What’s Really Happening At RZIM?

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The Roys Report
The Roys Report
What’s Really Happening At RZIM?
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What’s really going on at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries? And what should we make of recent apologies by senior executives of the ministry?

It’s been four months since Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) announced an investigation into its culture, finances, and practices. But so far, there’s been radio silence. There have been no updates. No reports published.

Meanwhile, senior RZIM leaders Abdu Murray and Sarah Davis have published videos where they apologize to Ravi’s victims. But they haven’t answered so many key questions. What did they know—and when? Is it true that senior leaders gaslit and silenced staff who asked questions?

To provide answers to those questions, former RZIM director, Carson Weitnauer, joins Julie on this enlightening podcast. Carson used to lead RZIM’s U.S. speaking team and was a key player at RZIM for years. Yet he resigned in January in protest over how senior leaders were handling the Zacharias scandal.

This podcast also includes exclusive audio from an RZIM Town Hall meeting with ministry staff in February. In the meeting, board members and executives try to explain why the board of RZIM remains veiled in secrecy, and why the organization’s IRS Form 990s, detailing RZIM finances, have not been published in six years. One lone board member advocates for transparency and openness. Yet The Roys Report has just learned that this board member resigned less than a month after the recorded meeting!

Why did she resign? And what does that mean about what’s going on at RZIM behind the scenes? Find out in this important episode of The Roys Report.

 

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This Weeks Guests

Carson Weitnauer

Carson Weitnauer is an author, speaker, and the founder of Reasons For God. He worked at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries from 2013-2021, serving as U.S. Director and as the Innovation and Ministry Partner Specialist. You can stay connected to Carson by subscribing to his free newsletter at Reasons for God. 

Show Transcript

SPEAKERS
JULIE ROYS, CARSON WEITNAUER, CHRIS BLATTNER, ABDU MURRAY, PAUL KEPES, HELEN DOWNEY, STACY KASSULKE, SARAH DAVIS
This transcript has been edited slightly for continuity.

JULIE ROYS

What’s really going on at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries? And what should we make of recent apologies by senior executives of the ministry?
Welcome to The Roys Report—a podcast dedicated to reporting the truth and restoring the church. I’m Julie Roys.
It’s been four months since Ravi Zacharias International Ministries—or RZIM—announced an investigation into its culture, finances, and practices. But so far, there’s been radio silence. There have been no updates. No reports published.
Meanwhile, senior RZIM leaders Abdu Murray and Sarah Davis have published videos where they apologize to Ravi’s victims. But they haven’t answered so many of the questions, like what did they know—and when? And is it true that senior leaders gaslit and silenced staff who asked questions?
Well joining me today is someone who knows the answers to those questions. His name is Carson Weitnauer. And he served as a top director at RZIM for years. What he’ll disclose in the next hour will be extremely enlightening.
Plus, you’ll hear exclusive audio from an RZIM Town Hall meeting in February with board members, executives, and staff. You’ll hear those board members and executives try to explain why the board members of RZIM remain veiled in secrecy . . . And why the organization’s IRS 990s, detailing RZIM’s finances, have not been published in six years.
You’ll also hear from someone who lasted only months on the RZIM board. That board member is prominently featured in the Town Hall, advocating for transparency and openness. Yet The Roys Report has just learned that this board member resigned at the beginning of March. That’s less than a month after the Town Hall meeting.
So, why did she resign? And what does that mean about what’s going on at RZIM behind the scenes?
I believe this is one of the most important podcasts I’ve ever done. And I’m so looking forward to diving into these topics with Carson Weitnauer.
But first, I want to take a minute to thank the sponsors of this podcast—Judson University and Marquardt of Barrington.
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Again, joining me today is Carson Weitnauer. Carson is the founder of an apologetics ministry called Reasons For God. But most pertinent to our discussion today, Carson is the former innovation and ministry partner specialist for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. And before that, he served as the director of RZIM’s US speaking team. Yet on January 4 of this year, Carson resigned in protest. And Carson, I know that was a really painful decision for you to make. And I know that what we’re going to discuss today is painful as well, because this was an organization that you loved, that you sacrificed for. And so, Carson, I just really appreciate you taking the time and being willing to talk about this today.

CARSON WEITNAUER
Well, Julie, thank you so much for creating an opportunity for it. Because I do really love the people there. And I hope that the conversation today is going to be another step forward for the church to understand better how to handle claims of abuse, and become better advocates for survivors, and love truth and love transparency. And in doing so, honor Jesus and demonstrate that our loyalty is to him. And so though, you know I tried to get out of this interview.

JULIE ROYS
A number of times.

CARSON WEITNAUER
A number of times, I’m so grateful that you created this space for us to try and be helpful to the church as we deal with this difficult topic.

JULIE ROYS
And I should mention, we’ve met once before. Several years ago, I moderated a debate at Wayne State University with the late Nabeel Qureshi, who was a speaker with RZIM, and it was a debate with him and a Muslim Imam, Shabbir Ali. And that’s when we met. And I have to say, I was so impressed with your professionalism, the professionalism of the entire team at RZIM. And that was just an absolutely wonderful experience. You know, I don’t know what your recollections of it were, it was really great for me.

CARSON WEITNAUER
Yeah, that was an incredible event. And your involvement, I think, really took that event to a new level of professionalism. And the dialogue is still worth watching today. I always get a smile. And it’s a bittersweet smile when I watch Nabeel’s videos, but I’m so thankful for how God connected us at that time. And perhaps that’s why we’re talking today. And we can really thank God for bringing us together.

JULIE ROYS
Yeah, it’s really interesting how these threads from your life sometimes weave back together again. And I do think the Lord divinely orchestrates a lot of those things. So, I’m grateful for that. Carson, we’re gonna cover a lot of ground this morning. And I think there’s gonna be a lot of questions that people have about what’s going on at RZIM that are going to be answered in this podcast. We’re going to cover an RZIM town hall meeting in February that is extremely revealing. And as I’ve mentioned, I’ve exclusive leaked audio from that meeting, and an exclusive update about RZIM’s board. So that’s going to be something that you’ll hear in this podcast. Also, we’re going to discuss the recent interview that RZIM executive, Abdu Murray, had with Sean and Josh McDowell. And I know, there’s a lot in that interview that was really disturbing to you. There are some good things in that interview as well. But there’s a number of things that were disturbing. We’re going to talk about that. But first, I would love for people to hear a little bit about you and your journey. So, can you tell me a little bit about your spiritual journey and how it is that you ended up at RZIM?

CARSON WEITNAUER
Yeah, Julie, I would be very happy to do that, because it gives me an opportunity to talk about Jesus. So, I met Jesus during a worship service at church in fifth grade. And from the start my relationship with God was immediately characterized by joy, and by worship. And one of my favorite verses for a few decades now, even to today is Philippians 4:4. Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again, rejoice. And growing up, I was very fortunate to have some amazing mentors and a praying mom. Never go against a praying mom, and a hunger for truth. And so, I studied apologetics in high school to test my faith. Was this just self-deception or brainwashing or something like that? And then I felt like that wasn’t enough. So, I studied philosophy in college, to search for truth and other religions and philosophies. And the more years went by where I felt that I am continuing to personally encounter God, but also from study, increasingly coming back to the conclusion, it’s true that Jesus is Lord and Savior. I also felt a very strong sense of direction to be in vocational ministry. And so, after college, that led me into 10 years of campus ministry, including seven years serving with students at Harvard College. And then in 2013, my wife and I were moved to Atlanta, which is from where I’m from. And that’s when I started working at RZIM.

