ABUSE & VIOLENCE IN THE CHURCH, Clergy Misconduct, Clergy Sex Abuse, Ravi Zacharias, Spiritual Abuse

Ravi Zacharias Must Explain: Lawsuit, Narratives, and Emails

Ravi Zacharias, Lawsuit, RZIM (Ravi Zacharias International Ministries), Sex Scandal


***

Ravi Zacharias, sex scandal, falsified credentials, lawsuit
Twitter photo

“Pleasure without God, without the sacred boundaries, will actually leave you emptier than before. And this is biblical truth, this is experiential truth. The loneliest people in the world are amongst the wealthiest and most famous who found no boundaries within which to live. That is a fact I’ve seen again and again.” ~ Ravi Zacharias

***

UPDATE 2/12/21:  This post is once again being published today (February 12, 2021). After it was originally published, the victim, Lori Anne Thompson (pseudonym “June” in this article) requested that I remove it. I normally do not remove posts, but deferred to Lori Anne’s request because of my commitment to “Do No Harm” when it comes to survivors. They are the ones who get to tell their story on their own timing. As it turns out, screenshots were taken from this original article and were reposted, but I didn’t feel it right to post it again until I got the green light. Since then, Lori Anne has gone public with her story. That is sufficient green light for me. This is her story. She wants it told.  ~Julie Anne Smith

I have covered the topic of clergy sexual misconduct before. The sexual grooming situations of Tullian Tchividjian was a case Brad Sargent and I covered in great detail. Through my advocacy work in defending victims of clergy sexual abuse, one of Tullian Tchividjian’s victims reached out to me for support. I believed her account of what happened, but it took many months before she decided to report her experiences publicly. Because of Rachel’s bravery, clear evidence, and willingness to go public with her report, Tullian Tchividjian is no longer a pastor. Hopefully, he will never use his position of influence to harm again.

And now, I bring another account of abuses by a person in power. On January 9, 2017, I received an email and subsequent phone call from a woman who told me about her relationship with Ravi Zacharias. I was very shocked to hear this news because I had only known Mr. Zacharias as trustworthy.

However, as I listened to this woman share her experiences, I heard the same pattern that I had heard from four of Tullian Tchividjian’s victims. I was looking for the patterns of sexual grooming, and it was unmistakably there.

Legal information: This account contains information that is of public interest and import. Ravi Zacharias is a public figure. I believe all of the information in this article to be true, and it is being provided to show how people in positions of power and trust can use their positions to harm. 

What are Sexual Grooming and Clergy Sexual Misconduct?

Sexual grooming is a process that can take weeks or months, by which a perpetrator gains the trust and emotional connection with someone — usually someone with a troubled background — with the eventual intention of using that person for sexual gratification.

Grooming may be gradual and subtle, desensitizing the congregant to increasingly inappropriate behavior while rewarding her for tolerance of that behavior. Offenders may use religious language to frame the relationship, such as “You are an answer to my prayer; I asked God for someone who can share my deepest thoughts, prayers, and needs and he sent me you” (Liberty, 2001, p. 85). Grooming is essentially seduction in a relationship in which a religious leader holds spiritual power over the congregant. (How Clergy Sexual Misconduct Happens: A Qualitative Study of First-Hand Accounts)

Clergy sexual misconduct occurs when someone in a role of religious authority over another misuses that position of power for his/her sexual gratification. While not every state in the U.S. has specific laws about clergy sexual misconduct/abuse, some do — and many states have laws about how “consent” by the underling cannot be used as a defense against criminal charges when there is this kind of power/authority differential in the relationship.

Based on my phone and email conversations with this woman, I believe that she is a victim of grooming by Mr. Zacharias that led to his clergy sexual misconduct with her.

***

Out-of-Court Settlement

Along the way, this woman and her husband began the process of taking legal action against Mr. Zacharias. A demand letter was sent by her attorney. Mr. Zacharias then responded by filing a legal complaint against the woman and her husband.

I found out that this case was settled out of court. November 24, 2017, was the last time I corresponded with the victim, not knowing the parameters of the settlement.

