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The Duplicitous World of Christian Apologist Ravi Zacharias

The Duplicitous World of Christian Apologist Ravi Zacharias
He inflated his credentials, engaged in an online sexual relationship with a woman and participated in an abortion

VOL SPECIAL REPORT

By David W. Virtue, DD
www.virtueonline.org
July 10, 2019

This is not a story I would have chosen to write. Ravi Zacharias is not an Anglican, but he has spoken at Anglican events and in Anglican churches across the globe. He spoke recently at the 10th Annual Assembly of the Anglican Church in North America in Plano, Texas. I heard him speak and quoted him in one of my stories. He was impressive and received an ovation at the conclusion of his message to more than 1,100 faithful Anglicans. Some of what I am about to expose has been whispered about for some time, and while I was aware of it, I wrote nothing, thinking that it was just gossip and hearsay; scandal laid needlessly at the foot of a good evangelist and apologist for the Christian Faith. As time wore on the rumors and charges grew, a sudden flurry of recent emails sent to me, forced me to change my mind. VOL reached out to Ravi Zacharias on several occasions seeking comment about the charges but got no reply.

Three main charges have been leveled at evangelist and apologist Ravi Zacharias.

The first is that he claimed to have earned degrees from respectable institutions that he never obtained. Along with that are claims he made that he studied at a number of well-known institutions, claiming to lecture alongside academic men he claimed to have a relationship with.

Secondly, that he engaged in an online sex relationship with a woman who sent him nude photos and he did not tell her to cease and desist. When she threatened to go public, he threatened to commit suicide. An out-of-court settlement was reached and the whole matter disappeared. How much was paid? Did it come out of Ravi Zacharias Ministries? If so, did that violate his non-profit status?

Thirdly, and most sadly, he told a woman who got pregnant by his brother several decades ago, to go and get an abortion. The woman in question did and she tells her story here. She is clear that by doing so she is not suing Zacharias and is not after money, she simply wants the world to know that his views on abortion are hypocritical.

TEN INDISPUTABLE FACTS ABOUT RAVI ZACHARIAS, courtesy of http://www.raviwatch.com/

On October 29, 2016, Mr. Zacharias threatened suicide in writing when the married woman, and Canadian ministry supporter, Lori Anne Thompson, accused Zacharias of sexting and exchanging inappropriate emails with her. She informed him that she would confess to her husband. Mr. Zacharias refuses to discuss the suicide email, but he has privately admitted sending it. The email can be seen here.

The following is an e-mail record of that conversation. The original photocopy of this email can be seen here: http://www.raviwatch.com/

From: Ravi

Date: October 29, 2016 at 4:38:00 PM EDT

Subject: Re: Letter

"Are you going to tell him it's me?"

From: Ravi

Date October 29, 2016 at 4:38:48 PM EDT

Subject: Re: Letter

"You promised you wouldn't ****** If. You betray me here I will have no option but to bid this world goodbye I promise

From Ravi

Date: October 29, 2016 5:03pm 34

Subject: Re Letter

"Can we not meet at least once before you do this? Please please"

From Ravi

Date: October 29, 2016 5: 57pm

Subject:  Re Letter

"Little did I know that was the most dark and accursed day of my life. You will not hear from me again.

On July 31, 2017, Mr. Zacharias filed a federal lawsuit against the woman. In November 2017, Mr. Zacharias dismissed his lawsuit after agreeing to pay money for a vow of silence from the woman and her husband.

In his lawsuit, Mr. Zacharias admits receiving nude and sexual photos from the woman. He claims that he repeatedly asked her to stop sending him such photos. But he provides not a single item of evidence for that claim, nor does he explain why he did not report her allegedly outrageous and unwanted conduct to his Ministry until the woman threatened him with legal action.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For years, Mr. Zacharias claimed to be a "professor at Oxford." He made the claim in speeches to fans and donors and at his website. On August 22, 2018, Mr. Zacharias was forced to admit that he had never been a professor at Oxford.

