An Assessment of the December 23, 2020 RZIM Board Statement

Published December 29, 2020

The ‘intermediate statement’ released by The Executive Committee of the RZIM Board of Directors contains extremely damaging and grievous confirmation that Ravi Zacharias abused multiple women. 

Because it confirms such awful details, I have noticed that some people are encouraged that, at a minimum, this public statement shows that RZIM’s board is managing the investigation in a transparent and honest manner. 

On the one hand, given the grievous reality that Ravi was sexually abusive, the transparent release of the intermediate statement is a positive development. 

Unfortunately, a closer look reveals a number of serious concerns.

Let us now examine how the Executive Committee of the RZIM Board of Directors uses true statements to mislead us.

Please note carefully: for the leaders of a Christian apologetics ministry, this kind of fault – by itself – should be cause for resignation. 

The Board Membership Remains Anonymous

In their statement, the Executive Committee states that they “feel it necessary to be transparent.”

We seem to have the evidence: they transparently publish Miller & Martin’s interim report. 

Yet we don’t know who wrote or signed this statement. This is not transparent.

More generally, very few people, including employees, know who serves on RZIM’s board of directors, much less on the Executive Committee. This is not transparent.

Similarly, the board has not authorized the disclosure of Form 990 statements to either employees or the public. The last one available is for the fiscal year ending in 2015. This is not transparent.

That is, in the fundamentals of standard nonprofit governance, the Executive Committee does not “feel it necessary to be transparent.”

By contrast, we see a pattern of ‘transparency’ only subsequent to an external party revealing a substantive problem. For this reason, I encourage anyone who wishes to stand with Ravi’s victims to apply private and public pressure on RZIM’s board and senior leadership to do what is right.

Because of the lack of transparency, we are left with speculation on vital matters.

For instance, this statement prompts the memory that, at all-staff meetings this fall, sometimes Sarah Davis (RZIM’s Global CEO and Chair of the Board) and Abdu Murray (RZIM’s General Counsel and Senior Vice President) would awkwardly alternate between saying “the board” and “we.” 

In addition, as this statement is only attributed to the Executive Committee, we might be justified in wondering if RZIM’s entire board reviewed this statement. Or are there now dissenters within RZIM’s board of directors? 

The Statement Avoids Admitting Complicity

As the Executive Committee puts it, “This misconduct is deeply troubling and wholly inconsistent with the man Ravi Zacharias presented both publicly and privately to so many over more than four decades of public ministry.”

On the one hand, I believe this can be a true statement – I and many other employees had no idea that Ravi abused women in spas he co-owned (nor that he co-owned spas). 

But the Executive Committee’s posture is problematic for at least three reasons.

First, did anyone who serves on the board, yet is not on the Executive Committee, have evidence that Ravi was responsible for sexual misconduct? At this time, we don’t know.

Second, this passage reveals that Ravi lacked accountability and transparency.

Having admitted that serious allegations of sexual misconduct are true and having explained that this is not consistent with the person Ravi presented himself to be, it follows that the Executive Committee is admitting that they did not have the safeguards in place to detect his pattern of grossly abusive behavior, nor did they have the relational equity with Ravi to know his heart. 

But they omit any direct acknowledgment of this ruinous failing, nor do they apologize for it. In this way, they again avoid taking responsibility. 

Third, this is a poor choice of words because…

The December 23 Statement Avoids Mentioning the Thompsons

As careful students of communication from the RZIM board of directors may notice, the board’s statement on the Thompsons remains on RZIM’s website. [February 10, 2021 update: The board’s statement has been removed since the original publication of this article. The original link for their statement was

As the entire Board of Directors explains in that statement:

Before he died, however, Ravi addressed allegations that he solicited inappropriate photos from Lori Anne Thompson or otherwise engaged in communications of a sexual nature with her in an 800-word public statement in December 2017. In that statement, he denied any sexually or romantically inappropriate conduct. He stood by that statement until his death. His denial is consistent with the character of the man we knew and worked alongside for years. (Emphasis added).

Now that it is further confirmed that Ravi was willing to sexually abuse women in the spas that he co-owned, the board’s defense that he couldn’t possibly have asked for nude photos from Lori Anne Thompson is absurd.

Independently of this, and despite the Board’s unwillingness to acknowledge it, there is strong evidence to conclude that Ravi groomed Lori Anne Thompson, requested and received nude photos from her, participated in phone sex with her, lied about his relationship with her, perjured himself in his RICO lawsuit, bullied the Thompsons into an NDA, and then shamelessly broke the NDA. 

It is long overdue for RZIM’s Board of Directors to admit the truth about Ravi’s immoral involvement with Lori Anne Thompson.

The problem is, to do so would require RZIM’s board to admit that they neglected to look at this evidence in an objective manner — that they wrongly defended Ravi’s honor — and that they slandered the Thompsons as extortionists. 

For their complicity and their abdication of responsibility, again, they should resign. 

The Statement Creates A False Equivalence between Ravi’s victims and Ravi’s family

At the end of their statement, the Executive Committee turns to spiritual language:

In the meantime, we share your compassion for any victims of this conduct, and we appreciate your prayers for them and also for Ravi’s family who have been devastated by this information. 

Yes, we should be praying for Ravi’s family. May our hearts remain compassionate and empathetic to everyone who is hurting. 

Still, though it is painful to mention it, the question needs to be raised: did anyone in the Zacharias family know, or turn a blind eye to, Ravi’s involvement with other women? 

Most critically, as devastating as it is to learn about sexual misconduct of a beloved family member or former role model (and it is), surely it is far more devastating to experience sexual misconduct?

The Executive Committee is still not prioritizing an empathetic response to Ravi’s primary victims: the women he abused.

Remember, in RZIM’s initial statement on September 15, 2020, we were told “We, the family and ministry teammates of the late Ravi Zacharias, can say the allegations now being made against Ravi do not in any way comport with the man we knew for decades—we believe them to be false.”

At this point, a transparent statement from the Executive Committee would include an apology to the ministry teammates who did not share the board’s initial judgment that the allegations were false. More importantly, for immediately discrediting the victims’ courageous testimony, the Executive Committee should now apologize.

(As a brief aside: who is the ‘we’ that shares compassion? What does it mean to receive compassion from spiritual leaders who will not name themselves? What kind of spiritual leader seeks to offer anonymous compassion?)

The Executive Committee Uses Spiritual Language That Distracts Us from Noticing Their Responsibilities

The Executive Committee concludes by reminding us that, “As ever, the Lord remains our principal hope for healing and restoration.”

As a Christian, I cannot disagree. This statement is entirely true. 

Yet because we know that the Lord wants healing and restoration, we understand that his disciples are obligated to do likewise. it is therefore disappointing to see how the Executive Committee neglects to explain their own desire to provide any healing and restoration for Ravi’s many victims. 

Does the Executive Committee intend to set up a fund that Ravi’s victims can access for their own restoration and healing?

To avoid further trauma to the victims, will they change the name of the ministry? Cease publication of Ravi’s books? Remove his material from the website, YouTube, and other channels? Request that radio stations remove programming that features Ravi Zacharias?

And to acknowledge their failure to provide accountability to Ravi Zacharias for more than a decade, and possibly even longer, will they resign?