An apologist with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) has sent a stunning letter to top RZIM leaders, stating that the ministry has lost trust “internally and externally” because of its handling of recent scandals involving its founder.
The letter also urges RZIM to apologize publicly and make “meaningful reparations” to Ravi Zacharias’ alleged victims should a third-party investigation confirm their allegations. The letter also urges RZIM to rebrand and to overhaul the ministry’s culture.
The author of the five-page letter is Dr. Max Baker-Hytch, a senior tutor with RZIM’s OCCA The Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics and a lecturer at Wycliffe Hall, a private hall of the University of Oxford.
Baker-Hytch sent the letter to nine top RZIM leaders on Wednesday, and it was leaked to The Roys Report yesterday by an anonymous RZIM employee.
When contacted, Baker-Hytch confirmed the authenticity of the letter but added that he did not know who leaked it. He also declined to discuss the letter’s content on the record.
In the letter, Baker-Hytch raises concerns about RZIM’s handling of three scandals involving its late founder, Ravi Zacharias—the credentials and sexting scandals, which were first reported in 2017, and the spa allegations, which surfaced in September. (The Roys Report also published a series of articles in September and October with new information suggesting that Zacharias was a predator in the 2017 sexting scandal involving Lori Anne Thompson.)
The Credentials Scandal
Baker-Hytch writes that in 2016, he investigated the issues regarding Zacharias’ credentials and “was concerned by the apparent discrepancies between the true nature of Ravi’s credentials and the way in which those credentials were being presented both by both Ravi himself and by the ministry.”
These involved biographies referring to Zacharias as “Dr. Zacharias” even though Zacharias possessed only honorary doctorates. Zacharias also stated that he was a professor at Oxford, which was untrue.
But Baker-Hytch writes that especially troubling was RZIM’s “slowness and reluctance to set the public record straight, which finally happened only after a great amount of external pressure was brought to bear on the issue.”
Even then, Baker-Hytch states that RZIM’s public statement on the matter was “defensive and devoid of taking sufficient responsibility” and “a source of embarrassment for me as an academic.”
Even more concerning than the credentials scandal, Baker-Hytch writes, was RZIM’s handling of the sexting scandal involving Lori Anne Thompson. Specifically, Baker-Hytch notes RZIM’s “shifting narratives” and “withholding of troubling pieces of information.”
According to Baker-Hytch, RZIM senior leadership consistently portrayed Thompson and her husband as “experienced extortionists.” However, publicly available evidence shows that the pastor whom the Thompsons sued prior to their relationship with Zacharias had a “track record of offering very misleading financial advice to members of his congregation.”
Baker-Hytch also asserts that RZIM President Michael Ramsden stated in a December 4, 2017, all-staff update that “no money had changed hands between Ravi and the Thompsons.”
But in September 2020, Baker-Hytch says he learned that Zacharias paid the Thompsons $250,000 as part of the 2017 settlement of the apologist’s lawsuit against the couple.
Baker-Hytch also writes that Ramsden claimed in the December 4, 2017, meeting that both Mark DeMoss (a public relations professional who formerly represented RZIM) and RZIM board member, Bill Payne, had read all the correspondence between Zacharias and Lori Anne Thompson, including “every BlackBerry message.”
The two “declared Ravi to be totally innocent (‘true blue’ was the exact phrase Michael attributed to DeMoss),” Baker-Hytch writes. Yet he adds that later Zacharias stated that all the BlackBerry messages were deleted in 2016 and could not be recovered.
I reached out to both Payne and DeMoss for comment, but only DeMoss responded.
“Michael Ramsden’s representation of me as recorded in this letter is incorrect on both counts,” DeMoss wrote in an email to The Roys Report.
Baker-Hytch also claimed in his letter that Zacharias and RZIM Senior VP Abdu Murray stated in a Skype call on January 8, 2018, that Zacharias’ did not mean suicide when he told Lori Anne Thompson that he would “bid this world goodbye.”
“Ravi specifically reassured us that he had not meant suicide . . . and Abdu backed him up, claiming that an Easterner would have meant it in terms of the death of his public honor,” Baker-Hytch wrote.
I reached out to both Michael Ramsden and Abdu Murray for their side of the story, but neither one responded.
However, in response to an inquiry about the letter by The Roys Report, RZIM CEO Sarah Davis sent a statement, noting that RZIM commissioned a third-party investigation into allegations of wrongdoing this fall.
