Ravi Zacharias, RZIM, Sex Scandal, Lawsuit
Ravi Zacharias seems to have fallen off the radar. However, he did not fall off my radar. I never signed a nondisclosure agreement. I can share more if I feel so inclined. But I don’t think I will stop speaking out about Ravi Zacharias until he comes clean. The signing of a nondisclosure agreement should make one question: if he has nothing to hide, why was there a nondisclosure agreement?
I have received emails from donors who are wanting to see “the” emails between he and Ms. Thompson, and rightly so. If these folks are supporting a ministry, they have the right to know if their money is going to support someone who is telling the truth or not.
What I don’t understand is how did this case of internationally-known Ravi Zacharias and his sexual relationship with the married woman, Ms. Thompson, get to the point of legal action without the RZIM Board knowing the details? Does that sound normal to you? It does not to me. I was on the board of a non-profit, and all of the board members were supposed to know and kept abreast of what was going on within the organization. You better believe if there was a lawsuit going on, we would have been the first to know, and we would have known the details.
Why didn’t the RZIM Board know long before the lawsuit, before attorneys and public image rescuer, Mark DeMoss, got involved? Why didn’t Ravi Zacharias surrender his emails to the Board? Was this Mr. Zacharias’ plan all along, so that he could thwart the opportunity for his Board to have full knowledge of his online sexual relationship with Ms. Thompson?
The Full-Page Christianity Today Article
On December 3, 2017, Christianity Today dedicated a biased and disappointing full page to Ravi Zacharias, primarily addressing two issues that had been brought to light:
- Ravi Zacharias and RZIM has a long-standing history of using the title “Dr.” in front of Ravi Zacharias’ name, knowing full well that he only has honorary doctorates. This has been brought to their attention for decades, but only recently has been addressed, and poorly addressed. (Ravi Zacharias denied misleading people, but has since been removing the title to avoid confusion. (JA has issues with this statement.)
- The second issue addressed in the Christianity Today article was about the online relationship he had with a married woman from Canada that turned sexual. (In his statement, Ravi Zacharias denied asking for nude photos and blamed the woman. (JA has issues with this statement.)
Julie Anne does not believe that Ravi Zacharias has been honest or transparent in either of the statements. He has avoided taking responsibility, and has minimized, and blamed others.
Christianity Today reporters, Kate Shellnutt and Sarah Zylstra, gave very little space in the report for opposing views and opinions, with only brief statements taken from my blog. I was very disappointed with this nearly one-sided reporting.
I tweeted about this one-sided reporting, and was contacted by Christianity Today‘s Kate Shellnutt, who asked me if I’d be willing to give a statement on the case. At the time, I was right in the middle of college finals, and wasn’t able to respond quickly, but then I heard from her again by email, so I did send her a comment. I have not seen my comment printed in Christianity Today, so I will now post it here for everyone to see.
This is the statement I sent Kate Shellnutt of Christianity Today on December 6, 2017, six weeks ago:
Thank you for the opportunity to comment. It is imperative that we look for truth. After reading Mr. Zacharias’ two verbose statements, I was not at all pleased, specifically with his responses regarding sexting and the inflation of his academic credentials. Zacharias stated, “When it has been brought to our attention that something was stated incorrectly with regard to Ravi’s background, we have made every effort to correct it.” This simply is not true. We know that attorney Steve Baughman contacted Ravi Zacharias and RZIM nearly 2-1/2 years ago. It does not take 2-1/2 yrs. to give an answer to this issue, nor does it take 2-1/2 years to correct it.
“Ravi Zacharias declined to comment on the suicide emails, citing the nondisclosure agreement.” This is an outrageous defense. If Mr. Zacharias is going to hide behind a nondisclosure agreement, how was he able to give an 817-word statement discussing his version of the relationship between he and the defendant? Of course, he is prohibited from discussing any terms from the settlement, or any specific charges in his complaint; however, the suicide threat and the emails were not part of the lawsuit. He is indeed able to discuss the suicide emails, but he is choosing not to. This is the most important question that everyone should be demanding he answer: Why did he send emails that threatened suicide to the defendant? But he won’t answer it. The reason he won’t answer this question is because if he were to answer it truthfully, the rest of his public statement regarding his relationship with the defendant would prove to be false, and he knows this.