JULIE ROYS
And your time at RZIM that was largely a positive experience, wasn’t it? At least for those early years?

CARSON WEITNAUER
Yes, there were so many things about working at RZIM that were very positive. The team was composed of very talented, very gifted people. And the collaboration we did to present the gospel to audiences all around the world was thrilling. The benefits, you know, were great. There was a lot of taking care of us for different ways of making it easy for us to travel or to take rest time when we got back from a trip. And I felt that my work was really meaningful and impactful and being done with people I really liked working with.

JULIE ROYS
Well, as I mentioned, you did resign in January of this year. And what a tumultuous, you know, past year, it’s been for RZIM, for all the staff that are involved with RZIM. What led you to resign in January?

CARSON WEITNAUER
You know, it was a combination of factors. I shared some of them in an article that Scott McKnight published at Christianity Today last week, and you were kind enough to mention that in your website. It really kicked off when you publish your articles in September of 2020, about the Thompsons. And Julie, I didn’t just read those articles multiple times, I studied them intensively. I made a spreadsheet, comparing dozens of claims that I had heard at RZIM and from Ravi about the matter, against the facts you established, especially with all the primary source documentation that was in those articles. Then Daniel Silliman and Emily Bells came out with their reporting in late September, early October. And it was clear to me at that point that Ravi had abused not just the Thompsons, but many, many women and bullied anyone who got in his way and lived a double life. And that was heartbreaking to come to that conclusion. That was kind of a personal catastrophe. But my hope was, while I work at an apologetics organization, and so we will be responsive to the evidence and change our minds and speak the truth. And so that was a second round of disillusionment and disappointment, to find that the senior leaders, including Abdu, who I know will be especially talking about today, were completely loyal to Ravi and to the Zacharias family. So, for instance, one of the priorities for me was going to daily staff prayer. I’d helped start that meeting, and really enjoyed praying, you know, nearly every day with the staff team. And it was hard because the prayers were for protection against these attacks. So, on a daily basis, there was that dissonance. And we had a major fundraiser in late October of 2020, where Ravi was repeatedly honored, even after all of this has come out. And that keeps going on at different meetings, and so on. And really a culminating event for me was at the Christmas party in December of 2020. And Margie, understandably, you know, loyal to her late husband, but for her to be a featured speaker at RZIM, and even pledging to follow in Ravi’s footsteps as he followed Christ, and then for people to come around her in prayer and lift her up. I just couldn’t do it anymore. And I felt that though I and others had repeatedly brought forward the evidence and made the case and advocated for the survivors and pleaded that we would recognize the truth in this matter. I felt I hadn’t made any progress in October in November and December. And so, after taking the Christmas break to pray about it and talk about with my wife and mentors, I felt that the most emphatic way, and most effective way I could say to the organization, we’ve got to change course, was to resign. And that would give me a clean conscience, and more freedom to speak publicly on behalf of the survivors.

JULIE ROYS
And I remember when you did resign, you did make a statement by resigning. And I so appreciate your integrity that you showed by doing that. I wish people would sit down with that kind of attention to detail and desire to see the truth, to actually make a spreadsheet and look at the documentation that’s in articles. That’s like my dream. You know, the scripture says Paul commended the Bereans for going back to see if what Paul had said was true. And I think Christians need to do that. I think part of this is not just a failure of an organization. It is a failure of those who look the other way or failed to examine the evidence for so long. And this has been my plea for the church, is that we would examine organizations and leaders and make sure that they’re worthy of the platform that they have. And so, I just so appreciate that you did that. And it warms my heart so much to hear that. But let’s fast forward a little bit. February 11 was a huge event. RZIM actually published this independent investigation by Miller and Martin, finding that Ravi Zacharias had actually raped a female massage therapist and sexually molested others. Numerous reports of this of women. Also, the report showed that ministry funds were misappropriated to pay for some of these massage therapists. I mean, it was just an absolutely devastating report. And it’s stunning to a lot of us that RZIM actually published it. My understanding, and again, you were no longer at RZIM in February of this past year, but I’m guessing you have a lot of contacts. And as I’m understanding it, that report almost didn’t become public. Am I right?

CARSON WEITNAUER
Yeah, I think you are. I don’t know the details at a granular level. But what I have heard from people who observed those discussions, is that there was an intense set of conversations about whether or not it would be right to release that report. And I think that it was the pressure from you and from the media and from others that was part of the reason they felt, if they didn’t release that report, that would even be worse than releasing it.

JULIE ROYS
And there does seem like there was a shift at that point in what RZIM would say publicly, what the executives were saying, what the statements were. Now we’re talking about the victims, we’re acknowledging the victims. And as I mentioned, I received some exclusive audio from RZIM. A town hall meeting that took place on February 15. So, this is four days after the Miller Martin report, and this is an extremely revealing meeting. It’s between the senior leaders at RZIM, the RZIM staff and then several RZIM board members. And the interesting thing is we don’t know who these board members are today. Even today, it has not been revealed who they are. We know some of them. But specifically, we hear from certain board members of what’s called the governing committee of RZIM’s board. And these members are actually named in this audio. They are longtime RZIM board members Chris Blattner, Paul Kepes and Bill Payne. But there’s a new voice on the board, Stacey Kassulke. And I have just confirmed that Stacy Kassulke resigned from the RZIM board in March. And she hasn’t told her story yet. But what we know is, she came on relatively late. I mean it, it sounds like she was just added soon before this town hall meeting, and then she resigns on March 2. So, she didn’t last very long. And from everything I’ve heard, Stacy has been pushing for transparency and reform. And it appears as we’ll listen to these recordings, that she was met with a lot of resistance. And you’ll hear this on these tapes. The first excerpt I’m going to play regards the board and publishing the name of the board members. Again, this has been a point of contention for a long time. And the first voice that you’re going to hear is Helen Downey. She’s the COO of RZIM. She’s acting as the moderator in this town hall meeting. The second voice is Stacy Kassulke, and the third is Chris Blattner. And I’ll just say these excerpts have been edited for clarity, but I took great care to make sure that the meaning and the content was preserved. So, take a listen.

HELEN DOWNEY
Well, the members of the board now be known publicly.

STACY KASSULKE
Hi, everyone. My name is Stacy Kassulke. I know some of you definitely not all of you. The answer to that would be yes, but not yet. We had a few resignations come in last week. We are told that there will be a few more of coming in. So, we want to honor the publicity of the names for people who will actually be serving on the board, and we are waiting for that. We are going to publish that as soon as possible.

CHRIS BLATTNER
Helen, can I just say something about the publicizing of the names? In particular, there have been a few board members, including myself, that have schizophrenic stalkers going after our family. And so, there’s been high concern for me actually being publicized. I’m happy that all of you know who I am. I’m not afraid of that. But publicizing it out into the public world has a sense of fear for my family. And so that’s that I have to say is one thing that has bothered me about it, and I’ve not wanted to be publicized that way. Many of you probably don’t know that. So now you do. Thank you.

JULIE ROYS
Well, again, that’s RZIM board member, Chris Blattner. And he’s talking about not wanting to release his name, because he is being stalked by somebody – a schizophrenic stalker. Obviously, there’s concerns there. But at the same time, is that a valid argument for not releasing the names of a nonprofit board, like RZIM that took in 10s of millions of dollars every year? Carson?

