I first began to listen to Stair in October 1989 when I was twelve years old. He came on
WLAC in Nashville every weeknight at 10:15 and broadcast a fierce 15 minute hit-and-run spot. At first I was a little amused by his rants about people wearing shorts and makeup, but soon his analysis of the headlines began to resonate with my fear and horror over nuclear war and my strong will to believe that these were the last days. (This was when Communism in eastern Europe was collapsing and it was unclear what might happen next, especially to a child!).
If you can believe it, Stair was actually MORE stridently convinced of the truth of his own nonsense in those days. He would frequently replay a six-hour "revelation from God" called "The Prophesy" which he had recorded in a trance sometime in 1987, in which he actually assumed the persona of God, spewing forth "His" judgement (I'm not kidding- -it was like reading Isaiah). He constantly analyzed this cryptic "revelation" in search of clues to what the future was to bring, and I confess that the force and sincerity of that message was what probably hooked me, even though in reality it was the height of vanity and self-deception. From time to time he would have emotional fits, often weeping his "Thus saith the Lord's" and sometimes launching into extended tirades of pseudo-Hebrew gobbledygook.
About the man, R.G. Stair, I knew very little during my period of obsession. I think this is the way he prefers it. All he ever told his audience was that he, his family, and a small community lived in a converted motel and adjacent property four miles from Walterboro, SC. He had sold all his possessions in 1980 at the time of his "calling", not even going to the store for new clothes. He drove a beat-up 1971 Datsun to camp revivals in scattered locales around the country and occasionally mentioned some of the evangelists he had duped. One "saint" somewhere in Arkansas became a fast friend, I remember.
The picture was one of obsessive frugality and self-sufficiency, values that many of his listeners, including myself, likely shared. He mentioned a wife ("sister Stair"--the one who sings his intro "the King Is Coming") and a young daughter (who I desperately hope has escaped by now and is not a danger to herself or others!). He was constantly begging for money and spent a great deal of time giving the audience a guilt trip because radio stations had dropped him since he couldn't make monthly payments. God told him at the beginning of his radio ministry that someone would send him one million dollars, a sign that God was collecting the "elect" into a community so as to endure the antichrist's regime in solidarity (with Stair its implicit leader, of course). He also goaded his audience by telling them that he had found the "real people of God" during his missions in rural England and Russia, to which God had suddenly called him.
I stopped listening to him in early 1991 when WLAC dropped him, presumably for his anti-patriotic statements about the US in the Gulf War, and for calling Saddam Hussein an "instrument of God's judgement on America." You could say that I went through a period of "withdrawal" for a while--after all, I had based much of my world view on this man's crap because I had been so completely seduced. I had adopted and applied many of his antisocial judgements to my life, which seemed to validate a bad tendency I had always had to withdraw from society.
By the time I stopped listening to him, I believed less and less of his nonsense- -in other words, I knew that he was fallable--but more importantly, I had internalized his hateful, self-righteous, world-judging attitude, and that had repercussions in my life for years afterward. That is my contention against Stair--not his theology, which is obviously rubbish-- but the seduction of an antisocial cult based on his personality with no regard for true decency or morality, which he negates by selfishly and cowardly withdrawing from society at large: "Verily I tell you, he who does not love his brother does not love God."
I'm aware that he's on shortwave radio 24 hours a day, and I will occasionally tune in for a laugh. It's surprised me that he's embraced the internet and the telephone--ten years ago he would have condemned these, along with all technology, as tools of the antichrist's one-world government. He also seems to be far less hard up for cash-- I don't hear him literally begging for contributions of one or five dollars anymore. I always wondered about the effect Waco must have had on his ministry--the parallels are obvious- -and I suppose that he's playing the Y2K thing for all it's worth....
You should indeed be worried about your loved ones, but don't doubt that they can and will be released from Stair's grip on their minds. I will keep you and yours in my prayers. God helps those who help themselves, so pray and continue to gain strength through education, not indoctrination! I hope that my half-mad story has been of some help.
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