I have trouble believing that any big-name Christian celebrity is an honorable, God-fearing creature. Thus, when I hear an account of them womanizing and scamming, I don’t even break stride unless the story is funny. In Ravi Zecharias’ case, my disinterest went double because he was dead before the accusations started hitting. Not that I believe he’s innocent; he’s just not humanity’s problem anymore.
Since then, however, the fallout has begun following a very familiar pattern that has less to do with the man himself and mostly to do with signaling virtue to the New World Order of atheism, feminism and subjecting the Church to State oversight.
It’s time to discuss the living.
RZIM Americas’ director apologizes for failures, furthering late apologist’s ‘false narratives’
By Brandon Showalter, 25 February 2021
False narratives, they say? They have my attention. Is the Church going to do a thing and preach truth to power for once?
The Americas’ director of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and his wife are the latest to release public apologies for trusting the late apologist and furthering the false narratives he promoted, following the release of an investigative report this month detailing Zacharias’ years of sexual misconduct. …
Since the release of the final report, RZIM has halted all fundraising activities and public relations staffer Ruth Malhotra has come forward with an insider account of how the organization operated in a “toxic” manner.
In a 26-page letter to the RZIM board of directors, Malhotra expressed how she was not given straightforward answers when she asked leadership questions that were emerging about Zacharias’ various misdeeds and that she felt she was unable to do her job in keeping with her moral convictions.
“I broke through the glass ceiling then got rayyyped!” It’s like there’s a reason why women were not previously allowed in the halls of power, a reason that might have protected them from their own sexual instincts. If we’re going to take porn away from men then consistency demands we take the C-suite away from women.
Malhotra also recounted that RZIM leadership staged a “conciliation” session where she was berated and told she was nearly insane for raising objections.
Allegations against Zacharias include that he had sexually groomed a Canadian woman, Lori Anne Thompson, and that he had inflated and misrepresented his credentials and academic background, which first emerged in 2017. He was also accused of engaging in serious sexual misconduct with female employees at a spa he co-owned in Georgia, which was revealed last summer, not long after his death in May 2020.
Snore. “He acted inappropriately during my shift at the rub & tug!” Again, I’m not saying Ravi was innocent. I’m saying nobody in that situation was innocent. It’s what police call a self-cleaning oven. Honestly, we could have safely assumed guilt at “Ravi owned a private spa.”
Both sets of allegations were first exposed by Steve Baughman, a San Franciso Bay area attorney who documented Zacharias’ multi-faceted corruption in the book, Cover-Up in the Kingdom: Phone Sex, Lies, and God’s Great Apologist, Ravi Zacharias. In media interviews since the release of the final report, Baughman has stressed that the problem that enabled Zacharias to abuse so many for so long is not exclusively about him but is rooted in a broader evangelical Christian business culture.
While Northern California has a strong Lumbersexual community, long-sleeved shirts in the Bay Area often hide emaciation from drug abuse or social diseases. Hoodies are the current trend for warmth there, last I visited about five years ago.
My name is Steve Baughman.
I am a part-time lawyer, part-time touring and teaching musician, part-time philosophy student, and full-time dilettante. I am currently registered at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley and have done most of my work there with the Dominicans.
I am a religious skeptic but I consider it intellectual cowardice to enroll in schools and programs whose stated purpose is to strengthen your existing religious beliefs.
Is it physical cowardice to enroll in a gym whose stated purpose is to strengthen your body? Faith in God is not a personality trait. It doesn’t just happen.
The Ravi Zacharias project fell into my lap most unexpectedly in 2015 when I was seeking the best and brightest defenders of the Christian religion. I began earnestly to look into his work and quickly found a scoundrel behind the smiling erudition.
People have warned me that Ravi will sue me for the work I have done exposing his career-long deceptions and misconduct. He won’t. Despite his public persona, Ravi Zacharias is a cowardly man who refuses to debate opponents, daring only to confront them from behind his keyboard or microphone, where he controls the agenda. A lawsuit against me would require Ravi to sit down for a deposition and answer questions without evasion.
Institutional Christianity has responded to the (growing!) mountain of evidence against Ravi Zacharias by sweeping it under the rug. Ravi continues to receive speaking gigs and awards from churches and evangelical groups as well as book contracts from Christian publishers.
This is exactly what my atheist worldview would have predicted.
It is also what your self-identification as a Skeptic predicted, Steve: that you go out of your way to find fraudulent Christians in order to support your preexisting belief that there is no God. Next time, pick a believer who has suffered for his faith instead of making a million bucks off it. You say you help rescue Chinese Christians but it’s like you never listened to why they didn’t just shrug and chant the Party line.
I begin to suspect that Ravi’s accusers are less interested in justice than Progress.