CARSON WEITNAUER
I believe Chris. I think he’s probably telling the truth there. And I understand the board’s desire for safety for themselves and their families. I condemn any threats of violence, and I especially condemn any violence. And so, I want to see every board member and their family be physically safe and have that be treated with a lot of respect. At the same time, to serve on the Board of a multi-million-dollar nonprofit with a global reach requires the courage to be public about it. And, you know, the speakers have to be publicly associated with the ministry. And so, I think it’s reasonable to ask for the board members to be publicly associated with the ministry too. And Julie, one of the really hard-won lessons I learned is that, in an abusive organization, a reasonable answer is often given as a pretext to hide an unethical posture. So, does anyone want to jeopardize the safety of the RZIM board? No, no, no, no, no, no, no, we do not want to do that. But, you know, this pretext allows for the board members to operate in secrecy, and therefore, without accountability. And by doing so they are protecting themselves at the expense of damaging the speakers and the staff associated with the ministry. Because the speakers look terrible to be serving under a secretive board that’s afraid to share their names. It’s very damaging to the reputations and the credibility of the speakers and the staff. And so, in that way, I’m really sad and just grieve that the board is putting their interests ahead of the organization they are called to serve. And if you can’t be public with your name, I don’t think you should be serving on a nonprofit board.

JULIE ROYS
Well, and I have to say, in my position, I’ve got my share of threats and of negative pushback to the sorts of things I published. We’ve had to get a security system on our home, and to me, I trust the Lord to protect us. But at the same time, I realize this is part of being a public figure. This is part of doing what I do and what I feel called to do. And I trust that the Lord will protect me, because ultimately, that’s his job. If he wants me to be here, he’ll protect me. Now I don’t do stupid things. But at the same time, I do trust in His protection. The second audio that I have is about releasing the IRS 990s. Again, in 2015, RZIM reclassified as an association of churches, and this is what a lot of Christian ministries have been doing. They reclassify with the IRS. And one of the benefits of doing that is that churches don’t have to file these 990s. And these 990s reveal, among other things, executive salaries and perks like housing allowances, which we know Ravi got because we do have the 990s from before and we know that a lot of his family members were getting six figure salaries in addition to himself. On this tape, you will hear Helen again, and then you’ll hear RZIM’s CEO, Sarah Davis. This is Ravi’s daughter and board member. And also, board member Paul Kepes.

HELEN DOWNEY
Question for you Sarah. Will we publish a 990 going forward?

SARAH DAVIS
Yes, I believe that going forward serves the ministry and the public. So that even though the nature of our status right now is that we are not required to file it. I believe that we should file it going forward, and then therefore it will also be public.

HELEN DOWNEY
While we’re on the question of 990 Sarah, can you just make a comment about past 990s?

SARAH DAVIS
About will they be public going forward? So, we cannot go back and file them in previous years. But we will file them going forward. They can be made still public, but they can’t be filed back.

PAUL KEPES
Hello, if I could just add to. It’s Paul again. That when RZIM became an association of churches and no longer had the requirements of filing the 990, the ministry still chose to prepare the 990s anyways. In the work in the organization and the consolidation, the reporting of that information was still done in complete form even in the years that we did not have the requirement to file and that those 990s were and have always been available to the entire board. So that I don’t have it in front of me. It’s a question that is thorny, because it comes with the appearance that we are up to no good and that we’re hiding something. As Chris points out, there’s just realities in this world that have that made this a scary place. And we are, and continue to be volunteers working, you know, gratefully and humbly for the Lord. But some of the concerns that have come before some of the board members are real. And so, this was, among other things, you noticed that decision, you know that we ultimately made so.

JULIE ROYS
Okay, I heard a couple of red flags in there. But I’d be curious what you think of those responses Carson?

CARSON WEITNAUER
Yeah, I think it’s really good news that the ministry already has the form 990 that will make it really easy for them to share them.

JULIE ROYS
Right!

CARSON WEITNAUER
So, no extra work required. And no one has to work weekends or holidays. They’re already ready to be published. And, you know, Paul shares “it creates the appearance that we are hiding something.” Well, yes, the reason it creates that appearance is because something is hidden. The form is hidden. And this is common sense to you Julie and to many of your listeners. It’s standard practice of good governance for nonprofits, and especially for a ministry as large and influential as RZIM, to publish this form because it creates transparency around governance and finances. And given that the organization has been so lacking in those areas, this would be the time to demonstrate through their actions, they’re not only going to meet the normal standards of transparency but exceed them. And I know the world is a scary place. And we’ve already commented on that. And I think it’s a tremendous sacrifice to serve on a board. And again, part of the sacrifice is being public and having your name and your reputation stand with how you’re governing that organization. And so, I want to see every board member safe and secure. And at the same time, take responsibility and say, This is who I am. And yes, I’m responsible for what happens here.

JULIE ROYS
As a journalist, I agree with everything you just said. I would just add that probably something my ears and my radar are tuned to, is slippery answers or answering one question when another is asked. Sarah, I thought it was interesting where she said, Well, no, we can’t go back and refile the 990s. Nobody is asking RZIM to refile 990s with the government. I think she knows that. What the question really was getting at is, are you going to publish this information? And then I thought, Paul, you know, I really appreciate it. He stood up and said, Hey, by the way, we have the 990s. We put them all together. We just haven’t been publishing them. But then It’s like he conflates the 990s, with what has just been talked about, board members being scared of their identity being out there. Part of that is that the 990s, again, they’d name board members on them but again, even if they didn’t, which I agree with you that they should put the names of the board members of RZIM board members out there publicly. I think that’s part of serving on the board. But we want to know the financial information. And there’s a lot of financial information contained in those 990s. So, I do hope that RZIM will publish all of the past 990s. Let’s be open. Let’s see what’s going on. Speaking of which, that brings us to the last tape, which deals with this thing called Touch of Hope. And this was something that I reported on, because I had seen that Ravi had this personal masseuse that went with him everywhere. And then I got these organizational charts, and it named the personal masseuse. And then it said, Director of Touch of Hope, and yet when I asked RZIM about it, it didn’t seem like they were forthcoming, or like anybody knew when I talked to former directors like you know, I don’t know if I talked to you specifically about it. But I talked to other former pretty high ranking RZIM people who said we’ve never heard of Touch of Hope. Turns out it was just a sham organization within RZIM. And it was really this money was diverted to actually some of these women who were victims of Ravi’s and so this clip that we’re going to hear, they talk about this and again, you’ll hear Helen speaking. And then Stacey Kassulke talks about the Guidepost Solutions investigation. This is a third-party investigation that RZIM in February commissioned, but we have not heard anything about it other than Sarah mentioned it in a video that she put out on May 26. But there really hasn’t been any update. And there’s been no commitment by RZIM that they’re going to publish this report. So really revealing, I think, audio here from the town hall meeting.

HELEN DOWNEY
Ravi Zacharias abused ministry funds to financially support therapists. Touch of Hope was a purely discretionary fund with no clear guidelines. Who knew had oversight or raised concerns when these funds were transferred?

STACY KASSULKE
Yeah. Thank you, Helen. That’s a great question. And I don’t know the answer to that. I hate to keep throwing this to Guideposts. But that’s really what we’re going to have to wait on. They will be looking at the finances. I have made sure that that is one of the areas they were absolutely going to investigate. I do not know who is in charge of visas. I’m sorry. I think that we have big problems, guys. And you know this, right? We have big internal issues. And I don’t know what they are. And so, I think governance right now has adopted the position that we are not smart enough to figure this out. We have some ideas. We have things that we would like to look into. But we do need a third party to come in and show us all of the ways that we have gone wrong here. And so, I’m going to throw this back to Guideposts being our mediator here to come in and give us all of their recommendations on what they would like to see happen next. If that wasn’t clear enough, happy to try to clarify.

