The Ravi Zacharias Implosion
Well, the report is in on the late, beloved Evangelical apologist Ravi Zacharias. It turns out that he was a vile man. From Christianity Today, which has done exemplary reporting on this story:
A four-month investigation found the late Ravi Zacharias leveraged his reputation as a world-famous Christian apologist to abuse massage therapists in the United States and abroad over more than a decade while the ministry led by his family members and loyal allies failed to hold him accountable.
He used his need for massage and frequent overseas travel to hide his abusive behavior, luring victims by building trust through spiritual conversations and offering funds straight from his ministry.
A 12-page report released Thursday by Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) confirms abuse by Zacharias at day spas he owned in Atlanta and uncovers five additional victims in the US, as well as evidence of sexual abuse in Thailand, India, and Malaysia.
Even a limited review of Zacharias’s old devices revealed contacts for more than 200 massage therapists in the US and Asia and hundreds of images of young women, including some that showed the women naked. Zacharias solicited and received photos until a few months before his death in May 2020 at age 74.
Zacharias used tens of thousands of dollars of ministry funds dedicated to a “humanitarian effort” to pay four massage therapists, providing them housing, schooling, and monthly support for extended periods of time, according to investigators.
One woman told the investigators that “after he arranged for the ministry to provide her with financial support, he required sex from her.” She called it rape.
She said Zacharias “made her pray with him to thank God for the ‘opportunity’ they both received” and, as with other victims, “called her his ‘reward’ for living a life of service to God,” the report says. Zacharias warned the woman—a fellow believer—if she ever spoke out against him, she would be responsible for millions of souls lost when his reputation was damaged.
Read it all, if you can stomach it. This is exactly what so many abusive Catholic priests did. This kind of evil observes no ecclesial boundaries. CT goes on to say that the Zacharias estate is still refusing complete cooperation with the investigation, including holding some of Zacharias’s victims to an NDA.
Do you know how this all came out? In part through the efforts of an atheist blogger. CT writes:
The secret of Zacharias’s abuse started to unravel the day of his funeral in May 2020. One of the massage therapists he groped, masturbated in front of, and asked for sexually explicit images watched in shock as the apologist was honored and celebrated on a livestream. Famous people, including Vice President Mike Pence and Christian football star Tim Tebow, spoke of Zacharias in glowing terms.
Has no one come forward? she thought. No one?
She worried about other women who might be out there, hurting. She prayed that something would happen.
The woman googled “Ravi Zacharias sex scandal” and found the blog RaviWatch, run by Steve Baughman, an atheist who had been tracking and reporting on Zacharias’s “fishy claims” since 2015. Baughman blogged on Zacharias’s false statements about academic credentials, the sexting allegations, and the subsequent lawsuit. When the woman read about what happened to Lori Anne Thompson, she recognized what had happened to that woman was what had happened to her.
Steve Baughman probably would refuse the compliment, but I believe he did the Lord’s work in this case. Thank you, Steve.
After all this time, I still find it hard to grasp what men like Ravi Zacharias, Ted McCarrick, and so many others whose names aren’t well known, did. How deep must your perversion be to think that you can get away with this stuff forever? The only way I can explain it is that either you must be psychotically double-minded, or you must not really believe in God.