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.
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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 notes that RZIM declared the spa allegations to be false immediately after Steve Baughman, author of Cover-Up in the Kingdom, published the allegations in a YouTube video.
This response was “hugely damaging both externally and internally,” Baker-Hytch writes, especially when Christianity Today and WORLD verified the identities and histories of the alleged victims.
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.”
40 thoughts on “RZIM Apologist Sends Stunning Letter: Says Ministry Has Lost Trust & Needs to Make “Meaningful Reparations””
I am thankful for these sentiments of Dr. Baker-Hytch’s; it’s very encouraging that someone with RZIM is urging a right response to the alleged victims, pending the completion of the investigation.
Sadly, RZIM will never recover. It needs to pay off its victims, pay Steve Baughman for doing what RZIM and the CMA should have done long ago, and then just declare spiritual bankruptcy, Repairing the damage done by this phony-filled organization is about as likely as repairing a pricked balloon at a child’s birthday party. It has never happened and it never will
Archivist (1999-2013), Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
You are absolutely correct, Mr. Lutzweiler. There is no honorable course of action for RZIM other than to apologize to the victims, pay them and Steve Baughman, and dissolve. I commend Max Baker-Hytch for his integrity and forthrightness in challenging the leadership of RZIM to repent, but if I understand him correctly I cannot agree with him that while “Ravi’s reputation is in tatters…his legacy – this team – need not be.” I’m afraid the whole legacy is tatters already and cannot be recovered. No Christian ministry should go on in the name of a man so false.
I believe a new entity with new leadership, without family involvement, could be a possibility.
Thank you for echoing my sentiments. Saving RZIM would be like saving for consumption an apple pie upon which a dog has peed upon only in the middle. Who would eat any of it after that? Ravi has peed in our faces and called it holy water. It is rather anything butt (sic).
You don’t know the scriptures …or the nature of Jesus Christ to make such a slanderous characterization of a minister on the front lines who has fallen. Do you remember the story of the reward of the man who ran to David with the juicy news of King Saul’s death? It wasn’t good.
Are you also on the payroll? Or maybe someone from a far away land? Just curioius. You sound like a typical Indian wife that stands by her man regardless of what he does.
Let me ask one question since all of us have feet of clay, was David’s kingdom phony because of his failure?
Yes, apology is warranted if indeed allegations pan out.
No one propped up David, nor sanitized his lies.
“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.”
I think it’s worth noting RZIM’s current CEO, Sarah Davis, is also Ravi Zacharias’s daughter.
Conflict of interest much?
I agree with Sandra. I don’t believe it is possible to have board members that are Ravi’s family nor people who were close friends of Ravi’s. I think it would be very difficult for them to see clearly. I think a complete overhaul of the board would be critical for this ministry to survive and flourish one day along with everything that Dr. Max stated in his letter. It seems that all the “old” would need to be done away with for this ministry to survive and begin anew. I was a small monthly financial supporter for years. I could not support again unless it was completely rebranded inside and out. Trust takes a long time to rebuild.
I happen to agree with Sandra and Cynthia, though admittedly, upon reading some of the other comments I momentarily second-guessed my own opinion.
But, here are my thoughts.
RZIM is a historically credible Apologetics ministry with significant name-recognition and immense apologetics resources and staff, and it seems imprudent at this late date to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Of course, It would mean that anyone investigating the credibility of this particular Christian ministry (e.g., unfavorable agnostic or atheistic perspectives) would encounter a rather embarrassing footnote regarding the founder and author of its original books and journal articles regarding the origin of this particular Christian apologetic outreach. A short explanatory foreword in a conspicuous location on the RZIM website would be minimally requisite, conveying an unfortunate summary of Ravi’s personal shortcomings, as well as those of former staff (emphasis on ‘former’, regarding their lack of forthrightness which required their resignation) along with fully transparent referencing similar to that of this Roy’s Report article. Hopefully, this would circumvent the far more audacious approach to RZIM suggested by several others here, which would likely have untold ramifications that may very well do more harm than good to Christian ministry in general and Apologetics in particular.
Remember, this is the ministry where “truth matters.” Ramsden and Murray learned well from their mentor-obfuscation, denial and smear tactics. I wonder if any other team member had to sign NDA’s? Using Paul as an example is a new one. Most of the time King David is the quote of choice. I would say 250,000 dollars of ‘hush-money’ would be a concern.
