Ravi Zacharias Scandals

LadyCalvinist

Puritan Board Junior
Today I found out about several scandals involving Ravi Zacharias. Several women have accused him of sexual harassment. It now looks like these allegations are true. I am shocked and dismayed. I have a number of his books and tapes and found him to be an very able Apologist for Christianity. Now I wonder just who he was.


 

Andrew35

Puritan Board Sophomore
Was very saddened to learn this myself. I met Ravi some years back, and thought him a very kind, down to earth man.

Once I read a bit about his comments with those involved, I began to see the familiar celebrity-scandal pattern, however. Things like: "I'm doing so much for God, I deserve a little something on the side"; "My marriage isn't a real marriage; more like a business relationship"; etc. Whether or not the latter was true, he was clearly making excuses for himself to satisfy his fleshly cravings.

I owe a great deal to the ministry of Arturo Azurdia as well, and was so disappointed to hear about his scandals a few years ago. It followed a similar pattern.

Only God knows his heart, of course, but this should really serve as a warning to us all: we're not "doing so much for God"; we're nothing but unprofitable servants. God owes us nothing. Everything is of grace.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
Things like: "I'm doing so much for God, I deserve a little something on the side"; "My marriage isn't a real marriage; more like a business relationship"; etc. Whether or not the latter was true, he was clearly making excuses for himself to satisfy his fleshly cravings.

These lies are so destructive to our souls. Embedded in such thinking are several sinful presuppositions:
1. That we're special in some way and deserve to be exempted from regular laws. "Ours, my boy, is a high and lonely destiny" as Uncle Andrew and the Empress Jadis said to Diggory.
2. That sin is a relief, a rest, a compensation for other sufferings when in fact sin is the most miserable thing there is.
3. That we're strong, wise, special enough to allow just a little sin and successfully contain it.

May God grant us true humility and hatred for sin.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
Today I found out about several scandals involving Ravi Zacharias. Several women have accused him of sexual harassment.
Carefully waiting until after he is dead so he can't defend himself. He may well be guilty of a portion of the allegations. But at least Jessica Hahn didn't wait until Jim Bakker was dead before her outcry.
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Senior
Carefully waiting until after he is dead so he can't defend himself.
I've been thinking about this recently, too. Of course, if Ravi Zacharias is guilty, then he's guilty. But this matter of victims waiting years and years to cry foul, especially when the timing seems very obviously calculated (not saying it is in this case, but it does happen), needs to be greatly frowned upon in general. I understand that it's not always malicious. However, Scripture speaks sharply against the woman who, upon being assaulted, did not immediately cry out (Deut. 22:23-24). Of course, we can nuance this to death. What if the victim was a minor when the assault occurred? What is there was threat of violence if the victim spoke out? What if the perpetrator is a close family member? All those can be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, but in the main, if you are assaulted, you are obligated to tell someone immediately.
 

ZackF

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Carefully waiting until after he is dead so he can't defend himself. He may well be guilty of a portion of the allegations. But at least Jessica Hahn didn't wait until Jim Bakker was dead before her outcry.
Not all of his accusers did wait until after he died, including blackmailers! That said, yes, there seemed to be many more coming out after his death.
 

Eyedoc84

Puritan Board Freshman
I’m not so sure all of the accusers did wait. I think some (many/all?) of the accusations were brought to the ministry closer to the time of occurrence and were ”successfully” hushed. RZIM hired the law firm after his death and is choosing to now go public with the results of the investigation.
 

Eyedoc84

Puritan Board Freshman
And as much as I believe victims have a duty to come forward immediately, and the law should codify requirements to do so, sexual victims particularly feel very ashamed and have tremendous difficulty speaking to anyone about what happened, and often suffer silently for a lifetime. Furthermore, victim-blaming is par for the course if the abuse happens within a family or at the hands of a “celebrity”. Someone, anyone coming forward is often the ”permission” another victim needs to speak up as well, as they find solidarity in numbers. We need to be sensitive to these realities while also not rewarding those who pile on for gain years or decades after the fact.
 

