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Ravi Zacharias was a Liar, Sexual Pervert and Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing. This Report Proves it

Premier Christianity asked me to write a report on the report from RZIM re the allegations against Ravi Zacharias.  It was painful to read.  And it was the last thing I wanted to write about.  But given that I had said we should not comment, until the evidence was in – and now the evidence is in – I agreed to write this article.  You can read the Premier one here – below is a slightly fuller version.  (Since this was published the UK RZIM has announced it is leaving RZIM).   I am saddened and sickened by all of this.

An investigation into the once respected evangelist Ravi Zacharias has revealed far more disturbing behaviour than many had anticipated. In looking at the final report, which includes an allegation of rape, David Robertson says the future of the ministry, RZIM, is in serious doubt

Victims Exonerated, Ravi Guilty – What Now For RZIM?

When it was reported that Ravi Zacharias was being accused of sexual abuse through a couple of massage parlours that he had financial investments in – the news was so shocking that it was hard to take in.  As with all such allegations it is better not to comment until we know the truth. Now we do. Although there are concerns about the speed at which Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) began the investigation, once it was started it was done throughly and speedily with no excuses and no attempt to cover up.  This has now just been published.  Entitled “Report of Independent Investigation into Sexual Misconduct of Ravi Zacharias February 9, 2021” it is devastating.

It’s a tale of money, sex, abuse, greed, exploitation,   and more.  It’s far worse than we anticipated.  For those who wish to know all the sordid details the report is in the public domain, but the following is a summary of the main points.

  • Ravi Zacharias was guilty of sexual abuse on many occasions, in different places, over a period of many years. These involved not only women in the US, but also in Malaysia, Thailand, South Korea and almost certainly other places. Martin Miller did not particularly investigate ‘Asia” and what he did on these trips.
  • He especially used those who worked in massage parlours – even ‘importing’ them from overseas and seeking ‘more than a massage’.
  • In one example in offered to take a masseuse to travel overseas with him.
  • He used RZIM ministry funds to fund his abuse. He would give masseurs large gifts or pay for them financially.  Four received monthly support from RZIM’s charity for the poor for a lengthy period of time.
  • He used the Gospel and Christian language to gain the confidence of his victims. This paragraph is a horrific example. “This 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. According to this witness, Mr. Zacharias used religious expressions to gain compliance, as she was raised to be a person of faith. 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.
  • Several RZIM staff expressed concerned about Ravi travelling with a personal masseuse because ‘they feared the appearance of impropriety’. When challenged he became angry. From 2018 several members of staff expressed doubts about Ravi’s explanation for the Lori Thompson case. Although he accused those who accused him of being ““nasty people” and “lunatics” who were engaging in “‘satanic-type’ slander and falsehood.”
  • Ravi owned at least two apartments in Bangkok. On one occasion he spent 256 days in one of those apartments and charged RZIM for rent.
  • There is more detail about the Lori Anne Thompson case. The report concludes that given the pattern evidenced elsewhere it is highly likely that the complaints of sexting are true. The report contains the sad and disturbing details that “In order to avoid “protracted and public litigation,” on April 27, 2017 the Thompsons sent Mr. Zacharias a letter demanding $5 million in exchange for a release of claims against him and the ministry. And that Ravi paid them $250,000 to buy their silence.
  • Some people excused Ravi as being ‘naïve’ and not using language wisely. The report provides evidence that his language was way beyond naïve.  For example, he wrote to one massage therapist in Bangkok “I know more than ever that you have become the love of my life. I’m waiting to hold you close to my heart again”.  There are many such examples and over 200 photographs.
  • Ravi consistently lied – “In my 45 years of marriage to Margie, I have never engaged in any inappropriate behaviour of any kind.” Just weeks after the Thompson case he was engaging with similar behaviour with a Malaysian masseuse.

