Ravi Zacharias, RZIM (Ravi Zacharias International Ministries), Credentials
“Nothing is as important as the truth.”
~Ravi Zacharias in The Real Face of Atheism, at p. 105.
The case of Ravi Zacharias and his inflated credentials continues and this post updates (and documents) the latest events.
Yesterday (Nov. 29, 2017), Steve Baughman (a lawyer, atheist, and the writer at RaviWatch) forwarded to me an email threat he received. I posted about it on Twitter. I have had threats before, and each time they have been on cases where there has been misconduct of some kind. I believe this case is no different.
Here is a screenshot of the email:
The email threat reads:
“Phoning for a friend. They are coming for you and u need to tell whoever is your source that also.”
Steve Baughman has no idea who the sender is. Neither of us know what “coming for you” means.
Mr. Baughman gave the following statement to me after receiving the e-mail threat:
“I spent an hour with Mr. Zacharias the other night and I do not think he is a thug. But he runs a $25 million ministry and there are powerful people who have a vested interest in keeping his reputation from crumbling. Maybe there are thugs among them. Why wouldn’t there be? On the other hand, this could just be some quack. I’ve had a couple death threats in my day and they are just part of the turf. I shall keep plowing onward until Mr. Zacharias shows me that my allegations are mistaken or he admits his failings regarding the woman he sued and regarding his academic credentials.” ~Steve Baughman, November 29, 2017
Obviously, someone is not pleased at what Mr. Baughman has been doing. And as things heat up, I suspect there will be more obstacles.
Mr. Zacharias’ credentials have been addressed for many years. Why has there been no adequate response from RZIM or Ravi Zacharias?
For 2-1/2 years, attorney Steve Baughman has been drawing attention to the fact that Ravi Zacharias has reportedly made false claims about his academic credentials. Mr. Baughman has been encouraging Ravi Zacharias to either admit that he has been careless in how he has described his academic credentials, or prove that his assertions about those credentials are incorrect.
I was surprised at what lengths Mr. Baughman went to get the word out. Why would an atheist care? He answers this question very well here. If you are one who values truth, as I certainly do, you will see that Mr. Baughman shares those same principles. Additionally, he is concerned about the “Code of Silence” that surrounds big-name leaders when they overlook issues such as fabrication or deception. The “Code of Silence” is a continual theme here at Spiritual Sounding Board when I cover cases of sexual abuse, misconduct, etc., by church or Christian leaders. Atheists and Christians alike should be concerned when a person in a position of trust uses that power to silence people.
Public Statement from RZIM Ministry on Facebook Page
It’s now been three days since the statement was released, but there has been no response from RZIM or Mr. Zacharias as to the specific allegations.
One of the primary issues that I have seen in comments on various articles and the RZIM statement is that we should not trust Steve Baughman because he is an atheist who is attempting to discredit Mr. Zacharias. I disagree. Mr. Baughman is addressing the issue that we Christians ourselves should be addressing: Is Mr. Zacharias acting with integrity and transparency on the subject of his inflated or misleading credentials?
I do not believe that he is. I conducted a “Ravi Zacharias” name search on Facebook and found a post by Dr. John G. Stackhouse, Jr., in which he addressed the credential issue. You may find the comments in the Facebook thread interesting, I did.
Who is Dr. John G. Stackhouse, Jr.? “
Born in Canada, and raised in southwestern England and northern Ontario, John Stackhouse was educated in history and religious studies at Mount Carmel Bible School in Alberta, Queen’s University in Ontario (B.A., First Class Honours), Wheaton College Graduate School in Illinois (M.A., with Highest Honors), and The University of Chicago (Ph.D.).
According to his online profile, Dr. Stackhouse is also the author of 9 books and over 600 articles. He speaks around the globe, and his views about religion and contemporary culture can be found in both print and broadcast media.
