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America's Apologist Ravi Zacharias Accused of Sexual Assault

Updated: Oct 5


On Tuesday, Christianity Today published two important articles about Ravi Zacharias.  One documenting accusations of sexual assault by four women.  The other about why it was necessary to report their findings in public.  I am grateful to the author and editors.  Both articles should be carefully read. 


Ravi Zacharias’s Ministry Investigates Claims of Sexual Misconduct at Spas Three women have come forward with additional allegations against the late Christian apologist. Daniel Silliman September 29, 2020 
A Note from the Editors on the Ravi Zacharias Investigation Why we report bad news about leaders—even after they have passed away. September 29, 2020 

The additional allegations of sexual assault are only shocking to those who have not been following the reporting on Zacharias’ devious conduct over the years including his sexting with Lori Ann Thompson.  


Predators are most always winsome, caring, and likeable.  In Christian circles they are also “spiritual.”  They know how to look and sound godly.  They use these personality traits and pretensions to groom their victims by winning their trust and becoming friends and confidantes.  Then they assault you.  They are devious and manipulative beyond imagining. They are the most charming and wicked of people.  


Steve Baughman is an atheist and lawyer.  He has objectively exposed Zacharias with meticulous documentation for years.  Here is the overview of his book that appears on Amazon.com


Cover-Up in the Kingdom: Phone Sex, Lies, And God's Great Apologist, Ravi Zacharias  Dec 14, 2018 by Steve Baughman The great evangelist, Ravi Zacharias, had been a pretender for decades.  The influential apostle to the Academy had built a self-named empire by claiming for himself academic credentials that he did not have.  He told fans and donors that he was “a professor at Oxford” and a “visiting scholar at Cambridge.”  He told them that he had been “educated in Cambridge,” where he had studied quantum physics under the renowned John Polkinghorne.  He told them he had chaired a department that never existed.  And more. His claims were false, and his Christian business colleagues knew it.  They remained silent.  Ravi Zacharias was too useful to the Kingdom.  He had written dozens of books, had a weekly radio show that reached over 2000 outlets, he packed large auditoriums around the world, and in 2016 his ministry brought in $42,000,000.  This was a large boat that nobody in the Christian business world wanted to rock. But then Zacharias had an online affair with a married woman [Lori Ann Thompson].  On October 29, 2016, she informed him that she would confess the affair to her husband.  The evangelist responded by threatening suicide.  And he did so in writing. Word of the famous preacher’s suicide threat began to leak out.  Zacharias’s cover was about to blow.  And when it did it would expose not just another corrupt clergyman but also cynicism and unbelief at the highest levels of God, Inc. Zacharias was desperate.  On July 31, 2017, he filed a federal lawsuit against the woman.  Four months later the parties settled on terms that required silence.  The evangelist, it seemed, had resecured his cover. This book blows that cover.  Through meticulous documentation the author takes the reader through Ravi’s journey from being a suicidal youth in India to his attaining world prominence as an evangelist to the thinking person.  The author shares Zacharias’s suicide emails and the confidential legal letter the preacher received that outlined his misconduct with the married woman.  The reader also will see the evangelist’s false credential claims carefully dissected with documentation from Oxford and Cambridge and other sources. After nearly four decades of successful deception Ravi Zacharias is finally revealed as the tattered pretender he is.  As for his enablers in the God business, this book will force them to reflect on their supposed belief in the deity who so clearly forbids lying. 

Ravi Zacharias has been referred to as “America’s apologist.”  His teaching sound.  His defense of the faith edifying.  His ministry fruitful.  Yet, his personal life a lie.   Based upon the allegations of the three women in the Christianity Today article who were carefully vetted and the allegations of Lori Ann Thompson, Zacharias operated like your typical sexual predator.  


Read these articles by investigative journalist Julie Roys for expert coverage including evidence of Zacharias’ sexting relationship with Lori Ann Thompson and his serial lying to cover it up. 

Betrayed Trust, Part One: New Testimony, Emails & Other Documents Portray Ravi Zacharias as Predator in Sexting Scandal By Julie Roys September 14, 2020
Betrayed Trust, Part Two: Woman Accused in Sexting Scandal Claims Ravi Zacharias Groomed & Exploited Her By Julie Roys September 15, 2020

Zacharias used his gifts and charisma to take advantage of others and build a ministry empire that made him rich and famous.  He was a master of manipulation.  He knew how to pretend righteousness and endear people to himself.  Here are just a few quotes from the four victims in the Christianity Today article. 


Grooming

Zacharias was kind and took interest in their lives.  But over time Zacharias would make unwanted sexual advances. The three women who spoke to CT each said that Zacharias gained their trust, and then the sexual harassment started. … When the women didn’t say anything, the sexual harassment escalated. Thompson writes that she grew to care for and love Zacharias as a father figure, honored by the attention of his regular communication.  Then Zacharias began requesting photos of her, clothed and then unclothed, and eventually asked her to engage in sex over the phone.

Manipulation & Deceit

She added that Zacharias assured her that the Lord understood what he had sacrificed and implied their sexual exchanges were God’s way of rewarding him. He told her he was burdened by the demands of the ministry, and he needed this “therapy.”  He flattered her and suggested he deserved the sexual release because of the great “cost” of his ministry. He would say, “I need it.  I need it.  I need it”’ the woman recalled.  “He would say he needed it so much and it was good therapy.” The three separately allege Zacharias began pulling off the covering sheet during treatments and exposing himself. … “It was made to look like an accident.  But it was on purpose.”