JULIE ROYS
Again, Stacy Kassulke. This was her speaking February 15. March 2, so we’re tying Two weeks later, she resigns from the board. I’m hearing from her, “we want to find out everything that’s wrong with this organization.” Then she resigns. What do you make of that Carson? And again, we don’t want to use a lot of conjecture. But when you see something like that happen, it certainly raises red flags.

CARSON WEITNAUER
It really does. I think it’s encouraging to hear that clip and hear the passion in her voice to see everything thoroughly investigated. And I agree with you, it’s worrisome that she subsequently resigned from the board. And so, without talking to her or hearing her explain her own motivations for that, we are left with speculation. But one I think reasonable hypothesis is that she got such strong pushback from the other board members about wanting transparency and truth telling, that she felt she had to resign, that she couldn’t be associated with the board, if that was going to be their posture. And, you know, again, I don’t want to say that is the case. But if it is the case, I honor Stacy for following her conscience. And I’d also say, Julie, that I think the remaining board members are being really short sighted here, because too many people know who they are, and what they are doing for all of this to stay hidden forever. And it’d be far better for the current board to be the ones who bring this into the light. Rather than have someone else drag it into the light, It’d be better for the board to say, Here’s the truth, here’s the transparency, then to have Stacey or others come forward and say, Here’s the problems with the board and how its operating.

JULIE ROYS
Although if we know there was a tug of war at the board level to release that Miller and Martin report, which again, that pointed the finger at Ravi. This one is going to point the finger likely at board members and senior executives. That’s going to be a more painful report for them to release, I’m guessing. But we will see. It will be interesting to see in the upcoming days what happens. And I think there’s a bunch of us that would just absolutely love to be a fly on the wall in some of the meetings right now because we don’t know what’s going on. There’s been such a complete lack of communication. But I will say, in the past month or two, just some amazing developments. The UK branch of RZIM has separated from the organization. The Canadian branch has shut down. Ruth Malhotra published a scathing letter revealing that she was spiritually abused by senior staff when she asked questions about Ravi and the allegations. And if you haven’t read that letter, I would encourage you to read it and I published a response at my website. Ruth just displayed an incredible amount of courage when she did that. And what she went through and what she describes in that letter is absolutely heartbreaking. To be shut down. And then this is what happens in dysfunctional organizations is, if you point out a problem, you become the problem. And that’s clearly what Ruth describes in that letter. After that, Vince Vitale and his wife, who are director and Dean of the Zacharias Institute, they apologize publicly for their failures. And then on March 8, RZIM announces that the organization will change its name, remove Ravi’s content, and shift the focus from being an apologetics organization to supporting evangelism and abuse victims. Would you like to comment on any of those developments? I’m sure we could probably do an entire podcast on several of those, especially Ruth’s letter.

CARSON WEITNAUER
Yeah, there’s a lot to say there and hard to know what to focus on. I think one story that has been perhaps underreported is the Canadian branch shutting down so immediately. And I think that’s interesting, because, of course, Brad and Lori Anne Thompson are Canadian. Shirley Steward is Canadian. Ravi traveled to Canada often. And so, what I would have liked to have seen is for the Canadian board to have taken more responsibility for what happened in their backyard. To have done a call for victims in Canada and sought to really ensure that truth and transparency and restoration had taken place before they shut down. And so, you know, one assessment of the immediate shutting down is that it was an avoidance of accountability for the board, and an avoidance of loving sacrifice for those who are harmed because of their negligence. The UK branch separating from the US organization? I think that’s just another exclamation point, that the posture of the US board and of the US team was so difficult for the UK board, that the UK board felt that, for their own conscience and for their own integrity and for the protection of their own mission, they could no longer be associated with the US board and the US ministry. And I think that should give pause to anyone who’s considering affiliation with RZIM US and should have given pause to people like Josh and Sean McDowell. Hey, I’m not sure this organization is healthy. The UK branch just disassociated itself. And so, these are pretty emphatic markers that something’s not right with the US organization. And that’s explained in incredible detail from a really important angle. And that was Ruth’s letter as you brought up. And reading the whole thing broke my heart, page after page after page. And there was so much of what she shared in that, that had been kept in the dark. And these were secrets that were hidden from my sight. And part of what pains me is that I didn’t know what she was going through, when we’re working so closely together on different projects. But I didn’t know any of this was happening behind closed doors. And I just really am grateful for Ruth’s courage, her poise, her graciousness, but her willingness to speak the truth and provide accountability. And I think Ruth is someone we need to come around and honor and celebrate, for the work she’s done to make this world a safer and better place.

JULIE ROYS
Well, and that was something hidden from my sight as well. And something she mentions in the letter, which I’ve since publicly apologized for, but I’ll do it again here, is that I called out Ruth at one point. It was on social media. And I was so frustrated because I knew Ruth. And I knew she was a truth teller. And yet I was so confused by her being the PR person for Ravi and giving me these statements that to me just seemed like obfuscating the truth. And I was very frustrated. And you know, I confronted her publicly about that at one point. And now I feel terrible about it. Because I understand that she was being spiritually abused behind the scenes and I think trying to push for openness and reform and it wasn’t happening. And so, I guess it’s one of those lessons to maybe bite your tongue and not say something, especially on social media. So, Ruth, if you’re listening, I do just again, apologize. That was wrong of me. And I’m sorry, really sorry. This brings us to the May 21 interview between Sean and Josh McDowell, which you have mentioned with Abdu Murray. I know, Carson, you found this interview deeply disturbing. And I think you’ve also asked Sean McDowell to take this video down. That’s how strongly you feel about it. Why do you feel so strongly about this video?

CARSON WEITNAUER
Yeah, and this is really the reason I tried to get out of this podcast, Julie is, you know, I want to treat Sean and Josh and Abdu with respect. And I don’t mean to be hurtful or mean in any anything I say today, I’ve been praying so much that I would come across in a gentle and kind way. But there’s a variety of reasons that the interview was not appropriate. And that I’m really concerned about it. I’ll start with one of them that is really uncomfortable to bring up and it’s one of those comments you wish had never been made. But you know, one of the things Josh says in the interview is that it’s so important that someone who travels a lot, also has an incredible sex life with their spouse.

JULIE ROYS
That part was cringe.

CARSON WEITNAUER
Very cringe. And he asks Abdu, on a live stream on YouTube to speak about that, regarding Ravi and his marriage. And, you know, there’s a lot of criticism for the Zacharias family. But that was out of line. And I felt that was very invasive for Josh to ask Abdu to share about that. I’m really thankful there are no follow ups about Abdu or Sean, or you know, Josh volunteering something. But you know, I bring that out just to make a joke and lighten the mood for a second. It was so out of place. And there’s a lot we need to learn about the dynamics of sexual abuse. But I just felt that was really unfair towards Margie. And even though I’ve got some criticism for how the Zacharias family has handled things, this is one thing that should not have been done. And just to treat people with respect. I think that’s one reason the interview should come down. But more broadly, the challenge with the interview is, we see in a variety of places the loyalty that Sean and Josh both have for Abdu. And, you know, Josh says, I’ve always made the statement, I’d rather trust someone and find out later they weren’t trustworthy, then to not trust someone and find out later, they were worthy of trust. In that comment, I hear Joshua’s heart in that, and I’m grateful for trusting people. But what made that comment so difficult is that’s the exact same principle that people used to stand by Ravi for so many years, even after it was clear that he was not so trustworthy. And once you have, of course, you want to trust your friends. But once you have an allegation of abuse, you need to pause and say, Hey, I love you, you’re my friend, but you’ve been accused of something serious. And I’m going to take that seriously. And I need to take a break from publicly praising you or platforming you or endorsing you until this gets properly investigated. And in this case, Abdu has been charged with serious abuse against Ruth that’s been public record for months now. It’s extremely detailed. And there’s other stories I can get into. But I think that while there’s an investigation going on into the toxic culture of RZIM, it was premature and inappropriate for Josh and Sean to repeatedly praise Abdu and honor him and endorse him when there’s some pretty credible allegations of Abdu’s wrongdoing.