The evidence is clear.  Ravi Zacharias was a liar, a sexual pervert, and an abusive, deceitful manipulative, greedy hypocrite.  This goes way beyond one incident, one fall.  It reveals a lifestyle and pattern over many years.  He fooled many people, shamed his family and brought disgrace upon the Church.   He was someone of whom the Scripture warns us – a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Does that negate the message he so often preached?  No.  If someone who says that two plus two equals four,  turns out to be a mass murderer it does not negate the truth that two plus two equals four.  But it’s somewhat more complex than that.  Given that one of the evidences of the truth of the Christian message is the fruit of the Spirit; when a preacher of that message displays the opposite, it is a terrible blow for the credibility of that message.  Ravi betrayed the Lord he professed to love; he denied the Gospel he preached, and he caused the name of God to be blasphemed.  May God have mercy on him!

What about the victims?  In a world where the word is so often misused, they are real victims.  Perhaps they will rightly feel exonerated.  Perhaps ashamed.  Perhaps angry.  All we can do is pray for them and commend them to the One who never abuses, manipulates, deceives or lets us down.

What about the future for RZIM?  The report exonerates them in that it states, “ we did not find evidence that anyone within RZIM or on its Board knew that Mr. Zacharias had engaged in sexual misconduct.”  Although there are still questions to be answered about the lack of accountability (which they admit).

In response they have issued a statement – the opening words really say it all –

https://www.rzim.org/read/rzim-updates/board-statement

“It is with shattered hearts that we issue this statement about the allegations against RZIM’s Founder, Ravi Zacharias”

They also include this apology.

“We regret that we allowed our misplaced trust in Ravi to result in him having less oversight and accountability than would have been wise and loving. 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.”

The Board have appointed Rachael Denhollander and Guidepost Solutions, a management/compliance consulting firm and have added “In light of the findings of the investigation and the ongoing evaluation, we are seeking the Lord’s will regarding the future of this ministry.”.  It is clear that, whatever the future holds for the many talented Christians within RZIM, the current organisation cannot continue under its present name and it is difficult to see how it can continue at all.  Perhaps something new will rise out of the ashes?

Whatever the case we know that the gates of Hell will not prevail against the Lord’s church – no matter the blows it takes.    ‘Millions of souls’ will not be lost because of the damage to Ravi’s reputation – just as they would not be saved if he had been a saint.  We are saved by the grace, love and mercy of Christ – not the reputation of his people.  Thank God.

Michael Ramsden. President of RZIM tweeted “I am heartbroken and ashamed”.  I feel his pain and share his heartbreak.   I didn’t know Ravi – although he did sit at our dining table once and did preach in my church – and I didn’t work for him.  But I do feel some of the heartache and shame.  Only God knows the pain that all the victims, the abused and the deceived, are going through just now but of this one thing I am sure:  “I am not ashamed.  I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.” (2 Timothy 1:12).

Ravi Zacharias Allegations – A Christian Response – Article on Premier Christianity

.Reflections on the Heartbreaking Fall of Ravi Zacharias – EN

Ravi praises, Curry explains and Cranmer Spins…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

33 comments

  1. Great article and I now this is small detail in the light of awful detail of huge abuse. You’ve written ‘On one occasion he spent 256 days in one of those apartments and charged RZIM for rent.’ The report actually says between 2010 and 2014 he spent 256 days in one of The apartments in Bangkok.

  2. Pastor, I was actually thinking of buying one of Ravi’s books a while ago. I haven’t purchased it yet but it is stillon my “to read” list.

    If we realise someone is a false shepherd because of his lifestyle but the teaching in his book is (presumably!) doctrinally-orthodox, would you still recommend reading his book (ie, do as he says and not as he does) or should we avoid the teaching of false shepherds altogether?

    Thanks in advance. God bless.

