Clergy Sex Abuse, Religious Power and Control, Spiritual Abuse, Spiritual Authority

Former Seminary President “Deeply Shocked” by Ravi Zacharias’s Moral Relativism for Sinning Leaders

Guest post by Steve Baughman

ravi zacharias clergy sexual misconduct chronic lies
“Sometimes people in leadership have to do things that are unethical.”
– Ravi Zacharias

On January 11, 2021 former Southern Evangelical Seminary president Alex McFarland copied me (and a Christian journalist) on a highly revealing email he sent that day to a Baptist colleague.  Many of you may know McFarland as a prominent conservative evangelical and as the founder of the eponymous Alex McFarland Evangelical Ministries. He describes himself as a frequent Fox News commentator and a contributor to major Christian and secular media operations. He was president of SES from 2001 to 2005.  

McFarland, who appears to have known Zacharias quite well, had several conversations with the evangelist about a “colleague who needed to repent of sin.”  Zacharias’s response to the situation was that “sometimes people in leadership have to do things that are unethical.”  Zacharias stuck to this position in subsequent conversations with McFarland.  

The seminary president was “deeply shocked that a man known for defending absolute truth could (when necessary) take a rather matter-of-fact stance as a relativist.” In the email McFarland said,  “I never invited him to speak at another of my conferences after this.” 

The McFarland email is below.

For those who have followed the Ravi Zacharias sex abuse and credential fraud scandals, his comments to McFarland simply confirm what we already know about “Ravi’s Relativism.” Zacharias lived his life as though there were special rules for evangelical elites like himself. What is more revealing (and troubling) here is the fact that he chose freely to share those not-very-Christian views on multiple occasions with a prominent fellow evangelical leader. It’s almost as if a Code of Silence was in effect and Zacharias felt that the network of evangelical elites could be trusted to keep each other’s dirty secrets. Sadly for his many victims, that turned out to be a safe bet for Ravi Zacharias.  




Ravi and I were having some discussion/ private debates about a colleague who needed to repent of sin.  Ravi said to me, “sometimes people in leadership have to do things that are unethical.”

Shocked, I pressed him on what he meant by this.  And I was surprised that In a number of conversations he stood by that statement. 

I never invited him to speak at another one of my conferences after this.   We did speak several more times in person, if I saw him at a convention or something.  But I was deeply shocked that a man known for defending absolute truth could (when necessary) take a rather matter-of-fact stance as a relativist. 

Alex McFarland

Steve Baughman is a San Francisco area lawyer and musician and the author of Cover-Up in the Kingdon: Phone Sex, lies, and God’s Great Apologist, Ravi Zacharias

14 thoughts on “Former Seminary President “Deeply Shocked” by Ravi Zacharias’s Moral Relativism for Sinning Leaders”

  1. Mc Farland has this mail dated 11 Jan 2021 to his friend whose name was hidden. When did Ravi spoke those words and why Mr Farland was mum till the issue was published widely in the media? Why did all the so-called victims wait for decades to open their mouths till Ravi is dead? The whole world was glorifying Ravi when he was alive, but turned dead-against him when he is dead and this is a great puzzle for me. The guy is not here to answer all those allegations levelled against him.

    It is improper to demonise a dead person. He may have been wronged some women. But he cannot be punished for the alleged wrongs. If he was really a wrong doer, then it is the Lord God to judge him. Any amount of investigations and reports will be only of an academic value and a time pass for some people.

    The question before the church is ‘how are we going to avoid any such wrongs in future‘ and why not the church discuss this question?


  2. It is improper to demonise a dead person. He may have been wronged some women. But he cannot be punished for the alleged wrongs.

    Ravi Zacharias may be dead, but his victims are still alive so far as I know. And they weren’t simply “wronged,” they were violated.

    God will determine what happens to Ravi Zacharias. God is a far more righteous and holy judge than any of us. I can only hope and pray Zacharias made peace with the Lord before he departed this life. I wish he had reached out to these women, repented and made amends before his passing.

    Yes, we should focus on what can be done to avoid future wrongs. However, we can’t sweep the past under the rug when people have been violated.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. When RZ was alive, many of us raised Red Flags about his lying about his academic credentials. We were “blown off” and ridiculed by many Christians for “blowing the whistle” on his deceptions. In the academic world, his deceptions would have gotten him thrown out of any position immediately. The fact that he was able to lie about his credentials for decades, with no one in the Christian Industrial Complex calling him on it, leads me to not be surprised his sexual “issues” were actively hidden by the system…. a infamous NDA is a good example of this… RZ was still alive when many raised questions anout this, and again, were blown off…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Is this anything like the “Shocked! Shocked!” response of the Vichy official in Casablanca?