JULIE ROYS
And Ruth Malhotra recently tweeted a series of tweets, and I thought one that was really good, and I’ll quote it here. She said, “There’s nothing wrong with Sean and Josh giving their friend Abdu Murray, a platform on their program. The problem is they have him on an unchallenged platform. They neglected to ask Abdu necessary questions, especially given his role as Senior VP and General Counsel of RZIM. I deeply desire that Abdu Murray and RZIM’s entire leadership team be genuinely repentant, but they are still advancing a whitewash narrative related to key aspects of the sexual abuse crisis. The reality is that Abdu Murray was one of several men at RZIM who suppressed the truth, disbelieved and further marginalize victims, and bullied and falsely accused people on our team who had questions in order to protect Ravi Zacharias and perhaps, to preserve their own platforms.” That’s a really, really strong statement. Again, Ruth has been such a clear voice on this, but there was no mention of his mistreatment of her in that entire interview.

CARSON WEITNAUER
Yes, exactly. And, you know, let me give you an example that really contrasts with the powerful and wise words Ruth has shared there. You know, at the end of the interview, Sean says, “I mean, I just want to tell Abdu, I love you brother, I’m thankful for you. it grieves me that you’ve gone through this and that’s not to downplay the victims at all. And Sean goes on to say, But see you grieve with the truth. And come on here, I don’t think you could have come up with a more humble spirit than you did. It’s a model. And it’s humbling to me, and I can’t thank you enough.” There’s a ton of comments from people, there’s always going to be people not happy, fine. What I want to say to Sean and to anyone listening to this is that, of course, the victims were downplayed by the interview that Sean and Josh did with Abdu because they didn’t mention Ruth. And they didn’t mention the other people that Abdu harmed. And the question we have to ask is, Why are people not happy? And I know he says he doesn’t want to downplay the victims, and I trust his heart. I trust his motivation there. I know that’s not what he wants to do. But what I’m trying to explain is that what’s experienced by a remark like that is still a form of victim shaming. And in effect what gets hurt, even though it’s not what was meant, is get over yourself. What you experienced isn’t that bad. Don’t you see how humble and truth Abdu is? He’s a model. You know, let’s not get in the way of his ministry, etc. And when you contrast hell, Sean puts it there with the Miller Martin report, where they state, “Some staff members reported to us that when they expressed doubts about Mr. Zacharias’ story, they were ignored, marginalized and accused of disloyalty.” And Ruth’s letter and Ruth’s tweets are again, just a very clear contrast to what we heard in the interview. And this is the tension we all have to learn is, yes, we need to trust our friends. Yes, we can be loyal to them. But we can’t do that at the expense of the truth. And we can’t do that at the expense of those who have been harmed.

JULIE ROYS
With the time that remains, I want to dig in a little bit more into some of Abdu’s statements. Some of them, you know, I’ll say, there’s a statement that he made about being blind to a leader’s sin and the value of the leader or system above the individual. I’m going to play that clip. It’s a great statement. I mean, I would have cheered that statement, had it not been for the context and some of the things that you mentioned. But here’s what he said.

ABDU MURRAY
What I am learning is that, in the church, we are resistant to seeing and acting on signs of abuse or confronting it. And I can say, this is probably even true for me. In this instance, we’re resistant to tell signs of abuse, and confronting it, because someone has so positively impacted our lives, that it couldn’t be possible that they did this, or we want to protect the system. And Diane Langberg actually goes into quite a bit of detail about how we try to preserve the system or the institution and protect the system of the institution, above the actual, the person, the individual. And this is worth quoting, by the way, I read this, I highlighted it, and I started, and I put circles around it, she wrote this, “People are sacred. Created in the image of God. Systems are no. They are only worth the people in them and the people they serve. And people are to be treated, whether one or many, the way Jesus treated people.” And so, I think that that’s Boy, you know, you know, as an evangelist and apologist, I believe that people are sacred created the image of God. But the part about ministry is that I think we sometimes equate the impact of the person with the value of what they’ve done for me or for someone else, and then somehow blind ourselves to the negative impacts they’ve had too. So, someone says something or accuses them, they’re disbelieved, because how dare they, you know, touch the Lord’s anointed as it were. And I would say that, you know, I’m certainly guilty of that in this instance.

JULIE ROYS
Again, that was a phenomenal statement. And what he’s reading there from Dr. Diane Langberg, who’s just absolutely brilliant. In her writing, and she’s been a guest on this podcast numerous times. I consider her friend on sexual abuse and trauma victims. She’s just an incredible expert on that. And what he’s talking about this blindness is somewhat ironic, though, to me when he says this, because you have Sean and Josh, as you’re saying, praising him, which shows a certain amount of blindness on their part. It’s like they’re doing with Abdu exactly what Abdu is describing that he did with Ravi. So that seems a little bit ironic. I will say Abdu did a great job of apologizing to Lori Anne Thompson. Again, the victim in the 2017 sexting scandal, with Ravi and to Ravi’s other victims. That seemed heartfelt. And you know, I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt that it was. But as you’re saying, he seems to have missed the people he victimized. Not the people Ravi did, but the people he did. And also in this interview, Abdu talks about how he repeated Ravi’s explanations of things. And I think there, he’s also downplaying what he did, because it wasn’t just repeating. Am I right, Carson?