      1. Also….. I would t read the book of psalms either or the Proverbs! David and Solomon were sexual perverts, adulterers, liars, swindlers and the such! Lord forbid we read a book that was written by people like this?! Just saying….. oh…. and this comment is from a friend

  3. This is very sad. And worse, it’s not something that is unique to one individual.

    He would not have been able to be as he was it he had not been enabled. I don’t believe for one moment there were not people in his circles that knew what was happening and this being without being an open secret about what was going on.

    Therefore this is not only about one individual but also systemic abuse. And for many this results in suspicion about the church in general. If church leaders are no different to leaders in secular society, it can be worse. People might be more likely to trust a church leader, to be willing to share confidence in them and therefore be more vulnerable to abuse from any leader who takes advantage of that. The whole “Christian celebrity” culture doesn’t help with this. The attention must now be turned to the victims for their care.

    There but for the grace of God go I.

  4. Hello Robert,it must have been a struggle to write about the above.Its a difficult one …
    However God took care of it …..he’s no longer here …I do believe he will be in Heaven but not where he should be in heaven ….
    Ravi let his Saviour down …maybe Ravi never experienced a full healing from his young life or maybe his
    sexual appetite and expertise of the Bible could work for a while ,maybe he thought it to be true eg Solomon with all these women,Ravi could have used God ‘s word for his own self interest….
    God is the only one who will know .
    We have to forgive him …..he didn’t know what he was doing ?????Again ,only God knows .
    We can’t forget the man who did speak up for GOD and the gift of communication by GOD .

    I think we should have a ♥️ Forgiveness Service ♥️for Ravi ….Although Ravi knew about GODS forgiveness of our sin ,He abused it.He is dead .

    Let’s Forgive Him and set his wife and children free to live without shame .
    As we Forgive him and all his SORDID actions …We can All Heal and bring Glory to God .
    Gillian

    1. Hi Gillian…the name is David! Thanks for your comments but no we should not have a ‘forgiveness’ service for Ravi. We are not the ones who forgive – unless he has sinned against us. We are not the ones who set him or his family free. Nor do we hold services for that reason. We hold services to worship God. For Ravi it is now too late.

    2. Your absolutely right. Not only Ravi but the Church in general. If it wasn’t so uptight about sex. Men would be more willing to share their sexual sin. Pray for healing on both sides.

    3. In Heaven?? He was a serial Adulterer!! If he repented on his death bed there is salvation, however, he never openly confessed before death.

      They real lesson has not been addressed. The lesson is far greater than the fall and lifestyle of a wolf! It’s about us the sheep where the lesson must be learned.

      NO one heard God’s voice , for wolves are to be tested all spirits. Not only was he not tested , not many know what to test and how to test.

      The man was known to be compromised and endorsed wolves. That say’s it all and that standard test alone is a failure in and of itself.

      But no one noticed or cared!! The greater judgment is on us for being blind and biblically illiterate!!

  5. I can’t help but think that this was enabled by the celebrity culture imported from secular life into the church. It encourages egotism and flies completely against humility and an understanding of our fallen natures. This seems to be a plague in many of the western evangelical churches. Such hero worship leads to a great deal of naivety in vast numbers of followers who seem to think that no oversight is required for such a ‘great’ man. This is pure foolishness and won’t be the last example we hear of. A very sad tale and so damaging to the reputation of Christians generally in many different ways.
    I have evangelical friends who still think he was setup, that is the mindset of a cult.

    1. I agree.

      I also think the combination of “Great Man” with religion is much worse because it’s not just a “Great Man”, but a “Great Man sent from God”. I remember hearing that many of the children who were brave enough to tell their parents about sexual abuse by Roman Catholic Priests were punished by their parents for lying – their parents just couldn’t comprehend that their local priest who they knew and loved and trusted the faith of could do such a thing.

      I think there is another slightly worse factor within churches and associated organizations in that even when they uncover/admit to abuse they often seem not to really know how to deal with it, generally don’t want to have frank conversations about sex and struggle with the notion of forgiveness – often seeming to think that they should prioritize forgiving the perpetrator over protecting future potential victims.