For years Mr. Zacharias claimed to be "an official lecturer" at Oxford. In September of 2016, the University of Oxford stated in writing that Mr. Zacharias has never been an employee of the University.

For years, Mr. Zacharias claimed in his author bios to be "Cambridge educated." In August of 2018, Mr. Zacharias admitted that he had never enrolled at the University of Cambridge. He based his "Cambridge educated" claim on merely having observed lectures at the University of Cambridge for 2 -- 3 months in 1990, when he was in his mid-40s.

For years, Mr. Zacharias has claimed that he studied "quantum physics" at the University of Cambridge under the renowned physicist, Dr. John Polkinghorne. The University, however, has confirmed that Dr. Polkinghorne only taught Buddhism and The Science/Religion Dialogue during the term Mr. Zacharias attended lectures at the University. Mr. Zacharias observed science/religion dialogue lectures and converted this to the claim that he studied quantum physics "under" Dr. Polkinghorne, a claim he makes widely in his public lectures.

Mr. Zacharias claims in his published writings that in the mid-1980s he chaired a "Department" at Alliance Theological Seminary in New York. In fact, the Seminary had no departments when Mr. Zacharias was there.

Mr. Zacharias claims in his writings that in 1965 he won an international preaching competition in Hyderabad, India, and was awarded the "Asian Youth Preacher Award." This award never existed. Furthermore, all three of the judges at the competition have stated that it was an India-only competition.

Despite compelling evidence of career-long deceit by "the great apologist of our time," Mr. Zacharias continues to receive awards, speaking engagements and book contracts from Christians in the apologetics business. His own denomination, the Christian & Missionary Alliance refused to discipline him; the Southern Baptist Convention invited him to speak at their Dallas Convention in 2018; four months after Mr. Zacharias settled his lawsuit, HarperCollins Christian Publishing announced a new book contract with him; and apologetics organizations, churches and Christian colleges continue to invite him to speak to their audiences. Mr. Zacharias was a recent speaker at the Anglican Church in North American annual assembly in Plano, Texas. I, David Virtue, attended this event and heard him speak.

You can read more here: http://www.raviwatch.com/

His church denomination, the Christian and Missionary Alliance, responded to these charges with the following statement:

PUBLIC STATEMENT ON ACCUSATIONS AGAINST RAVI ZACHARIAS

Evidence does not provide basis for formal discipline under the C&MA policy. 

Ravi Zacharias has maintained his licensing credentials through The Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA) for 45 years. Along with all C&MA licensed workers, he is subject to the Uniform Policy on Discipline, Restoration, and Appeal.

Recently Mr. Zacharias has been accused of exaggerating his academic credentials. Mr. Zacharias and his employer, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, have revised and clarified their communications to address these concerns. The C&MA has determined that there is no basis for formal discipline regarding this matter.

Mr. Zacharias has also been accused of engaging in an immoral relationship with a woman through the use of electronic communications. The C&MA recently completed a thorough inquiry of these accusations, including interviews with those involved and a review of all available documentation and records. While it is not appropriate to publicly discuss the nuances of these allegations, the available evidence does not provide a basis for formal discipline under the C&MA policy.

VOL reached out to Peter Burgo, Media Relations for the CMA regarding this letter and the subsequent abortion issue and got back this response: 

The Christian and Missionary Alliance released a statement in March 2018 regarding its investigation into the accusations against Mr. Zacharias. We have not had grounds to initiate a new investigation under our Uniform Policy on Discipline.

HOWEVER, the most serious and egregious charge laid against Mr. Zacharias is that he aided and abetted in obtaining an abortion for a young woman. 

As a new Christian and Missionary Alliance Minister, Ravi Zacharias pressured his brother's 16-yr-old girlfriend in obtaining an illegal abortion.

The following personal account is by Shirley Steward, who recently retired with the rank of Detective Constable from the Ontario Provincial Police after 34 years of service (Canadian Provincial police are comparable to state police in the US).