The Vitales added in their statement that they would commit to listening to survivors of sexual abuse and learn from them.
My suspicion just got upvoted. Let’s proceed to their confession.
A Personal Confession from Vince and Jo Vitale
February 23, 2021
To all who read this, thank you for allowing us the chance to share with you a personal confession. We are grieved beyond measure for every one of the victims who has been abused in such appalling and reprehensible ways by Ravi Zacharias. There are not words to express our grief as strongly as we wish to. Sexual abuse—abuse of any kind—defies everything that the gospel of Jesus Christ proclaims about the sacred, intrinsic, undiminishable value of women, and indeed of every single person.
Sigh, I wonder where THIS is going.
Over the last several months and especially since the release of the interim report of the investigation in December, we have been asking God to search our hearts, to reveal to us the ways in which we personally have failed. And we have recognized some extremely sobering truths: first, our confidence in our friend, Ravi, was severely misplaced; Ravi abused people in horrific ways and then repeatedly and brazenly lied to our faces. On the heels of these truths came the sickening realization that by believing Ravi’s lies and then passing on his false narratives, we in turn deeply hurt people—the very people most in need of our care—and we added to their pain. We are sorry. We are so very, very sorry.
Why? If you acted in good faith and did not know then there’s no call for this kind of groveling.
Two of the primary concerns that motivated us to become apologists were for Vince a desire to speak hope to the sufferer, and for Jo a desire to share with women that God sees them as valuable and of sacred worth. It fills us with intense sorrow to know that we have failed in the precise areas that God had asked us to prioritize, and in doing so failed the very people that God asked us to love well.
They repent of Ravi Zecharias but not the Original Sin that led them to him in the first place.
In 2017, Lori Anne Thompson came forward with allegations about how she had suffered grievously because of Ravi, and we did not listen. We failed to respect her by not giving her the serious attention that she deserved. We also failed to listen to those who faithfully stood with her and spoke up for her. Shamefully, we were slow to listen and quick to speak, the opposite of what God asks of us.
What were your reasons for not believing her? They could be legitimate, since God also said to not consider an accusation against a leader without strong evidence.
I [Jo] feel particularly convicted that although I’m someone who speaks regularly about the God who sees women, when a woman was abused by someone in my own sphere, I completely and utterly failed to see her. Not only should I have listened, but given the serious nature of the claims, I should have recognized my own personal bias and weighted the victim’s words more heavily. As a woman with a public voice, I failed to use that voice to speak up for another when her voice was not being heard. For this, I am so ashamed, and so devastatingly sorry.
Skipping paragraphs of such moodiness as that,
We should have asked for help. When allegations were brought against Ravi in 2017, we were in a situation that we did not have the learning and understanding to handle well. We needed expert counsel, especially from survivors and advocates, and not recognizing our ignorance was another serious failing of ours. Had we sought the right counsel, we could have done a far better job responding to the legitimate questions and concerns that were raised at the time, and we would have been told to recommend a thorough independent investigation. Had such an investigation been done, so much might have come to light and Ravi’s abuse might have been stopped much sooner.
Now that’s an interesting thought. When a woman accuses a high-profile Christian leader and the accusation is not credible, we should still bring in outside authorities to judge the worth of Pastor Sexy?
That’s one of the hallmarks of militant feminism: blind trust in authority, and if the current authority doesn’t bring you the results you want then find a bigger
man er, authority and let’s you and him fight. The winner gets to touch your ta-tas a second time.
So much is uncertain about the future, but what we do know is that we serve a God who is infinitely more concerned about the cries of victims than about our reputations, and far more interested in repentant hearts than rebranded ministries. In light of the severity of what has occurred, it may be right for this organization, at least in its current form, to come to an end. We are at peace with that.
Fine, but you can do that with perhaps two thousand fewer words.
We have absolutely no interest in getting back to business as usual. We personally have felt a temptation at times to run from this whole catastrophe, but we believe, especially in light of our personal failures and the responsibility that we personally bear, that God is asking us to focus our full attention on repentance and restitution and learning and serving.
I fear that “repentance” will take the form of continuing Ravi’s work as a celebrity male feminist. Institution converged!
MORE SKULLS! I must have MORE!
‘Criminal, sociopathic, satanic’: Christian leaders react to Ravi Zacharias sex abuse report
By Leah MarieAnn Klett, 17 February 2021
In an interview with The Christian Post, bestselling author and pastor Michael Youssef said Zacharias’ downfall is a sobering reminder that “accountability” must be a significant pillar of ministry.
Another call for an outside, probably secular, certainly feminist, authority to supervise all church leaders when even the stupidest accusation is made against them.