      I read of a case only this week where a paid worship leader sexually assaulted a young bible college student at a party – it was not just a grope either. His eventual discipline was that he was take off staff for a year and then reinstated.

  6. David, I know this was hard to write. I’ve been grieved all over again this week after reading the report. So many lessons to be learned, but I appreciate that you say the fall of the messenger doesn’t negate the message. I have many of his books on my shelves. I won’t destroy them because of him. It is yet another reminder that Christ alone is our model and hope. Praying for all who are deeply affected by this, that they may find healing and comfort in Jesus.

  7. Hello David,
    Got it right this time 😌 Your name !
    I know what you are saying in response to the forgiveness service is correct .
    However ,Ravi in his sin misrepresented Christian living and believing in Christ’s values .eg if a Christian friend all of a sudden hurts us through an action ,deed or word ,we Forgive or we cannot reconcile our friendship !we come together or stay apart .
    The Body of Christ has been wounded ,Carol has Zavi Zacharias books still on her shelf because of Jesus ♥️ because the fall of the messenger doesn’t negate the message .So be it.
    Coming together acknowledging Ravi Zacharias death ,fall and betrayal of Our Dear Lord brings comfort to all whom have been effected as Carol points out .
    As a Body we can forgive Zavi for his inflicted hurt on us ,but it is only God who can spiritually Forgive the sin etc
    I believe that a ‘ Forgiveness Service ‘ for Zavi would allow us to forgive Zavi for hurting us and our Saviour ♥️In context of moving forward from this historical Christian memory of permanent damage .
    Then his Dear wife ,Margie and family would receive comfort from us ,the Body of Christ to confront his public disgrace and defeat and take them towards Our Forgiveness and Love In Christ Jesus ♥️
    Gillian

  8. Perhaps having your name up in lights in your organisation’s title isn’t a great sign. Although I can immediately think of one honourable exception. As regards sexual sin, I don’t know that it’s about openness or otherwise. It’s about recognising that as a church leader, Satan will have you if he possibly can, and not taking those little steps in the wrong direction that land you in the quicksand before you realise it. The UK arm of RZIM is right to want to have a complete makeover. What an Irony that Marie Stopes is in the midst of doing the same…..

  9. I believe that this information should be discussed in every congregation of the church, specially the seminaries and Bible schools to raise deep awareness of the damage done to the reputation of the Gospel, the Church, believers in general and the Name of God with specific reference to the inescapable fallout. It is the spiritual equivalent of Chernobyl in all respects. We need it to properly and adequately internalise the consequences of all indiscretions and misdemeanors for Jesus’ sake.

    1. Hi Gregory
      A lot to be said for that. What christians and especially church leaders or future leaders need to be aware of is to beware the ‘It wouldn’t happen to me’. ‘If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall’

  10. Dear Sir,

    What was even worse was that Pastor Mike Winger revealed a video where one of Mr. Zacharias’ victim Ms. Lorraine Thompson says she lost her Christian faith due to Mr. Zacharias’ actions. Just check the video of the first 5 minutes that I will link below. It was really a really unfortunate situation. What advise would you give to the people who’s faith are shaken from the actions of a Christian leader?

    Yours Sincerely,
    Jeff

    1. Hi Jeff – Did Lori say she had lost her faith? I did not take that from the video? I understand that Christian leaders who we admire and learn from, falling can discourage us, depress us and cause us to question. However it should not shake our faith – why? Because our faith is in Christ and his word – not human leaders. The Bible tells us that leaders fall – some in the bible quite spectacularly. It’s also a bit illogical to say that when some leaders fall we won’t believe – but then refuse to believe when most leaders don’t fall! Ps 116:11 “In my alarm I said, ‘everyone is a liar'”. SO what does the Psalmist do? He lifts up the cup of salvation and calls on the name of the Lord – he doesn’t throw the cup away.

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