arapahoepark

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Someone, anyone coming forward is often the ”permission” another victim needs to speak up as well, as they find solidarity in numbers. We need to be sensitive to these realities while also not rewarding those who pile on for gain years or decades after the fact.
Undeniably. Yet, many times becomes a band wagon.
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Senior
And as much as I believe victims have a duty to come forward immediately, and the law should codify requirements to do so, sexual victims particularly feel very ashamed and have tremendous difficulty speaking to anyone about what happened, and often suffer silently for a lifetime. Furthermore, victim-blaming is par for the course if the abuse happens within a family or at the hands of a “celebrity”. Someone, anyone coming forward is often the ”permission” another victim needs to speak up as well, as they find solidarity in numbers. We need to be sensitive to these realities while also not rewarding those who pile on for gain years or decades after the fact.
Yes, sensitivity and wisdom need to be used. Of course. However, Scripture seems to make no such qualifications with regard to whether or not the victim may feel shame. In fact, according to Scripture, as a general principle, if a woman does not cry out immediately, it is worse than shame—it is now guilt. I think, if anything, the Church has erred far too much on the side of sympathy in such situations instead of being frank about the sin of not exposing one’s abuse. Again, I’m not saying every situation is the same, nor am I saying any of the alleged victims in this case is guilty of this. I don’t know this situation enough.
 

C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Senior
I was never a big follower of the man. But even before he died, it was discovered that he lied for years about his academic bona fides. And instead of confessing this, he just scrubbed his website and books of the offending claims. So it seems to me, the man was living a lie. I only pray he died in Christ, notwithstanding these things.
 

arapahoepark

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I was never a big follower of the man. But even before he died, it was discovered that he lied for years about his academic bona fides. And instead of confessing this, he just scrubbed his website and books of the offending claims. So it seems to me, the man was living a lie. I only pray he died in Christ, notwithstanding these things.
I sort of feel the same way. It is extremely unfortunate.
I cannot help but to recall words from sermon that my pastor anyway, I think it was my pastor, preached years ago. It was a story of a young college girl who was a believer that invited a very smart yet unbelieving friend to a Ravi conference. The unbeliever thought it was powerful, through not entirely convinced of Christianity at the end, and then expressed "I wonder if his personal life matches."
 
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ChristianLibertarian

Puritan Board Freshman
Carefully waiting until after he is dead so he can't defend himself. He may well be guilty of a portion of the allegations. But at least Jessica Hahn didn't wait until Jim Bakker was dead before her outcry.
It strikes me that these allegations are akin to gossip. Ravi Zacharias is dead and cannot defend himself. My suspicion is that most of the allegations do not have the requisite 2-3 witnesses as required by the law. That doesn't mean he isn't guilty, we simply cannot judge the matter because guilt cannot be established by the voice of one witness. (Deut. 19:15)
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Senior
My suspicion is that most of the allegations do not have the requisite 2-3 witnesses as required by the law.
Of course, holding ourselves to the same standard, we also cannot judge upon mere suspicions. I think RZIM has released reports. I haven't read them. It very well could be that many of these allegations are corroborated by multiple independent lines of evidence.
 

TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
Was very saddened to learn this myself. I met Ravi some years back, and thought him a very kind, down to earth man.

Once I read a bit about his comments with those involved, I began to see the familiar celebrity-scandal pattern, however. Things like: "I'm doing so much for God, I deserve a little something on the side"; "My marriage isn't a real marriage; more like a business relationship"; etc. Whether or not the latter was true, he was clearly making excuses for himself to satisfy his fleshly cravings.

I owe a great deal to the ministry of Arturo Azurdia as well, and was so disappointed to hear about his scandals a few years ago. It followed a similar pattern.

Only God knows his heart, of course, but this should really serve as a warning to us all: we're not "doing so much for God"; we're nothing but unprofitable servants. God owes us nothing. Everything is of grace.
My thoughts are much the same. I've always liked him, but over the years, I noticed he did a lot of name-dropping; he would frequently tell anecdotes about his conversations with high-profile world leaders. Frequently he could have concealed the identity of the individual without detracting from his story. This, paired with his dubious academic credentials, indicate that he went to great lengths to establish himself as an exceptional/elite public intellectual. It really makes it look like he was compensating for something (i.e. a mess of a spiritual life).