At this point, the settlement means that this victim’s voice cannot be heard; however, via the legal documentation that is publicly available, Mr. Zacharias has been able to give his narrative, which looks nothing like what I heard or read from the victim.

This troubles me greatly. A victim’s voice is silenced. Yes, she chose that, and I don’t understand all of the whys, but it is concerning because nothing is preventing this from happening again. Additionally, no major publications have covered the lawsuit. Unless someone speaks out publicly, this case will be lost in the shuffle.

***

Legal, Personal, and Organizational Issues in This Situation

On August 3, 2017, an amended complaint was filed by Mr. Zacharias’ attorneys against this woman and her husband in response to a demand letter filed by the woman’s attorney against Mr. Zacharias. (From here on, I will refer to the woman by the pseudonym, June.)

Surprisingly, in the complaint, Mr. Zacharias’ attorney included a demand letter from June’s attorney, Mark Bryant. The demand letter, dated April 27, 2017, by Attorney Mark Bryant refers to a specific e-mail written by Mr. Zacharias. Here is a quote from the demand letter:

In an email following many lengthy telephone conversations with you (we have copies of your emails and the call register), [June] informed you of her decision to tell [June’s husband] about this misconduct. You responded by email that you would end your life and “bid this world goodbye” if she confessed and outed you to her husband. You later admitted that this was not true and we have independent confirmation of many of these discussions by an anonymous third party.

In this quote, we see that Mr. Zacharias has threatened to kill himself if June informs her husband of Ravi and June’s relationship.

As I said earlier, I read the legal complaint submitted by Mr. Zacharias’ attorney which tells the narrative of Mr. Zacharias being the victim of June!  This doesn’t make sense one bit. The complaint also shows that the relationship lasted over months. That leaves me with questions:

  1. Why did Ravi Zacharias continue engaging with June for months if he didn’t like their conversations?
  2. The complaint alleges June was the initiator in the sexually explicit pictures sent. Why was RZIM board not notified?
  3. The demand email referenced one email from Ravi Zacharias where he said he would end his life if June told her husband. If Mr. Zacharias were guilt-free, why would he feel the need to end his life? People understand about fans who respond sexually to celebrities. Mr. Zacharias could have provided his entire communication with June to the Board to establish that he was guilty of no serious wrongdoing. And he did not. Why not? Because he was guilty?
  4. Whenever there is a connection between a Christian leader and another person, the onus is on the leader, the one in a position of trust, to ensure proper boundaries are established and kept so that it does not cross over into illicit territory. When there is such a power differential, misconduct is never the victim’s fault.

Along with the many years of Mr. Zacharias failing to be transparent about his academic credentials, I believe he needs to come clean on this issue, and not hide behind a settled lawsuit.

I believe June. I believe she reached out for help and wanted her voice to be heard. So I am releasing the following emails which were sent to me by June on February 27, 2017, long before any settlement was reached, any demand letter sent, and also long before any lawsuit was filed.

Mr. Zacharias and RZIM Board needs to address this.

***

“Beginning well is a momentary thing; finishing well is a lifelong thing.”

~ Ravi Zacharias

I know that Ravi Zacharias has been a hero of faith to many, and this will be difficult information to read. It is never my desire to do harm, but to bring light and truth to situations. My prayer is that Mr. Zacharias will finish well as he addresses these situations.

35 thoughts on “Ravi Zacharias Must Explain: Lawsuit, Narratives, and Emails”

  1. Julie Anne,

    Thank you for doing this and again trying to protect the sheep.

    June,

    If you are reading this right now, just know that we believe you. Our thoughts and prayers are with you during what must be an extremely difficult time for you. You are not alone.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you, June, for sharing your story. I wish you and your husband continued healing and peace.

    As for those who abuse their power and trust placed upon them:

    For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. Luke 8:17

    Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out. Proverbs 10:9

    Liked by 1 person

  3. From Day one this guy was a tool to me, I know my old roommates use to fawn all over him and his “apologetics” LOL second grade at best. They liked Bob Lar$on Mike Warnke and Chuck Smith. They all road the Jesus train to pretty good lives, at least for some time. Warnke is the one I think tried to change the most but I could be wrong about that. In my opinion, Smith did far more damage to the faith than any of these other people. Seeing what he said at Lonie’s funeral was one of the most infuriating things I saw, to be honest.

