THE Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias, who died last year (News, 22 May 2020), committed “terrible abuse” against multiple women, the organisation that he founded has said.
The International Board of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) published an open letter last week to accompany the publication of the findings of an investigation that it had commissioned by the law firm Miller & Martin PLLC. The investigation was commissioned after “allegations made in late August of 2020 that Ravi had engaged in sexual misconduct and abuse in connection with two day spas”, the letter said.
RZIM had initially responded to the allegations, published in Christianity Today magazine, by saying that they “do not in any way comport with the man we knew for decades”.
The open letter said, however: “We believe not only the women who made their allegations public but also additional women who had not previously made public allegations against Ravi but whose identities and stories were uncovered during the investigation. Tragically, witnesses described encounters including sexting, unwanted touching, spiritual abuse, and rape. We are devastated by what the investigation has shown and are filled with sorrow for the women who were hurt by this terrible abuse.”
Furthermore, the open letter said, the investigation’s conclusion had caused RZIM “to think very differently” about allegations made by Lori Anne Thompson in 2017. She accused Zacharias of soliciting nude pictures from her. Zacharias denied the charge and sued for extortion. The out-of-court settlement had a non-disclosure agreement. The International Board of RZIM said that it had been wrong to trust “Ravi’s denial of moral wrongdoing,” and had failed by not commissioning an independent investigation at the time.
The open letter concluded: “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. We are learning much through this time and hope to have the chance to apply these lessons in the future.”
The UK arm of RZIM, the Zacharias Trust, which runs the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics, has announced that it will split from RZIM. A statement from the board of the Zacharias Trust last week said that RZIM’s response to the findings of the investigation “does not go nearly far enough in terms of actions relating to leadership and governance. . .
“The UK board has therefore taken the unanimous decision to make a clear separation from the global RZIM organisation. In governance terms, the UK entity has always been a separate charity with independent trustees, but in the current circumstances we believe that we must now operate without any link to RZIM US. The UK entity will also choose a new name.”