The other day, I posted “New Allegations that Ravi Zacharias engaged in Sexually Predatory Behavior” courtesy of Steve Baughman. In his new statement, Baughman provided serious allegations that Mr. Zacharias exploited women for his sexual gratification in a spa that he operated. In his video, Baughman also referenced a Christian leader with whom he had spoken about the new allegations.
Today, I was contacted by that Christian leader. While I do not know this individual personally, I can say that he is a respected academic and Christian leader and I have known of him by way of his academic and popular writing over the last twenty-five years. In short, he is a very credible source. He forwarded a statement which he wanted me to share with my readers as it provides a more fulsome understanding of these allegations and the evidence supporting them. I have reproduced that statement below.
Hi. I am the Christian leader who heard directly from the three witnesses in relation to the spa cases.
I have studied all aspects of the controversies about RZ, talked with many witnesses to the issues and events involved, and also used a leading private investigator who is a friend. I did not do all this in order to prove Ravi guilty or innocent. All things being equal, I wanted him to be what he claimed, an apologist with total moral integrity. I took pains in all this investigation in order to figure out truth. My ultimate aim was pastoral. I am an ordained Christian minister and I saw quite quickly the need to provide a pastoral role to various people involved in the various aspects of the controversies. Part of my pastoral and counselling responsibility involved getting at the truth.
On the spa case, I find the witnesses very, very credible. I trust them based on phone calls, emails, text messages and supporting documents. Each of these witnesses had nothing to gain by talking, writing emails, etc.
On the Thompson matter, I trust Brad and Lori Anne. The idea that they were suffering financially and plotted together to get money out of RZ is ludicrous. RZ lied in his lawsuit against them.
I find Shirley Steward’s testimony about Ravi telling Ramesh (his brother and Shirley’s boyfriend at the time) to get her (Shirley) to have an abortion to be very credible. I have interviewed her at length.
On the credentials issue, Steve B. has been proven right by the fact that RZIM employees and the organization itself faced up to Ravi’s carelessness and duplicity. I do think Steve overstates the credentials issues at points but he was basically properly concerned. RZIM should have listened to him sooner.
For the record, I am not a Steve Baughman clone. I disagree with him on various matters and have convinced him he is wrong at points. He listens to arguments. All in all, one of my factors in being involved in these controversies is to show Steve than not all Christians resort to name-calling in the face of objective evidence. Likewise, I continue to urge Steve to believe in God and trust in Jesus.
I have shared my concerns about things with a top RZIM leader.
Some other points, to put the above in context:
- I value RZ’s contribution to apologetics and Christian faith.
- I think RZIM is basically an incredible organization but…
- RZIM hurts apologetics and Christian witness by avoiding careful scrutiny of the controversies.
- My views above about the Thompson case are based on extensive interaction with Christian leaders and lay people who know them and who know the details of the matters involved. These people believe (like me) that the view that Brad and Lori Anne made up the whole plot to get money from Ravi is absurd. I still remember the moment a Christian leader who knows the couple laughed out loud when I asked him whether Brad and Lori Anne were short on cash. [Yes, I know they were in a legal tangle with a previous pastor but that episode did not create a need for going after RZ]. Ravi needed some “explanation” for why the Thompsons made up the plot to squeeze him for money, so he and his lawyers went with the “poor” couple theory.
- Ravi even argued that the couple pretended to be counsellors to write him a leading email about his suicide threat. In fact, the counsellors involved wrote the email. I know this from direct evidence independent of what Lori Anne and Brad say. They are telling the truth. Ravi lied about it.
- I believe the evidence readily supports the view that the Thompsons were both attracted to Ravi’s ministry. This led to a friendship and then over time Ravi developed an inappropriate relationship with Lori Anne. Out of guilt she confessed to Brad in late October 2016. Ravi threatened suicide before she told Brad. After she told Brad the three of them had emails back and forth until Ravi declared he was totally innocent in early 2017. This was what radically altered their view of Ravi and led to legal action.
- I do not believe he was innocent given the ordinary meaning of his threat of suicide, the content of his emails in October 2016 through early 2017, and his repeated calls to Lori Anne through 2016, etc.
- I think Ravi broke his side of the NDA in late 2017 by the release of the press release which threw the Thompsons under the bus in several ways. The idea (given in his press release) that Ravi went 16,000 days without being alone with a woman other than his wife or daughters is hard to square with his regular times alone in a spa room with females. The three witnesses I talk to all agree that Ravi was alone with females in the spas. Now, maybe Ravi and RZIM want to argue that being alone in a spa room with a woman is not a point against his claim since it was a necessity due to his back problems. [But he could have used male therapists…]
- CT magazine should have checked into various claims in the press release and not printed it without scrutiny. I believe sites that quote the press release in full should remove it or at least do an investigation into its accuracy. CT should add a disclaimer to their earlier reporting.
- Various RZIM leaders and academics should have checked into the accuracy of the press release or looked objectively at all the evidence related to the Thompsons. I know from people inside the RZIM world that leaderhsip do not encourage any honest probing about RZ.
- I have shared my ongoing look into RZIM matters with quite a few famous Christian leaders/academics that I trust. Not one of them has dismissed my concerns.
- Yes, this is all very, very painful stuff and especially in light of his recent passing. Parts of his funeral service brought tears of my eyes and it is painful for me to think about the pressures on his family and ministry then and since. So, why my concerns?
- Well, if Ravi had apologized for his credentials puffing, if he had apologized for his part in the abortion case, if he had apologized to the Thompsons for his power moves against them, if he had apologized to the people at the spa, and if all of the individuals that he hurt over the damage were over things, I would have dropped my concerns easily and quickly. However, the relevant individuals in the spa case, the Thompson case, and the abortion case are still victims.
- In my view, RZIM should release Brad and Lori Anne from the NDA since Ravi already broke it. RZIM should apologize for the hurt that the press release did to them. It is nothing but tragic to hear details of what Ravi’s fans said about Lori Anne and what the Christian community said to their children! Thankfully, Brad and Lori Anne have learned that their faith should be anchored in Jesus and not depend on the credibility of various Christian leaders
I have not released my name because of deeply personal reasons that have nothing to do with RZ and RZIM.
I write at length here to help Randal Rauser readers have a long reply that offers a view from someone who has spent enormous time checking into these matters.
Since RZIM leadership know my identity and they will probably read this, I want them to know that I am willing to have extended dialogue with RZIM leaders and scholars and staff in order to assess these very serious matters. If I am proven wrong on anything, I will be ready to apologize in this forum and others. For the record, I wrote a leader at RZIM on August 27th, had a few long conversations that day and the next day, and have heard nothing since.
My main concern is for those who were hurt by Ravi and continue to be traumatized by what was done to them. Of course, I have never lost sight of the enormous impact of Ravi and the continued great work of RZIM. One night I was watching MMA and one of the fighters gave a shout out to Ravi’s impact on his life. Ravi’s strengths and impact must not be forgotten. Sadly, he was the one who most hurt this legacy.
I would like to see an independent investigation by Christian scholars and leaders on all of the above. This should be done in participation by a few non-Christian figures who are experts in evidence analysis, etc.
Thanks for reading.
You have a couple of choices in interpreting this post. You can either believe it is from a real loser who likes making up stories or I am the Christian leader who spoke to the three spa people and writes at such length because I care about Christian ministry, values, and integrity.