“Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!” ― Noel Langley, The Wizard of Oz
Good news to end the year
I’m going to be writing more about Ravi Zacharias which is bad news with which to end the year. So, I wanted to share with you some happy news on the Parsons’ family front. When my daughter, Abby, was 3 years old, she was diagnosed with a massive tumor that was quite rare and thought to be malignant. The news was not good. They gave us little hope that she would survive. Yet, after two lengthy surgeries, she seemed to defy all odds. The child who was supposed to do poorly in school ended up thriving and surviving. She is now pediatric critical care and ED nurse and is really good at what she does. She went to India on a medical mission and also did a stint on the Mercy Ship.
My mother had given me her 70-year-old engagement and wedding ring which she hoped my daughter would wear if she got married. Over Christmas, her fiancee took a knee outside of Duke Chapel and presented her with her grandmother’s ring which he had refurbished. My father would have been so proud. My 92-year-old mother, who is doing better (she wants to make it to the wedding!) cried when I told her. I am so thankful to God for this happiness and His mercy to our family.
Zacharias engaged in sexual sins for years and it is much more serious than we can imagine.
Why do we keep harping on this? This has to be one of the worst examples of a sick ministry led by an even sicker individual and watched over by an ignorant, inept board. I believe that this is only the beginning of revelations from this and other ministries.
Things continue to get worse in the RZ saga and I believe that it is going to get worse, far worse. We have to thank Steve Baughman for his doggedness in pursuing the lies told by Zacharias. Thank you, Steve!!!
We knew RZ (I can’t bring myself to use his name) was a liar. His biography was fiction mixed with fact (more fiction than fact in my opinion.) Baughman knew there was more. Any guy who lied that much should be suspected of far worse sins. But his amateurish RZIM board chose to ignore the lies. At this point, I have to wonder if they have covered up for years of sins.
Relevant Magazine wrote An Interim Report Has Found That Ravi Zacharias ‘Engaged In Sexual Misconduct Over Many Years.’
…an investigative firm hired by RZIM has found “credible evidence” that Zacharias “engaged in sexual misconduct over many years.”
…Some of that misconduct is consistent with and corroborative of that which is reported in the news recently,” the interim report said. “And some of the conduct we have uncovered is more serious.”
…The executive committee says that the interim report found evidence of behavior that was “deeply troubling and wholly inconsistent with the man Ravi Zacharias presented both publicly and privately to so many over more than four decades of publicly ministry.
Stop! Reread the last sentence in the second quote again? There was conduct even more serious than what has been reported? Like what? We know about the massage therapists who have come forward.
The executive committee says that the interim report found evidence of behavior that was “deeply troubling and wholly inconsistent with the man Ravi Zacharias presented both publicly and privately to so many over more than four decades of publicly ministry.
…In September, three massage therapists came forward, saying Zacharias touched them inappropriately, exposed himself and engaged in other acts of sexual misconduct over a period of about five years. Zacharias was co-owner of several Atlanta-area spas before he passed away.
You can see the entire interim report at Julie Roys’s blog post Interim Report Finds Ravi Zacharias “Engaged in Sexual Misconduct Over Many Years” Why interim? I think there is a heckuva a lot more to come.
What are the problems with the interim report?
An interesting analysis was posted at Reasons for God: An Assessment of the December 23, 2020, RZIM Board Statement.
For example, the RZIM board membership remains anonymous.
…we don’t know who wrote or signed this statement
… very few people, including employees, know who serves on RZIM’s board of directors, much less on the Executive Committee.
…he board has not authorized the disclosure of Form 990 statements to either employees or the public. The last one available is for the fiscal year ending in 2015.
…This statement prompts the memory that, at all-staff meetings this fall, sometimes Sarah Davis (RZIM’s Global CEO and Chair of the Board) and Abdu Murray (RZIM’s General Counsel and Senior Vice President) would awkwardly alternate between saying “the board” and “we.”
…Did anyone who serves on the board, yet is not on the Executive Committee, have evidence that Ravi was responsible for sexual misconduct?
…Ravi lacked accountability and transparency.
…Executive Committee is admitting that they did not have the safeguards in place to detect his pattern of grossly abusive behavio
…it is further confirmed that Ravi was willing to sexually abuse women in the spas that he co-owned, the board’s defense that he couldn’t possibly have asked for nude photos from Lori Anne Thompson is absurd.
