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World News

RZIM senior leaders tried to silence whistleblowers in Ravi Zacharias scandal, new report reveals

by Will Maule

A journalist with inside knowledge of the situation within Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) and how it handled allegations has said that the senior leadership repeatedly batted away concerns of several key employees in an attempt to cover-up the abuse of its founder. 

David French, a Christian political commentator at the National Review magazine, said that his friend, RZIM spokeswoman Ruth Malhotra, repeatedly attempted to get answers on the allegations against Zacharias, but was met with staunch resistance from senior leaders. 

When allegations were made against Zacharias regarding the grooming and solicitation of nude photos from a woman in Canada, the RZIM staff were told that the organisation had "looked into everything" and cleared him of any wrongdoing. The reality, however, was very different. "The board of directors had not looked into everything," French writes. "In fact, Zacharias had flatly refused to hand over his personal electronic devices for examination." 

A subsequent forensic inspection of his mobile phones, conducted as part of law firm Miller & Martin's wider investigation into his misconduct, found that Zacharias had been embroiled in sexually explicit communication with a number of women across the globe. 

Allegations of sexual misconduct were compounded with Zacharias knowingly falsifying his academic credentials. Along with calling himself a 'Dr' on his website despite being void of a PhD, Zacharias was also caught on video declaring that he was "a professor at Oxford" and had studied at Cambridge. Both claims were patently untrue - the University of Oxford confirmed that Zacharias had never held any academic positions and Cambridge said there was no record of him ever being enrolled there. 

This was a great embarrassment to an apologetics organisation with world-renowned Oxford academics such as Professor John Lennox and Alister McGrath in its ranks. As French noted, RZIM was facing a "credibility crisis," but that answers from within were not forthcoming. 

In the midst of spiralling accusations, RZIM general counsel Abdu Murray reportedly said that Ruth Malhotra had gone from “skeptical to being cynical”.

According to French, another RZIM vice president, Sanj Kalra, accused Malhotra of being disloyal. "Whose side are you on?” he asked, before accusing her of “plotting to bring the ministry down".

Another individual involved in attempting to resolve the situation reportedly told Malhotra that she was "one step away from complete insanity".

In a letter to the organisation's chairman sent last week, Malhotra said that she had been “systematically marginalised, maligned, and misrepresented to others by key members of senior leadership” when attempting to seek answers regarding Zacharias and his misdeeds. 

French said that the account of internal happenings was based on "multiple internal RZIM communications and interviews with current and former RZIM employees" and is "designed to help answer a single question: how could a Christian ministry fail to discover serial sexual misconduct and dreadful abuse by their founder and leader until months after his death?"

Read the full article here

Late last week, the UK arm of RZIM - The Zacharias Trust - severed all ties with its US parent company over the scandal, accusing RZIM of "not going nearly far enough in terms of actions relating to leadership and governance" following the release of the report. 

"Very serious issues and systemic failings have been raised in recent months and confirmed by the Miller&Martin report," they said. "These demand accountability and urgent action beyond the measures outlined in the RZIM US statement." 

As a result of this alleged inaction, the UK board said it had taken "the unanimous decision to make a clear separation from the global RZIM organisation" and "operate without any link to RZIM US". 

The Zacharias Trust said it would now embark on a process of changing its 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," they said. "This will also give us the opportunity to review the lessons to be learned from these awful events." 

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