The organization and ministry has totally lost credibility. I used to be a big fan, but not so much anymore. I started loosing respect years ago when men such as Baughman and other intellectuals spoke of Ravi’s inflated credentials. One Professor had been trying for years to bring him to account.
It is obvious to all who have researched the allegations that the victims are being truthful and some really bad things happened. How many investigative journalists, lawyers, professors, intellectuals and prominent magazines does it take for RZIM to stop lying and admit they did wrong and start making reparations to the victims?
Oh ya, I forgot. It’s all about the money… and keeping face.
I am thankful Dr. Max has taken the organization to task.
There is still time for them to repent and turn over a new leaf. Time will tell, but I am not hopeful.
Max was brave: LETTER brilliant and I believe he’ll resign shortly as the leaker broke trust
Max was a coward. He waited until Ravi had died before writing his letter.He’s jumping from a sinking ship.
Well spoken. Where were these voices a year ago? Two years ago? Three years ago? There was only one voice: that of Steve Baughman.
Welcome to a lesson from the 101 class in Christian Ethics called: “How to create a train-wreck with Narcissists.” You take your typical grandiose narcissist who loves convincing everyone about how great he is and vastly superior to all other men and if you hitch your wagon up to my train we will all get the big spotlight together and the Mammon will start flowing in the 10 figure range. This encourages other narcissists to get onboard the train headed up that mountain called “Success!” Along the way marriages are made, children had and soon the whole family joins the narcissist along with anyone of low enough character to sell out their loyalty to that train. Jesus Christ is ejected from the train just like the Pharisees calling for his murder and up the mountain it slowly goes chugging along. Along the way much evil is done behind the scenes because the principles are simply evil. Then at the top of the mountain there is so much Mammon coming in that the victims start looking for a piece of it as compensation for the evil they endured and the cover-ups begin.
The train has now gained so much momentum that it rushes past the top of the hill where the principles want it to stay. But now more and more of the evil done going up that hill keeps leaking out through the cracks. The train now is bleeding Mammon to a bunch of lawyers and to public relation firms trying to keep it on the tracks but it is going downhill and the brakes are failing. Then payouts are made, or crimes go to trial, or God says “Enough!” and the principle dies, sometimes at their own hands. Then things keep getting worse as the subs who are also narcissists have no intention of actually repenting for it is simply not in their nature. Then finally those at the outside of the circle have seen enough and start writing letters like this. They are either fired or forced to resign by either their own conscience or by those who will fire them. What they write gets leaked and more and more people jump from the train instead of waiting for it to go off the tracks. Eventually the whole thing dies.
I saw this in Mars Hill Seattle. I am seeing this now with Harvest. And now RZIM is out of control. This will end without any narcissist involved taking responsibility for that is who they are and what they do. So do not hold your breath waiting…
Would you be happy if they all went to hell and all those who came to faith in Christ with them? The author and finisher of our faith has another plan.There is one who was tempted in all areas like unto man, but who will with that temptation make a way of escape that he might be able to bear it…to keep alive his faith. Get with His program. The “letter” under scrutiny is better late then never.
I totally respect your reporting on all the Ravi scandals and I think they should stay in the public eye…….but I think leaking a letter not written for your eyes is tacky.
It’s standard journalistic practice to publish leaked information. Journalists serve the public good. So when someone leaks a letter, it is the journalist’s job to weigh the public’s right to know against the author’s and intended recipient’s right to privacy. Generally, it is up to the sender and recipient to keep the correspondence private, if that is their wish (which it sometimes is not).
When an internal letter like this is leaked, it generally means that people within the organization want the truth to get out. But they recognize that the organization has a great vested interest in preventing that from happening, and it likely won’t go well for the person who releases the information, should the person be discovered.
In this particular case, there are donors giving $30 million to $40 million a year to RZIM. Their right to know how the organization is run is paramount.
I just want to say thank you for publishing “leaked” sources along with others like Prof. Throckmorton who have done this as well. It is noted that many times the people at the center of the leaked document is actually the one that did the leaking, and there is no moral conflict there. They just do not want to be called in and immediately fired which is what happened many times at Mars Hill Seattle and many other places.