CARSON WEITNAUER
Yeah, that was extremely ironic. And again, the points are excellent. And I’ll commend Abdu for reading Diane Langberg, and for everything you’ve just commended him for. I have no desire to tear him down. But to, you know, tweak a saying, Abdu founded a ministry called Embrace the Truth. I know that’s a commitment on his heart. And so, I want to challenge him to embrace the truth of what he just read there. And to acknowledge the dignity of Ruth and the other employees that were mistreated by him. And an interview that Sean did with Abdu last year was the sixth most watched video on Sean’s YouTube channel. And Sean talks about how Abdu’s book is one of the best books that he read in 2020. He calls it a game changer. And so, you know, there’s a depth of friendship and sharing platforms and appreciating each other’s work that’s going on here that I think makes it harder for Sean to notice some of those things. So, to pick up on your point, Abdu says in the interview, he just repeated Ravi’s explanations. And what’s challenging about that statement is it really downplays what he did. And so, we can look at a little more detail. So, Abdu wrote a book with Ravi about reading the Bible from an Eastern perspective. And he used that cultural power to defend Ravi. So back in 2017, when Ravi would say, you know, my critics don’t understand my emails to Lori Anne Thompson, because in the east, in India, they mean something completely different than what my critics are saying they mean. And Julie that was really hard to believe. But then Abdu would join in and affirm that what Ravi was saying made complete sense to him. And that made it really hard for us to challenge Ravi because both he and Abdu are claiming that we just lacked the cultural ability to understand these emails. And Abdu, having written a book about reading the Bible from Eastern perspective, gave him a heightened responsibility to have done better. He also used his legal training to shut down questions. So, we all know that Ravi filed a RICO lawsuit against the Thompson’s and Abdu was there as a lawyer to back Ravi up and say, Yeah, that makes sense. And Abdu says in the interview with the McDowell’s, he thought, Okay, this RICO lawsuit makes Ravi look like an innocent man. So, if you don’t know about a RICO lawsuit, and Abdu saying, as a lawyer, this demonstrates that Ravi is innocent. He’s putting it all out there. That carries a lot of weight, right? But now, it’s clear that the RICO lawsuit was an egregious response to the Thompson’s. It was using a sledgehammer to kill an ant. And a RICO was picked precisely because it’s such an expensive and complex lawsuit. And that was going to create a lot of pressure on the Thompsons to defend themselves and put a lot of pressure on them to sign an NDA. And so actually, the RICO lawsuit was a red flag that Ravi was guilty. And, you know, a big problem here, because Abdu’s whole apologetic is that he’s a lawyer. He had a podcast at RZIM called The Defense Rests. And as an apologist Abdu likes the RZIM #noquestionofflimits. But when team members were asking questions about Ravi, we know that Abdu got hostile. So, when Ruth asked questions Abdu insulted her, and said she had gone from being skeptical to being cynical. And it wasn’t just what he said. He forced Ruth on a sabbatical, and he confiscated her computer and phone to make sure she had nothing incriminating about Ravi on her devices. And he wanted to fire her for her disloyalty. And that was humiliating and harsh and abusive treatment of Ruth. And this is happening at the same time that no one looks at Ravi’s phones. No one checks Ravi’s phone records. And the board doesn’t do anything to investigate Ravi. Those are just a few examples of where there’s a major gap between the wisdom of the words Abdu is quoting from and providing an accurate recollection of what he’s responsible for.

JULIE ROYS
Well, and there’s also in what you say, I can understand why you and other staff members at RZIM were deceived. What the information you’ve just been given, makes a little bit incredulous to me is his claim that he had no clue, because he’s the one making these defenses and as you say, he’s saying the RICO suit made Ravi look innocent when, as a lawyer, he should have known it was the exact opposite. And so, I guess, you know, there’s a little bit of skepticism with me that he really believed 100% in Ravi’s innocence when he has so much. And this is the thing. Abdu had so much to lose. Ravi was his platform too. Ravi and he had just written a book together. That book got deep sixed because of this whole scandal. You know, I don’t know the man’s heart. But I will say what you’ve just told me raises a lot of questions.

CARSON WEITNAUER
Yeah, one of my friends says that, again, we don’t know anyone’s hearts. But given the evidence we have, it’s either a question of character, or it’s a question of competence. And either way that question gets resolved, it’s still damaging to their credibility.

JULIE ROYS
Well, another really big issue that a lot of people have raised with Abdu’s interview is that he claims he wants the truth, you know, what we’re talking about, he really is saying that he was seeking this. And his main problem again, he says was more one of tone. And then he does address one of the accusations that Ruth Malhotra made and that was that Abdu suggested hiring a rough ex-cop to do background checks on these women who were from the spas and were making allegations that Ravi had abused them at the spas that he co-owned. I’ve got a clip where Abdu starts by admitting that when he heard the women’s allegations, he didn’t believe them. And then he goes on to explain the whole rough ex-cop allegation against him, and his defense of it.

ABDU MURRAY
I didn’t believe it. I was skeptical of it. My tone may not have been the greatest tone in the whole world. But I did push for I did want to independent investigation. But there’s a statement out there that was attributed to me that I wanted to hire like a rough Atlanta ex-cop to sort of intimidate witnesses or discredit them. And what had happened was I had asked a lawyer, Brian Kelly, I asked the lawyer, if he knew someone in Atlanta who was a rough, sorry, who was a reputable investigator. He said, Well, I only know a rough Atlanta ex-cop who doesn’t have a light touch. So, I went back into the room where we were meeting and I repeated that I said, the only guy he knows is a rough Atlanta ex-cop doesn’t have a light touch. And I said my recollection is that I said we can’t go that route. And I advocated not using that kind of the route. And we didn’t. A couple days later, we were engaging with law firms., By the way, it was all addressed in World Magazine. I was asked about this specific comment. And there was some clarification there. Because I did check my memory on this with people who were in the room to see What did I say? And they said, Yeah, you advocated for not using that kind of a person. And World Magazine followed up with one of the people there, Mark DeMoss, who said, yeah, Abdu didn’t say that. He said that we can’t go that route. I don’t know what happened there exactly. I miscommunicated. Because my tone, or you know, I miscommunicated for other reasons, or the other person, you know, misheard or we just remember it differently. That could be it. But like I said, I just want to be clear. I never advocated for trying to silence or intimidate victims.

JULIE ROYS
Okay, so I want to give Abdu the benefit of the doubt. Maybe Ruth misheard him in the way that he presented this. And Mark DeMoss, the PR guy who was in the room, he’s also sent me an email saying the same thing. He said to World magazine that yeah, that’s not how I heard it. It sounds like he didn’t understand that Abdu was advocating to hire this rough ex-cop. What is missing, that I think probably flew over 99.9% of the listening audience or reading audience when this came out, is context again. So, if you would tell us who, who’s Brian Kelly, and what relevance does he have? And what indication would he give of kind of what Abdu is up to at this point?

CARSON WEITNAUER
Yeah. And the principle that you’re highlighting here, Julie, is the power of silence to deceive. Because if you don’t hear something, it’s hard to know you’ve been misled. You didn’t hear the misleading statement in the first place. And it’s really challenging to therefore find out the truth when there are important omissions. I think one of the ways that the statement is misleading is you know, Abdu claims that he told the law firms “Find out the truth no matter how uncomfortable.” We have to recall that at that time, one of the main hypotheses that the senior leadership had is that all of the allegations were false, and they were all tie to Steve Baughman, and that Steve had somehow cooked up some more false allegations to harm the ministry even after Ravi had died. Which was seen, of course to be despicable. It’s also misleading because Abdu’s not acknowledging that they hired another law firm before Miller and Martin. The first law firm that they hired was Watson Spence. And my belief is they hired Watson Spence because they wanted to hire one of Ravi’s RICO lawyers to do the investigation. So, Abdu is saying to the McDowell’s, “We wanted the truth, we want an independent investigation.” But I think what they really wanted was a loyal law firm that had already gotten Ravi off the hook to come to the rescue again. And so that’s the frame of mind in which I understand Abdu mentioning the idea from Brian Kelly, who was one of Ravi’s RICO lawyers that he knew rough ex-cop. And credit to them for not going with that idea, but they still hire Lucas Andrews at Watson Spence who was another one of Ravi’s RICO lawyers. And the scope of the investigation was very limited because we know it did not include at that time looking into whether or not Ravi abused Lori Anne Thompson. That was only added to the Miller and Martin investigation after there was tons of pressure from the staff team and the media. And Abdu resisted that being added to the investigation scope. And the board released a statement at the time, as they’re hiring these law firms to find out the truth. They released a statement at the same time saying we already know Ravi told the truth about the Thompsons, and we see no need to revisit that matter. Staff were pressing for RZIM to issue a public call for victims and Abdu shut that down on repeated occasions. He was concerned about the PR implications that if we asked other victims to come forward, it would imply that there were victims. Abdu didn’t want the report to be public. He thought there was a way that, instead of disclosing what Miller and Martin found, they could just say what the board found in light of the report, and the board could say whatever they wanted. He would argue that attorney client privilege would protect the ministry from having to share the results of the investigation beyond the board. And as we’ve talked about, even once the board got the report, they had a fight about whether or not to release it. You know, another angle on this is what Abdu told David French. And when David reported on Ruth’s letter. Abdu told David, it was not my experience that there was a concerted effort to make people feel marginalized or disloyal. And, you know, I have to respond to that. In October of 2020, I was talking with Abdu directly. And in that conversation, Abdu said this to me, he said, “Let’s say we released Lori Anne from the NDA or the Zacharias’ do. Or we say we’ll pay for whatever legal fees would be there. She can say anything she wants. She can lie about how many times they talked on the phone. She can lie about what they said on the phone. And we have no way whatsoever of saying that did or didn’t happen. And she entered into that NDA with lawyers. It wasn’t like she was sitting in a room somewhere by herself. Her and her husband cowering in the corner crying. I mean, I wasn’t there. But I do know they were represented by lawyers.”

