Allegations of sexual misconduct against the late apologist Ravi Zacharias are to be investigated by his lifelong denomination, the Christian and Missionary Alliance (CMA). The US-based protestant denomination, which licensed Zacharias for mission work in 1971 and ordained him in 1980, sent a letter to its workers on Friday announcing that the leadership had decided it "must look into these new allegations, in spite of the fact that Mr. Zacharias passed away earlier this year".
The announcement comes after three women working at day spas co-owned by Mr Zacharias came forward alleging that he sexually harassed them. The CMA told Christianity Today that it was unusual to investigate such claims after the accused has died, but that it must endeavour to hold its ministers "fully accountable".
"Normally when a worker is investigated, they’re alive so they can speak to the accusations against them and can receive whatever punitive steps the discipline committee gives them,” Terry Smith, vice president of church ministries for the CMA, told the outlet. “Our goal [here] is to discover the truth to the best of our ability to do so.”
The CMA has defended its most famous minister throughout his previous controversies. In 2017, after it became apparent that Zacharias had fabricated some of his academic qualifications on his ministry website, the denomination determined that there was "no basis for formal discipline" against the apologist.
Then, when Zacharias was accused of engaging in sexually inappropriate communication with a married woman, the CMA stated that the details of the situation did "not provide a basis for formal discipline under the C&MA policy".
Last week, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) announced the launching of an investigation into its founder and namesake in light of the latest accusations, noting that they "believe them to be false".
"We do not intend to comment further about this matter until the investigation’s findings are presented to the executive committee of the board of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries," the organisation added in a statement on the matter. "We at RZIM remain committed to truth; it is the foundation of what we do and that has not changed."
After allegations emerged in 2017, Ravi admitted to and apologised for engaging in private communications with the woman, but denied soliciting the inappropriate photos from her.
"I failed to exercise wise caution and to protect myself from even the appearance of impropriety, and for that I am profoundly sorry," he wrote at the time.
In its recent statement, RZIM reiterated the fact that Zacharias "denied any sexually or romantically inappropriate conduct" and that 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," they said.