I also note that many people who call themselves Christians hold to an unbiblical view of holding things in private. They are holding to and practicing that which is the opposite of the passages dealing with “walking in the light.” They are actually being the Devil’s advocate for keeping things in the dark because there is some supposed “Christian Right to Privacy.” Instead the scriptures plainly state this: “And this is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you: God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with Him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:6-8) Note that walking in the light is necessary to have true fellowship with other believers and it is not optional at all if we want to be purified from sin by the blood of Jesus. There is no privacy when it comes to church ministry scandals when wrong is what has been done.
We should not delude ourselves, we will never be purified from sin on our own merit.
What do you think of Mark DeMoss? Is he part of the problem with the evangelical complex?
I know he was also close to Falwell.
I am sure Dr. Max was not surprised that his letter was leaked.
I appreciate your concern.
Dr. Baker-Hytch so far seems to be the only one within RZIM who has shown any integrity by at least raising internally the multifarious ways Ravi and RZIM have gravely failed over the years and continue to abysmally fail. To be consistent with the claim they are a church, the whole lot of money-grubbing shysters running RZIM, including all those named in this letter and the secretive board, by running from the truth is categorically, biblically disqualified from ministry.
Baker-Hytch hits many nails on the head in his letter, including the actions RZIM must take. However, RZIM, with its premeditated history over many years of repeated lies, deception, and abuse of victims and those who have or would support the victims, is irredeemable, with the honorable thing to do being to dissolve. “Rebranding” with any trace of the current crew of miscreants in lying leadership would be putting lipstick on a pig.
With all the damning evidence that has been amassed already, there is no need to wait for the report from the law firm Miller & Martin that RZIM hired for their inquiry of minimal scope, which, as Julie has previously noted in her Oct. 12th post, “…has been accused of fraud and appears to have little expertise in sexual harassment and abuse cases. But what’s most concerning is that Miller & Martin promotes itself as an expert in “crisis management.” On its website, the firm states that its crisis management team “aggressively pursues avoidance” and helps “limit” the amount that a crisis “damage(s) a client’s brand.”
The verdict regarding Ravi and RZIM is already evident to anyone with ears to hear, with their main benefit to the world now being as a negative example of how not to run a “church” or other ministry.
Others with inside information of the abhorrent dealings of RZIM would do well to make their voices heard for the cause of justice and Christ’s true church.
This is what I like about this blog. Intelligent and articulate thinkers and writers. It would be interesting if anyone has information concerning when Ravi and Co. started off the rails. I do not believe he started out this way. You could see the seeds of insecurity in his writings. I know it is unrepentant sin. But, I would like to see it more from a psychological and sociological perspective.
If you are reading this, are you ready to write another book?
It’s very very difficult for me to understand how men who were, seemingly, emphasis seemingly, so gifted in the arena of proclaiming the word of God, over such an extended period of time, could be immersed in such terrible sin, and not be stopped dead in their tracks by some device that the Lord would pour out upon them. Please understand, that I am not throwing stones. I will be 67 years old in a few weeks, and I have certainly and definitely had my struggles with sin. And continue to have them. In one particular struggle, I have fallen many many times and when I get so sick in my mind and in my soul, I must crawl back to the cross and beg for the Lord’s mercy and forgiveness, which he so graciously, gladly, and freely gives me. I have come out of the HBC train wreck. And for many many years, I sat under the preaching of James MacDonald and enjoyed the fellowship of that congregation, and the little ministry, I was involved with, and I’ve asked myself many times, how could it happen that a Jekyll and Hyde could be successful in the pulpit and not in any other area of his life? I think I’ve scratched my head over this so many times, it’s left the bald spot!
You can say that about Bill Gothard.
As significant as these allegations are, I believe Christians are forgetting the most serious transgression from 1973, when Ravi was an ordained Christian Missionary Alliance pastor and his brother Remesh, got his girlfriend Shirley Steward pregnant. In this case Margie (wife of Ravi and RZIM board member) was also seriously implicated in the procurement of an illegal abortion in Canada. It may be legal now, but it will always be murder in the eyes of Yehovah. The blood of the innocent cry out to God. I am posting the complete article, published online.
THE VOICE FOR GLOBAL ORTHODOX ANGLICANISM
JULY 10, 2019
The following personal account is by Shirley Steward, who recently retired with the rank of Detective Constable from the Ontario Provincial Police after 34 years of service (Canadian Provincial police are comparable to state police in the US).
The incident in Shirley’s personal account occurred in 1973. By that time, Ravi was a newly licensed minister, licensed by The Christian and Missionary Alliance of Canada in 1972. Is it possible that he did not want to compromise his new ministry work and that it might affect his new career if people found out?
