In 2015 I wrote a post that featured my concerns about Ravi Zacharias’ lies about his academic biography. Complementarians, Ray Ortlund, and the Rediscovered Gospel,™ Doug Wilson Describes a Victim, Disagreeing With Rachel Held Evans and MR.Ravi Zacharias.
In this post, I said the following.
It seems like Ravi Zacharias is in a bit of a pickle. I apologize that I didn’t have time to consult Tim Bayly to see if a woman is allowed to point out pastors who lie. It appears that MR. Zacharias may have been fudging things his entire ministry. My question is simple. If he lies about this, what else does he lie about?
We are two atheists and a Christian who are concerned that a prominent evangelist, Mr. Ravi Zacharias, has engaged in misconduct that undermines academic integrity and misleads the public. We issue this press release with two primary goals in mind. First, we wish to draw attention to what we believe are the dishonest practices of Ravi Zacharias.
Their stated concern:
We believe that the problem of professional evangelical Christians exaggerating their academic credentials deserves much more media attention and public discussion than it currently receives. There is much grumbling even within Christian circles about the practice of honorary degree recipients using the “Dr.” title ‘
They credibly dispute the following claims of Ravi Zacharias:
- He was not a visiting scholar at Cambridge.
- He refers to himself as Dr Zacharias yet has no earned doctoral degree.
- He claims to have lectured at the world’s most prestigious universities.
- He claims to be a scholar yet has published nothing in scholarly journals and does not have peer-reviewed research.
I knew that I would get some negative comments because “Raaahvi” (said with reverence and hymns playing in the background) was not to be questioned. At the time, I questioned his bio but who was I to inquire? Here is a comment by Jeff on that post. I shall title it “Nothing to see here. Move along.”
I continued to question RZ, especially when Lori Anne Thompson came forward with her story. Although she is still covered by the NDA, everyone is well aware of her story in which Ravi began grooming and then sexting with her. The stupid RZIM board supported Zacharias and did so in an open letter which has now been pulled from their website.
Unfortunately, “Jeff” was naive because he was “familiar” with his ministry. He, like the entire board of RZIM, “knew* Ravi was the real deal. Jeff is the face of all of those people and insiders who defended Ravi until recently. If you wonder how predators get their prey, study Ravi, his cadre of BFFs, and all of the Christians who, like lemmings, followed him. Some churches are using his books and studies as I write this.
Today, RZIM released the following letter: Open Letter from the International Board of Directors of RZIM on the Investigation of Ravi Zacharias. I am going to highlight the significant revelations.
- Tragically, witnesses described encounters including sexting, unwanted touching, spiritual abuse, and rape. We are devastated by what the investigation has shown and are filled with sorrow for the women who were hurt by this terrible abuse.
- We would like to thank each journalist, advocate, and concerned member of the public who brought accusations of sexual misconduct and abuse to our attention.(Ed. TWW started in 2015.)
- The investigation’s conclusions have caused us to think very differently about the allegations Mrs. Lori Anne Thompson made against Ravi in 2017.
- we recognize that because we did not believe the Thompsons and both privately and publicly perpetuated a false narrative, they were slandered for years and their suffering was greatly prolonged and intensified. This leaves us heartbroken and ashamed.
- We regret the statement that we released on September 15, 2020. It lacked compassion and concern and did not communicate that we would take the allegations seriously. Also, it gave the impression that all of RZIM’s staff shared the opinion that the allegations were fals
- We also regret the ways that many of us have publicly extolled Ravi’s character and the impact this will have had on victims of his abuse.
- in the wake of the accusations brought against Ravi by the Thompsons in 2017, we communicated our confidence in Ravi’s denial of these accusations, and others trusted Ravi because they trusted us. Through our failure, we made it more difficult for victims to come forward.
They are instituting the following actions.
- We have engaged victim-advocate Rachael Denhollander to act in two roles. As a consultant, she will educate and advise our Board and senior leadership in understanding trauma and abuse as well as best-standards practices. Rachael also has been retained to serve as a confidential liaison with survivors and to help guide the process of care, justice, and restitution for those who have been victimized. Survivors or their legal counsel, advocate, or representative may reach out to her confidentially at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- We have engaged Guidepost Solutions, a management/compliance consulting firm, and are providing full disclosure to them to conduct a thorough evaluation of RZIM, including its structures, culture, policies, processes, finances, and practices.
- Survivor Care: Guidepost will provide confidential avenues for any survivors and witnesses, including any who have not yet come forward, to disclose information related to abuse or harassment at RZIM or by anyone employed by RZIM in the past.