The defendant looked to Mr. Zacharias as a father figure. He counseled her as she shared personal issues. As the relationship continued, it deepened.The defendant told me that Mr. Zacharias initiated the idea of sending nude photos. He not only initiated in asking for nude photographs, but he was also specific in the types of images he wanted to see (specific sexual body parts). I believe this is the reason why Mr. Zacharias wanted to settle this lawsuit. He certainly would not have wanted this information to come public in the discovery process of this Federal lawsuit.
Ministry Watch Analysis
Ministrywatch.com has also done an analysis of the two statements from RZIM, and has written concerns they have. Ministrywatch did a pretty good job of looking beyond the words of the statements, and asked some tough and important questions:
We [Ministry Watch] subsequently asked RZIM if the ministry’s board of directors, which includes Zacharias’ wife and daughter, had seen copies of the e-mail and text communications sent between Ravi and the alleged extortionists, as this would give us greater confidence the board’s strong backing of him was based on the information and evidence we would like to see, but cannot. RZIM’s response indicated the board has not yet seen the e-mail and text evidence that would support Zacharias’ claims in his court filing but had been “briefed” about it. Of course, the alleged extortionists have also not provided such evidence either. Here is the response we received from RZIM:
As I mentioned in my last email, the RZIM Board of Directors is completely supportive of Ravi as he pursues the truth in regards to these false allegations of which they have been briefed.
In our view, the principal issue in this case is whether Zacharias solicited the nude photos or not. The couple naturally claims he did. Zacharias, of course, claims he did not and neither side has yet provided evidence to support their case. So it is a classic “he said, she said” case. One charge by the alleged extortionists which Zacharias did not refute in his filing, however, was that Zacharias threatened to commit suicide if the woman told her husband about their online relationship. We doubt the absence of a rebuttal to this charge was an oversight by Zacharias or his lawyers and it suggests the alleged extortionists do have some evidence to back at least this one claim up.
Again, why weren’t the Board members notified about this relationship before the lawsuit, and why were they not shown copies of the emails? Furthermore, why didn’t the Board demand that Mr. Zacharias turn over all e-mails? Is it because many on the Board are members of Mr. Zacharias’ family and close friends?
Now, because of the legal settlement, Ms. Thompson cannot discuss the emails. I do not believe that Ravi Zacharias is under the same constraints as he claimed in the Christianity Today article when he was asked about the suicide emails:
Zacharias declined to comment to CT on the image of the emails showing the apparent suicide threat, citing the nondisclosure agreement. (Source)
If he was under such constraint, then how would he have been able to give an 817-word statement describing his version of the relationship? I say hogwash. He can acknowledge whether or not he wrote the suicide emails. They were referenced in the demand letter here:
In the actual lawsuit against the Thompsons, there is further acknowledgement that it was known that Ravi Zacharias was possibly suicidal. See this screenshot from the lawsuit which is an email reportedly sent from Ms. Thompson’s counselors to Mr. Zacharias, to inquire about his safety. (By the way, this is the same email that Ms. Thompson had forwarded to me weeks before the lawsuit.)
I have sent Ministry Watch the emails that Ms. Thompson sent to me. They include the suicide emails and others. Obviously, the circle of people who have this information needs to enlarge so that the important issues can be addressed. It’s not okay for a Christian man of Ravi Zacharias’ stature to hide behind a NDA when there are serious unaddressed sexual allegations.
Life Goes on for Ravi Zacharias, but Non-Disclosure Agreement Forces Ms. Thompson to remain Silent
It has come to my attention that Ravi Zacharias has resumed his speaking schedule. He spoke in front of this very large crowd at University of Florida’s “Open Forum” yesterday. Did they address him as an academic who has a doctorate degree – Dr. Ravi Zacharias? I wonder.