Dr. Stackhouse raised the issue of Mr. Zacharias’ inflated credentials to at least two friends connected with RZIM many years ago. I reached out to Dr. Stackhouse, asking if he would be willing to say something publicly about this situation, and he graciously responded:
I have not made a serious study of Ravi Zacharias’s credentials in the past. I just noticed—more than twenty years ago—that he seemed to be “over-claiming,” and when I mentioned it on separate occasions to at least two friends who were, at the time, affiliated with RZIM, they fell silent and didn’t want to discuss the matter. I have never met him, and felt that it was appropriate to raise the issue instead with mutual acquaintances before doing anything else. When neither initiative went anywhere, I interpreted the silence as implying there was no point in pressing the issue. So I dropped the matter, even as I kept noticing the pattern. Dr. John G. Stackhouse, Jr., November 30, 2017
Aside from Dr. Stackhouse’s concerns two decades ago, another Christian, Tom Lunal, also addressed the issue of Mr. Zacharias and inflated credentials two years ago in 2015, with Steve Baughman and Andy Norman: Has Evangelist Ravi Zacharias Lied About His Credentials?
Ravi Zacharias and people from his ministry, RZIM, have failed to resolve these issues in a prompt and transparent manner. This is wrong, and it is troubling.
NOTE: As of December 8, 2017, the following section will not be updated. It is replaced by the following post where news updates and new links will be included: Resource Archive and FAQs on the Ravi Zacharias and RZIM Situation.
Related Links (From 2017 Unless Otherwise Noted)
Initial links posted 11-30-2017. Additional links and notations may be added to expand this reference section.
Warren Throckmorton’s blog:
- Another False Credentials Claim: Ravi Zacharias (UPDATED), November 24, 2017. [Link added 11-30-2017.]
- Fact Checking Claims about Ravi Zacharias’ Credentials: Is Dr. Zacharias in the House?, November 27, 2017. [Link added 11-30-2017.]
- Was Ravi Zacharias a Visiting Scholar at Cambridge University?, November 28, 2017. [Link added 11-30-2017.]
- Fact and Fiction in Ravi Zacharias’ Responses to Allegations of Misconduct, December 3, 2017. [Link added 12-04-2017.]
- Ravi Zacharias International Ministries: We Don’t Call Ravi Doctor Except When We Do, December 5, 2017. [Link added 12-05-2017.]
- Christianity Today Podcast: John Stackhouse on Ravi Zacharias and Credential Inflation, December 8, 2017. Includes the link to the podcast itself, plus transcripts of an exchange between host Morgan Lee and Professor John Stackhouse. [Link added 12-08-2017.]
Steve Baughman’s media:
- RaviWatch. For a one-paragraph summary of findings to refute each claim by Mr. Zacharias, see the Fishy Claims page (which is the same URL as the RaviWatch homepage). The “More info” links on each claim take you to the related section on the Detailed Documentation page. [Links added 12-01-2017.]
- Guest post by Steve Baughman on August 24, 2015, on Jeffrey Day Lowder’s blog: Has Evangelist Ravi Zacharias Misrepresented His Academic Credentials? [Link added 11-30-2017.]
- Steve Baughman’s YouTube video channel: here. [Link added 11-30-2017.]
- The Christian Industrial Complex Shields Its Own, November 13, 2017. See the extensive section of over 50 endnotes for details on Mr. Baughman’s evidence sources. [Link added 11-30-2017. Note added 12-01-2017.]
The Wartburg Watch blog:
- This TWW article by Dee Parsons from October 2, 2015, reported on the credentials issue. [Link added 11-30-2017.]
- *Mr.* Ravi Zacharias Adds Pizzazz to His Bio and the Christian Industrial Complex Imposes the Cone of Silence, by Dee Parsons; November 29, 2017. [Link added 11-30-2017.]
- Mr. Ravi Zacharias and the Emails/Sex Scandal UPDATED, by Dee Parsons; December 1, 2017. [Link added 12-03-2017.]
- Ravi Zacharias: Why I Don’t Think His Response at Christianity Today Cleared Things Up, by Dee Parsons; December 4, 2017. [Link added 12-05-2017.]
