Christianity Today (CT) is reporting that Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) has opened an investigation into allegations that its late founder and namesake sexually harassed multiple massage therapists who worked at two day spas he co-owned.
The Christian media outlet is reporting that three women who worked at the businesses, located in a strip mall in the Atlanta suburbs, told CT that Ravi Zacharias “touched them inappropriately, exposed himself, and masturbated during regular treatments over a period of about five years.” Zacharias’ business partner also reportedly said he regrets not stopping Zacharias and sent an apology text to one of the victims this month.
One of the alleged victims in the article states that when she heard of the sexting allegations against Zacharias in 2017, she immediately knew that Zacharias’ alleged victim, Lori Anne Thompson, was telling the truth. She said Zacharias had masturbated in front of her and had solicited explicit photos from her when he was traveling. (To read my articles on the sexting scandal, click here.)
RZIM is denying the claims. In a statement to CT, RZIM said that the charges of sexual misconduct “do not in any way comport with the man we knew for decades.” The organization reportedly has hired a law firm to look into the allegations, which date back at least 10 years. CT says RZIM declined to answer any further questions about the inquiry.
To read the full CT article, click here.
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Steve Baughman, author of Cover-Up in the Kingdom was the first to break the story of spa workers whom Zacharias allegedly sexually harassed. His video explaining the allegations and his evidence is below:
51 thoughts on “Christianity Today Reports on Claims of Sexual Misconduct by Ravi Zacharias at Day Spas”
It reflects horribly on RZIM and doesn’t portend an honest inquiry and truth-seeking by them when they already out-of-hand deny the sexual misconduct claims and hire a law firm for a non-independent investigation, digging their hole deeper in the process.
I read RZIM’s first response to Lori Anne’s allegations. It seems they are sticking to their guns on that issue. They bring out the defense that this is not the Ravi they know. Is it a matter of disbelief, naiveté, or gaslighting? No one truly knows a mans heart, especially in the area of his sexuality. It also doesn’t seem like there is to be an independent investigation. I hope you talk a bit about their official responses.
God ALWAYS shines a light on darkness…and only Light can reveal what is truly lurking in the heart of man.
I certainly hope these allegations can be proven and not just delegated to gossip or “he said, she said.” If these can’t be proven then a man’s reputation is being destroyed because of hearsay.
“CT has verified the identities and job histories of the three women. They shared their stories under the condition that they not be named, fearing the stigma of coming forward as victims and possible retribution for harming the reputation of a famous Christian leader. They spoke with CT by phone multiple times over the past five weeks, and CT heard from three coworkers at the spas who corroborated elements of their accounts.”
CT? The same publication that published James MacDonald’s “Why suing is sometimes the biblical thing to do?” among other questionable things. While these allegations may or may not be true citing CT at least for me does not give me any level of confidence in the veracity of these claims.
Given that they’ve defended both James MacDonald and Ravi Zacharias in the past, it seems that this actually gives them more credibility on this story. They are clearly not an attack machine. If even they believe the story enough to publish it, it’s probably true.
Susan. It is good to care about false accusations. But you don’t have to worry about that here. Christianity Today just published this a few hours ago, a discussion of how they did their investigation. They talked to seven different people at the spas. Plus reviewed documents and an apology from Ravi Z business partner. https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/september-web-only/ravi-zacharias-sexual-misconduct-report.html
The video clip was produced by Steve Baughman. He is an avowed Atheist. I’ve been trying to understand Julie’s agenda the past years why she has been hunting Evangelical leaders down. Has she been wounded by an Evangelical leader herself? And now has a vendetta to harm the Evangelical community? Even making league with an atheist to promote her cause. Even if this is all true, how does this news inform me? Does it edify? Is this honorable? Is it lovely? Is this of good repute? Worthy of praise? Is there any excellence in this reporting? (Phil. 4:8). Why would I even want to dwell on this? I don’t even know Ravi personally. I was never in his circles. I know of him. I watched a few of his presentations on YouTube and was greatly encouraged in the faith. But now his name is under ill repute. Now when I think of him, I think of these disgusting allegations (true or untrue). It causes me to think twice before ever listening to him again or benefiting from his writings. I can hear the atheist applauding. Well done Julie. Well done. Who’s next?
I have no vendetta. I loved Ravi and got to interview him in person when I worked for Moody Radio. But your implied suggestion that we ignore wrongdoing among Christian leaders is unbiblical. Scripture tells us to expose wrongdoing and leaders who perpetrate it. (Eph. 5:11; 1 Tim. 5:20) God does not look the other way when it comes to sin. He brought judgment on His own people in the OT and exiled them to Babylon!