This weekend, he is speaking at Jacksonville Pastors’ Conference. Here are the speakers listed at the top of the speakers page:
Click here to see the rest of the speakers. Ravi Zacharias is scheduled to speak tomorrow evening.
Attorney Steve Baughman and others have challenged the speakers and staff at FBC Jacksonville to ask Ravi Zacharias the tough questions.
Here is a copy of two e-mails that staff at First Baptist Church of Jacksonville and others received. The first is from Tom Lunal (a Believer), and a follow-up email from Attorney Steve Baughman (Steve is an atheist – you will see why I point this out when you read his e-mail. The behavior of Christians in addressing these issues and acting in integrity is crucial, even to an atheist!).
The e-mail reads:
Dear Brothers and Sisters at the Jacksonville Church,
A very reliable source who asked to remain anonymous has informed us in no uncertain terms that Ravi has confessed that he had written the emails and the suicide note to Ms. Thompson. It is our sincere hope that this credible source will make the right choice and reveal his identity for the sake of Truth. I trust that this will happen in the near future.
We have been informing you about the academic credentials and email issues and well as this new important development for these reasons:
1. To make you aware of a pattern of deceit by Ravi Zacharias and RZIM.
2. In order to provide you the needed information to demand accountability of Ravi Zacharias, especially in the light of this new information.
3. To serve as a warning to others, especially those in prominent places of authority and leadership, that intentional wrong-doing will not be overlooked or tolerated.
4. Most importantly, to show the world that we Christians, our churches and our institutions, are willing to make a stand for the TRUTH regardless of how popular, powerful or well-connected the wrong-doer might be.
As a Christian, it is my sincere hope and prayer that you will not take this issue lightly. After all the evidence that has been presented thus far, letters from Oxford/ Cambridge/ Ridley Hall, online affair emails, false advertising on Ravi’s website (which was removed after our report was released),there has not been an ounce of admission of guilt or wrong-doing on Ravi’s part. They would just like everyone to move on.
However, if we as Christians, truly believe that falsehoods must be exposed, then this is the time to take the needed action!
Here is Steve Baughman’s reply to Tom’s email. It was sent to the same recipients.
Steve’s email reads:
This is big! If Ravi threatened suicide it means
1. He misled the federal court about the nature and extent of his relationship with Ms. Thompson;
2. He lied in his December 3 press release in which he denied anything beyond communicating with Ms. Thompson longer than was appropriate;
3. He placed his public image above the marital healing of a Christian woman;
and, here’s the big one!
4. Y’all are lucky that your God does not exist, because if he did he would spew each of you out of his nostrils for your sheep-like role in letting Ravi Zacharias close a conference entitled “How Should we then Pastor?”
Thank you, Tom, for caring about integrity in the God Biz. Perhaps the anonymous Pontius Pilate out there who wants to wash his/her hands of this will have the courage to step up to the plate.
And perhaps Pastor Mac Brunson will have the courage to courage to admit that some things are more important than putting on a good show.
Attorney at Law
Do you see what I mean? The lack of response by church leaders is making a mockery of Christ and Christianity. Church leaders, do the right thing and ask Ravi Zacharias if the emails were true and what his involvement was with Ms. Thompson. He has not been honest and needs to come clean! I’m sure Ms. Thompson would be fine with Ravi Zacharias speaking the truth – even with the NDA. He’s already violated it with falsehoods, it’s time the truth comes out.
ADMIN NOTE: I have taken the liberty to change the full name of Ms. Thompson in the copied text of the emails above. The reason is this: search engines are unable to recognize Ms. Thompson’s full name in the email images; however, they would be able to find her name in the copies of e-mails that I posted below the images. I am trying my best to protect this survivor. I don’t think people are going to be wading through pages and pages and pages of Thompsons. I would appreciate it if when you comment, you refer to her as Ms. Thompson. Comments do show up in search engines. Thank you! ~ja