Another Ravi Zacharias Falsehood Unearthed: Ravi’s famous first doctorate story was doctored

Admin note: Attorney Steve Baughman continues to uncover more troubling findings regarding Ravi Zacharias. As of this date, Ravi Zacharias continues in his ministry work and has suffered no consequences for his chronic lies or clergy sexual misconduct reported earlier. I am grateful for Steve’s work, and that he has allowed me to post his latest development. ~Julie Anne

Ravi Zacharias, sex scandal, falsified credentials, lawsuit
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Another Ravi Zacharias Falsehood Unearthed:
Ravi’s famous first doctorate story was doctored

Mega-Evangelist Ravi Zacharias has been caught in so many lies over the past four years, with no significant consequences, that one may wonder what the point is of continuing to document his falsehoods. This question assumes, of course, that the Ravi Zacharias scandals are about Ravi Zacharias.  But they aren’t, not anymore. 

Just as #MeToo exposed the dark underbelly of church leadership in the U.S., the Zacharias scandals are shining a much-needed spotlight on the cynicism and greed that permeate the highest places of the evangelical business empire.  Each new indisputably false Zacharias claim makes it harder for HarperCollins Christian Publishing and the rest of Big Evangelism to keep pretending that they actually care about truth and integrity. 

Here’s the latest.  

For many years, Zacharias has told a most touching story of reconciliation with his cruel and harshly critical father. Zacharias was awarded an honorary doctorate from Houghton College in Upstate New York on May 12, 1980.  He remembers it well. He tells us that “it came as quite a shock to me” and he describes how the college president, Dan Chamberlain, commended him for his “pioneering impact in international evangelism.”  Although Zacharias subsequently received honorary degrees from other schools, he tells us this at page 190 of his autobiography, Walking From East to West: 

But the one from Houghton was particularly special, because for that ceremony my father bought me my colors to wear in the commencement exercises. It was a proud day not just for me but I’m sure for him too – a man who stood, as I now stood also, in the long shadows of those who had preceded us.

Zacharias describes it vividly elsewhere as well. The father who had often severely beaten the young Ravi and told him he was a failure who would bring shame on the family now proudly “sat in the front row and his face told the story” of his transformation by Christ.  

The problem for Ravi Zacharias is that his father died the year before, in 1979. (Second paragraph from the bottom.)

The Zacharias ministry has failed to respond to multiple inquiries from me and from others seeking comment on this new revelation. That is surprising given how easy it would be for them simply to say “Oops! It was actually Ravi’s graduation from college, or seminary. Either way, no big deal, just an innocent failure of recollection.”

Fair enough. Dishonest people are not immune from moments of faulty memory. Perhaps that is all that went on here. But that seems unlikely. The touching father story serves Zacharias too well; it allows him to tell audience after audience about his Houghton College honors without it seeming gauche and self-promoting. “It’s not about me, it’s about reconciliation with dad through Jesus!” And he has used it often. (First Conference 2017 at 18:15.) 

Furthermore, Zacharias has a lengthy history of making up facts to serve his image. His impressive “Asian Youth Preacher Award” never existed. Nor did the most impressive item on his C.V., his “professor at Oxford” gig. Nor was he “educated at Cambridge”. His frequent claim to having studied “quantum physics” at Cambridge (where he never enrolled) is now known to be bogus, as is his claim that he was the department chair  at a seminary. 

To make matters worse, Zacharias has shown himself willing to do much more than simply lie in the service of his reputation. In October of 2016, he resorted to threatening suicide in order to cover up his online sexual misconduct. The next summer he filed a lawsuit against the young married woman to whom he had inexplicably and by his own admission provided his personal Blackberry contact information. When Christianity Today asked him about the (written!) suicide threat, he refused to answer, although he responded to the less serious accusations with an 812-word press release. (The magazine failed to ask him about this selective invocation of the nondisclosure agreement.) 

To make matters worse still, Zacharias recently had another hypocrisy interruption, this one relating to abortion. It turns out, according to a retired detective from the Ontario Provincial Police, that when Ravi Zacharias was a new minister living in Toronto, he pressured his younger brother’s 16-year old girlfriend to have an abortion. True to character, Zacharias has failed to respond to multiple requests for comment about that troubling account.

Ravi Zacharias has proven beyond any doubt that he is, in the words of Canadian theologian Randal Rauser, a “fabulist” who never lets the truth get in the way of a good self-promo opportunity.  In the secular publishing world, that sort of conduct gets authors in big trouble. In Christian publishing and apologetics, it gets them new book deals and lifetime missions achievement awards. And that is a story worth telling.

