Ravi Zacharias RZIM

RZIM Leader & Speakers Denounce Handling of Scandals; Two Call for New Board

By Julie Roys

More employees at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) are publicly denouncing the leaders and board of the ministry for their handling of scandals involving founder, Ravi Zacharias. Two are calling for a new board.

RZIM Innovation and Ministry  Partner Specialist Carson Weitnauer today published a scathing letter, alleging that Zacharias, who’s been dubbed the “greatest apologist of the 20th Century,” was actually the “greatest fraud.”

Weitnauer also called RZIM’s handling of the scandals involving Zacharias, “a catastrophic betrayal,” stating: “We have been badly misled by our secretive board and senior leaders. If the damage to our witness can be repaired at all, it will take a humiliating acknowledgment of our complicity and shame, as well as earnest and sacrificial repentance.”

Weitnauer’s letter follows tweets over the weekend by two members of RZIM’s speaking team, Sam Allberry and Daniel Gilman.  Allberry’s tweet criticized RZIM’s leadership and Gilman’s tweets offered support for Zacharias’ alleged victims.

Also this weekend, RZIM apologist Max Baker-Hytch sent RZIM leaders a second letter with detailed criticisms of their handling of the sex abuse allegations involving Ravi Zacharias.

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While Baker-Hytch’s first letter mainly took aim at RZIM President Michael Ramsden and Senior Vice President Abdu Murray, the second letter offered detailed criticisms of RZIM CEO and Zacharias’ daughter, Sarah Davis, as well as the RZIM board.

Baker-Hytch’s latest letter was leaked to me by an RZIM employee who wished to remain anonymous (not Baker-Hytch). However, I contacted Baker-Hytch who confirmed the authenticity of the letter.  

When asked for comment, RZIM CEO Sarah Davis told The Roys Report: “The investigation is ongoing and the executive committee of the RZIM board of directors indicated in their October 7 statement that they did ‘not plan to comment on any details of the allegations or published reports until the independent investigation is complete.’ Consistent with the board’s statement, RZIM does not plan to comment or respond to questions that may or may not pertain to the investigation itself prior to its conclusion.”

The Tweets

Sam Allberry, a popular author and global speaker for RZIM, tweeted Sunday around 2:00 p.m. CT that he agreed with “each of the concerns” Baker-Hytch raised in his first letter concerning RZIM leadership.

Allberry added: “Evasiveness, misinformation, intimidation — this is what we all tend to turn to when we try to achieve by the flesh what can only happen through transparency, confession and repentance. It is clear there needs to be an investigation into how RZIM has handled all these allegations, not least because of RZIM’s longstanding motto that ‘no question is off limits.’”

RZIM has commissioned a law firm to investigate the allegations against Zacharias. However, the scope and independence of the investigation has been called into question.

About two hours after Alberry’s tweet, Daniel Gilman, an itinerant speaker for RZIM who’s ordained by the Anglican Network in Canada, tweeted support for Zacharias’ alleged victims.

This included massage therapists at spas Zacharias co-owned who claim Zacharias sexually abused and harassed them.

“Eye-witness testimony of marginalized women about a man who can not be interviewed are at the heart of our case for the resurrection of Jesus,” Gilman tweeted. “If such testimony is credible, I am compelled to believe the spa allegations against @RaviZacharias.”

Gilman also tweeted support for Lori Anne Thompson, a Canadian woman who alleged Zacharias groomed her and then exploited her by requesting nude photos and phone sex.

Gilman called Thompson “courageous” and “credible” and said she “deserves to be thanked for . . . refusing to be silenced in her journey to hold @RaviZacharias and @RZIMhq accountable.”

Weitnauer’s Letter

Weitnauer, who’s worked for RZIM since 2013—first as director of RZIM’s U.S. speaking team, and now as its innovation and ministry partner specialist—wrote a very personal letter, expressing heartache over what he views as a painful betrayal.

Weitnauer writes that he was “thrilled” to work for RZIM where he regularly saw lives “transformed by the gospel.”