    Like

  4. Please share this so that the powerful cannot take it down. Thank you Julie Anne!

    Please, Ravi, let the healing begin. Forget the lawyers and the DeMoss PR firm. How you make the world a better place given what you have done?

    Liked by 3 people

  5. June, I believe you, and I’m sorry you have to remain silent. I’m glad Julie Anne has been able to document this here.

    My abusive ex-husband counts Ravi as his #1 Christian hero. #2 is RC Sproul, and John Piper is arguably #3.

    Like

  6. @Brian:

    I know my old roommates use to fawn all over him and his “apologetics” LOL second grade at best. They liked Bob Lar$on Mike Warnke and Chuck Smith.

    Let me guess… Calvary Chapel-bots, with a side order of Mighty Spiritual Warrior and Satanic Panic Conspiracy?

    Smith did far more damage to the faith than any of these other people. Seeing what he said at Lonie’s funeral was one of the most infuriating things I saw, to be honest.

    “Smith” as in PastorChuckSmithCalvaryChapelCostaLotta (all one word), Fourth Person of the Trinity/There Can Be No Salvation Outside of Calvary Chapel?

    “Lonnie” as in Lonnie Frisbee, doubleplusunperson?

    Like

  7. In this quote, we see that Mr. Zacharias has threatened to kill himself if June informs her husband of Ravi and June’s relationship.

    I’ve been on the receiving end of the Suicide Threat Guilt Trip myself; it was a favorite guilt manipulation tactic of my manipulator brother after Mom died in ’75.

    My response these days?
    CALL.HIS. BLUFF.

    Like

  8. They were actually in a somewhat brethren stripe but definitely pre-trib rapture end time nonsense that was one of CC “distinctives”. Then came the years of “Jesus” will be back next year, next year etc. I can’t really explain how that twisted up the lives of so many back in the late 70-80’s.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. (Part 1) Headless Unicorn Guy said,

    … Suicide Threat Guilt Trip myself; it was a favorite guilt manipulation tactic of my manipulator brother after Mom died in ’75.

    My response these days?
    CALL.HIS. BLUFF.

    I don’t want anyone to misunderstand what I’m about here so I will say (as I’ve said on my blog before) that going back to my youth I’ve had suicidal ideation, along with depression.

    So I do take suicide as a topic seriously. I am not un-compassionate to anyone with such thoughts.

    I also know a lot of experts on the topic say never to doubt someone when they say they are thinking about suicide, that you should offer them help and so on.

    However, I’m kind of with HUG on this one, depending on the person and the circumstance.

    I used to have an online friend for several years who was an Emotional User, she would leech you dry. No amount of support and empathy for her was ever enough. Like clock work, about once every 8 or so months, she would threaten to kill herself.

    That went on for years (literally, years). I used to take each and every threat she made seriously, and I’d leave her the suicide hot line number, I’d ask her if she wanted my number to talk to me (she never took me up on that).

    (continued in Part 2)

    Like

  10. (Part 2, replying to HUG’s post)

    After X number years drifted by, I came to suspect that my online friend was the one the experts say doesn’t exist: she was in fact using threats of suicide to get attention (experts seem to suggest no such creature exists).

    I was livid once I figured it out. Then I started ignoring her “good bye cold world!” posts she would leave on this forum we used to visit.

    Once I stopped replying to her suicide posts, she’d either delete those posts or reply sheepishly,
    “Oh, I’m so embarrassed I threatened suicide AGAIN, dear me. I was just having a bad week and was wanting attention and sympathy!! Ever so sorry about that. Tee hee.”

    As a rule of thumb, I’d say go with the expert advice and treat EVERY threat from every person not as a bluff but as a real thing, but… I hate to say it…

    But there are a tiny, tiny number of people out there like my ex internet friend who do use such threats for attention, and it sounds like HUG knows someone (brother?) who plays the same game.