“The public accusations against Ravi Zacharias in recent years have naturally resulted in some internal angst and questions,” Davis wrote. “In addition to finding the truth, that is why RZIM has commissioned Miller & Martin to conduct an independent investigation and is awaiting its conclusion.”
Davis added that RZIM is committed to “fully releasing the findings of the investigation when it is completed.” And she said that RZIM has invited “those within the organization to . . . express their concerns” and is “working internally to hear these concerns and address them in a way that is restorative.”
Last month, an attorney with Miller & Martin told The Roys Report that RZIM had instructed the firm to limit its investigation to allegations that Zacharias sexually harassed women at spas he co-owned and would not include what happened to Lori Anne Thompson.
Baker-Hytch states that “strike three” against RZIM was its handling of the recent allegations that Zacharias sexually harassed and assaulted massage therapists at spas Zacharias co-owned.
Baker-Hytch also mentioned that in a Zoom Q&A call on October 21, Ramsden spoke at length about the “smear campaign against Paul in Acts 17,” which Baker-Hytch interpreted “as a tacit suggestion that the allegations against Ravi were of a similar nature.” Baker-Hytch wrote that Ramsden then “explicitly described the allegations as ‘hearsay’—even ‘double hearsay’.”
He also wrote that Ramsden and Abdu Murray made comments that “gave the impression” that the spa witnesses “were not credible, or perhaps didn’t exist at all.”
Baker-Hytch also expressed concerns about the investigation RZIM commissioned this fall. He said that when a staff member asked that the report from the investigation be released in full to the public, Murray evaded the question by appealing to attorney-client privilege.
Baker-Hytch added that on a subsequent phone call, Ramsden claimed that the investigators believed some of the witnesses were being coached by Baughman and that “Ravi evidently had a lot of integrity.”
Yet when Baker-Hytch later spoke with lead investigator Lynsey Barron, she reportedly told him she never thought that witnesses were being coached, nor did she have “any recollection whatsoever of saying that Ravi had a lot of integrity.”
Baker-Hytch wrote that Ramsden and RZIM CEO Sarah (Zacharias) Davis also stated at one point that a second law firm was being hired to work alongside Barron’s firm, Miller and Martin, “to bolster and speed up the investigation process.”
But Barron reportedly told Baker-Hytch that “her team was not collaborating with any other law firm at that time.”
Baker-Hytch notes that Lucas Andrews, who worked on Zacharias’ lawsuit against the Thompsons, is an attorney at Watson Spence. And he suggests that RZIM abandoned Watson Spence because of the “belated realization” that the firm would be “rightly viewed by the public as a bad choice.”
Baker-Hytch concludes his letter by calling on RZIM to repent.
Specifically, he urges the ministry to offer a wholehearted apology to Zacharias’ spa victims should their testimony be confirmed. He also writes that RZIM should offer “meaningful reparations” to these women. And if there’s reason to believe these women are the “tip of a larger iceberg,” RZIM should engage a victims’ support group to find other potential victims.
Baker-Hytch also asks RZIM to apologize to the Thompsons, critics, and “concerned (RZIM) team members,” some of whom were “misrepresented, undermined, and even ridiculed.” And he says RZIM must apologize for its “corporate complicity in failing to hold Ravi to account.”
Baker-Hytch also calls for more accountability and transparency at RZIM, urging the ministry to begin filing IRS Form 990s and naming the members of its board.
Lastly, he calls for a “cultural overhaul,” writing that a “period of intense soul searching” will be needed. This includes an examination of RZIM’s “corporate culture,” which allowed Zacharias’ alleged abuse and deception to occur.
“I think that we already see the outlines of some of the answers to this, in terms of the way that Ravi has been placed on a pedestal that no person besides Jesus Christ is fit to occupy, and the way in which unbridled loyalty and reputation management have too often been allowed to take precedence over truth and transparency,” he wrote.
“If there is even the faintest hint of a self-preservation or damage control mentality in our response to all of this, not only will that be wholly futile but it will prolong the agony we are enduring. Drastic and deeply humbling steps will be required in order to demonstrate to the world that we are serious about rebuilding our institutional culture from the ground up.”
Yet Baker-Hytch also expressed hope in “what looks like a wretched situation,” noting that God is “able to bring healing, restoration, and even flourishing.”
“The reality is that Ravi’s reputation is in tatters; but his legacy—this team—need not be . . . If we choose to act justly and do the right things, we could become known as the gold standard for how to recover from a tragic situation such as this and move forward in a way that beautifully demonstrates the faith we commend.”