I haven't said much about this because I don't want to slander the man. I always loved listening to him, and I don't want to make a judgment on his eternal state. But the posturing was so plain during his life that I cannot dismiss the allegations of sexual misconduct out of hand. That something was amiss in his private life was plain from his carriage in his public life.

The sad thing is that he succeeded in ascending to such a height that it would have been very difficult for him to humble himself to get the pastoral help he needed.
 

ChristianLibertarian

Puritan Board Freshman
Of course, holding ourselves to the same standard, we also cannot judge upon mere suspicions. I think RZIM has released reports. I haven't read them. It very well could be that many of these allegations are corroborated by multiple independent lines of evidence.

Of course, holding ourselves to the same standard, we also cannot judge upon mere suspicions. I think RZIM has released reports. I haven't read them. It very well could be that many of these allegations are corroborated by multiple independent lines of evidence.
From what I can gather there are numerous women making claims but there isn't any corroborating evidence. That doesn't mean there cannot be any corroborating evidence, I simply haven't seen it or heard about it. As with a lot of cases that are sat on by the alleged victim for years, sometimes decades, there is unlikely to be much by the way of corroborating evidence.

How does a woman prove a rape that occurred 30 years ago for which she is now heading to the police department? In the court of popular opinion and in some American criminal courts her credibility alone proves the rape. That isn't so according to scripture, there has to be 2-3 witnesses or pieces of evidence. In the case of Zacharias perhaps there is evidence out there sufficient for the church but I would caution that the church may be concerned with civil liability and making sure they cannot be the target of a civil lawsuit.

To my last point, Zacharias ministry hired a law firm to investigate the claims against him. That tells me that Deut. 19:15 isn't in anyone's mind and that preventing civil liability to the church while providing PR cover is the goal of the investigation. My experience is that when attorneys are involved they're focused on the letter of the American court system rather than the letter of scripture. That may be fine in some circumstances, particularly those where scripture and American law are similar, but it isn't okay when a church investigation is involved.
 
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ZackF

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
From what I can gather there are numerous women making claims but there isn't any corroborating evidence. That doesn't mean there cannot be any corroborating evidence, I simply haven't seen it or heard about it. As with a lot of cases that are sat on by the alleged victim for years, sometimes decades, there is unlikely to be much by the way of corroborating evidence.

How does a woman prove a rape that occurred 30 years ago for which she is now heading to the police department? In the court of popular opinion and in some American criminal courts her credibility alone proves the rape. That isn't so according to scripture, there has to be 2-3 witnesses or pieces of evidence. In the case of Zacharias perhaps there is evidence out there sufficient for the church but I would caution that the church may be concerned with civil liability and making sure they cannot be the target of a civil lawsuit.

To my last point, Zacharias ministry hired a law firm to investigate the claims against him. That tells me that Deut. 19:15 isn't in anyone's mind and that preventing civil liability to the church while providing PR cover is the goal of the investigation. My experience is that when attorneys are involved they're focused on the letter of the American court system rather than the letter of scripture. That may be fine in some circumstances, particularly those where scripture and American law are similar, but it isn't okay when a church investigation is involved
I didn’t know there were any rape allegations. If he was being handsy that may be a category of assault. I thought it was mostly consensual and propositional though of course immoral and unbecoming of a Christian.
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
Ravi's family denies all the allegations. One could say that the family is lying, for whatever reason. However, it carries weight with me that the absolute closest people to him deny all the allegations. Also, I find it suspicious that he is only accused after he is dead. That doesn't mean Ravi is innocent. He could very well be guilty. Nevertheless, I think it would be very wise of us to withhold judgment, assumptions, and everything related. We don't know the truth. It would be a sad day indeed if the PB becomes a place where people rush to judgment without knowing all the facts, like the FB world does all too often.
 

