RZIM UK has announced a “clear separation” from the global organisation founded by Ravi Zacharias after a damning report concluded that the late apologist had engaged in sexual misconduct and rape.
The report follows a six month independent investigation by law firm Miller & Martin that confirmed Zacharias had engaged in “sexting, unwanted touching, spiritual abuse, and rape” .
The investigation also uncovered hundreds of photos of young women, some of them graphic, as well as romantic emails with women who were not his wife.
Over a dozen massage therapists at a day spa once co-owned by Zacharias in Atlanta, Georgia, shared shocking accounts of abusive behaviour by the once renowned speaker and writer.
One woman said she had had sexual intercourse with Zacharias, while another described “many encounters over a period of years that she described as rape.”
RZIM US responded by apologising and announcing a major review and overhaul of the organisation’s culture, policies and structures, as well as counselling for survivors.
“It must have been deeply painful for the victims of Ravi’s abuse and misconduct to tell their stories and to relive their terrible experiences as they participated in this investigation,” RZIM US’s board said.
“To you we say directly: Words cannot come close to expressing the sorrow that we feel for what you have been through or the gratitude we feel for the bravery with which you have responded. We are so thankful to you, and we are so sorry.”
The UK branch of RZIM welcomed the apology from the US but said the reponse “does not go nearly far enough in terms of actions relating to leadership and governance.”
“Very serious issues and systemic failings have been raised in recent months and confirmed by the Miller&Martin report,” RZIM UK said.
“These demand accountability and urgent action beyond the measures outlined in the RZIM US statement.”
RZIM UK said it was “appalled” by Zacharias’ abusive actions and the impact on victims.
“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,” it continued.
“Ravi Zacharias’s conduct is against everything we stand for and believe as a Christian organisation.
“Our trust in Ravi Zacharias was wholly misplaced, and for this we apologise wholeheartedly to all those who have been impacted.”
The RZIM UK board also applauded the women who came forward, including Canadian victim Lori Anne Thompson who in 2017 was sued along with her husband in an extortion lawsuit after saying she and Zacharias had engaged in an inappropriate online relationship that involved her sending nude photos of herself to the apologist.
“We believe what they have said and recognise that the treatment they received was not worthy of any organisation, let alone a Christian one,” RZIM UK said.
“We deplore any and all efforts to silence, intimidate or deceive victims, and indeed members of the global RZIM team.”
RZIM UK said the decision to split with the global organisation was “unanimous”.
“In governance terms the UK entity has always been a separate charity with independent trustees, but in the current circumstances we believe that we must now operate without any link to RZIM US,” it said.
“The UK entity will also choose a new name. This process will take time to complete but the UK Board is convinced that this is the best and only way to ensure that the ministry can continue to serve the UK church with integrity.
“This will also give us the opportunity to review the lessons to be learned from these awful events.”