JULIE ROYS
Hmm. That is an unbelievable statement. Because this is after a lot of her story had come out. I published a lot of that in September. The amount of heartache that they went through after Ravi made a public statement in Christianity Today in 2017. It was so bad for them; they had to sell their house and move to a new community. They were devastated. And before this happened, I mean, she has openly said her husband was suicidal. She at times was suicidal. I mean, that statement by Abdu is infuriating to me.

CARSON WEITNAUER
And it’s heartbreaking.

JULIE ROYS
It is absolutely heartbreaking. And it’s shocking to me that he said that in October, after so much of this had come out. And what we’re talking about right now, Carson, we’re talking about trust. I mean, trust once broken in egregious ways that you’re discussing here. That cannot be restored with an apology. Yes, forgiveness can be restored. I mean, you can forgive someone overnight. But trust, regaining trust? That’s earned over time. And he’s, I mean, what you’re saying and what you’re presenting here is he has such a great deficit of trust right now, that to platform him or as he said, in the interview with the McDowell’s that he’s writing a book right now, sounds like he’s going to replatform. We’re not even close to that stage.

CARSON WEITNAUER
Obviously, that is very cruel and inappropriate to say about the Thompsons. But there’s a secondary trauma. From what I have experienced, there is nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing compared with what the Thompson’s went through at all, not even trying to post in the same ballpark. But because he was saying things like that about the Thompsons, that was making it harder for staff to advocate for them, or to find the truth, because he’s our general counsel. You know, in the same conversation, Abdu said to me, “This is friend to friend, the person who is your line manager, who also considers you a friend. And you know how much I think of you, Carson. I want to flip that back on you a little bit, too. I want you to understand how it may have come across yesterday, when you proposed to Sarah that RZIM oppose her mother, and you asked her to affirm it in front of everybody. I know you’re heart on this is truth. I just want you to realize the impact because you know what I’m saying. You hear what I’m getting at? I mean, I’m not saying you meant that at all.” And it’s just an incredible statement. It was very hurtful to hear at the time. But he’s making it clear, in front of my line manager, as a Senior Vice President and General Counsel, that asking a question about having the NDA for the Thompsons released, was offensive to RZIM CEO and chair of the board, Ravi’s daughter, Sarah Davis. And it was entirely out of place. And instead of criticizing me and challenging me and suggesting I shouldn’t be asking questions like that, what Abdu should have done is gone to Sarah and say, Sarah, I love you. I respect you; I trust you. But you need to step out of this entirely. Because there’s an obvious conflict of interest. No matter what your character is like, no matter what your competence is like. And so, for Abdu to claim to the McDowell’s that he never wanted to silence or intimidate victims, or to David French, that he never wanted anyone to feel marginalized or disloyal. Those statements are not at all aligned with my own personal experience.

JULIE ROYS
And he also wanted to silence the media, too, right?

CARSON WEITNAUER
Yes, that’s something I’ve learned a lot about in this whole journey. And something that I hope your listeners will understand better because of this podcast. One of the problematic tactics that the senior leaders used was to discourage employees from believing any source of truth, but Ravi and the senior leaders themselves. So, Steve Baughman, you know, that was in the category of satanic deception. Julie, they disparaged you as angry and unreliable. They said Christianity Today was just trying to stay relevant. And of course, at RZIM, we’re an apologetics ministry. We’re the Christians we’re the truth tellers, and anyone who doesn’t see things, you know, the way they saw, wasn’t reliable, wasn’t trustworthy, was telling lies. And I’ve now learned that that’s a red flag and a serious indicator of an abusive culture. And if you have people trying to cut you off from reputable news sources, you’re in a bad place.

JULIE ROYS
You know, one last thing I’d like you to address before we go, is the NDAs, because you did say something in the blog post that you recently put up about how Sarah Davis in March had claimed that a lot of RZIM employees that were let go because obviously, the funds are way, way down. Giving is way, way down. And so, they let a lot of people go and she said they will not be required to sign NDAs to get their severance. You said Nope. Actually, the exact opposite. So, I believe there’s an update to that. I would like to know what that is.

CARSON WEITNAUER
Yeah, I’m still working through that process. So, I don’t have a conclusion to that for you or your audience. But the initial Separation Agreement I received had a number of statements that were unacceptable. One of them was that RZIM defined its property as including, “information relating to work done for RZIM or that Mr. Weitnauer obtained as a result of working for RZIM.” And when you define, you know your property is any information I learned while working there, that’s way too broad. That would keep me from sharing that information because RZIM’s claiming ownership of it. They asked me to affirm that I agree and promise that he will not induce or incite any other claims against RZIM by any other person and that he will not voluntarily assist in prosecuting any claim against RZIM. is, if a survivor came to me and said, Carson, I’ve noticed your advocacy. I have a case against an RZIM employee or against Ravi, I really want your help. And I had signed that statement in order for us to receive severance. I would have, against my conscience and against my faith, have forfeited my ability to help that survivor. And any employee who signed a Separation Agreement with that clause is in that position where the commitment RZIM has forced them to make to get their severance, has now bound their hands. So, they cannot help any survivor who has a case against anyone at RZIM. And those are just two quick examples. Now, I’ve been told that those clauses were mistakes that they had tried to take out anything resembling an NDA before sending them out to employees. And to me, I don’t know what to make of that. But I’m grateful that they want to get this right. And I’m hopeful that they are going to do the work to get this all fixed up. And it’s been a painful situation. I’m hopeful that it’s just an incredible mistake, and that there will be a good resolution to this.

JULIE ROYS
Hmm, well, we can all hope for that. Although I will say the inclusion of that language in your severance agreement, after all of this and all of the complaints about NDA’s, is deeply troubling and again, speaks to where the board is at, where the executive leadership may be at. I hope people are listening and being discerning as we move forward with this organization that just so much has happened with. But Carson, I just want to thank you. You have shared so vulnerably, truthfully and measuredly. I really appreciate your tone, your concern and your care for the kingdom and for ministries and for your former colleagues. It really comes across. So, I love you, brother, and just really, really appreciate what you’ve said and what you’ve disclosed in this podcast. So, thank you.

