As the world comes crashing around Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) and the myth of the morality of their once-great leader unravels across the world, there is something that the Christian community must demand after decades of promoting his ministry and giving sacrificially to the cause of Christ: give us utter and complete transparency.
We want to know who’s on their board, other than his wife and immediate family, and why have they been repeatedly ignoring these requests and evidence presented for years? While we understand that some of these relations against their beloved leader may be shocking and unexpected, it’s not like they haven’t had the accusations for months now. They received these accusations and proof a long time ago but refused to acknowledge it.
In fact, when we told RZIM about it before everything broke, they said investigating it was “virtually impossible.” Yet given that his accusers are still alive, including his business partner who has made the accusation, and in fact still lives in the same city as RZIM headquarters, it seemed that the ability to investigate is not ‘virtually impossible’ but rather ‘imminently doable.’ RZIM has since changed their tune and is now offering to investigate only after they couldn’t ignore it and were exposed, but this sort of unbiblical behavior is damning to their credibility, and it needs to stop.
Most importantly, however, is that we want RZIM to release Lori Thompson from her Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) which she never should have had to sign in the first place.
We broke the story last week (and so far seem the only people who have written about it) about how RZIM is in the process of laying off 10% of its staff members and forcing all outgoing employees to sign their favored NDAs, which are designed to force the silence under the threat of punitive monetary damages and legal threats of any exiting employees. That was before this story broke wide open.
RZIM has nearly 50 employees and brings in $37,000,000 a year in donations, and we can expect that with the news that Zacharias was molesting and sexually abusing his employees, that they will be cutting more than 10% of their payroll.
As it applied to Thomson specifically, we covered back in May 2020 that she wrote an open letter to RZIM, pleading with the organization to release her from her legally binding non-disclosure agreement that prevents her from sharing her side of the story – an NDA that Ravi Zacharias himself did not hold to when he revealed details to Christianity today back in 2018.
The emotional video by Thompson was live-streamed on Periscope and has been embedded below and the full statement by Thompson can be seen at this link here.
I say this as one who has been stricken and as one whose words have been stolen. Under excruciating circumstances, I signed a non-disclosure agreement that does not permit me to defend myself, leaving me once again defenseless. To take the capacity to speak a person’s word may be the final blow. Freedom of speech is not only the First Amendment Right, it is also part of what it means to be fully human. After extensive trauma-informed care, I am taking this moment to ask the ‘heirs’ of that NDA for a full release from its terms and agreements — as my husband and I now have nothing that we do not wish disclosed.
Yet in a statement from just a few days ago, RZIM has repeatedly rejected calls for Thompson to be released from her NDA. Instead, they have proffered that they have no intentions to do that, despite the clarity and truthfulness this would bring to bear on the situation.
As is widely known, Ravi Zacharias died May 19, 2020. Subsequently, some have called on his family and/or ministry to release the Thompsons from the confidentiality agreement they entered into with Ravi some two-and-a-half years prior to his death. 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. 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.
Given that Ravi Zacharias has seemingly been for years an expert on “doing things without one’s consent, there ought to be no impetus to honor his request,” particularly since its purpose was to cover and conceal his sin.
While news of Zacharias’ unsaintly behavior brings a measure of a degree of vindication to Lori Thompson, who for years had to endure scurrilous slaps and cruel attacks from RZIM defenders, supporters, and even casual observers calling her a liar and opportunist for dare suggesting that Zacharias is not beyond reproach, her vindication is not complete, only partial.
Though her credibility may have been given a massive boost, it is incumbent upon RZIM to follow the threads where that credibility leads. The late RZIM magistrate is dead. We pray he meets his maker on good terms, but we have no assurance of that. But the living are still among us, and their story deserves to be told. We will not tolerate further coverup or cloak and dagger malfeasance from an organization that so far has obfuscated at every turn.
Let Lori Thompson speak!