ChristianLibertarian

Puritan Board Freshman
I didn’t know there were any rape allegations. If he was being handsy that may be a category of assault. I thought it was mostly consensual and propositional though of course immoral and unbecoming of a Christian.
These days rape has come to mean everything from an unwanted comment to consensual sex that one party decided was rape months or years later. That said, in the Zacharias case if a woman claims to have had consensual sex with him and has no proof, why is anyone entertaining the allegation? He's dead and cannot defend himself, the voice of one witness doesn't prove guilt. If she has emails or letters from him acknowledging what he did that's another matter. However, I can't help but question the motivation for going public with this information after he is dead. Something else is going on here and I rather suspect it has to do with a 5 letter word that begins with M and ends with oney.
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Junior
It doesn’t look good for RZ. I’m tired of these organizations doing a full court legal press when the dirt comes out (It was out way before he died). Sorry, sometimes these men are legitimately guilty (not necessarily criminality but gross sins) and gotta take the fall. We don’t have to pick a preconceived side. Not everything is a feminist plot or a sinister take down. Men let their high standing and influence go to their head sometimes. And for their own benefit and legitimacy need to take a fall. If they are God’s own they will be refined by the fire. But they have to be willing to go up in flames.
 
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Eyedoc84

Puritan Board Freshman
It strikes me that these allegations are akin to gossip. Ravi Zacharias is dead and cannot defend himself. My suspicion is that most of the allegations do not have the requisite 2-3 witnesses as required by the law. That doesn't mean he isn't guilty, we simply cannot judge the matter because guilt cannot be established by the voice of one witness. (Deut. 19:15)
Sexual encounters don’t typically take place with 2 witnesses present. Physical evidence also counts as a “witness”. In at least one of the accusations, there is an email trail establishing guilt, and NDA’s were put in place, which he apparently violated, which is how we now have some public access to the event in question.
 

JTB.SDG

Puritan Board Sophomore
Ravi's family denies all the allegations. One could say that the family is lying, for whatever reason. However, it carries weight with me that the absolute closest people to him deny all the allegations. Also, I find it suspicious that he is only accused after he is dead. That doesn't mean Ravi is innocent. He could very well be guilty. Nevertheless, I think it would be very wise of us to withhold judgment, assumptions, and everything related. We don't know the truth. It would be a sad day indeed if the PB becomes a place where people rush to judgment without knowing all the facts, like the FB world does all too often.
Lane, this is no longer true. Go to the website. Ravi's family is "devastated." They are now conceding to the truth of the allegations though the final report has yet to be released.
 
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JTB.SDG

Puritan Board Sophomore
These days rape has come to mean everything from an unwanted comment to consensual sex that one party decided was rape months or years later. That said, in the Zacharias case if a woman claims to have had consensual sex with him and has no proof, why is anyone entertaining the allegation? He's dead and cannot defend himself, the voice of one witness doesn't prove guilt. If she has emails or letters from him acknowledging what he did that's another matter. However, I can't help but question the motivation for going public with this information after he is dead. Something else is going on here and I rather suspect it has to do with a 5 letter word that begins with M and ends with oney.
Because, it seems, there are multiple allegations. Much like Bill Cosby. Go to Ravi's own website; they themselves are validating the truth of the allegations. https://www.rzim.org/page/update-from-rzim-board-allegations-against-ravi-zacharias
 
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JTB.SDG

Puritan Board Sophomore
No one should be in any way shaming the victims because they haven't spoken until now. Imagine the shoes these women would be in; especially if they were devoted Christians. The reason some are talking now is because Ravi's own ministry launched a third party investigation into the truth of the allegations. It seems, from the preliminary report put out by Ravi's own website, there are mutliple allegations with similar patterns over the course of decades. None of these woman had anything to gain by sharing what they did, and they only did so because they were approached and asked directly. All this has such a ring of truth that Ravi's own website is conceding to the truth of the allegations themselves, though the final report won't be submitted until later this month or February. It's very, very sad.
 

Pilgrim

Puritanboard Commissioner
A number of the alleged victims were immigrants who may have been afraid they'd have to leave the country if they came forward. (I'm assuming that they may have been here due to the sponsorship of Ravi's massage parlor, which was a huge red flag itself, for a number of reasons.)

The allegation of Ravi's brother's former girlfriend that Ravi encouraged her to get an abortion was lodged a long time ago.
 
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