As for Steve Baughman, I think it’s an indictment on Christians that none of this would have come to light had this man not pursued justice. And frankly, he has shown more integrity than many of the Christians I’ve encountered in my reporting the past few years.
Evangelicalism needs reform badly. But it’s not going to happen if Christians keep excusing sin and attacking the messengers as you’re doing here. I truly hope you reconsider your position.
DC – see https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/september-web-only/editors-note-ravi-zacharias-investigation.html
“As for Steve Baughman, I think it’s an indictment on Christians that none of this would have come to light had this man not pursued justice. And frankly, he has shown more integrity than many of the Christians I’ve encountered in my reporting the past few years.”
This hits the nail on the head. The evangelical community was not able to deal with the truth about this hero without the help of this atheist lawyer. We should be thanking him profusely! He not only uncovered this terrible problem, but he also blew the whistle on Zacharias’s decades of dishonesty about his academic credentials – something that many evangelical leaders willfully ignored and allowed the public to be deceived about. Baughman should get some kind of award – seriously. As should Julie Roys, who has been vigilant in her reporting truths that many of her peers and audience have not wanted to hear.
Thank you Julie.
“To whom much is given, much will be required” is the operating principle. In an arena, theology, where verifiable facts are vanishingly rare, the proof of faith – that what is believed is real – is comportment, particularly self-discipline. That’s the coin of the Realm, the principal we trade in.
DC, your comment is discouraging to me, but does speak to the attitude of many in the Church who will consistently circle the wagons of their tribe in trying to cover up a leader’s sin, and blame/discipline those who call it out, damaging many more lives and Christian witness to the Truth, who stands up for the oppressed and still rebukes hypocrites, especially would-be leaders and public figures whose responsibility is much greater than others. Julie has done a wonderful service to integrity by duly crediting Steve Baughman for his work in correctly uncovering some of Ravi’s deceptions, which will do infinitely more good to helping people like Steve find the Truth than your approach as stated here.
You should now view Ravi in a different Light; would you rather perpetually stick your head in the sand and hide from reality?
Do you really believe that Julie has a vendetta to harm the Evangelical community? She is a part of the Evangelical community. Are we afraid to expose these men because we worry it makes us look bad? Yes. We. Are.
What a horrible reason to not want to expose these fellas. There has been so much swept under the rug because we don’t want to be embarrassed. Many men’s reputations will be destroyed because of their sin. Christianity will survive.
Julie has read Eph 5:11 and 1 Tim 5:20. Maybe next time you are in a hotel you could see if there’s a Gideon Bible in the nightstand and check it out?
WHY is he CO-OWNING SPAS!!!!!????
Carla, that’s a very good question.
I think some patience may be necessary for the RZIM employees who truly didn’t have a clue. Imagine learning your Christian hero is masturbating in front of day spa workers – there’s got to be some cognitive dissonance between those two versions of Ravi. I think within the next year you’ll get to see who at RZIM accepts the truth and who doesn’t, but it will take some time. And also, I don’t believe any man can be characterized simply as a monster. Presumably, after a long day at work, Ravi returned home, kissed his wife, hugged his kids, and gave his dog a scratch behind the ears. It doesn’t mean he didn’t also hurt and abuse people. I’m thankful that his victims have spoken out and Julie cares enough to report on the facts. I like what Paul says in Romans, to avoid people like Ravi. Ravi’s dead, but we’ll have plenty more opportunities to put Paul’s words into practice.
Don’t even fool yourself for one minute that Margie was blissfully unaware of what Ravi was up to.
I’m not commenting about anyone in particular. I’m saying that this has got to be a shock to the system for people who didn’t have a clue. Anger is a healthy emotion to have after reading that CT article, but let’s have some patience as people wrap their minds around Ravi.
I’ve been patient for many years. That hasn’t changed.
In his statement about the Thompsons, Ravi wrote, “I have long made it my practice not to be alone with a woman other than Margie and our daughters—not in a car, a restaurant, or anywhere else.”
Even if these allegations of sexual misdeeds at the day spas are untrue, which is unlikely given the corroborating evidence, Ravi was clearly not truthful in his statement about the lawsuit. His categorical denial that he was not alone with women anywhere has proved to be untrue.
