My Dinner With Ravi: An Atheist meets the “Great Apologist of our Time.”

Steve Baughman

Steve Baughman is a lawyer and part-time student at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley. For extensive documentation of the assertions in this article see his Ravi Zacharias exposé Cover Up in the Kingdom: Phone Sex, Lies, and God’s Great Apologist, Ravi Zacharias, available at Amazon for download and physical delivery. Steve can be reached through his website

Related Post Roulette

122 Responses

  1. Reg says:

    Good article. I have research Ravi for a number of years, as Steve knows, and can only conclude that Ravi is not an honest man. He has lied about his academic credentials – of that there is not doubt in my mind. As for his online sex scandal law suit, there are many unanswered question, that by virtue of Ravi’s silence on these matters, point the finger of condemnation directly at Ravi. Why settle out of court, if he truly held the moral high ground? Why refuse to deny his suicide threat, if he didn’t make it?Report

    • Burt Likko in reply to Reg says:

      Well, there are plenty of good reasons for a non-culpable party to settle things out of court. Here’s a few:

      1. People lack the abilty to distinguish between the accusation and actual guilt. Related: people lack the ability to evaluate the credibility of an accusation.

      2. Defending against a lawsuit is expensive and sometimes it’s cheaper to pay someone to go away even if you didn’t do anything wrong. Related: defending against a lawsuit requires a commitment of personal time and effort and causes personal stress that you’d rather avoid if possible.

      3. Sometimes you’ve done something you’d rather not have made public which is a risk of continuing with the litigation, even if that thing isn’t contrary to law and even if you didn’t do the thing you’re accused of.

      4. You may sincerely believe you’re innocent of the accusation but your lawyer tells you that you have a chance of losing anyway, for reasons that might not even have much to do with the evidence.

      5. The other party to the settlement might offer you something in the terms of the settlement that would not be available as a remedy from the Court. For example, an employer being sued by a current employee can negotiate that the employee resign, which is not something that a court would order regardless of who wins the lawsuit.

      There may well be others but these kinds of things are prominent players in the settlements I negotiate. So I’d suggest caution about reading too much into the fact that a lawsuit was settled — settling a lawsuit is very often not fairly interpreted as a tacit admission of liability.Report

      • The vast majority of lawsuits settle before trial. Settlement generally does not say much about guilt or innocence. What Burt said.

        I take Mr. Zacharias’ troubles not to be about the fact of the settlement but 1) the court documents his own attorney filed, which suggest that he sent that suicide email 2) the fact that he has selectively chosen to invoke confidentialiy re the suicide emails, and 3) that the suicide emails seem to be legit on their face as well as based on what we know about where they came from.

        If he wrote those suicide emails then he was also untruthful about almost everything he said in his Dec 3 press statement.

        Things shall continue to unfold.Report

  2. LeeEsq says:

    From TvTropes, I learned that one way that cults are able to recruit very intelligent and educated people is to “love bomb” them and offer them a lot of the affection, companionship, and love that was missing in their lives for a variety of reasons. By the time they realize what they joined, they have a very hard time leaving because they don’t want to give up the affection, companionship, and love. Then the abuse, demands, and extractions starts.

    Its a devlish tricky problem to solve. People are social creatures and generally need the company of at least some other humans, friends and family. Some humans are mentally equipped for a hermits life. I think one reason why there are not more cult victims is simply because cults don’t have the man power to reach out to that many people and a lot of would be vulnerable victims thankfully do not get exposed. They might still be lonely but at least they don’t have the other problem. The Internet, aided by some fortuitous google searches, can really increase the broadcast power of despicable people and organizations.Report

  3. Burt Likko says:

    A quick note that I’m struck by @steve-baughman ‘s unflinching honesty about himself and the emotional journey he undertook in his in-person encounter. And the insight it offers into the mechanics of seduction.Report

  4. Saul Degraw says:

    As a largely secular but still identifying Jewish person, a lot of this stuff is mystifying to me. Though the Reform Judaism that I was raised in seems kind of unique as religions go in the way they act in the world.Report

    • Burt Likko in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Why do you blog, @saul-degraw ? Why do you dispute about political or cultural perspectives on a blog? I posit an answer: because those perspectives are part of your identity and asserting that identity is a part of being who you are as a person. You literally cannot but do this, because it’s part of who you are.

      For people who were religious at one point, particularly in early life, and who then became secular, a measure of asserting yourself as a person and a measure of some resentment fuels being anti-theistic; there was a point in my life when I felt that way myself (raised RCC as a kid; rejected religion altogether as young adult).