And in 2017, when he heard of the sexting allegations involving Lori Anne Thompson, he was relieved “to hear that (Zacharias’) incriminating emails were taken out of context, that exculpatory material had been reviewed by the board, and  that (Zacharias’) RICO lawsuit had put an end to (the Thompson’s) falsehoods with a non-disclosure agreement.”

However, Weitnauer writes that in September 2020 when “new evidence surfaced” about the sexting relationship, he studied the information carefully and became convinced Zacharias was the predator, not the victim.

Carson Weitnauer RZIM
Carson Weitnauer, RZIM Innovation and Ministry Partner Specialist

“(S)lowly it dawned on me that Ravi had personally and repeatedly lied to me and others in the ministry about his relationship with her,” Weitnauer writes. “If true, it revealed that his RICO lawsuit was a malicious attempt to bully his victim into silence, and that Ravi had perjured himself in the effort.”

Weitnauer called the spa allegations, which were published about two weeks later, as “another bombshell.”

“If true, these allegations suggest that Ravi’s abuse of Lori Anne Thompson wasn’t an isolated affair, but rather part of an ingrained pattern of life stretching over a decade or more,” Weitnauer wrote. “His constant traveling, especially overseas, now seemed ripe with foreboding possibilities.”

Yet Weitnauer wrote that when he shared his concerns with colleagues at RZIM, a senior leader emailed him, stating: “I don’t think repeating potential lies or passing on judgment are qualities we want to embody at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.”

Weitnauer added that “despite an obvious conflict of interest, members of the family  have actively spoken out in Ravi’s defense, while Ravi’s daughter has guided us through this crisis with the unwavering support of the board and senior leadership.”

Weitnauer added that the day after he asked Sarah Davis a series of questions about the non-disclosure agreement between the Thompsons and the Zacharias estate, “two senior leaders challenged me on the propriety of my questions.”

Weitnauer added that he’s heard other colleagues in RZIM tell “similar stories” and it’s “only a matter of time before their voices are heard.”

Weitnauer ends his letter by calling on RZIM to change its name, remove Zacharias’ material, repent, and provide “restorative response to the harm that Ravi’s victims experienced.”

Max Baker-Hytch’s 2nd Letter

Max Baker-Hytch’s second letter also takes aim at RZIM CEO Sarah Davis and RZIM’s board, specifically outlining a “litany of missteps” by the board.

(To date, RZIM has not named the members of its board. However, in his letter, Baker-Hytch names Davis as the chair of RZIM’s board, and Ravi’s wife, Margie, as a board member.)

The board’s alleged “missteps” include:

  • Failing to properly investigate the sexting allegations in 2017, but instead relying on the Christian & Missionary Alliance’s internal inquiry
  • Allowing a task force, which was led by Ravi’s daughter and had “ongoing loyalty to Ravi,” to review the sexting allegations in 2017-18
  • Supporting the non-disclosure agreement between Ravi/Zacharias family and the Thompsons
  • Reaffirming Ravi’s “highly implausible narrative” regarding the sexting scandal when new information surfaced in September 2020
  • Denying the spa allegations when they first surfaced and implying that the “female eyewitnesses were lying”
  • Retaining Sarah Davis as board chair and CEO while her late father is being investigated
  • Retaining a law firm lacking expertise in investigating sexual abuse in a ministry context, Miller & Martin, to investigate the spa allegations
  • Refusing to pledge that Miller & Martin’s full report will be accessible to the public
  • Appointing Judy Dabler as the ombudsman concerning the spa allegations. (Dabler, who’s spoken at a number of RZIM events, was proposed as a mediator in a confidential concilliation process for Christ Community Chapel in the highly controversial Sankey orphanage scandal. Baker-Hytch writes: “Dabler’s training and conciliation methods are at best questionable and at worst dangerous, and have caused considerable confusion and pain amongst our team. Furthermore, Dabler’s particular approach is largely repudiated by sexual abuse victims and many in the advocate community as improper and harmful . . .”)
  • Failing to file Form 990s for the past few years, which has “allowed suspicions . . . to grow around various aspects of the financial practices of the ministry (RZIM has not filed a 990, which discloses executive salaries and board members, since 2015.)
  • Keeping staff in the dark about the board’s contingency plans for a potential guilty verdict.