While I understand that we (myself included) all do and say things we shouldn’t and are capable of misrepresenting the truth to suit our current convenience for even trivial matters that pale in comparison to what is described here, I find it difficult to accept Ravi’s narrative refuting the larger misdeed (e.g. sexting, pastoral abuse, etc.) when it is proven to contain obvious mistruths (lies) about far less consequential matters (i.e. just being alone with a woman anywhere).
Once someone has proven themselves dishonest by telling so-called white lies about inconsequential items, I think we should accept that the person is untruthful. Apart from the grace to repent, what would compel someone to go from lying about unimportant matters to telling the truth when the stakes are higher?
If people like DC have their way sin would not be exposed and we can close our eyes in Jesus Disneyland…..and more sin will happen…more women abused…ignorance is foolish!
The Bible says to go to the offender in person. In the case like this, one wouldn’t go alone, but bring a counselor or another witness. If Ravi doesn’t own up one would take it farther, to his ministry or church. This should have been reported right away. I think that’s what we should tell people: people rarely change unless challenged. Be brave and confront. If we have a friend who needs our moral support, support them.
I blew the whistle on a big name Pastor by going to an elder in that church who was quite kind and supportive of me and who proceeded with church discipline. There are good people out there who will help you. Not everyone is dazzled by theological fame.
And one ought not sue for $5 million. That’s where Lori Ann lost my support.
“The Bible says to go to the offender in person.”
I don’t think that would apply to a victim of sexual abuse. I would definitely go to the police first. In an interview a while back, Boz Tchividjian made some perceptive comments about this matter. Even though he was specifically referring to the sexual abuse of children, I think what he said would apply to the sexual abuse of adults as well:
“I am always encountering professing Christians who quote Matthew 18 as the biblical process by which child sexual abuse must be addressed within the Christian community. As a consequence, this passage is used as a justification for 1) not reporting abuse disclosures to the civil authorities and 2) convincing sexual abuse victims to privately confront their perpetrators. Needless to say, this misinterpretation of Matthew 18 is hugely destructive on a number of fronts. More importantly, this misinterpretation is simply not biblical. . . .
“A fundamental point that must be understood early on in this discussion is that the crime of child sexual abuse is not merely a personal offense, but rather it is an urgent public concern. Child sexual abuse does not even fit into the paradigm of which Jesus was speaking in Matthew 18. Jesus never intended his statements in Matthew 18 to be twisted into the required method for handling murder, rape, torture, kidnapping, or genocide. Child sexual abuse is not a private matter but rather a public and civic one, rightly under the sword of the civil authority. All are endangered by this crime against a little one.
“Matthew 18 is important for local church life, because Jesus commands us there how to deal with sin. But it is not the only passage in which Jesus tells us how to deal with sin. It must be properly synthesized with others that address the same subject directly and/or indirectly. It is critical to remember that all passages are regulated and interpreted by the balance of Scripture.”
Oops, meant to indent my comment under the one by Godith. :)
OK, go to the police first. The point is: don’t let the offense continue upon oneself or potentially others. Leaving offense unaddressed and potentially unpunished for years-in this case, after the alleged offender’s death– does no one any good.
Be brave. Get a supportive friend. Be a supportive friend. Encourage people not to stay silent. Sunshine is the best disinfectant.
DC posted asking why Julie keeps “hunting Evangelical leaders down”. In addition to the biblical admonitions that have been posted here, keep in mind these are leaders of large organizations who constantly fund-raise for “ministry” purposes. When those funds are not used as described for ministry, we should know, and not keep sending money to organizations that misuse it and misrepresent the Lord’s work. Therefore Julie provides a valuable service to us.
I agree, Godith—do SOMETHING to stop the offense from repeating itself. It might not be easy, but in the long run, you will probably be better off, as will others.
Godith, you are, of course, right. They should have reported it. But reporting can be very difficult for victims. Look at the violent backlash that Julie Roys has gotten for publishing this information. Look at the backlash that CT has gotten for publishing this article. Imagine if someone had reported him to the authorities. It would have been impossible to actually provide evidence that the abuse actually happened. I’m sure there were no video recordings of Ravi masturbating or sticking his hands in women’s pants. He could have hired hotshot lawyers and obliterated the witnesses.
In addition, there was a strong element of denial involved. Here was this “really good guy” who was doing some really sick stuff. Their minds had trouble processing the cognitive dissonance.
It’s easy to say that people should just report stuff. Of course they should. But there are a lot of reasons why 2/3 of sexual assaults are never reported. Don’t blame the victims. Blame the perp.