The incident in Shirley's personal account occurred in 1973. By that time, Ravi was a newly licensed minister, licensed by The Christian and Missionary Alliance of Canada in 1972. Is it possible that he did not want to compromise his new ministry work and that it might affect his new career if people found out?

The following is Shirley Steward's Personal Story:

Following the story coming out about Ravi Zacharias and his fall from grace, I felt it was time to tell my story and experience about this hypocrite, about his using his pastoral position to influence a 16-year-old girl (me) to have an abortion. Because his brother, Ramesh Zacharias (then 20 years old), was the father. I do this purely to inform folks that Ravi is not the person he claims to be; that he should be forbidden from bilking people of their hard-earned cash, which feathers his own nest. And that his counsel is only in his own best interests. And to the other victims that I'm sure this man has left in his wake -- you are not alone. I believe you. You are not the diminished or evil person he painted you to be. 

While my story began almost 50 years ago, I am not totally sure it ever ended completely. There are parts of my life that were forever altered. However, I did move on from it. I eventually followed my dream of becoming a police officer. I recently retired following 34 years of a career that I am very proud of. I investigated everything from a simple parking ticket to a plane crash and assisted in a murder investigation. Of course, I had to testify innumerable times in court over the years. I appreciate and live for truth and justice. I have always been an active part of my community, volunteering with seniors, a local community theatre and my biggest passion -- animals - cats and dogs, in particular. I think because animals are capable of unconditional love. Unlike humans. I have never been let down by an animal. 

At age 14, I was living in the east end of Toronto with my parents. My brother, who is 5 years older than I am, was attending a church in downtown Toronto called the First Alliance Church, on Yonge Street, Toronto. The church was headed by Reverend JR Deitz and he had a large and engaged youth group. Finally, my parents let me travel to this church. There, I met Ramesh Zacharias. brother of Ravi Zacharias. Ramesh was 4 years older than I, and Ravi, 10 years older than I. Ramesh and I soon started spending time together and a few months later, at age 15, we were considered a couple. I felt honoured to be welcomed by the Zacharias family. Ramesh was going to university to become a doctor. While he wanted me to consider nursing, I had another career choice in mind. 

As happens with relationships, ours became sexual after I turned 16. Then, as nature would take its course, I became pregnant. This was, I believe, in the late spring/early summer of 1973. Ramesh was living with his parents in the west end of Toronto. I was at their apartment and Ramesh wanted to talk to his brother Ravi to ask his advice as an older brother and, particularly, as a minister.

Ravi was held in high regard in our church and had ministered to our congregation on several occasions. Ramesh was on the phone either in the living room or kitchen. I was on the extension in his parent's bedroom (needless to say, they weren't home at the time). I remember it like it was yesterday from the satin bedspread that had a stitched design on it, the phone extension was on the nightstand, along with an alarm clock and a lamp. 

Ramesh explained briefly the situation to Ravi. I remember Ravi was very angry, more at Ramesh than me it seemed. He was not speaking in kind terms, only pointing out that this news would 'kill our parents' and 'end your future as a doctor.' There was no talk of alternatives. I was in shock at this point. This 'man of God,' this 'minister' was actually suggesting that the baby be aborted! I couldn't speak.

When I think back, I wasn't asked for my feelings or input anyway. I had so many questions. How could he be advocating to kill a baby? Was he thinking straight? Oh, he gave the usual platitudes about praying for guidance and forgiveness. Yet his own views left nothing to the imagination.

Within a couple of days, Ramesh had come to my house to speak to my parents. He did all the talking. I just cried. At one point we all were crying and praying. Ramesh was much better at talking the talk, than walking the walk. He convinced them that the best way forward was an abortion. As I was under 18, they had to give their permission. The compelling part of the conversation was when he told them that Ravi had recommended the termination of the pregnancy, given all the circumstances. My church-going, God-fearing parents relented and agreed to give their permission. After all, if a minister felt it appropriate, then it must be. Right? Again, I was never asked what I wanted for myself. I was feeling powerless that these adults were making a decision for my life and that of my unborn child.