    Like

  11. Regarding the Ravi quote JA put at the top:

    “Pleasure without God, without the sacred boundaries, will actually leave you emptier than before. And this is biblical truth, this is experiential truth. The loneliest people in the world are amongst the wealthiest and most famous who found no boundaries within which to live. That is a fact I’ve seen again and again.” ~ Ravi Zacharias

    What good are your boundaries if you only talk about them, or pretend to believe in them, but do not actually LIVE BY THEM?

    I was saying earlier today at the other blog much the same thing. What is the point in following a faith if you’re not going to even try to consistently live out even its most basic morals?

    It seems to me that NOT lying about your resume, education, and NOT having an affair on your spouse are pretty easy morals to live up to.

    But since my Mom passed years ago, I’ve noticed so many Christians who don’t apparently even attempt to live by Christ’s teachings. I don’t expect total perfection from anyone, but just regular adherence to the basics at a minimum.

    For that, I kept getting dressed down or argued with by some guy over at the other blog named ‘Tumbleweed.’

    He seems to think it’s unreasonable, mean, or cruel of me to expect self-professing Christians to more or less live moral lives. This is so, when even the Bible says Christians should be able to expect as much from other professing Christians.

    Jesus and apostle Paul seemed to hold those expectations for Christians as well. They didn’t demand perfection, but at least a bare minimum of morality.

    Like

  12. I’ve since finished reading the remainder of the post. Unbelievable.

    I hope Christian networks stop airing Ravi Z’s shows in the meantime, or have him on as a guest on some of their talk shows. (He used to be on TBN every so often.)

    I didn’t have a problem with most of his apologetics; most of it sounded okay to me, but knowing he’s doing these things in private while living a different public life makes it difficult to listen to anything he has to say.

    What is it with these famous self professing Christians and living tawdy lives in private? Do they think they’re never going to be caught and held accountable? This goes back to Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Bakker, and all the rest.

    Like

  13. I have a feeling that, by the time this is over, Ravi Zacarias’ ministry may be over. At least! I trust he will take a ministry break to think through what he had done.

    Like

  14. This is heartbreaking. In June’s absolute lowest and scariest moment during this horrible debacle, her first and foremost concern was for Ravi’s health and well-being, after he made this narcissistic empty threat. Not thinking of herself, she scrambles and reaches out to the only two people who she believes will understand her situation: Julie Anne and Dee Parsons. God Bless both of you for being there for victims.

    Ravi’s response, on the other hand? “Are you gonna snitch me out? YOU will force me to kill myself. It’ll be your fault! Although I will file a legal document stating I was willing to leave town on short notice to avoid even being in the same state as you – in order to avoid having your husband yell at me, I am now willing to meet with you in order to better manipulate you in person. And I will close with blaming you for everything and call our meeting the most dark and accursed day of my life, then freeze you out forever.” What a drama queen.

    It goes without saying this man should not be a pastor. He has no compassion whatsoever and he recoils from responsibility like a 4 year old covered in chocolate, denying, denying, denying, threatening to run away because then you’ll be sorry!, followed by shameless defiance – throwing the donuts down and stomping off.

    Thank God that Julie Anne has had the courage to publish this, despite the ominous threats, so the world can see who this man is. In 2016 Ravi collected over $47M in donations, up from $28M the prior year. Ravi knew of his dastardly abusive behavior the whole time he was stumping for more millions in the name of God. Ravi manipulates his donors as aptly as he did June. I hope that the donors will wise up as well.

    June, know that you are believed. More is coming out about Ravi in the future. His true character will be revealed. Please take care of yourself. Know that you have many who love you, care about you and are praying for you, even if we have not met you in person. You are a decent, good and brave woman. As you go through the healing process you must remember that Ravi Zacharias is a world class manipulator who has been honing his craft for a half of a century. Literally – 50 years. Do not be ashamed of being drawn in. Highly intelligent and very wise people all over the globe have been fooled by this man. Take care of yourself and your family. Don’t try to second guess anything. This man is the master of disguise. He picked you out of the crowd. Zeroed in on you. Invited you and your husband to dinner and solicited your phone number, because he had already put you in his sites and had decided that you were to be his prey.