“It’s easy to say that people should just report stuff. Of course they should. But there are a lot of reasons why 2/3 of sexual assaults are never reported. Don’t blame the victims. Blame the perp.”
Very true, Joel. Even Madonna said that she failed to report being raped at age 19 when she first moved to New York, because she felt it just wasn’t worth it.
When I was in junior high, I was bullied by this guy who I was really afraid of. One time, he told me that if I didn’t do a specific thing (which I won’t go into detail about) to sabotage my grade in the class we were in, he was going to come after me with a knife. I was terrified. So, I did it. As a result, I ended up getting a B instead of an A in the class, and my teacher was shocked why I did what I did.
Anyway, that was decades ago. I never told my teacher about what happened, nor have I ever told any of my family members—to this day. Most of the time, people who say “You MUST report what happened” can’t relate to what it’s like to be a victim.
Incidentally, I had told my principal about the bullying at least twice before, and all he did was “talk” to the bully. And guess what happened to the bully—NOTHING. I never told my principal about the knife threat, though. When you go to people in authority and they’re total wimps who do nothing, you lose hope and decide it’s best to just stay silent. I realize now that I should’ve told the POLICE about the knife threat, and the bully should’ve been *expelled*.
In a nutshell, I have total sympathy for victims who stay silent, because the thought of coming forward can be utterly terrifying.
If this wasn’t Ravi Zacharias – would anyone try to defend this behaviour?
Calling out sexual misconduct amongst those who claim to follow Christ is hardly a new thing – the Corinthian church was condemned by Paul for letting sexual perversion slide.
Christian – When you try to protect the reputation of documented deviants, you are contradicting Scripture.
The early church probably didn’t like this any more than we do today, but if Christ’s glory is our highest goal, then we cannot remain silent or passive.
Ephesians 5:3-6 – 3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
It is actually insane that we have to defend the calling out of sin – that is how far removed our Christian culture has unhitched itself from the actual teachings of God’s Word.
Bingo, JT. You hit the nail on the head here. I have been blown away by the amount of adoration that people have for Ravi and their unwillingness to consider that he may really have engaged in abusive, sinful behavior.
“It is actually insane that we have to defend the calling out of sin – that is how far removed our Christian culture has unhitched itself from the actual teachings of God’s Word.”
You are so right.
I think there’s one other big thing at play here, which is why World Magazine and Julie Roys and others were slow to act on this – is that Ravi Zacharias was not James MacDonald or Paula White or Jerry Falwell, Jr. His public persona was gracious, he seemed to have a high standard for himself, he had (I thought) accountability structures in place (maintaining his Christian and Missionary Alliance credentials since he was a young evangelist), and it just is very hard to wrap our heads and hearts around the fact that he wasn’t. I’m not saying I thought he was perfect, but this was a story I never would have expected.
The victims deserve to be heard; the donors to RZIM deserve a full accounting; Christian and Missionary Alliance needs to answer some tough questions; and there needs to be full accountability. Those defending Ravi in the face of these credible (and substantiated) allegations have a problem, but I’d extend a bit more grace to those who are trying to connect the gracious public persona with his true self.
Doesn’t a massage therapist, a doctor, a nurse, an acupuncturist, etc. have an obligation to report lewd behavior of a patient/client? I would think so. Then it’s not a matter of a practitioner having to decide what to do. They’d have the support of their registry board.
Yes, clearly the massage therapists are at fault for not reporting the spa owner’s deviant behavior… /s
When would the spa workers have had support from anyone? We can see that many powerful people get away with this behavior without consequences. Most likely the massage therapists would have been fired.
Look at Robert Kraft – he committed the crime but will likely be acquitted through tactical legal arguments that will cause the video evidence to be disallowed.
It happens in the world and it happens in the church. People are equally capable of sin and self-deception apart from the grace of God.
When it happens in the church, though, we should not brush it aside like the world does. You cannot fault victims of powerful men for not promptly reporting the offenses, and you cannot excuse powerful men for preying on victims.
The spa workers are being believed now. I’d have taken his photo and then reported it.
He would: DARVO. Deny, accuse, Reverse Victim and Offender. I think that’s how it goes.
Others can talk about Ravi’s sex stuff. What I found most telling from the CT article is his admissions in private that he wished he could chuck his whole public ministry and basically get his life back, that his ministry was just a big burden and headache to him.
I left evangelicalism 30 years ago, partly for this reason, that all the “right” theology wasn’t actually a source of joy and life to most people, especially many of its leaders.