The following is Shirley Steward’s Personal Story:
Following the story coming out about Ravi Zacharias and his fall from grace, I felt it was time to tell my story and experience about this hypocrite, about his using his pastoral position to influence a 16-year-old girl (me) to have an abortion. Because his brother, Ramesh Zacharias (then 20 years old), was the father. I do this purely to inform folks that Ravi is not the person he claims to be; that he should be forbidden from bilking people of their hard-earned cash, which feathers his own nest. And that his counsel is only in his own best interests. And to the other victims that I’m sure this man has left in his wake — you are not alone. I believe you. You are not the diminished or evil person he painted you to be.
While my story began almost 50 years ago, I am not totally sure it ever ended completely. There are parts of my life that were forever altered. However, I did move on from it. I eventually followed my dream of becoming a police officer. I recently retired following 34 years of a career that I am very proud of. I investigated everything from a simple parking ticket to a plane crash and assisted in a murder investigation. Of course, I had to testify innumerable times in court over the years. I appreciate and live for truth and justice. I have always been an active part of my community, volunteering with seniors, a local community theatre and my biggest passion — animals – cats and dogs, in particular. I think because animals are capable of unconditional love. Unlike humans. I have never been let down by an animal.
At age 14, I was living in the east end of Toronto with my parents. My brother, who is 5 years older than I am, was attending a church in downtown Toronto called the First Alliance Church, on Yonge Street, Toronto. The church was headed by Reverend JR Deitz and he had a large and engaged youth group. Finally, my parents let me travel to this church. There, I met Ramesh Zacharias. brother of Ravi Zacharias. Ramesh was 4 years older than I, and Ravi, 10 years older than I. Ramesh and I soon started spending time together and a few months later, at age 15, we were considered a couple. I felt honoured to be welcomed by the Zacharias family. Ramesh was going to university to become a doctor. While he wanted me to consider nursing, I had another career choice in mind.
As happens with relationships, ours became sexual after I turned 16. Then, as nature would take its course, I became pregnant. This was, I believe, in the late spring/early summer of 1973. Ramesh was living with his parents in the west end of Toronto. I was at their apartment and Ramesh wanted to talk to his brother Ravi to ask his advice as an older brother and, particularly, as a minister.
Ravi was held in high regard in our church and had ministered to our congregation on several occasions. Ramesh was on the phone either in the living room or kitchen. I was on the extension in his parent’s bedroom (needless to say, they weren’t home at the time). I remember it like it was yesterday from the satin bedspread that had a stitched design on it, the phone extension was on the nightstand, along with an alarm clock and a lamp.
Ramesh explained briefly the situation to Ravi. I remember Ravi was very angry, more at Ramesh than me it seemed. He was not speaking in kind terms, only pointing out that this news would ‘kill our parents’ and ‘end your future as a doctor.’ There was no talk of alternatives. I was in shock at this point. This ‘man of God,’ this ‘minister’ was actually suggesting that the baby be aborted! I couldn’t speak.
When I think back, I wasn’t asked for my feelings or input anyway. I had so many questions. How could he be advocating to kill a baby? Was he thinking straight? Oh, he gave the usual platitudes about praying for guidance and forgiveness. Yet his own views left nothing to the imagination.
Within a couple of days, Ramesh had come to my house to speak to my parents. He did all the talking. I just cried. At one point we all were crying and praying. Ramesh was much better at talking the talk, than walking the walk. He convinced them that the best way forward was an abortion. As I was under 18, they had to give their permission. The compelling part of the conversation was when he told them that Ravi had recommended the termination of the pregnancy, given all the circumstances. My church-going, God-fearing parents relented and agreed to give their permission. After all, if a minister felt it appropriate, then it must be. Right? Again, I was never asked what I wanted for myself. I was feeling powerless that these adults were making a decision for my life and that of my unborn child.
In 1973, abortions were illegal in Canada, except in the case of a danger to the life of the mother and had to be approved by a panel of 3 doctors. I was in no danger from being pregnant and I was also too young to be aware of these legalities. So how was permission obtained? I found out after the fact, from Ramesh, that another parishioner was the one that made the arrangements. Vicki S. was a nurse who worked at St. Michael’s hospital in downtown Toronto. Coincidentally (?) she was the best friend and co-worker of Ravi’s wife, Margie. They worked together in the same department. And St. Michael’s hospital was where the abortion was performed.