    This is not about any weakness of yours. This is about his skills as one of the best manipulators on the planet. Ravi has suckered some of the wealthiest and most influential businessmen on every major continent. That takes real skill. What he took from you and your family is far more precious than millions. But it shows his skill level. God is with you. He never left you. We live in a fallen world and must never put our faith in man. God will sustain you. This too shall pass. May God bless you and keep you June.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. June, my heart goes out to you. I’m sorry for you and your husband’s pain. I’m sorry for the betrayal. I believe you, and I hope the settlement gave you at least a small token of restitution for the breech of trust.

    To everyone else, let’s remove our blindfolds, and realize all people — Christian or not — have their weaknesses. No one is sinless like Jesus.

    I’m going to a church retreat and I thought, “This speaker, this trusted leader, could have a hidden life of depravity.” How do we keep up our guard without being too afraid?

    Perhaps Psalm 140, should be part of our prayer these days:

    1 Rescue me, Lord, from evildoers;
    protect me from the violent,
    2 who devise evil plans in their hearts
    and stir up war every day.
    3 They make their tongues as sharp as a serpent’s;
    the poison of vipers is on their lips.
    4 Keep me safe, Lord, from the hands of the wicked;
    protect me from the violent,
    who devise ways to trip my feet.
    5 The arrogant have hidden a snare for me;
    they have spread out the cords of their net
    and have set traps for me along my path.
    6 I say to the Lord, “You are my God.”
    Hear, Lord, my cry for mercy.
    7 Sovereign Lord, my strong deliverer,
    you shield my head in the day of battle.
    8 Do not grant the wicked their desires, Lord;
    do not let their plans succeed.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Although I was unable to get a confirmation after the settlement, I went forward with the information because going public about this situation was the consistent message she told me over the last year.

    Like

  17. Linn,
    Sadly, I wouldn’t bet on RZIM disappearing any time soon. This is big business. Check out his International Board if Directors. I doubt Ravi goes anywhere but to the bank. He’s charging $1300 this weekend to lecture on INTEGRITY. Yep. INTEGRITY.

    Like

  18. JA
    Can you unlock that link I tried to post the other day?
    There’s lot of tv preachers with more bogus credentials some from the same institutions.
    It was a blog. Thx

    Like

  19. I’ve only ever heard of this guy peripherally. I think it’s less about sex & more about the thrill of manipulating a vulnerable person.
    Too in love with the trappings of power. And the threats? Psychopathic manipulation. All about what will happen to him. Really glad I left the faith.

    Like

  20. This was a defense by the host of honorary degree support:

    You don’t understand the issue. It’s not a matter of “anointing” it’s a matter of deception. Would you like to go to a medical doctor with only an honorary degree? What about hiring a structural engineer to check your house with only an honorary degree? A person who claims to be educated and an authority on the Bible should ACTUALLY be educated as they claim to be.
    The fact of the matter is that these false prophets acquire these fake credentials in order to deceive people….. people like yourself who don’t have the means know they are fake.
    How how would you possibly know if I or anyone else has witnessed or participated a rising of the dead? Do you know me? Have been to the ministries that I’ve been a part of? I would love to know how you would know anything about me…..
    And I don’t believe for a second that any televangelist has raised anyone from the dead. And if the had it had nothing to do with them being anointed and everything to do with God exercising His authority on the earth.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. PS
    I’m sorry to post a blog where the host did not delete the first comment as he said he was oils.
    Other than that the comments are very good as far as what constitutes a doctorate in theology

    Like

  22. From Daisy:

    “I hope Christian networks stop airing Ravi Z’s shows in the meantime, or have him on as a guest on some of their talk shows. (He used to be on TBN every so often.)”

    Sadly, Christian Broadcasters care mainly about revenues. So long as RZIM has the money to keep his broadcasts on the air, One Place and the others will continue to air them. As for stations like TBN and Daystar having Ravi and other fallen pastors on their personal shows, they will probably wait a little while for the dust to settle, then they will specifically reach out and put him on the air. It’s in their best interest to do so because it’s all about saying no pastor should be held to biblical standards when they fall. We must always give them their platform back as soon as possible. Realistically, Christian broadcasters don’t have any standards. Look at Mike Murdock’s scams and Jim Bakker and his prepper supply hocking.

