Three Reasons Every RZIM Supporter Should Want The Thompson NDA Terminated

Published January 22, 2021

There are three simple, clear, and powerful reasons that every RZIM supporter — whatever they believe about Ravi Zacharias – should want the NDA between himself and the Thompsons to be made void.

In case you aren’t familiar with the background to this question, here’s a quick overview: 

In August 2017, Brad and Lori Anne Thompson learned they were facing a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) lawsuit, filed against them by Ravi Zacharias. 

Knowing the RICO suit was funded by Ravi Zacharias, a best-selling author and international evangelist with his reputation on the line, the Thompsons faced a massive challenge.

To defend themselves would be incredibly expensive.

To not defend themselves could be even worse.

It was a lose-lose scenario.

So, imagine the relief when a settlement was offered that paid them $250,000 and ended the RICO lawsuit.

The one catch? Everyone had to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA).

However, as soon as the lawsuit was dismissed, in December 2017, Ravi took his side of the story to Christianity Today, asserting that Lori Anne “shockingly sent me extremely inappropriate pictures of herself unsolicited” and that there was a legitimate basis for the RICO lawsuit.

In his statement, Ravi also claimed, “I love my wife with all my heart and have been absolutely faithful to her these more than 16,000 days of marriage, and have exercised extreme caution in my daily life and travels, as everyone who knows me is aware.”

That is, Ravi’s public statement furthered the narrative that the Thompsons were lying, manipulative extortionists who had schemed together to slander and defraud a faithful husband and renowned evangelist.

Having given his side of the story, he then discussed another advantage of the NDA, writing, “unfortunately I am legally prevented from answering or even discussing the questions and claims being made by some.”

In this way, Ravi enjoyed the benefits of disclosing his perspective on his own terms, avoiding any follow-up questions, and silencing the Thompsons.

To the present day, even after Ravi’s passing in May 2020, the NDA remains in force.

But since he’s no longer with us, why would anyone still want the non-disclosure agreement to be in place?

The argument that Ravi provided to employees at RZIM was that by ending the lawsuit in this manner, we could focus on ministry together, without any concern that the Thompsons could cause further harm.

Perhaps that’s still a cause for concern. So, let’s take a closer look.

REASON #1: If Ravi was a man of integrity and truth, then there’s nothing to fear.

Assume for a moment that Ravi’s story is true.

If he was a man of remarkable integrity, then whatever is currently hidden from public view is unlikely – once it is released – to reflect poorly on him. 

Consider yourself. Are there any emails you have sent to a married woman (or man) that you would be afraid she (or he) might share with the world? (If so, I recommend you deal with that issue right away).

REASON #2: If Ravi’s story isn’t true, then the NDA is suppressing the voice of a victim. 

Now. Pause for a second.

Who would want to suppress the voice of a victim of sexual abuse?

Clearly, that is not what you would want to see from Christian leadership.

If more people continue to raise this point – and many have already done so – I hope that anyone with influence over the maintenance of this NDA will come to realize that this is what they’re doing.

It is my hope that once this problem becomes clear to them, they will immediately instruct their attorney to terminate the NDA (as the Thompsons have publicly requested).

Think this through. If Ravi willingly solicited and viewed extremely inappropriate pictures of another man’s wife, then why did he file a RICO lawsuit?

If that’s the case, then the lawsuit wasn’t to prove his innocence but to hide his guilt.

It was a bullying tactic designed to coerce the Thompsons into signing an NDA. 

Sure, technically, the Thompsons could have fought Ravi’s lawsuit tooth-and-nail.

But at what financial expense and emotional turmoil? 

It is an exceedingly unfair suggestion that a victim of sexual abuse must be willing to pay any financial price and endure months upon months of litigation against a wealthier, more powerful opponent in order to clear their name and establish the truth about their suffering.

For this reason alone, everyone should want to immediately see the NDA dissolved. 

REASON #3: Ravi’s reputation is already in disgrace.

First, we now know that in his 2017 statement to Christianity Today that Ravi told a demonstrable falsehood. 

He stated, “I have long made it my practice not to be alone with a woman other than Margie and our daughters—not in a car, a restaurant, or anywhere else.”

But as I learned in the fall of 2020, Ravi was regularly alone with women in his office at RZIM. (Though I don’t believe anything inappropriate happened in that context). And, of course, Ravi was regularly alone with women in the two spas that he owned. 

His alibi would have sounded quite different if we had been told the truth: “I have long made it my practice not to be alone with a woman other than Margie and our daughters — except in cars, my office, the spas I owned, with the personal masseuse who travelled with me, and with many other massage therapists around the world.” 

Further, Miller & Martin — a law firm hired by Ravi Zacharias International Ministries — has already stated “we have found significant, credible evidence that Mr. Zacharias engaged in sexual misconduct over the course of many years.”

Given these two points, how credible is Ravi’s protestation of innocence with regards to Lori Anne Thompson?

We know he was willing to lie when talking about this situation.

And we know he committed sexual misconduct with other women over the course of many years. 

In light of these established facts, I suggest to you that it is far more likely that the NDA is silencing the voice of a victim than it is protecting an innocent man from slander.

With these reasons in mind, I hope you will join me in praying and advocating for the end to this NDA.

P.S. Why write this article?

Some might say this article is just piling on. Why write one more article about RZIM? I’ve wrestled and agonized over this potential criticism. Others might say, “wait for the final report, then we can take action.”

Let me share my heart with you on these potential criticisms.

First, the Thompsons have already been silenced for over three years. When an oppressive situation exists, we reasonably object when the person who benefits from this circumstance asks for more time to make things right.

Further, releasing the Thompsons from the NDA would be supportive of the ongoing investigation, as it would provide everyone with more information about Ravi.

Second, the powerful, anonymous board of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries continues to publicly maintain, at RZIM’s website, that they can’t do anything about this situation. The board states:

Since RZIM was not a party to the agreement, it is unable to alter it, and his family does not feel it proper to alter it without Ravi’s knowledge or consent. 

But, of course, RZIM’s board can ask for the NDA to be lifted. They can talk with Ravi’s family about the wisdom of doing so. They can pray for it to be removed. They can publicly state that it should be done. The board is not without influence in this situation.

And while it is usually appropriate to respect a dead man’s wishes, that standard does not apply in this situation.

Why is that?

Because in this case, honoring Ravi’s wishes is to maintain oppression.

Though Ravi is dead, the NDA he signed continues to create suffering for the Thompsons.

Ravi is no longer with us – so he cannot be harmed by the termination of the NDA.

By contrast, the Thompsons can be freed and healed by voiding it.

In addition, the board concludes their statement on the Thompsons by saying this:

Finally, we reaffirm our commitment to the mission and work of RZIM—to reach and challenge those who shape the ideas of culture with the credibility of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The problem is that this reaffirmation of commitment now rings hollow.

For this organization to demonstrate that the “Gospel of Jesus Christ” has any credibility, then this same Gospel will need to change the hearts and minds of RZIM’s board of directors, and of the Zacharias family itself, to terminate the NDA.

I’m ready to move on. So are you.

But for anyone who has supported RZIM, there’s an urgency to seeing this wrong made right.

It is for the sake of the gospel that I write this article.

And it is for the sake of joining my voice to advocate for a family that has been deeply hurt, for more than a few years now, that I write this article.

So if you share either or both of those motivations, would you please join me in praying for and earnestly advocating that this NDA be made void?

(Featured image: Mike Haw)