Graphic/Trigger Warning: Here is a link to Report of Independent Investigation into Sexual Misconduct of Ravi Zacharias
I am going to pick and choose from this report but the entire report is available to the reader.
Massage “therapy” was used as a cover for his perversion. (Have any of these board members or employees ever heard of Jeffrey Epstein?)
- Although we were able to interview only one of the massage therapists anonymously referenced in the Christianity Today article, our investigation revealed other massage therapists who corroborate her account. Several massage therapists confirmed Mr. Zacharias’s frequent efforts to “try for more than a massage,” as one therapist put it. Eight therapists reported that Mr. Zacharias would start the massage either completely nude or would remove the sheets during the massage. Six therapists reported that he always or almost always had an erection during the massage. Four therapists reported that he would either touch his genitals or ask them to touch his genitals. And five therapists reported that he touched or rubbed them inappropriately.
- witness told us that their relationship began as a normal massage therapist-client relationship, and she came to think of him as a father figure. He elicited information about her faith and her financial situation. She reported that after he arranged for the ministry to provide her with financial support, he required sex from her.
Zacharias used religion as a way to gain compliance.
- She reported that he made her pray with him to thank God for the “opportunity” they both received. She said he called her his “reward” for living a life of service to God, and he referenced the “godly men” in the Bible with more than one wife. She said he warned her not ever to speak out against him or she would be responsible for the “millions of souls” whose salvation would be lost if his reputation was damaged.
- one therapist reported that Mr. Zacharias spent the first half of their first massage session asking about her spiritual journey and prior abuse. This set her at ease and made her feel that he cared for her as a person before he later asked her to massage his genitals
Zacharias often used monetary incentives.
- ome therapist also reported that Mr. Zacharias paid very well or would leave large tips and gave gifts that were at times lavish, such as a Persian rug or a Louis Vuitton wallet with $500 inside.
- used his ministry to financially support some of his long-term therapists.
- a significant portion of the wire payments from that fund went to or for the benefit of four women—
RZ traveled with a male employee from RZIM to provide a cover.
- all of the travel assistants we interviewed said that they never observed anything improper. (but)
- Most of them were aware, however, that Mr. Zacharias had a massage therapist who was often with him to provide treatments during his travels.
- A high-level RZIM staff member expressed concerns to Mr. Zacharias about it and encouraged him to stop travelling with her. In response, Mr. Zacharias grew angry and barely spoke to this staff member for a long period of time. He was effectively “sent to Siberia,” as another staff member recalled.8 Their relationship never fully recovered.
This predator was traveling for extended periods all over the world.
This is worrisome and something I have been pointing out for quite a while. Imagine the contact he could have had with vulnerable people all over the world? I believe that it is highly possible that he could have met with untold numbers of women/or girls.
- According to a text message to a Thai masseuse in February 2016, he spent his days writing and his nights receiving massage treatments
- We also learned that for several years, Mr. Zacharias owned two apartments in Bangkok.
Lori Ann Thompson investigation: No release from NDA
RZIM Board was stupid and accepted his ridiculous excuses. Maybe it was easier to pretend nothing was wrong…
- Because Mr. Zacharias was able to convince members of the RZIM Board and management that he was the victim of extortionists, RZIM did not investigate the allegations
- A full investigation might have uncovered evidence of misconduct at a time when Mr. Zacharias was alive to explain himself.
- Mr. Zacharias told certain members of his staff that the phone records and full, complete emails would exonerate him, but he did not give them access to these documents. Two high-level staff approached him directly asking for the phone records, since he claimed they would prove exculpatory. Both of these staff members told us Mr. Zacharias responded to this request with rage and threatened to resign from the organization.
The case of the legal counsel’s missing notebook of evidence
- We were told that Mr. Zacharias’s lead counsel compiled a notebook of evidence related to the Thompson allegations and that it was made available for review by an RZIM Board member and an RZIM public relations consultant. We asked that law firm if we could review this notebook and received no substantive response.
- We also asked both the Executrix and the Thompsons, through their respective counsel, to agree to modify the NDA to allow us to speak to the Thompsons and otherwise investigate this matter. The Thompsons would agree to speak with us only if they were fully released from the confidentiality obligations in the settlement agreement. The Executrix declined to release the confidentiality obligations in whole or in part for any reason.
Two hundred photos of really young women!