Baker-Hytch concludes by calling for a “brand new Global Board of Directors and Global CEO, none of whom are Zacharias family members.”

He also calls for RZIM to start filing Form 990s, and to file retroactively for the years when the organization failed to file. He also urges an independent investigation into the conduct of the board and executive leadership throughout the crises of the past few years.

“It is clear that Ravi’s reputation cannot be salvaged at this point,” Baker-Hytch writes. “However, I firmly believe that this wonderful global team of apologist-evangelists can thrive and flourish once again — but only if radically humbling steps are taken very soon.”

Below is Max Baker-Hytch’s complete letter:

Max Baker-Hytch’s 2nd Letter to RZIM
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20 thoughts on “RZIM Leader & Speakers Denounce Handling of Scandals; Two Call for New Board”

  1. What is the board thinking by putting the daughter in charge of investigating her own father for sexual immorality not once, but several times? Staff can go to *her* to discuss their issues: “Yes Sarah, I am feeling upset because I am pretty sure your dad sexually abused vulnerable women.” This is abusive to the staff and to the daughter.

    Who thinks it is anything other than cruelty to have Ravi’s widow, who sits on the board, listen in to these discussions, including with staff around the world? Keep her at a distance and let her mourn in peace.

    What is the daughter thinking when she stays in charge in such circumstances? Hiding behind promises not to comment until later only adds to the pressure everyone is under, and makes them look manipulative. Surely by now they know enough.

    Why demand such loyalty from your staff, making them complicit in your sin, putting them into impossible situations?

    What a colossal failure of leadership. For the sake of the gospel, the board, and the senior leadership (especially family members) need to go.

    1. Re: “What is the board thinking by putting the daughter in charge of investigating her own father ..”

      The “board”, for all intents and purposes, appears to be the Zaccharias family, Ravi (deceased), his wife Margie, and his daughter Sarah. A cynical view such as this is consistent with lack of information revealed on board membership and their respective salaries. Clearly, the board was thinking of the board first, all other players second, everything a “board” is never meant to be. Wholesale change is needed of the board, and likely down from there.

      1. It is all about money. Sarah, the daughter, is getting paid over 200k. Margie is getting paid over 150k. Naomi is getting paid around 150k. Plus some other families were and are still getting paid. You are talking about a million dollar profits shared among different family members. Just check the 990 in 2015, then you will find out.

    2. Why hasn’t the family recused themselves from this investigation? There is clearly a conflict of interest and lack of impartiality on their part.

    3. It is all about money. Sarah, the daughter, is getting paid over 200k. Margie is getting paid over 150k. Naomi is getting paid around 150k. Plus some other families were and are still getting paid. You are talking about a million dollar profits shared among different family members. Just check the 990 in 2015, then you will find out.

  2. “Dabler, who’s spoken at a number of RZIM events, served as a mediator for Christ Community Chapel in the highly controversial Sankey orphanage scandal.”

    Correction: Dabler was proposed as a mediator for a confidential conciliation process in the Sankey affair, but the advocates were not willing to sign NDAs and I don’t believe any mediation process ever took place.

  3. “Allberry added: “Evasiveness, misinformation, intimidation — this is what we all tend to turn to when we try to achieve by the flesh what can only happen through transparency, confession and repentance.”
    ——————–

    hmmm… “we all tend to turn to” these things? well, maybe he’s speaking for christians, i’m not sure.

    but let it be known that my atheist, agnostic, moslem and buddhist friends and relatives have personal integrity standards that would not permit them to stoop to “evasiveness, misinformation, intimidation” or any such things.
    .
    .
    (spoken as a christian in practice, but who prefers not to identify with that the label any longer because of what it has come to stand for. it’s not Jesus, that’s for sure.)

  4. Are these people still on the payroll? If they feel so strongly about the integrity, or lack thereof, of the organization why don’t they resign first before making all their “recommendations”? Because money. And platform. They want to be instafamous and still be able to pay the house payment.