Spiritual Sounding Board blog:
- Important New Video about Apologist Ravi Zacharias: Alleged False Credentials, Lawsuit, Online Relationship with Married Woman; November 26, 2017. [Link added 12-06-2017.]
- Ravi Zacharias: Email Threat and Ongoing Lack of Response About Reportedly Inflated Credentials; November 30, 2017. [Link added 12-06-2017.]
- Two Posts Containing Ravi Zacharias’ Personal Emails Were Removed: Why? (Updated); December 2, 2017. [Link added 12-06-2017.]
- Is Someone Manipulating YouTube Search for Steve Baughman’s Video: “The Case Against Ravi Zacharias?”; December 2, 2017. [Link added 12-06-2017.]
Ravi Zacharias sources:
- Ravi Zacharias Amazon Author Page. [Link added 12-01-2017. Note that as of this date, Mr. Zacharias’ author bio still refers to him as Dr. Zacharias.] [Update: The Author Page was still the same on the evening of December 3rd, but a significantly edited and expanded version replaced it by the morning of December 4th. Note added 12-04-2017.]
- Ravi Zacharias biography from RZIM “About” page. [Link added 12-01-2017. Note that as of this date, the bio states it was “Updated 17 May 2017.”] [Update: The bio was revised as of December 3, 2017. Note added 12-04-2017.]
- Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) link: Ravi Zacharias bio for ECFA Board of Reference. [Link added 12-01-2017.] [It appears this bio has not been updated for as much as 7 years, as it mentions Mr. Zacharias being in ministry for 36 years, and his most recent book being one first published in 2010. Note added 12-04-2017.]
RZIM (Ravi Zacharias International Ministries) sources:
- RZIM – Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. [Link added 12-01-2017.]
- Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) organizational links: RZIM. Wellspring International (“A Benevolence Wing of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries“). Links added 12-01-2017.]
RZIM Non-profit Data. All of the following information is public access information for non-profits. Ravi Zacharias International Ministries is registered as a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation. The Employee Identification Number (EIN) for RZIM is EIN 13-3200719. This is the unique identifier number assigned to RZIM by the IRS. The IRS ruling year for RZIM was 1984, meaning this is the year it was granted non-profit status and donations would be tax-deductible. The NTEE Code for RZIM is (Christian X20) — for a description of what this code includes, see the National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities’ Religion-Related Codes page. [Added 12-01-2017.]
- Charity Navigator page for RZIM. [Link added 12-01-2017.]
- Guidestar page for RZIM. [Link added 12-01-2017.]
- ProPublica page for RZIM. The ProPublica “Nonprofit Explorer” page for RZIM includes summary financial information and links to Forms 990, which detail financial and organizational aspects of the corporation. The compensation of officers/staff chart in Form 990, Part VII, lists directors and key employees. [Link added 12-01-2017.]
Other sources, news reports, and analysis:
- MinistryWatch: Ravi Zacharias Faces Criticism for Exaggerated Credentials and Settling a Lawsuit with an Apparent Extortionist. [Link added 12-06-2017.]
- The Christian Post: Ravi Zacharias’ Ministry Responds to ‘Egregious Claims’ and ‘Slander’ About His Character, Accomplishments, by Brandon Showalter; November 27, 2017. [Link added 11-30-2017.]
- Christianity Today: Ravi Zacharias Responds to Sexting Allegations, Credentials Critique, by Kate Shellnutt and Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra; December 3, 2017. [Link added 12-03-2017.]
- Friendly Atheist: Ravi Zacharias Lied About His Credentials, and It’s All Your Fault, by Hemant Mehtah; December 4, 2017. [Link added 12-04-2017.]
- The Christian Post: Ravi Zacharias Denies Accusations of Illicit Online Sexual Relationship, Credential Misrepresentation, by Brandon Showalter; December 4, 2017. [Link added 12-04-2017.]
- Christianity Today, Podcast Episode 85, with guest Professor John G. Stackhouse. Ravi Zacharias and the Case of Christian Credential Inflation. “Many evangelists and apologists have a history of overstating their qualifications.” December 7, 2017.