Prominent evangelical leader Ravi Zacharias engaged in sexual misconduct, ministry reports

Ravi Zacharias, a prominent evangelical Christian leader and author who died of cancer last May at the age of 74, led a double life of coerced sexual gratification from massage therapists, his organization, Ravi Zacharias International, said on Thursday. Ministries (RZIM). RZIM released an independent report from Atlanta law firm Miller & Martin detailing Zacharias’ transgressions, including the sexual misconduct and rape allegations of more than a dozen massage therapists and the discovery of approximately 200 photos of young women on his phones, some of them nude selfies.

The board of RZIM, which is led by Zacharias’ daughter, said it was “shocked and saddened by Ravi’s actions” and apologized to his victims: “Words are not enough to express the grief we feel for what you went through or gratitude we feel for the bravery with which you responded.” RZIM denied any sexual misconduct by its founder last fall, and Zacharias had sued an accuser for extortion before his dead.

Most women interviewed by Miller & Martin said that during massages, Zacharias would grab their breasts or genitals and demand sexual gratification. Investigators found more than 200 other massage therapists listed in his phones, many of them in Asia. He spent months in two apartments he owned in Bangkok, and investigators found texts from 2016 showing Zacharias “spent his days writing and his nights receiving massages” there.

The woman who accused Zacharias of rape said that after he “arranged for the ministry to provide him with financial support, he asked her for sex” and then “made her pray with him to thank God for the “opportunity” they both received”. The woman told investigators that Zacharias “called her his ‘reward’ for living a life of service to God” and “said he warned her never to speak against him or else she would be responsible for the” millions of souls “whose salvation would be lost if his reputation were tainted.”

Zacharias, born in India and raised in Canada, first came to prominence preaching at a 1983 conference hosted by the Reverend Billy Graham. He went on to write about two dozen books and had a radio show. His funeral in August was attended by then-Vice President Mike Pence, NFL quarterback Tim Tebow and other names in bold. “In Ravi Zacharias, God has given us the greatest Christian apologist of this century,” Pence said at the funeral. “He was the CS Lewis of our time.”

Barry F. Howard