False Guilt

The women said they pulled away and pretended nothing had happened.  Each worried they had done something wrong—maybe there was a misunderstanding or maybe they had done something to cause the famous Christian leader to “stumble into sin.” “I zipped it up and tucked it away,” one of the women said.  “But the past is never just the past, and time does not heal all wounds.  When you go through something traumatic, it affects your mind, it affects your body, it affects your relationships, it affects your spirit.” Another said she has not been to church since and can’t trust religious institutions.  It took her seven years of therapy to come to the conclusion that what Zacharias did to her was not her fault, she said. They each stayed at the spas until they couldn’t anymore. They stayed silent long after that.

Fear of Retribution

They shared their stories under the condition that they not be named, fearing the possible retribution for harming the reputation of a famous Christian leader. “I felt ashamed.  I felt embarrassed,” one said.  “You have this world-renowned evangelist who is being inappropriate, and I had no idea what to do.”   But the women didn’t speak out. They were afraid they wouldn’t be believed, or they would be blamed and could lose their jobs.

It is only because Lori Ann Thompson spoke out and an atheist, “evil” bloggers (as they are often called), and an investigative reporter covered her story that other women spoke to Christianity Today when contacted.  Why did they finally speak out?  For the sake of other victims who no doubt exist. 

The women who worked at the spas said they have not spoken up previously because they do not want money, publicity, or even apologies for what happened.  But in the wake of Zacharias’s death, they said they want other victims who may be out there—like Thompson—to know that they are not alone.

I don’t believe Zacharias’ sexual predation was confined to four women.  Nor do I think it was confined to the United States.  I hope CT’s coverage reaches many of the 70 nations to which Zacharias traveled including his native India. 


This is another reprehensible example of deceit, grooming, and hypocrisy by an evangelical icon who had no accountability and should not have been active in ministry.  Zacharias excused his sins as necessary given the demands of ministry. He used this lie to take advantage of vulnerable women.  So have other celebrity leaders.  But the demands of life, ministry, and work are never an excuse for immorality, drunkenness, drugs, or other sinful pleasures.  They are a cause to draw near to Christ and experience his sustaining grace and power.  


Once again the Lord Jesus Christ has shown himself strong.  Gifting from God does not protect you from the judgement of God.  Teachers like Zacharias are held to a stricter judgement (James 3:1). 


Baughman is correct.  “After nearly four decades of successful deception Ravi Zacharias is finally revealed as the tattered pretender he is.”   


It is not enough to be gifted by the Holy Spirit and schooled in Holy Scripture.  You must also be above reproach!  That means you are a person who practices what he preaches because he sincerely loves God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and is overwhelmed by the grace of God revealed in the cross of Christ!  You cannot be a serial liar and sexual predator and claim to savingly know Christ. 


It is hard to see through leaders who appear godly, exude personal charisma, and teach the Word of God effectively.  That is why such men must be known well!  That is why they must be examined according to the 21 character qualifications laid out in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9.  Individuals can have real and powerful gifts from God (like the Corinthians) and yet be totally unqualified for ministry.  Do not be deceived! 


I am sure people with lesser gifts and smaller ministries are also guilty of deceit and hypocrisy but often they are persons of integrity because they boast no greatness.  Celebrity leaders on the other hand must promote their greatness and protect their reputation at all cost.  So do those around them who make a living off them. 


In Zacharias’ case that includes his wife, daughter, board, top employees & business partner. This is the great scandal of evangelicalism.  Nepotism, cronyism, and favoritism.  It must end.  Read this article on “RZIM Complicity in Abuse.” 

RZIM Complicity in Abuse: Ye shall know them by their fruit Lindsay M. Griffin September 30, 2020

I think the words of Jesus are relevant.  You can have a gigantic ministry and supernatural power but only those who fulfill the ethical teachings of Scripture from the heart will enter the eternal kingdom.  They are the ones truly born again and united to Christ. 


Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness!’ -Matthew 7:21-23

Postscript


Just after I posted my article, I saw this breaking article by WORLD.  It adds evidence and further confirmation of the facts.


New sexual misconduct claims surface about Ravi Zacharias Famed apologist’s ministry and denomination pledge to investigate by Emily Belz October 1, 2020

Here is an excerpt.


WORLD spoke to an additional source, longtime spa manager Anna Adesanya, who worked at Jivan Wellness from 2009 until ownership changed in 2012. … She said Zacharias only went to certain therapists and often brought his own massage therapist, an Indian woman, and they would occupy one of the rooms for therapy sessions. “I would often have to wonder, because they would be in that room for hours.


This sounds like Zacharias’ personal prostitute.


Studying all the evidence, I think it is likely Zacharias bought the spas as a cover for his sexual pleasure. As co-owner he was in charge along with his willing business partner who covered up for him. Anyone who exposed him could be fired as indeed one employee was by his partner.


Zacharias could also file a threatening lawsuit against anyone to intimidate their silence (like he did with Thompson) given his great wealth. Those were his tactics to suppress victims. Fire or file!


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