CARSON WEITNAUER
Well, thank you, Julie. I do want to reiterate that while some of these things are difficult to share and will be difficult for Abdu or for Josh or for Sean or for others, for the board members, etc. What’s more important than our reputations is our relationship with God. And my hope is that this experience will draw all of us closer to Jesus, where we confess that we are sinners. And in these cases, these are sins that have harmed a lot of people in very serious ways. And so, there’s a responsibility as people who’ve received grace from God, to recognize the depth of the harm and the breadth of the harm, and for the sake of our walk with God and for the sake of the reputation of the gospel. I mean, obviously, the gospel is going to stand on its own. But for us to commend it, I really hope that the board, I hope that Abdu, I hope that Sean, I hope that Josh, I hope that others will take action that shows that they value the truth more than loyalty to their friends. And that they will show that they’re willing to take risks in order to stand with those who have been hurt above those who might be charismatic or powerful or influential. And unless the church can show that its loyalty is to Jesus and the truth, and the vulnerable and the hurting. It just grieves my heart, Julie, and I hope that each of us will step more deeply into that in the days to come.

JULIE ROYS
Amen. And as you read Scripture, it’s clear that God aligns with the vulnerable and with the victims. And so, I think what you said is just really, really helpful. So, thanks again. And thanks so much for listening to The Roys Report, a podcast dedicated to reporting the truth and restoring the church. I’m Julie Roys. If you’d like to connect with me online, just go to Julieroys.com. Also, please subscribe to The Roys Report on Apple podcasts or Google podcasts. That way, you’ll never miss an episode. And while you’re at it, I’d really appreciate it if you help us spread the word about the podcast by leaving a review. And then please share the podcast on social media so more people can hear about this great content. Again, thanks so much for joining me today. Hope you have a great day and God bless.

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13 thoughts on “What’s Really Happening At RZIM?”

  1. Frances Christenson

    The world is a scary place because of people like Ravi Zacharias. They don’t get it. They care more about their needs than anyone else involved in this saga.

  2. Dzintra Pequegnat

    Thank you Julie for this informative interview exposing RZIM’s lack of commitment to financial transparency in past, as well revealing the deeply conflicted dynamics still existing @ RZIM board level. To be sure, a mere name and ministry change will not win back trust that has been broken on so many levels.
    It was very disappointing to hear how abruptly the Board of Directors disbanded, subsequently shirking their Christian duty in answering hard questions from their supporters, at their closed Canadian office! I am also wondering if the NDA was ever dropped against the Thompsons or an apology given to Shirley Steward by RZIM’s heirs?
    Dzintra Pequegnat

    1. Shirley Steward

      Dzintra. Margie Zacharias, most are sure, is the Executrix of Ravi’s will. It was one of his last requests that Margie not release the Thompsons from the NDA. Given that Margie is in complete denial of Ravi’s deviance and predatory behaviours, I would hazard it will never happen unfortunately.

      As for me, none of the heirs have acknowledged or apologized to me. Which is why their published generalized ‘apologies’ ring hollow and insincere to me.

      A Canadian RZIM apologist Alanzo Paul and the CART (Clergy Abuse Response Team) of C&MA have reached out to me. For that I am very touched and grateful. 💞

      1. Shirley, do you really believe Margie is in complete denial? Do you really believe she hasn’t been aware for decades? She is very intelligent. RZ said she was more intelligent than he. Do you really believe RZ told her not to release the Thompsons from the NDA. I don’t believe that was anything he needed to remind her of. Margie is a very strong woman, perfectly capable of handling everything and still continues to lead the RZ minions. I’m sure the family immediately moved all there assets when smoke arose. They were safe when the flames started raging. I don’t believe they were that surprised.

  3. Thank you, Julie, for making this interview happen. Thank you, Carson. You are very sincere and very kind.

    It’s all so utterly disappointing — my take on the professional christians discussed is that they are each a combination of calculatedly corrupt and stupidly unaware, some more of one of these things than the other.

    one thing is clear- professional christians should remove the words “praise” and “honor” from their vocabulary, and the corresponding behavior, in how they relate to each other.

    it’s just….weird and nauseating No one talks or behaves this way except for the insular bubble of the professional christian. i suppose they just don’t know what they don’t know. it’s so over-the-top elitist and dripping with syrup — it’s sick-feeling for everyone else who has to listen to such things.

  4. Carolyn McLaren

    We don’t have to keep wondering what is true in all the details of this case, we have the Holy Spirit. If we ask, He “will guide us into all truth.” John 16:13

    1. does that mean we don’t insist on transparency and neutral 3rd party investigation? just passively do nothing?

      what does that mean for pursuit of justice in a court of law? what does that mean for parenting, other than irresponsibility in the extreme?

      what you describe is part of Evangelicalism’s culture of compliance and void of accountability, where abuse, sexual assault, dishonesty, and all manner of corruption go unchallenged. It’s part of why the Houston Chronicle

      “found more than 700 victims of alleged sexual abuse by 380 Southern Baptist leaders and volunteers since 1998. Some 220 were convicted and 100 remain in prison.

      Many of the victims, who were children when the abuse occurred, accused other Southern Baptist leaders, including past presidents, of concealing their ordeal. Some of those who were accused of sexual abuse also reportedly left their congregations and were able to find jobs in other Southern Baptist churches.”

      https://www.christianpost.com/news/sbc-leaders-mishandled-crisis-of-sexual-abuse.html

  5. “meet the normal standards and exceed them” That’s what Wycliffe Bible Translators does. It doesn’t need to publish the IRS 990, but it is available on their website. Transparency.

  6. Mark Zimmerman

    Thank you both for speaking truth and asking hard questions even when it involves personal cost and risk, especially when many others refuse to do this, and to Carson in particular for demonstrating integrity by not signing the latest manipulative RZIM NDA that attempts to further silence truth-tellers to the detriment of more lives and the unjust advancement of those within RZIM who have behaved ignobly in assorted ways and betrayed much trust.

    1. Maybe the real problem is that these parachurch groups aren’t accountable to a local church. Not saying it would solve everything but maybe it would be a start?

      1. An interesting idea Mark although heart attitudes and their resulting actions based on the world’s way of doing things rather than on Christ can’t be corrected by moving oversight from one board of directors to another. The real problem is christian leaders who don’t do the hard work of humbling themselves before God and others. Fame, wealth and power are strong lures for us humans. The only remedy is death- death to self, death to ambition, death to worldly attachments. Jesus described it as taking up our cross daily and following him.

        1. “Fame, wealth and power are strong lures for us humans. The only remedy is death- death to self, death to ambition, death to worldly attachments. Jesus described it as taking up our cross daily and following him.”
          +++++++++

          no need to spiritualize this. a very simple remedy is to remove money from the equation. remove financial incentives and make ministry a bivocational voluntary thing, with a goal of zero balance. If there are funds, they are to pay for any ministry utility bills, then to give to those in need, not for self.

          that would clean up a lot.

      2. Mark Zimmerman

        RZ was ordained by C&MA, which for years failed grievously to do its duty in taking seriously and properly investigating the compelling evidence against him that even outside laypeople could see. The best they could do was belatedly expel him from licensed ministry and revoke his ordination some 9 months after his death!

        https://www.cmalliance.org/news/2021/02/12/statement-on-the-findings-of-ravi-zacharias-independent-investigation/

        The way it usually goes with so-called accountability in the corporate Christian or non-Christian world is that the one(s) with the most money, fame, worldly power, and influence call the shots. RZIM, with its multi-million dollar budget and world-wide renown, would have steamrolled a local church, as RZ even kept C&MA at bay.

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