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
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.