The procedure itself was a nightmare. My parents dropped me off at the hospital. No one showed up to show support and/or to pray with/for me and my baby. Not Ramesh, Ravi, Vicki or Margie. I was a scared little girl that at this point, felt abandoned and abused.
Vicki went on to be Ramesh’s first wife and Ravi’s sister-in-law. What a cozy, dysfunctional family. All said and done, I dodged a bullet, by not becoming part of it.
I stopped going to this church and having anything to do with these frauds after this whole fiasco. On a couple of occasions, when my brother (who still attended the church) happened to mention that Ravi would be at the church to minister to the congregation, I was very tempted to attend and to interrupt the service by yelling, ‘Hey Ravi, how about telling the congregation about counseling me to abort your brother’s baby!’ Maybe I should have. Except I’m sure he would have painted me as a lunatic.
Fast forward 25 years. My parents had a copy of the Nov/Dec 1998 ‘Christian Reader’ magazine on their table when I happened to visit. On the cover were Ravi and Margie. I took the magazine and read this incredibly nauseating article. If they had tooted their own horns any harder, they would have blown their eardrums. They portrayed themselves as so godly and saintly. I was truly angered to my core. So, I wrote a letter to Ravi, letting him know in no uncertain terms, how I felt about him and asked how he could sleep at night, let alone pretend to be virtuous, given his role in my abortion?
No response would have been better than his self-serving denial of any involvement in the events all that time ago. In this 3-page, typed letter, he repeats his dismissal of his part in the events several times. It brought to mind the old saying, ‘Thou protesteth too much.’ I was even more furious. What a liar!! It wasn’t until many years later, with the introduction of the internet, that it all became clear to me. Ravi had built a sizable empire with his ‘Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.’ With charitable status in Canada and the US (at least), he had amassed millions of dollars in donations. His cult-like following was totally taken in by his fake godliness. Of course, he was going to deny his participation!
In 2014, Ravi happened to be having a fund-raiser in Kingston, which is near where I live in Eastern Ontario. It was held at a centre that holds 6,700 people. I certainly wasn’t going to pay to see this fraud. However, again, I was tempted to march with a placard at the entrance. I didn’t, but instead, sent his office an email saying that I knew he was a fraud and now understood why he had lied in that letter of 15 years earlier.
My 16-year-old inside needs others to know that he is fake, a ‘false prophet’ as my mother recently said. He is bilking people out of their hard-earned money. He is too big a money-maker for the religion machine to strip him of his ministry. Sadly, this is horrible for the legitimate religious leaders in the world who are transforming peoples’ lives due to a calling not for profit, prestige and adoration that is at the core of this monster.
Spiritual Sounding Board has maintained a compilation of important links related to Ravi Zacharias here: http://www.raviwatch.com/
More articles linked to may include additional background. RaviWatch: Investigating the false claims of evangelist Ravi Zacharias can be seen here: http://www.raviwatch.com/
A critical book on the life and ministry of Ravi Zacharias: Cover-Up in the Kingdom: Phone Sex, Lies, And God’s Great Apologist, Ravi Zacharias by Steve Baughman can be bought here: https://www.amazon.com/Cover-Up-Kingdom-Phone-Apologist-Zacharias-ebook/…
Thank you for posting this letter; every word is heartbreaking! The weight of these words falls on this:
‘And St. Michael’s hospital was where the abortion was performed.’
These verses came to mind.
“And there was war in
heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war,” Rev.12:7
“But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!””
The Lord, in His judgment, will bring it all down! Using His name for profit and leaving such carnage in the wake! I feel the angst of a 16 yr. old girl, scared and alone. But to God be the glory for what she accomplished!
Another David Virtue reader, huzzah! He has mellowed over the years, all to the good.
Ezekiel chapter 3, verses 20-21: “When a righteous person turns from their righteousness and does evil and I (God) put a stumbling block before them, they will die. Since you did not warn them, they will die in their sin. The righteous things that person did will not be remembered and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you did warn the righteous person not to sin, they will surely live, because they took warning and you will have saved yourself”. I make no comment on this verse in relation to RTIM and Ravi Zacharias in that independent investigations are ongoing It is clear, though, that with so many recent “Christian” scandals, there are nearly always the same ingredients -a charismatic leader on a pedestal, whose charm is equal to his ability to bully, admiring colleagues, a lack of credible accountability and a lack of transparency. For Christians, there are two fears. The first is that criticism will be cruelly dealt by one’s employer and the second is that any “whistle blowing” could irreparably damage the genuinely good work done by the charity. I am grateful for Acts chapter 19, verse 30. The context is the riot in Ephesus. Paul was about to be lynched. Paul fired up, adrenalin pumping, was about to wade back into a furious crowd, “but the disciples would not let him”. It would have taken some courage to curtail Paul, but by curtailing him, those disciples ensured his onward ministry and safe passage to Macedonia.