  5. James Lutzweiler

    RZIM is brain dead and needs to be removed from life supports. CT did NOT investigate Ravi. Steve Baughman did. All CT did was to investigate and verify Baughman’s work. Give credit where credit is due.

    I find it hilarious that RZIM speakers are now dropping like flies. What kept them from knowing what Steve Baughman knew and pled in vain for them to investigate? It did not require a rocket surgeon to come to a compelling conclusion about Ravi’s guilt as early as December 2017. Short answer: RZIM speakers and players and board (the hidden board, I might add) need to step aside from any Christian ministry for at least five years and just contemplate their belly buttons. They have nothing to offer the Christian church or a lost world. Their salt has lost its savor and it cannot come back.

    What RZIM and the CMA both should do is send Steve Baughman a thank you note and $50,000 or so for all the unpaid investigative work he has already done, and then hire him alone to do any further investigations. Until that happens, all the new calls for reform are nothing but the squeals and shrieks of rats fleeing from a sinking ship. They are at least three years late and maybe even four.

    Sincerely,

    James Lutzweiler
    Archivist (1999-2013), southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

    1. Thank you, Mr. Lutzweiler, for expressing with brutal force what so desperately needs to be said. Ravi’s corruption has been known for years. Steve Baughman’s video “Lying For Lord Or Self? Hard Questions For Ravi Zacharias” went up on YouTube in October 2016. I deny that a person of integrity could see that video and remain on the RZIM payroll. The resignations should have come long ago. For that matter, there are resignations that should be tendered today on the part of honest souls who find themselves serving corrupt Christian leaders and organizations. Should that be the case for anyone reading these words, I say to you: speak up now, resign or be fired, and, if necessary, succumb to resultant poverty for the glory of God.

  6. Why is Moody Radio in Chicago (WMBI) still airing Let My People Think? I was surprised to hear it this past Sunday afternoon. I’m old enough to remember when Moody and other Christian radio stations, almost overnight, dropped Michael English and Sandy Patti from their playlists for their moral failures.

    1. That would include WMHR Mars Hill Radio in Syracuse, which I’ve listened to for the past 35+ years. They’ve been attentive about this sort of thing in the past.

  7. Julie, in case you’re unaware, various information about the UK branch of RZIM is available online. By law, they have to make annual filings to both the Charity Commission (regulator of non-profits) and Companies House (registrar of companies).

    See:

    https://register-of-charities.charitycommission.gov.uk/charity-search/-/charity-details/3947214/charity-overview

    https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/company/03449676

    Drop me a note if you need help understanding any of this.

  8. DISCLAIMER> after reading the details of the story and confession of RZIM investigation, I am afraid it is true. Unless I see something different below are my thoughts.

    As a believer in Christ’s ability to “change” the human heart, we must never lose the teaching to “beware” or “do not be deceived” advise from Apostle Paul. Job was tested and needed to learn new things he did not know. Abraham was tested to trust the unseen yet still believe. Noah was tested to do the impossible. We could go on and on…..

    We are now all tested in our faith. Can a man fall? If so, how do we reconcile our desire for men to be perfect/faultless? How do we believe something to be true when the one who gives the truth is not true? This conflict is a trap! This is our test. Will we remain true to God when our respected leaders fall. Those we place on pedestals. Those we look to for example, hope, help and encouragement? The ones we “secretly” worship?

    Paul shouts once again: Do not be deceived!!!! It seems to be in our DNA a desire to follow the one who is giving the truth. It seems so evident we are indeed like sheep needing a shepherd. The outcry, ‘DO NOT BE DECEIVED’, God does not share His glory with any man! When we lift up mankind to the level of perfection/ the inability to sin, then we have committed a subtle sin of idolatry. Yes I know what Apostle Paul said, ‘imitate me as I imitate Christ’ or imitate my example as Paul imitated Christ. This is why I also believe Paul practiced this “example” as he stood against Peter’s hypocritical actions against the new gentle believers. Will we do likewise, calling out wrong doing when we know it?