His phones and other social media devices were *off the grid.*
- Witnesses told us that Mr. Zacharias had multiple phones and email addresses over time, and he had at least two phones at any given time. He insisted on remaining separate from official RZIM communication platforms, and his phones were on a separate plan rather than the RZIM plan.
- The four phones that Mr. Zacharias used and that RZIM provided to us for this investigation also provided significant, compelling evidence
- (He) kept translations of certain words and phrases in Thai and Mandarin. The Thai phrases included “I miss you so much. I want to see your face” and “little bit further.” The Mandarin phrases included: “softer, lighter”; “U R beautiful”; “not enough”; “I hope our love lasts forever”; “I love you from the bottom of my heart”; “I’d like to have a beautiful memory with you”; “Life is so wonderful bnecause [sic] I could meet you”; “Your lips are especially beautiful”; and “I love you darling.”
- Zacharias’s phones contained over 200 photographs of women much younger than him
- (He) had extended communications with women over the years.
- (He had communications with two women in 2014.)One in Korea and one in Bangkok.) (With the woman in. Bangkok) Their communications imply that their relationship had a physical component. They discussed not being able to wait until they can be together, that he is “longing to hold [her] close again.” He further wrote: “Your face, your smile, your laugh, your touch, the way you love, your hard work, your heart, your care for me, your skill, and on and on and on.” He called her “beautiful in heart and in body.”
Here are some examples of what was in the photos.
- In addition to communications, Mr. Zacharias’s phones contained over 200 photographs of women much younger than him—including six of Lori Anne Thompson—and dozens of photographs he took of himself. For some of these women, he had only one or two pictures. However, some women appeared in numerous photographs over time. Among the more significant collections of photographs are 17 images of the young Thai woman who appears to be in her mid- 20’s described in the previous section that were taken between February 2, 2014, and November 1, 2019; 43 images of a young Indian woman who appears to be in her early 20’s taken between November 9, 2017, and November 8, 2018; 42 images of a blonde woman who appears to be in her mid-30’s and appears to work at a spa or salon taken between February 8, 2018, and February 12, 2020; and 52 images and 4 videos of a young Malaysian woman
- the photographs grew increasingly more suggestive, culminating in two photographs showing her bare breasts dated October 27, 2018, and a video of her fully naked and touching herself dated January 8, 2019. Two other women told us that Mr. Zacharias asked for nude photographs, which they refused to provide.
- In some, though, different women are “kissing” for the camera or otherwise suggestively posed. And one set contained nude images of a young Malaysian salon employee
RZ shamelessly lied. He received exploitative photos after instituting his RICO lawsuit against the Thompsons
- approximately three weeks after filing his RICO lawsuit, he appeared in a photograph with the Malaysian woman who sent him over 50 photographs over the next year, including nudes. He received a photograph from her the very next day after releasing this December 3, 2017 statement. While he told his staff that his real mistake in the Thompson matter was not alerting someone that he was receiving photographs of another woman, we have no indication that he ever went to RZIM management or its Board on the more than 200 occasions he received photographs of women during and after the Thompson matter.
- (He claimed) claimed, “In my 45 years of marriage to Margie, I have never engaged in any inappropriate behavior of any kind.(while he was receving these photos.
- (RZ) In my 45 years of marriage to Margie, I have never engaged in any inappropriate behavior of any kind.”
- His claim that he had long made it his practice “not to be alone with a woman other than Margie and our daughters” was similarly false
He paid for gifts, schooling, etc. for his women out of the funds of RZIM. One of those women he called “the love of his life.”
(One example of many) Mr. Zacharias’s lengthy text and email communication with the massage therapist from Bangkok whose culinary schooling he arranged for through RZIM and whom he called the “love of his life” occurred in 2014.
Conclusion of the investigators: The investigators claimed he used his *need* for massages to hide his misconduct in plain sight
As reported above, Mr. Zacharias’s inappropriate conduct often occurred when he was alone with massage therapists. Because his need for massage treatments was well known and accepted, he was able to hide his misconduct in plain sight.
Christianity Today, Daniel Silliman and Kate Shellnut, presented Ravi Zacharias Hid Hundreds of Pictures of Women, Abuse During Massages, and a Rape Allegation
Even a limited review of Zacharias’s old devices revealed contacts for more than 200 massage therapists in the US and Asia and hundreds of images of young women, including some that showed the women naked. Zacharias solicited and received photos until a few months before his death in May 2020 at age 74.
