inner Healing, she asserts that homosexuality can be cured by visualizing yourself playing baseball with Jesus and going fishing with Him.[2]

She died at age 53 in 1983 of pancreatic cancer, for which she decided to forgo any medical treatment and instead rely on faith in God and prayer to heal her.[3]


  1. see, for example, Dave Hunt and T.A. McMahon: The Seduction of Christianity: Spiritual Discernment in the Last Days, Harvest House, 1985, a book critical of Stapleton, Robert Schuller, Norman Vincent Peale, Kenneth Copeland, Kenneth Hagin, and several other evangelists for bringing what they viewed as metaphysics and New Age teachings into the Christian church -- although from a rationalist skeptic point of view, their particular line of criticism boils down to "it's not in the Bible, therefore it's sorcery" and isn't exactly compelling.
  2. No, really. We aren't making this up. Stapleton, Ruth Carter: The Gift of Inner Healing, Key-Word Books, 1976, p. 92-95.
  3. The New York Times, September 27, 1983