When I first heard of the latest allegations of sexual abuse and adultery against famed apologist Ravi Zacharias, I was hesitant to even touch the matter.
At first, I took it for one of the many instances of unproven, unsubstantiated gossip being thrown around about men of God.
After all, Zacharias had been subject to similar allegations by a single woman while he was still alive—allegations which he heartily denied. At the time, I believed him. The vast majority of conservative Christians, including the leadership of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM), believed him.
After taking the time to weigh the matter before answering it, however, I cannot stay silent and feel the burden of the Lord to add to the voice for Ravi’s victims.
I have only been able to stomach just a few of the twelve pages of the results of the independent investigation conducted at the behest of the RZIM board.
The report, drafted by Lynsey M. Barron, Esq. and William P. Eiselstein, Esq. of the law firm Miller & Martin, details the long-hidden actions of Ravi Zacharias with such detail and clarity that I was left stunned and disgusted.
If I felt disgusted, it’s nothing compared to the grief with which the board of RZIM read those words and made the wise decision to make the full report public, even though they did so “with shattered hearts.”
“We gave Miller & Martin a broad scope to pursue any avenues that they judged to be relevant to the accusations, and we emphasized that our only purpose for the investigation was to ascertain the full truth,” an open letter from the board prefacing the report reads.
The board went on:
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. We now know our words have been hurtful, and that causes us deep sorrow. Moreover, 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. This grieves us intensely and makes us so thankful that the truth has ultimately been revealed.
After working with a private investigation firm helmed largely by former federal law enforcement officers, interviewing over 50 individuals, reviewing numerous documents provided by RZIM and other witnesses, and working with a digital forensics vendor to investigate four mobile devices and one laptop formerly belonging to Zacharias, the investigators did indeed uncover the truth.
“The mobile devices provided the single greatest source of data about Mr. Zacharias’s private activity and housed text and chat application messages, emails, recorded messages, documents, and images that sparked numerous leads,” the report explains.
The report confirmed the allegations of abuse at day spas owned by Zacharias, and discovered evidence that Zacharias had abused or otherwise had sexual relations with women in Thailand, India, and Malaysia on his many ministry-related trips, as evidenced by text messages sent by Zacharias himself. Investigators found that he’d asked young women for—and received—hundreds of nude and suggestive images of them. Zacharias also used tens of thousands of dollars from RZIM’s “humanitarian effort” fund to support four massage therapists. One of the massage therapists told the investigators that “after he arranged for the ministry to provide her with financial support, he required sex from her” in a transaction which she described as “rape.”
In one of the most disgusting sentences in the entire report, that particular victim said she had been told by Ravi that if she told anyone about the abuse, she would be responsible for the “’millions of souls’ whose salvation would be lost if his reputation was damaged.”
Folks, for a supposed “man of God” to wield his spiritual authority for his own gain—whether sexual, financial, or otherwise—is a sickening and grievous sin. We are now faced with indisputable proof from Zacharias’ own words that he engaged in deep and immense sin, went to great lengths to hide it and live a double- life, and ultimately never accepted accountability nor repented in a public fashion.
My heart breaks for the victims, especially Lori Ann Thompson, whom Ravi publicly gaslighted and sued. I pray she and all of his victims find healing and comfort through the Prince of Peace. And I pray that church and ministry leaders everywhere learn a huge lesson from this about not giving “Christian men” a pass. Churches and Christian ministries should be a toxic environment for predators and abusers. Instead, sadly, they often enable them, as was the case here.
Ravi Zacharias was a fraud. Period. It’s dishonest, re-traumatizing for his victims, and dishonoring to the God of Truth to come to any other conclusion than that.
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