In an act of cowardice and pure hypocrisy, the head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), Russell Moore, recounts how in 2018 he uninvited Ravi Zacharias from speaking at MLK 50 on account of concerns that the late apologist had acted inappropriately in 2017 with Lori Anne Thompson after allegations emerged.
Moore explains that he initially invited him to speak on the implications of racial injustice for Christian apologetics, but when allegations against Zacharias emerged, he rescinded his offer.
When the first reports of the allegations about correspondence between Zacharias and a woman in Canada surfaced, I was alarmed not just by the allegations but by Zacharias’ response to them. He told me that he was falsely accused, and that these allegations were false—in general terms.
But I said to him and to his team that I failed to see how, if that were so, he could not definitively state that he had not had any sexual conversations in this way with a woman not his wife, and that he had never, as reports suggested, pleaded with her not to tell her husband or that he would kill himself. We canceled Zacharias from speaking at the event.
He was angered by that and made that very clear. He then had mutual friends call to seek to get me to change my mind. I said no. They assured me that time would show that Ravi was innocent of these charges—and I said that certainly could be true, and that I hoped it would be, but that I would not share a stage with him with what seemed to me to be evasive responses to very serious allegations.
Unsurprisingly, Moore and the ERLC don’t see the irony that the conference they uninvited him from was in support and celebration of Martin Luther King Jr., a notorious sex pervert, sex trafficker, and serial sexual abuser.
But in typical Russell Moore style, the man who wrote the book Courage to Stand doesn’t care about any of that. Instead, he leverages the recent revelations to say, “Look how awesome we were, when we uninvited him in secret and didn’t tell anyone about it. Aren’t we brave and courageous?”
We are a little surprised he hasn’t broken his hand already, for how often and how hard he’s patting himself on the back over this one.
Russell Moore had the courage to uninvite him privately and not tell anyone about it, but not the courage to stand with the victim and tell the world about it publicly. This would have given it more scrutiny and attention, and stop Ravi’s sexual predations far sooner, as he was sexting women and soliciting right up to his death. Moore writes:
It’s a bit surreal to be angry at a dead man, but many of us are—as well as at those who empowered him. We have seen so often this pattern, with lives destroyed all along the way. But it’s not enough to be angry. We should ask why this continues to happen.
Moore and the ERLC did in fact empower and enable him. They could have used their clout to expose him and bring it all to the forefront while he was still alive. These things “continue to happen” because people in power like Moore do nothing to stop it when given the opportunity.
In many ways, he is like the Levite in Luke 10. He believed the Canadian woman on the side of the road was beaten, that there was credible evidence of the injuries, and he even had the opportunity to directly question the “thieves” about it. He noticed the blood on their knuckles and the extra weight of their coin purses. But he chose to leave her and her reputation for dead and resolve not to associate further with the thieves.
If they had any true leadership and intestinal fortitude, they could have made a statement back in 2018 which said:
Given the very serious allegations against Ravi, we have uninvited him from MLK 50. It is very clear to us that his recounting of events do not make sense and are not internally consistent.
Furthermore, when we questioned him about it, he ‘gave evasive responses to our questions’ and ‘could not definitively state that he had not had any sexual conversations in this way with a woman not his wife.’
For these reasons and others, such as the ‘suicide email,’ everything about the story indicates the allegations have weight and merit, and are worth pursuing. We call upon RZIM to do a full, independent investigation to respond to what are very serious charges, and until they do so, we encourage all Southern Baptist churches to refuse to work with or partner with him or his ministry.
But that would have been too much, and may have highlighted the record of the sexual deviancy of one Martin Luther King Jr., which they do not want to talk about. One cannot be seen taking a stand and going hard on Ravi and not King himself, especially at a conference honoring the latter.
Instead, we get multiple articles and Moore high-fiving himself for doing the bare minimum.
Actually, no. The bare minimum would have been reaching out to Lori Anne Thompson.
Moore did the bare minimum to protect himself and the reputation of his conference.
Truly, the hero the SBC deserves.
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