The contribution by RZIM to Christian apologetics has been extraordinary, and whatever the eventual outcome of current enquiries, there must be repentant review and a fresh beginning. It is so essential that we pray for those involved with RZIM and with OCCA,. Their hurt will be deep. When those we admire and love have reputations sullied, emotions are in turmoil. “Lord God our Father, may your truth be visible and your healing triumph, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen
This is a very sad story. Michael Ramsden is a talented speaker, and I am sorry to see him implicated in this way.
While many of the examples in the letter by Dr Baker-Hytch include Michael Ramsden, it should not be forgotten that Ramsden is President, not Chief Executive, of this organization. The presidential role comes with limited executive decision making power. Ramsden is a public spokesperson, and also the main communicator to the internal team, often called upon to speak in difficult situations. This can put him in impossible situations, as it has done for other members of the team. That is not to say that he did not make really serious mistakes, but let’s not let this distract from the fundamental problem with RZIM.
The real issue with the organization is that it is run by a secret board, with family members in key positions. It is chaired by Sarah Davis, the daughter of Ravi Zacharias, who is also the CEO. That is a kind of bad practice Governance 101.
Even worse, the board appears to be incompetent. Let’s assume for the sake of the argument that they really believed that Ravi Zacharias was innocent of the charges described, for example, by Christianity Today in September 2020. If so, then they made a number of mind-boggling missteps:
1) They first put out a first press release claiming that the witnesses were lying. This is unacceptable, damaging, and incompetent. Even worse, the intial press release appeard to speak on behalf of the RZIM team, when in fact team members were not consulted.
2) Instead of an arm’s length investigation, they hired a law firm, with a fiduciary duty to RZIM as their client. Ravi’s widow and at least one of his daughters (Sarah Davis) are on the board. The law firm will report to them first. Even if Ravi Zacharias were innocent, no one will believe the law firm’s pronouncements in such a situation. The board and the executives have therefore boxed themselves into a corner from the start.
3) Given that the only possible believable outcome of the investigation is a guilty verdict, perhaps this is just a clever ploy to buy some time while they prepare for the inevitable. But the organization has so far not appeared to communicate any serious planning for a post-guilty verdict outcome. Such a lack of serious planning is an inexcusable failure by the board.
4) In response to the letter from Dr Baker-Hytch, Sarah Davis writes: “… 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.” — At first glance this might sound reasonable, but a moment’s reflection shows that it points to an incredibly bizarre situation: Staff are encouraged to approach the daughter of the man being publicly accused of awful sexual abuse, to express their concerns! That is abusive both to the staff and to the daughter. What kind of board would allow such a situation? It is beyond belief.
Ravi Zacharias’ reputation is unlikely ever to recover. The evidence that he had a dangerous dark side seems overwhelming. But those that knew him also saw much good that he did. Why did he take these dark truths to the grave? We will never know. It is a tragic situation.
But it is equally tragic that the incompetence of this board, chaired by his daughter, has irreparably damaged what could have been his greatest legacy, a talented speaking team in key places around the world. These team-members now have their reputations damaged. It is very likely that most will be laid off soon, including people in countries where other options of meaningful employment are scarce. I remain astounded that major donors, who are typically interested in governance, let this situation fester for so long.
It is always difficult to see a Christian leader fall so publicly. Many of the comments above reflect the natural response of grief, not from a personal loss of the individual, but a personal loss of trust and the natural response that those who believed so strongly in him and his ministry were made fools of.
Those in the ministry who believed in his innocence may have been deceived by their own desires that the accusations not be true. But how often do our own desires blind us to reality and truth when we are desperate? Ravi himself used to comment on a trial he saw where he left questioning what was really true. Those within the ministry who denied his guilt sincerely believed in his innocence at the time. If they were aware of his guilt and persisted in defending him, they must own that before God.