“We have put these people on a pedestal,” Youssef stressed. “Weekly, I tell my congregation, ‘If you’re here because of me, go somewhere else. If you want to worship Jesus, then, welcome.’ We are about Jesus. We’re not about the preacher. We’re not about celebrities, because that is deadly as far as the Gospel of Jesus Christ is concerned.”
“My next book will be published anonymously,” he didn’t say.
In addition to demonstrating transparency with his accountability partners, Youssef said that three people are aware of his whereabouts at all times. He releases his finances and tax returns to five members of his leadership and his technological devices are fully accessible to his spouse and staff.
Such measures are “necessary,” Youssef said, adding that everyone — regardless of their title — is “very capable of self-deception.”
Necessary for the modern celebrity who refuses to avoid women, yes.
“We can never get to the point where we say, ‘I trust my own judgment,’ because you cannot,” he said. “Scripture tells us the heart is deceitful above all. So what do you do? You build a wall around those areas that are going to cause your downfall.”
That’s the kind of bullshit that our leader love to fling around like chimpanzees: “You can’t trust yourself. You can only trust God who thinks you’re a worthless piece of scum. Buy my book to learn how to redeem yourself in God’s opinion!”
The Christian and Missionary Alliance
In a statement, Zacharias’ denomination, the Christian and Missionary Alliance, said that in light of the late apologist’s “pattern of sinful behavior that has caused enormous pain to many and undermined the witness of Christ’s Church,” it’s decided to posthumously expel him “from licensed ministry in our denomination.”
“This comes with the automatic revocation of his ordination,” the group said.
“We are deeply grieved over the pain suffered by Lori Anne Thompson, the massage therapists, and others who may have been victimized by Mr. Zacharias’ behavior, and support appropriate advocacy efforts on their behalf. Mr. Zacharias’ actions were in direct violation of his obligation to demonstrate his commitment to serve Christ and His people through his devotion, character, lifestyle, and values.”
That’s great but the underlying problem remains of allowing women intimate access to Church leaders.
In a blog post, author and cultural apologist Jim Denison acknowledged that when a respected Christian leader like Zacharias falls, it elicits “deep, painful emotions,” embarrassment and anger.
He outlined three steps every biblical Christian should take in response to the revelations “before this story becomes our story tomorrow.”
Christians, he said, must first “grieve” for Zacharias’ victims because every “person he abused is someone made in God’s image and beloved by our Father.”
Women aren’t made in God’s image, but Man’s.
Biblical Christians must also “expect private sins to become public,” Denison stressed. The apologist warned that “sin will always take you further than you wanted to go, keep you longer than you wanted to stay and cost you more than you wanted to pay. Always.” Finally, Denison called those living in secret sin to “repent now.”
A Biblical response. “Your sin will find you out just like his did. Stop now!”
In a lengthy op-ed, Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore said that what “enrages” him the most about Zacharias’ predatorial behavior is that the late apologist used “the name of Jesus Christ to do so.”
Me, what I find most enraging is that the “victims” stayed with him.
“One woman reports that after she experienced what she described as rape that Zacharias had her pray with him, thanking God for ‘the opportunity.’ Such an action would be unspeakable — an act of blasphemy to empower predatory violence,” he wrote.
“The witness of the church is at stake. More importantly, the lives of those made in the image of God, those for whom Jesus died, are at stake,” the head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission continued.
There’s that phrase again. Hmm.
“This awful report — coming on the heels of so many other situations detailed before —should rouse the conscience to ask not just how sadists can get into places of Christian leadership, but whether we have created a situation where the very presence of a conscience is an impediment to advancement in the Machiavellian and sometimes Caligula-like world of some sectors of American Christianity.”
Yes and again, that situation he’s referring to without actual mention is the Church’s formal embrace of Original Sin. You stop celebrity pastors from getting frisky with women by keeping them away from women. But that means keeping women out of the halls of power and so is a non-starter. Youssef’s solution is to live in a fishbowl and Denison’s is simply to not hide one’s crimes, but life would be much easier for our leaders if women were left to either their husband’s care or a Spinsters Auxiliary. Not to mention holier.
The report on sexual sins by Ravi Zacharias is horrific. He deceived so many. My heart goes out to his victims. Ravi was among those I interviewed 20 yrs ago for The Case for Faith. My publisher and I decided to halt printings of the book, and I am working on a revised edition.
— Lee Strobel (@LeeStrobel) February 12, 2021
Come on, Lee. He frequented massage parlors. He associated with women. How are any of these allegations a surprise?
And no, I haven’t heard of Ravi committing any “horrific” sexual sin. Maybe I’m just jaded from life in California but horrific is aggravated rape & murder by an “undocumented resident noncitizen released early so he won’t catch Wuhan Flu”. Ravi threatened suicide if wifey told hubby? That’s a self-cleaning oven, baby. All our problems should be so easily solved.