Zacharias used tens of thousands of dollars of ministry funds dedicated to a “humanitarian effort” to pay four massage therapists, providing them housing, schooling, and monthly support for extended periods of time, according to investigators.
One woman told the investigators that “after he arranged for the ministry to provide her with financial support, he required sex from her.” She called it rape.
CT pointed out the effects on the ministry of RZIM.
- Multiple speakers and RZIM staff members left the ministry during the course of the investigation, concerned about top officials’ initial response to the allegations. RZIM’s Canadian branch suspended fundraising efforts and donation collection through April, while the UK-based Zacharias Trust is threatening to split if RZIM does not apologize to victims and institute major reforms. (Update: The day after the report was released the UK board voted unanimously to separate from RZIM and choose a new name.)
- RZIM leadership had shifted to reduce the involvement of the Zacharias family. Margie Zacharias, Ravi’s widow, resigned from the board and the ministry in January, while her daughter Sarah Davis stepped down as board chair but remains CEO.
- The board (whose names are not publicly available) and leadership have been planning for a reckoning since investigators’ interim report in December prepared RZIM to expect the worst. (ED Why are the board members hiding?)
- Davis informed staff that some global offices may decide to separate from RZIM and become independent, national organizations.
- Other national boards are also in the process of disentangling themselves from the US headquarters, according to multiple sources inside the ministry.
- The Canadian apologetics ministry also laid off four team members, including Daniel Gilman, a speaker who decided he believed the women who accused Zacharias of sexual abuse and vocally challenged RZIM leadership to acknowledge complicity. Gilman told CT he was deeply concerned the ministry he loved would choose to rebrand but not repent.
- Many more layoffs are expected soon. RZIM employees told CT that they expect the international ministry, which once boasted 100 speakers and 250 staff members nationwide, will be reduced to a fraction of that. Davis told staff that layoffs will be announced in the weeks after the Miller & Martin report is released.
Statement (IN CT )by John Lennox who has left RZIM. Disclosure: I have met Dr. Lennox and admire his work.
John Lennox, a Northern Irish mathematician and apologist who famously debated Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and other “new atheists,” has urged the UK branch of RZIM to separate. Lennox withdrew from all association with RZIM the day after CT reported the spa allegations, but told British apologists he would happily work with them if they were to form an independent organization.
“The current allegations are of such a serious nature that I cannot be involved in any ongoing activity in the name of RZIM,” Lennox wrote in a statement to the UK and US boards. “In my view, a renaming of the organisation and fundamental restructuring of the organisation and board needs to be done and done very quickly, if the potential of the marvelous young team of apologists is to be retained in any collective sense.”
NYT/ Ruth Graham presented: Ravi Zacharias, Influential Evangelist, Is Accused of Sexual Abuse in Scathing Report
- The report is a devastating blow for the reputation of a man who was for decades a widely admired evangelical leader. Born in Chennai, India, and boasting impressive academic credentials, he had a reputation among many evangelicals as a worldly and winsome intellectual. His ministry’s motto is “Helping the thinker believe. Helping the believer think.”
- The law firm also found a pattern of intimate text and email-based relationships with women. In reviewing his electronic devices, they found the phone numbers of more than 200 massage therapists and more than 200 selfies, some of them nudes, from much younger women. Mr. Zacharias also used the nonprofit ministry to financially support some of his long-term therapists. The report also reveals that he owned two apartments in Bangkok, where he spent 256 days between 2010 and 2014. One of his massage therapists stayed in the other apartment.
Christian Post/Op-Ed. Carson Weitnauer: The ‘greatest apologist’ Ravi Zacharias and his catastrophic betrayal
- When my family moved from Boston to Atlanta in 2013, I was thrilled to begin working at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. Working closely with gifted apologists, I thanked God for the impact of Ravi’s growing ministry on audiences throughout the world. Serving together with so many passionate evangelists, I celebrated near-daily reports of those whose lives were being transformed by the Gospel.
- However, in September 2020, new evidence surfaced about Ravi’s relationship with Lori Anne Thompson. As I studied this information carefully – again and again and again – it slowly dawned on me that Ravi had personally and repeatedly lied to me and others in the ministry about his relationship with her. If true, it revealed that his RICO lawsuit was a malicious attempt to bully his victim into silence, and that Ravi had perjured himself in the effort.
See how Weitnauer’s concerns were met by the senior leadership at RZIM (starting in(2020)
- As I discussed these revelations with colleagues at the ministry this fall, I have often felt discouraged. A senior leader took the initiative to email me, saying, “While I agree that we should remain transparent with the truth, I don’t think repeating potential lies or passing on judgment are qualities we want to embody at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.”