Not overlooking the serious nature of his actions and all of the damage caused by his behavior, I cannot help but respond with an attitude of grace and justice. Grace, that were all of my own sins so publicly announced, I might be shocked at the damage I caused, and I could also expect similar responses. And justice, after the allegations of the last few years, I see God’s justice that he removed Ravi very suddenly from his ministry position when he failed to repent and confess upon being confronted.
In choosing to deny, deceive, and obfuscate, Ravi left a debris trail of collateral damage that his family will endure for the rest of their lives. Ravi rejected the opportunity God gave him to openly repent, ask for forgiveness, and begin the healing process for all involved.
I am not as intelligent as most of you that have shared your thoughts about this painful subject of Ravi’s life. I do think that God gave Ravi many opportunities to repent and start over because He does that with all of us. Whatever happened when he had to stand before God, we don’t know now. What we do know is that God is merciful, and Holy…Jesus blood is enough to pay for the sin, and whatever God does with eternity is right. I would that Ravi had asked for help.
Now, as we move forward, there must be the continuance of the study and implementation of apologetics despite what has happened.
Recently, I told the Lord that I wanted Him…not someone else’s ideas or beliefs about Him. If we don’t have a clear and certain relationship with God ourselves, and with Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, based upon His Word, we can easily be duped by the enemy- Satan, or a wrong interpretation of scripture. Even with that, we need to understand apologetics to arm ourselves for spiritual battles, and we need to be able to give a reason for what we believe. We need to use the weapons of our warfare against our enemy.
Apologetics is profitable to all of us. The information systems in the world now are powerful and complex, and can be used to deceive the masses. Only the nudging of the Holy Spirit in a christian’s heart can cause people to recognize deception…and deception WILL Come. We must arm ourselves with Truth that can resolve the questions in our own hearts, so we can help others do the same. We have to present an apologetic for why we believe in God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. 1Peter 3:15. We must be set for the defense of the Gospel.
I would that Ravi had been able to overcome his problems, but RZIM is more than one person. Let’s pray for them.
May the Lord give all of The RZIM Ministry Team the gift of repentance and cleansing so they may be equipped in their minds and spirits to fulfill His call on their lives. May they cast away the dross and seek the best things of God so they can hear His voice. May the Spirit of God give them love for Christ’s body in the earth. I Peter 5:5-8.
We have a promise….1Thessalonians 5:21-24
I am replying to the website The Roy’s Report
At what point can we safely assume that leaders like this are what Indians refer to as nomimal Christians? Christian in name only. Many Indians that grow up in Christian homes claim to be Christians but they never have had a conversion experience. They can memorize zillions of scripture verses but have never had any conversion. What makes RZ a true Christian after reading how he pathological lied about almost everything in his life? He could he speak to thousands about the Bible and walk off the stage to victimize without a blink of the eye it seems? How in the world does a true believer consistantly live their life like that for many decades without conviction? How could he be so cold and callous while still being labeled a Christian?
At what point can we question a ministry that brings in Demoss who is a “Christian” public relations guy. Is this PR guy a substitute for the Holy Spirit? Should he not be questioned as to his role in getting off an alleged rapist and sexual predator? Isn’t that just covering up sin when a PR person is involved? Where is the accountablity for his role in helping reshape a “brand” and “family empire”? Is this God’s ministry or is this just a place for christian employment?
At what point can we investigate the whole staff for similar behaviors? AT what point can we investigate RZ for underage sexual abuse or even trafficking? At what point can we investigate RZ to see if he abused his wife or children? Did they willingly go along with this or where they bullied into co-operating? Did RZ have mental problems, addictions or unable to feel guilt, remorse, empathy or compassion?
I don’t think I can hand a book to an unbeliever whose author is an accused raptist/sexual predator and expect to get a convert. In my opinion the kindest thing we can do to all victims is to shut this organization down. To keep it open just looks like Christians are in it for the money and care for nothing else. It is not a good look. It is a cold and callous look. The whole bloody thing needs to go away and let other ministries fill in the gap.
Please see RZIM PR woman Ruth Malhotra’s statement here:
The RZIM senior leadership has also played an active role in hiding his scandals.
Please see RZIM PR woman Ruth Malhotra’s statement here:
I am so very saddend by this whole sordid story of a man I followed closely and always listened to Let My People Think, every week. I know the ministry can no longer be RZIM but I pray the young men who minister on that program don’t quit. The Universities and colleges need this kind of Q and A. The truth was still being spoken inspite of Ravi’s sin.
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