In 1973, abortions were illegal in Canada, except in the case of a danger to the life of the mother and had to be approved by a panel of 3 doctors. I was in no danger from being pregnant and I was also too young to be aware of these legalities. So how was permission obtained? I found out after the fact, from Ramesh, that another parishioner was the one that made the arrangements. Vicki S. was a nurse who worked at St. Michael's hospital in downtown Toronto. Coincidentally (?) she was the best friend and co-worker of Ravi's wife, Margie. They worked together in the same department. And St. Michael's hospital was where the abortion was performed.

The procedure itself was a nightmare. My parents dropped me off at the hospital. No one showed up to show support and/or to pray with/for me and my baby. Not Ramesh, Ravi, Vicki or Margie. I was a scared little girl that at this point, felt abandoned and abused.

Vicki went on to be Ramesh's first wife and Ravi's sister-in-law. What a cozy, dysfunctional family. All said and done, I dodged a bullet, by not becoming part of it.

I stopped going to this church and having anything to do with these frauds after this whole fiasco. On a couple of occasions, when my brother (who still attended the church) happened to mention that Ravi would be at the church to minister to the congregation, I was very tempted to attend and to interrupt the service by yelling, 'Hey Ravi, how about telling the congregation about counseling me to abort your brother's baby!' Maybe I should have. Except I'm sure he would have painted me as a lunatic.

Fast forward 25 years. My parents had a copy of the Nov/Dec 1998 'Christian Reader' magazine on their table when I happened to visit.  On the cover were Ravi and Margie.  I took the magazine and read this incredibly nauseating article. If they had tooted their own horns any harder, they would have blown their eardrums. They portrayed themselves as so godly and saintly. I was truly angered to my core.  So, I wrote a letter to Ravi, letting him know in no uncertain terms, how I felt about him and asked how he could sleep at night, let alone pretend to be virtuous, given his role in my abortion?

No response would have been better than his self-serving denial of any involvement in the events all that time ago. In this 3-page, typed letter, he repeats his dismissal of his part in the events several times. It brought to mind the old saying, 'Thou protesteth too much.' I was even more furious. What a liar!! It wasn't until many years later, with the introduction of the internet, that it all became clear to me. Ravi had built a sizable empire with his 'Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.'  With charitable status in Canada and the US (at least), he had amassed millions of dollars in donations. His cult-like following was totally taken in by his fake godliness. Of course, he was going to deny his participation!

In 2014, Ravi happened to be having a fund-raiser in Kingston, which is near where I live in Eastern Ontario. It was held at a centre that holds 6,700 people. I certainly wasn't going to pay to see this fraud. However, again, I was tempted to march with a placard at the entrance. I didn't, but instead, sent his office an email saying that I knew he was a fraud and now understood why he had lied in that letter of 15 years earlier.

My 16-year-old inside needs others to know that he is fake, a 'false prophet' as my mother recently said. He is bilking people out of their hard-earned money. He is too big a money-maker for the religion machine to strip him of his ministry. Sadly, this is horrible for the legitimate religious leaders in the world who are transforming peoples' lives due to a calling not for profit, prestige and adoration that is at the core of this monster.

Spiritual Sounding Board has maintained a compilation of important links related to Ravi Zacharias here: http://www.raviwatch.com/ 

More articles linked to may include additional background. RaviWatch: Investigating the false claims of evangelist Ravi Zacharias can be seen here: http://www.raviwatch.com/

A critical book on the life and ministry of Ravi Zacharias: Cover-Up in the Kingdom: Phone Sex, Lies, And God's Great Apologist, Ravi Zacharias by Steve Baughman can be bought here: https://www.amazon.com/Cover-Up-Kingdom-Phone-Apologist-Zacharias-ebook/...

END

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