The board of Zacharias Trust in the U.K., which operates a theological training center, has decided to “make a clear separation” from Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and choose a new name, in response to the revelation that the late Christian apologist engaged in “sexting, unwanted touching, spiritual abuse, and rape” during his life.
“We are appalled by Ravi Zacharias’ abusive actions and their impact on the victims of his abuse,” the six members of the board said in a statement Friday, the day after the results of a monthslong independent investigation detailed serious allegations of sexual misconduct by Zacharias.
The board said it had, therefore, unanimously decided to “make a clear separation from the global RZIM organization.” It explained that while the U.K. entity had been a separate charity with independent trustees, “in the current circumstances we believe that we must now operate without any link to RZIM US.”
The entity will also choose a new name to “continue to serve the U.K. church with integrity,” it added. “This will also give us the opportunity to review the lessons to be learned from these awful events.”
An in-depth report by Atlanta law firm Miller & Martin, independent investigators hired by RZIM, was released Thursday. It included interviews with more than a dozen massage therapists who treated Zacharias over the years.
One massage therapist said the evangelist often tried for “more than a massage,” while four massage therapists said Zacharias masturbated or asked them to touch his genitals during massages. Five said he “touched or rubbed them inappropriately.”
Another massage therapist “reported details of many encounters over a period of years that she described as rape,” according to the report.
“We also lament the effect this will have on many around the world who looked up to him as a role model for their own Christian faith,” the U.K. board said. “Ravi Zacharias’ conduct is against everything we stand for and believe as a Christian organization, as we made clear in our statement in December last year. Our trust in Ravi Zacharias was wholly misplaced, and for this we apologize wholeheartedly to all those who have been impacted.”
Some leading speakers and supporters who have been associated with the U.K. Trust’s Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics have backed its decision to cut ties with RZIM and change the name of the training center, the board said. They include Sam Allberry, John Dickson, Os Guinness, John Lennox, Amy-Orr Ewing, Becky Manley Pippert, John and Alison Riches and Akeel Sachak among others.
Author and Christian apologist Lee Strobel also said he will stop the printing of a book that includes Zacharias. "The report on sexual sins by Ravi Zacharias is horrific," he tweeted Friday. 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."
The investigation report revealed that one of the witnesses said that Zacharias engaged in sexual intercourse.
After Zacharias talked with her about her faith and finances, establishing himself as a “father figure,” he arranged for his ministry to provide her with financial support. However, he then demanded sex and “warned her not ever to speak out against him or she would be responsible for the ‘millions of souls’ whose salvation would be lost if his reputation was damaged.”
“A number of aspects of this account involved similar behavior and escalation as the accounts of other therapists who would not have known each other and who treated Mr. Zacharias in different contexts over time,” noted the report.
Throughout his decadeslong ministry, Zacharias, who died of cancer at the age of 74 last May, was a globally respected apologist. A prolific figure in American Christian radio and TV, he founded RZIM in 1984. Today, the ministry has offices in 15 countries and nearly 300 staffers.