  5. “Ravi Zacharias may be dead, but his victims are still alive so far as I know. And they weren’t simply “wronged,” they were violated.”

    I noticed you didn’t mention the family of Ravi, friends, students, colleagues and more of Ravi’s who are hurting because of this. And you said they were violated but it seems pretty circumstantial without the man being able to defend himself. Not saying in all cases but unless you are as close to the family and friends as you make it sound by your statement, you might want to remember that you read it online. Election fraud is real, people really do lie. They tend to be more bad than good unless G-d intercedes. I mean what does the Bible say about this kind of a thing, don’t hear a lot of people talking about that….


  6. I attended one of his “lectures” years ago, and it was clearly presented that he was a “big time” academic, with all of these “prestigious” accomplishments. They are either fake, or greatly exaggerated, and this was made clear years ago, while he was alive, and he never came “clean”… Ravi Z. Was a first class fraude, and now were are learning a predator/pervert..

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I want to publicly thank Steve Baughman for his persistence and diligence in uncovering fraud and abuse within RZIM. I read the article by David French this morning that highlighted how his faithfulness and presence led to women coming forward to expose the truth about Ravi’s abuse. First Lori Anne, then others who read Ms. Thompson’s account and realized it happened to them, too.

    This isn’t primarily a moral failure of one person. This is a moral failure of an entire system (RZIM specifically and Evangelicalism generally) that elevated him to a position where he could do no wrong and re-traumatized his victims. RZIM bulldozed anyone who dared challenge his credibility or actions, calling into question their commitment, faith and even sanity. I hope this is a wake-up call to all Christian ministries that accusers need to be listened to, and accusations investigated and researched. How many women were abused in the last four years because RZIM chose evasion and whitewashing instead of accountability?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Exactly, Mark. And I wholeheartedly agree with you about Steve. He has done an amazing job uncovering the truth. And he’s a great guy. I can’t wait to have a beer with him one day.


  9. I have seen – in these comments and elsewhere – that there are still those who can’t bring themselves to accept the fact that an objective investigation into the allegations has concluded that they are true. We are no longer talking about unsubstantiated allegations.

    I suppose this can only be due to putting someone on a pedestal and being unable to cope when they fall off it.

    James White has pointed out that anyone at RZIM who started to get any doubts was frozen out, and some Anglicans in Canada I believe had stopped trusting in RZ’s integrity (Anglicans don’t go overboard on this kind of thing, they must have felt the evidence such as it was was compelling). But you have to wonder why so many believers who knew RZ or met him who are supposedly full of the Holy Spirit had so little discernment, word of knowledge, distinguishing of spirits or whatever, to see through this.

    I cannot imagine the apostles in the NT being fooled by this, we have clearly lost something. Sound in doctrine, but sound asleep!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. KAS commented here that some Anglicans in Canada pulled back from RZ presumably because the evidence was overwhelming. Does anyone know more about this? Who are they, when did they begin distrusting RZ, did they release any kind of public statement, what organization are they in?


  11. Appreciation of the meaning of Holy Scriptures is lacking among the fundamentalists (many in the C of E also) who – just as Steve did – knew RZ was exaggerating over Daniel. They boast how their denomination (which has no standards) has interfered in several denominations and nearly all the family camps. The career trajectory of their staff is tragic.


  12. MARMEE MARCH – I read an article by a Canadian Anglican on the RZ theme. This was a couple of years ago, but I have been unable to find it again.

    Basically it was still at a point when many (or most?) were sceptical of the claims that RZ was indulging in various forms of abuse and manipulation. The author felt that the exaggerated credentials had revealed enough of his character to make the other accusations increasingly credible, at least to the point where he should no longer be given a platform until all of this was cleared up.

    Sorry this is a bit vague. At the time it struck me as I was finding it difficult to believe the accusations. You always need to discern between accusers of the brethren and genuine exposure of wrong-doing, which is not always easy. I have been in churches long enough to experience the utter inaccuracy of the rumour mill! Social media has made this vastly worse.

    This particular Anglican was very definitely a big nail in the coffin of RZ’s reputation as far as I was concerned, not least because he had no axe to grind either way.


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