- Yet the day after I asked her a series of questions about the non-disclosure agreement between the Thompsons and the Zacharias estate, two senior leaders challenged me on the propriety of my questions. Unfortunately, I have heard similar stories from other colleagues within the ministry. It is only a matter of time before their voices are heard.
Here are his thoughts on going forward.
so we must not silence those who tell us the truth about Ravi’s egregious abuses. Instead, RZIM must change its name, remove Ravi’s material, repent for its many failures, and provide a restorative response to the harm that Ravi’s victims experienced. The depth of complicity by the board and senior leadership in this cover-up must be clearly established. Finally, an organization with credibility in the survivor community must be hired to do a thorough assessment of the organization and its culture, and their proposals for reform will need to be implemented.
Back to the CT article which explains how this whole thing unraveled co to the good work of Steve Baughman with whom I have been in communications.
The woman googled “Ravi Zacharias sex scandal” and found the blog RaviWatch, run by Steve Baughman, an atheist who had been tracking and reporting on Zacharias’s “fishy claims” since 2015. Baughman blogged on Zacharias’s false statements about academic credentials, the sexting allegations, and the subsequent lawsuit. When the woman read about what happened to Lori Anne Thompson, she recognized what had happened to that woman was what had happened to her.
The secret of Zacharias’s abuse started to unravel the day of his funeral in May 2020. One of the massage therapists he groped, masturbated in front of, and asked for sexually explicit images watched in shock as the apologist was honored and celebrated on a livestream. Famous people, including Vice President Mike Pence and Christian football star Tim Tebow, spoke of Zacharias in glowing terms.
Has no one come forward? she thought. No one?
As far as she could tell, this atheist blogger was the only one who cared that Zacharias had sexually abused people and gotten away with it. She reached out to Baughman and then eventually spoke to Christianity Today about Zacharias’s spas, the women who worked there, and the abuse that happened behind closed doors.
Isn’t it interesting that an outsider had to be the one to show concern to this woman? Perhaps this is the best description of the problem with celebrity Christianity in the US.S teve is a good guy who spent untold hours getting to the truth. I know. He wrote me on a number of occasions. I am grateful to him for exposing this sicko predator.
- I believe that it is likely that Zacharias molested more than his massage therapists. He spent 265 days in those apartments in Bangkok. Thailand is known for its sex tourism industry.
Did he just molest adult women or were there any other, well-concealed interactions with underage girls or boys? This possibility should be explored by the board of RZIM.
- I find it hard to believe that no one in the RZIM organization had any idea or any of Zacharias’s unsavory activities. How stupid can they be? They had no problem with him traveling with and obtaining massage therapists.
- Did anyone ask Zacharias to get a regular orthopedic medical evaluation? I get the benefit of massage therapy but he needed so much of it that his therapists were traveling with him?? That would have raised red flags to me. I cannot believe that no one else had concerns.
- Whoops- yes a few did. He was confronted by an employee. I believe that the board knew about the concerns. I think there was a cover-up.
- How do they know all those pictures were of women who were of consenting age? Maybe they don’t and they are just saying it to make themselves feel better.
- The names of the RZIM board members should be released. I would love to see how much they were paid to do absolutely nothing.
- Every Board member and family member must step down. It seems to me that they didn’t do anything except encourage the money-maker.
- The organization must cease to exist. Get someone like John Lennox to figure out how to raise something from the ashes.
- I believe Zacharias’s material needs to be closely vetted by historians and theologians. I bet there are some discrepancies in his writings.
- Thank you, Steve Baughman. Too bad the rest of us didn’t try to find out about what you suspected much earlier.
- Lori Anne, I am so sorry for what you endured.
Finally, how come we Christians are so stupid when it comes to confronting the possible failings of our chosen celebrity Christians. Don’t we read out Bibles? Don’t we understand what David did to Bathsheba? He molested her and killed her husband. Why do we think that our leaders are immune from such actions?
Let”s get a bit darker…Have we ever considered that there are those who come into our churches and ministries because they know we are gullible? Did Zacharias really believe or did he use all of us to support his nefarious activities? It’s likely he played us. Sadly, this same scenario will happen again, sooner rather than later. I know. I’ve been blogging about it for 12 years. When will we decide to wake up and understand that “All have fallen?* Are we prepared to embrace this knowledge or pretend it’s not true so we can continue to live in a la-la land of our own making?