    This is my greatest sorrow. This issue will become a mill stone to the weak in faith. Those who put their trust in Ravi will be tempted to doubt their faith in Christ. Those who are the offended ‘little ones’ are my concern. It is very hard on an individuals heart when those you looked to have failed.

    So if you are questioning all Ravi taught to now be “untrue” I beg you to consider this: Truth will always remain true regardless of the one who brings it. Can the godly fail? Can they sin? Can they be sifted by Satan? As much as we wish this would never happen to our heroes of faith, YES THEY CAN!

    If anything we learn is this. Our trust is in God’s Holy Word. We believe people can and do change, yet the same individual is a broken soul living in a fallen world and has limited knowledge and understanding. The only call is for you and I to remain honest, transparent, and humble. I don’t know where Ravi failed to have accountability in his life, but much like king David, the lust of the flesh became his downfall. Jeremiah call to us it to :Do justly, Love mercifully( and most important) Walk humbly with our God. Our adversary is lurking and should cause our hearts to ‘be on the alert’.

    The only response is a true repentance. Openly FULL OPEN confession by RZIM.

    Sadly, but this is very true, without this kind of transparency of confession, just like king David, it may even be the end of that ministry due to the great offense. Yes there may be great financial cost with honestly. Many may take advantage. Many will no longer support. Yet, the ministry will have a clear conscience. Those in charge will be able to walk away knowing they did what Paul would have done. Confront the sin. Stand firm. Let God work out the pieces and heal the hearts who have been deeply offended.

    If RZIM demonstrated this kind of transparency, then they will be following the example of Apostle Paul. RZIM is now in the cross hairs of their test of faith, who owns the ministry? The Gospel made it successful, who is it’s author and founder? Who’s does it belong to? Who is able to make it stand or fall?

    I end with great sadness to learn of this and very disappointed. It is not the first time the secret sins of leaders has been openly announced, sadly but true, it will not be the last. The pain from learning this is deep. Yet, I must be honest. How will I allow this to effect my life? How does Christ respond? What is my response?

    My only desire is for God to ‘keep’ me from evil. I even now ask Christ to probe my heart to see if there is any darkness or evil. Learning this of Ravi prove Paul’s call for me to ‘not be deceived’ and never put my greatest trust in men, yet only follow Christ and Him alone.

    Sincerely saddened,
    Michael

    1. I come into agreement with you Michael. On everything you said. We as followers of Christ are called to love others, fight our own flesh and the enemy of Christ. This side of heaven none of us can struggle perfectly. Often it is in hind sight that I realize my sin. Trust me I sin everyday. My sins are against God for allowing evil to get a foothold. I beg and plead to be perfect. Its a process. I can not do it alone. I admit all my short comings to Him daily. I do not hide my sin from others. There is no healing in that. No purposeful prayer in hiding my sins. God knows them all in my relationship with him. The hard part is finding a human to confess to, in trust and accountability. As you say we live in a fallen world. There is precious little help in the physical. But praise the Lord I am starting to hear Him in the spirit. I would loath to be a Christian leader for fear of the righteous backlash because I have been tricked by the enemy and his shenanigans. I thank my heavenly Father that by the Son’s stripes I am healed. By His spirit I am guided towards the day when He finalizes who He intended me to be. Jesus is my hope… not Ravi nor any church leaders. God knows His saints. Jesus knows His bride. I pray daily with the saints in mind.

  9. I am more shocked and disappointed hearing this about Ravi than any television evanglist stories. I always enjoyed his steady and bold teaching. I was so sad for him and his family when he died. Now I am stunned!
    How could he love Jesus and be sexually unfaithful to his wife? Misuse the money given for Christian ministry?
    LIe and even take Lorie to court when she was telling the truth? He was a liar in the end. If his family members knew then they are accomplices. I am shocked and stunned! I have been walking with Jesus for 47 years. This wont make any difference to my walk, but I think Ravi needs to be publically flogged! I am just sorry he is dead.
    Pam

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