In fact, many of Ravi’s crimes were not sexual in nature. He mostly claimed credentials that he didn’t deserve. Anybody who noticed that he named his ministry after himself should have recognized it as a narcissism tell. None of these people care about the false credentialing. All of them care exclusively that the wymyn were not immediately believed.
The pink elephant of Feminism is not just squatting in the Church; she’s spraying diarrhea everywhere! On the Cross, on the saints, on the confession booth!
Collin Hansen, the editor in chief of The Gospel Coalition, wrote that the world has never seen an “evangelical leader with such a high profile perpetuate this kind of complex, years-long pattern of abuse.”
“But I don’t see a lot of surprise, because his abuse looks like the pattern of sexual exploitation we’ve come to understand from men who betray trust,” he wrote. “We’ve learned to identify the steps. He preyed on the vulnerable. He leveraged his ministry influence to intimidate victims. He convinced the world he couldn’t be the kind of monster they imagine sexual predators to be. In other words, he fit the type.”
Huh. I’m surprised that even one pundit admitted to not being shocked, totally shocked that something like Ravi happened. Coming from the Gospel Coalition, he’s probably selling something. This isn’t him but it’s strong evidence that TGC isn’t about to solve the root problems of clergy getting frisky with women anytime soon:
Women Are Not the Problem
18 February 2021
[Author Melissa Kruger serves as director of women’s content at The Gospel Coalition.]
While it’s abundantly clear how Zacharias’s actions directly harmed these particular women, I also fear how his actions will affect women in churches all over the world as upright men seek to avoid following in his footsteps.
It is wise to give careful thought to our ways and commendable to be circumspect in our actions. However, I’m concerned that certain well-intentioned guardrails have the potential to harm women. Pastors and church leaders, whatever actions you take to fight for purity, it’s important to remember: women are not the problem.
As you rightly prepare your minds for action (1 Pet. 1:13), here are a few truths to consider.
1. Draw near to God (don’t withdraw from women).
Withdrawing from women isn’t the solution. In fact, it’s part of the problem. It wasn’t good for Adam to be alone in the garden, and it’s not good for men to be without women in the church.
Adam didn’t screw up paradise until Eve came along.
2. Know your enemy (it’s not women).
If you’re attracted to someone in an improper way, practice wisdom in your interactions. Flee all forms of sexual immorality (1 Cor. 6:18). Avoid the enticements of an adulteress (Prov. 7:5).
However, don’t make blanket rules that prevent relationships or interactions with all women.
Flee sexual temptation! but keep meeting in private with your female mentees.
3. Seek accountability (but not at the expense of women).
It’s good to have accountability. Have people in your life who will ask you tough questions. Put protective software on your electronic devices. Avoid shows and songs that stir up wrong desires. Be careful, though, that you don’t communicate to women that they are the problem.
…I also know some elders who practice a policy of always copying someone else on email correspondence with women. While you may be trying to communicate “I’m above reproach,” it often communicates “You are dangerous.”
[stunned silence; no comment]
4. Shepherd the flock (which includes women).
If you’re an elder or a minister of the flock of God, you are called to shepherd women. This isn’t remote work.
Unless the health department says choir practice spreads plague.
It harms women to be distant in your care. Protect the women in your flock by interacting with them, not by avoiding them. Know their names and let them know your voice. Be interested in them. Ask how you can pray for them. Encourage their service. Support their ministry. A kind, encouraging word from an elder or pastor can spur on so much good. Don’t make the mistake of thinking purity involves avoiding women. See them. Know them. Shepherd them.
Mentor them! because they’re sexually attracted to power.
If Mr. Hansen truly recognizes the signs of impending #MeTooism then he’d have already quit the Gospel Coalition in fear and loathing. You heard it here first, folks: TGC is about to be rocked by a major sex scandal. I don’t yet know the details but thanks to Director Melissa’s hamsterbation, I don’t need to.
Zacharias broke trust by “violating the trust of vulnerable, exposed women,” Hansen said. “We agonize on their behalf and beg God that no one else would suffer as they did. We lament this grievous evil. We renew our commitment to repair what injustice has destroyed.”
Zacharias first broke trust with God by elevating those “vulnerable, exposed” women into influential roles in the little kingdom that he named after himself. Maybe the subsequent creepiness would not have happened had God been obeyed from the beginning.
So, I still don’t care about RZIM specifically but I do care that of all the horrified onlookers, not one has proposed the obvious and Scripture-mandated solutions of husbands ruling over wives and not giving women high office in Christian ministry. Baughman is not the first atheist to sneer at such blatant hypocrisy and a part of me doesn’t even blame him.