    Why? Because the televangelists are fraught with their own biblical disqualifications. TBN stars have their divorces, family infighting and gross financial abuses.. Daystar founder Marcus Lamb had his 7 year affair with his Marketing Director and also their gross financial abuses. If they enforce biblical standards against other pastors, then what’s to stop the public from enforcing biblical standards against them? So people like Mark Driscoll, Marcus Lamb, Perry Noble, the thrice married Paula White, the divorcee, $23,000 gold commode buying Joyce Meyer et al will all get their paid airtime plus their guest spots on the “couch of no standards” at Daystar and TBN HQ. CBN may even make a little film about the persecution of Ravi using younger actors to re-enact how he was “set up” by those atheists and socialist Canadians.

    “What is it with these famous self professing Christians and living tawdry lives in private? Do they think they’re never going to be caught and held accountable? This goes back to Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Bakker, and all the rest.”

    Almost all celebrity pastors are narcissists. Although narcissists need people to provide them with the narcissistic supply source, they simultaneously disdain the people who idolize them because they believe they are stupid. Sometimes this disdain spirals out of control. They start saying and doing ridiculous things to prove how gullible and moronic their followers are. For instance, Ed Young Jr preached a sermon series telling all the Fellowship couples they have to have sex seven days of the week and assigning them places like the dining room table, the stair case and the washing machine for the daily assignment. This was from the pulpit as a weekend sermon, not some marriage seminar for adults only. Then Ed and his wife climbed into bed on the roof of the church and refused to leave until (and this really happened) his corneas burned from the sun reflecting off the church building’s roof. Go God! Then Ed opened a Miami and London campus so he could justify buying really expensive vacation “parsonages” and have the church pay for the private jets to fly to those destinations. Talk about “Jesus Wept”.

    Another example is Robert Morris raising his base salary to over a million dollars a year then claiming the Lord sent his wife a PROPHETIC vision telling him that his dream ATV could be purchased in Oklahoma for $24,000, because that’s how God rolls. Helping the pimp pastors pimp their cribs out bigger. Now, during the worst economic crisis in Gateway’s history, Robert is paying for his son to plant a new church in the celebrity ladened Lakeway area, so Robert and fam can get a fabu new lake homes next to Sandra Bullock. It’s not Robert’s fault – the LORD said he had to.

    In 2016 RZIM’s income nearly doubled from where it was in 2014, going from $24M to $47M. He gets an extra $23M to play with during the same time period he is lying about his credentials and trying to manipulate and sue his way out of trouble after abusing his spiritual authority over a couple that loved him and looked up to him. It’s almost as though the more Ravi lied and manipulated, the more people adored him and threw cash at him. That must have been very seductive and tempting. For whatever reason, these guys need to keep upping the ante. They are adored celebrities. Think of the excesses of rockstars and Hollywood. The stars get reckless because they don’t have the same boundaries nor accountability as the rest of us mere mortals. It’s human nature to press limits.

    Now we’ll have to wait and see if RZIM followers have any boundaries when it comes to upholding biblical standards, or if they just want to keep adoring their celebrity pastor because it makes them feel good?

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Here is something interesting. Two nights ago I googled “Ravi Zacharias” and the first word suggested had to do with negative publicity. (I forget what word it was, maybe “allegations”?) Last night and this morning I googled his name and the only non-positive suggestion that came up was “Ravi Zacharias net worth.” My husband went farther. He typed in his name and slowly typed in the letters s-c-a-n-d-a-l . . . and the google algorithm didn’t help him by filling in the rest of the word! Once he typed in the full word, he got the hits to the scandal, but not before then.

    That would suggest to me that someone has been “scrubbing.” No?

    –A long-time supporter of Ravi (have seen him in person half a dozen times, read several of his books, and have sent money a couple of times)

    Like

Thanks for participating in the SSB community. Please be sure to leave a name/pseudonym (not "Anonymous"). Thx :)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s