14 thoughts on “Another Ravi Zacharias Falsehood Unearthed: Ravi’s famous first doctorate story was doctored”

  1. Seems pretty incredible that he would remember the exact date he was presented with an honorary degree, but not the year his father died. Perhaps that speaks to exactly where his priorities lie – he remembers every award he got, but when it comes to remembering the people who got him there, it’s very hazy. Sounds very narcissistic.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve seen corporate executives and government officials fired for faking degrees. I had to obtain official transcripts for all of my degrees so that my company could confirm that my resume wasn’t fraudulent. It really bothers me that someone like Ravi can claim a God who believes in absolute truth and requires perfection and yet he’s faking academic credentials. It really really bothers me that all of the supposed academics and publishing houses surrounding him, and the board of his ministry are shrugging this off.

    If I lied about having a doctorate, I’d be fired. If I put a doctorate on my resume that ended up being honorary. I’d be fired — and that’s regardless of whether my specific job description requires a doctorate. The punishment for academic fraud in any industry I know is immediate termination.


  3. Perhaps he believes in ghosts? smh I have grown so very weary with all the lies and corruption in our churches and among so-called ministers. Thanks, Julie Anne, for continuing to do what you do. These things need to be exposed.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. When Ravi Spoke recently at Times Square Church a few of us online pointed out these fraudulent claims. Of course to no avail. In fact after I wrote a comment on the page that was promoting his visit they deleted the comment and then posted a raving review of his accolades that the first post didn’t have. Churches don’t want to acknowledge the truth and that is the problem.


  5. When it comes to a ManaGAWD, assume any and every Doctorate (or other credentials) is bogus until proven otherwise. It’s the only way to be safe.


  6. Thanks, Steve for your continued work on exposing Ravi Z’s lies. While the dates of the death of his father and receiving the honorary doctorate may seem to be trivial, they a really are not. If this was one isolated incident, it would be understandable. Memory lapses don’t always indicate poor moral character, especially when a story is told over and over and over.

    In Ravi’s case, this is another example of one of the many lies he has told. The lies are starting to add up. I hope at some point those who still follow and admire him finally say, “Enough!”


  7. Yes, Kathi. Good point. (Thanks for catching my typo, BTW.) The problem is that so very many of Ravi‘s stories seem far-fetched. Catching him in little lies like this casts further doubt on his tales in general. Did he really narrowly escape death by Vietcong ambush in Vietnam? Did he really single-handedly bring revival to Vietnam? Did he really lead that Russian general to Christ? Was he really on a high-level peace-keeping mission to the Middle East?

    Extremely unlikely in my opinion, given his extensive history of fraud.

    The fact that Ravi and his ministry refuse to discuss the allegations against him doesn’t help either.

    But again, the truly baffling part of all this is the non-response from the Christian business world. HarperCollins Christian publishing gave him a new book deal months after he settled his sexting lawsuit. The Southern Baptists had him speak at their annual convention in Dallas a few months after that, and less than two months after settling his lawsuit he was given a lifetime missions achievement award by a Baptist mega church in Florida. Wild!

    Clearly the secular publishing world has much higher integrity standards than Christian publishing.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Did he really narrowly escape death by Vietcong ambush in Vietnam? Did he really single-handedly bring revival to Vietnam? Did he really lead that Russian general to Christ? Was he really on a high-level peace-keeping mission to the Middle East?

    We talking Ravi Z or Walter Mitty?

    But again, the truly baffling part of all this is the non-response from the Christian business world.

    Not baffling at all:

    Godly coat of paint or not.


  9. The frustrating thing to know is while it may seem like the lies are “starting to add up,” Steve has documenting that they have been going on for decades, AND they have been pointed out by people for decades. People choose to not pay attention.


  10. Steve wrote, “so very many of Ravi‘s stories seem far-fetched.”
    My mother saw a flying saucer once, over 50 years ago. I could look up one of the fellow witnesses to verify the story. BUT— if I claimed it happened Dec 11, 2012, 2 years after she died— I’d be LYING 🤥.
    I’ll tell you a statement with the total ring of truth— it’s “Can we not meet at lest once?” found in an email from “Ravi”. What faker would include that typo? Of course, it could be from Ravi Shankar. He was not a fakir. But he did die on Dec 11, 2012.


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