…did anyone in the Zacharias family know, or turn a blind eye to, Ravi’s involvement with other women?
Most critically, as devastating as it is to learn about sexual misconduct of a beloved family member or former role model (and it is), surely it is far more devastating to experience sexual misconduct?
…To avoid further trauma to the victims, will they change the name of the ministry? Cease publication of Ravi’s books? Remove his material from the website, YouTube, and other channels? Request that radio stations remove programming that features Ravi Zacharias?
It is my opinion that the RZIM board and the Executive Committee did not live up to the expected standards of overseers. Unlike the author of this post, my experience causes me to wonder if some of them knew of RZ’s proclivities and covered them up so as *not to cause harm to the ministry.” This is an excuse that I have heard over and over, including today when I interviewed a woman who was told not to report her abuse to the authorities by her pastors. I’ll be writing her story in the near future. I tweeted the following today. (I am trying to get Todd and my tweets to appear on TWW in real-time.)
Carson Weitnauer, who worked with RZIM, confesses he should have known and that RZ was one of the greatest frauds of his generation.
The author of the Good Reasons post, Carson Weitnauer, wrote today, in the Christian Post, The ‘greatest apologist’ Ravi Zacharias and his catastrophic betrayal
…As we sometimes heard troubling details that suggested Ravi was guilty of what he had been accused of, it was a relief to hear that his incriminating emails were taken out of context, that exculpatory material had been reviewed by the board, and that his courageous RICO lawsuit had put an end to their falsehoods with a non-disclosure agreement. We gave thanks that Ravi’s bold leadership had freed us to focus once more on the ministry God had called us to. Convinced of this narrative, I served at RZIM with great passion and joy, and then wept and grieved for weeks when Ravi’s health unexpectedly declined, followed by his death in May of 2020.
…More humbling and embarrassing was the realization that the public evidence was sufficient for me to have pieced together the truth in 2017. Anyone who has taken pride in their association with Ravi, and especially those who like me work at RZIM, will now experience that as a shame. I confess that my longing for the approval of others kept me from asking hard questions and accepting the painful truth much sooner.
…Just as I was awakening to an accurate understanding of the abuse uncovered in 2017, another bombshell came: credible, carefully researched reports appeared in Christianity Todayand WORLD magazines, demonstrating that Ravi had committed criminal sexual abuse against at least three massage therapists in the mid-to-late-2000s.
…While I believe most of my colleagues are not only talented but earnestly committed to serving God, we have been badly misled by our secretive board and senior leaders. If the damage to our witness can be repaired at all, it will take a humiliating acknowledgment of our complicity and shame, as well as an earnest and sacrificial repentance
…a grealization that Ravi Zacharias was not the greatest apologist of his generation – but rather one of its greatest frauds – has felt like a catastrophic betrayal.
- Steve told us in a comment that RZ was importing *masseuses* from India and Thailand. It is possible that these women were being sex trafficked which is a federal crime, if true.
- RZ traveled around the world. It is possible that women in other countries were harmed/molested by RZ. Does anyone remember Tom White of the Voice of the Martyrs? His story is eerily similar to RZ’s story. RZ could easily go off the grid while traveling and that is worrisome to me.
- Were there other women besides Lori Anne Thomson who RZ groomed or even molested? Are there other NDAs?
- I find it difficult to believe that no one ever suspected something was up with RZ. That goes for his board and the number of evangelicals who were in his BFF circle. Did anyone think it was odd that he was running *masseuse* parlors? How many kept quiet so as not to ruin a good thing? RZ was a cash cow to a number of people so was it convenient to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain?
- Has anyone taken a good hard look at RZ’s teachings? Given his penchant for lying, I would suspect that one might find a similar problem in his writings and teachings.
- There is something that I don’t get. As Christians, we know that all have sinned and all continue to sin. Why is it so gosh darn hard to imagine celebrity leaders becoming involved n serious sin? Is there something I missed in Bible study? Remember David who raped Bathsheba and arranged for her husband Uriah to be killed?
- Al those who served anonymously on the Boards of RZIM should resign in shame and should NEVER be allowed to be elders or board members in the church or parachurch ministries. RZIM should release the names of all those who served on the Board and the Executive Committee. Time for them to learn from others who take their jobs seriously.
We have much to learn from this mess. The question is “Are we willing to look long and hard at our chosen leaders?” You can be quite sure that more of this sort of thing is going on.