Men who are truly fulfilled, secure, and happy in their faith don’t need sex to fill their emptiness, they don’t behave in petty, mean spirited ways when criticized, they don’t need money or perks or power or praise from men to feel good, and their lives aren’t characterized by rigidity of thought on the one hand, and private misconduct on the other.
Frank Schaeffer said that dad Francis was only happy in Italian art museums, and was miserable in the actual work of his ministry, despite all his outward zeal. And how many James MacDonalds, Bill Hybels, Mark Driscolls, Jerry Falwell Jr.’s, Jim Bakkers, Jimmy Swaggerts, and Ted Haggards have we seen in the past 30 years?
A misbehaving and brittle man is an unfulfilled man. A lifetime of faith and prayer and Scripture study and ministry work ought to produce better men than this; there is a huge gulf between the promise of an abundant life and the reality of evangelical lives.
I can’t honestly say I left anything valuable behind 30 years ago, except for regular contact with a few friends I like and respect. But they were good people apart from the evangelical church; and frankly, even with my faults, so was I. I know this because I still am 30 years later.
“A lifetime of faith and prayer and Scripture study and ministry work ought to produce better men than this; there is a huge gulf between the promise of an abundant life and the reality of evangelical lives.”
Profound. Thanks for saying this, Don.
“Frank Schaeffer said”: Frank (the son) has been shown to be relating false information about his parents, so I don’t buy the Schaeffer stuff you mention.
As for Ravi’s life lacking joy and the ministry being a burden, I can only speculate. This is typical “poor me” talk used to gain sympathy from the person you want to take advantage of, aka, grooming. If Ravi was burned out, or whatever, all he had to do was step down. If he really said it, I think he was manipulating.
As of today, I’m not buying these allegations, *from unnamed sources.* I will reserve judgement. A man’s sexual nature is a powerful thing. I’m not naive to think it can’t happened. Let’s wait and see.
These are unnamed sources to you and me. Christianity Today knows who they are. Steven Baughman knows who they are. I suspect World Magazine and Julie Roys will soon know who they are. The Christianity Today article is thorough. They checked backgrounds, texts, and verifiable information. These women are not out to “get” Zacharias. I find the CT story to be very credible. Oh, and by the way … when World Magazine just mentioned Ravi’s sexting scandal in his obituary, they got creamed. Christian magazines don’t run this stuff without good sourcing.
Christianity Today did solid reporting. This just out a few hours ago. https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/september-web-only/ravi-zacharias-sexual-misconduct-report.html
Report the lewd behavior. To everybody who needs to know–the police, his church, your manager. Tell the jerk that his private parts are not exciting to you, but a trip to the police station might be exciting for him.
Why, oh, why, do massage rooms not have windows or why can’t workers buzz the supervisor surreptitiously so he/she can walk in on the lewd idiot?
Godith, while lewd behavior should certainly be reported your comment comes very close to victim-blaming. The problem here is the perpetrator.
Evidence has come to light indicating that Razi sought to abuse multiple women in more than one setting. Statements of rejection by the women he abused did not stop him, and additional windows or buzzers at the massage parlor he owned would not have either. The immorality came from inside of Razi.
“What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” Mark 7:20-23
No kidding. A guy exposed himself to me and I reported him. Of course his lewd behavior came from his heart and reporting him didn’t cure his sinful nature, but it put brakes on it. And reporting is the wise thing to do.
Offices have windows in them so that behavior is observable even while confidential discussion is not audible. Insurance companies typically require windows for just such a reason.
It is difficult to take in these facts. I really liked Ravi and even admired the guy so I understand why RZIM would have a hard time taking this in. I still do believe though that his contributions to Christian apologetics cannot be dismissed just because he is a sinner. I’ll acknowledge his wrongdoings and that there must be consequences (knowing God, there probably will be) but that won’t stop me from reading his works. Ravi has helped me become even more steadfast in my faith, and even knowing his sins and what he has done, I can still continue to believe in God because of what I learned from him.
I am thankful to Julie and Steven for bringing it out, I’m sure God has many more plans for you (never mind that Steven is an atheist)
A man of God is always the prime target for the devil.We tend to see things from the worlds perspective,and often except the smiling deceptions of God hating people that seek to smear God’s heritage.l think these allegations must be filtered through the crucible of the Lord’s judgement bar not through sickly persons intent to ruin a man’s reputation.If Ravi is indeed found out for inappropriate conduct God alone has the final say not those taking cheap shots at a deceased brother.– Michael
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