      I have to imagine that for people of faith, particularly for people who find that faith after their formative years, a cognate process goes on, and taking that faith and the justification for it into the arena is a means of asserting one’s identity.Report

    • Chip Daniels in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      As a cradle Catholic this is mystifying to me as well.
      The insistent need to “prove” stuff seems defensive and fearful.Report

      • CJColucci in reply to Chip Daniels says:

        I never doubted what I had been raised to believe until an authority figure told me he could prove it and laid out his case.Report

      • Maribou in reply to Chip Daniels says:

        @chip-daniels As a fellow cradle Catholic, I’m aware that proofs are a long tradition, going back to the fathers of the church. (And in some ways, going back to the gospels, where the writers were certainly interested in “proving” that Christ was the Messiah.)

        But rather than being defensive and fearful, for early Christians sometimes – and medieval Christians almost all the time – it was a way to apply their reason and eloquence (however faulty by my chippy 21st century standards) to the greater glory of the Lord. When you talk about dudes like Anselm, they had no interest in “proving” God existed in the way that modern apologists do. They took God as a given and worked out their proofs in the same spirit that people work out geometry proofs for things they already know to be true – because it was an enlightening (and to them delightful) exercise.

        Not my jam, got used historically by people who would cite them in order to justify some seriously bad actions, but it had some loveliness to it as well.

        These days, though…. things have certainly changed.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      I think nearly all forms of Judaism are unconcerned with having to prove anything. Sam Harris asked in an interview who were the hardest clergy to debate and he said without a doubt Rabbis and that these weren’t Reform Rabbis who didn’t keep kosher but rather traditional Rabbis. He stated that what made Rabbis hard to debate where that they didn’t really have the hallmarks of other clergy, they had no real desire to prove anything and didn’t believe that prayer or ritual observance did much of anything to make God look favorably on humans.Report

  5. Ravi keeps contradicting himself. In his December 3 press release he makes it sound like he and Ms. T communicted through her husband’s email ( which, if that were true, would indeed look more like a conspiracy between Mr. and Ms. T.)

    But in his federal complaint he specifically says he gave Ms.T his BlackBerry information so they can have more secure communication.Report

  6. Phil says:

    “The problem, I soon learned, was that most scholars believe Daniel to be post-Alexander”

    Post-Alexander by about 150 years as I understand it. But noting that consensus does not necessarily mean correctness, how did you determine that the majority of scholars believe that? Was there a poll?

    I’ve always wanted to ask one of those scholars why Daniel is mentioned by Ezekiel? That sortof screws up the 2nd century BC dating theory for Daniel, since even the rankest liberal claims about Ezekiel puts his book in the 3rd.


    “It was a “Steve, even if you’re right, you’re wrong” moment. Daniel really does prove that God exists….Round One went to Ravi and I assured him I would look into the matter further.”

    There is a lot to look at. Daniel and Revelation are called the apocalyptic books (Isaac Newton spent more time with them than he did scientific pursuits). But there is a very large assortment of Old and New Testament prophecies.Report

    • Steve Baughman in reply to Phil says:

      Good points all. I did not take a poll, but John Collins at Yale told me that no mainstream scholars accept the early dating. The three online encyclopedias I checked also suggested that the early dating was losing out.

      My point was simply that Ravi shouldn’t have pretended there was no controversy about the dating.

      Yes, Daniel is complex and interesting. I intend to read more about it when the dust settles.Report

      • Phil in reply to Steve Baughman says:

        “John Collins at Yale told me that no mainstream scholars accept the early dating.”

        John Collins? I think you put too much confidence in credentials, to the point that you disregard the data. John Collins is exactly the kind of person Yale would hire…not for his penetrating intellect and scholarship, but for his politics. I am acquainted with authentic Bible scholars, and John Collins is not one.

        I won’t present my own formidable arguments now against the scholarly consensus, but you really should look into the merits of the arguments yourself. You’ve done thorough work to reveal that Ravi Zacharias has feet of clay, just like you and I. But that does not vindicate belief in the horse shit that is passing for science now, and it absolutely does not warrant dismissal of Bible prophecies. I hope your tenacity remains intact if you are in an active pursuit of the truth.

        I recovered from Southern Baptist protocols, too. I pray you well.Report

        • Steve Baughman in reply to Phil says:

          Phil. We stray. But you raise an important issue.

          Let me deal with the “we stray” part first. I’m really not very interested in investing massive amounts of time figuring out when Daniel was written. Why not? Because I can’t. I could drop literally everything in my life, family, music, politics, law, and dedicate myself to old testament studies with a focus on figuring out when Daniel was written and I am quite certain I would quickly and constantly run up against scholars far more knowledgeable than I such that I would never be confident of my opinion about the dating of Daniel. It is a highly technical issue.

          That being so, I am strongly inclined to trust experts from Harvard, Yale, etc. over ones at less prestigious schools (especially schools where the professors have to sign on to doctrinal confessions.) Yes! I admit that I am making a conservative choice in favor of highly credentialed scholars over less credentialed ones.

          I don’t know what your credentials are but I have not seen any reason to believe that you would knock out Yale’s John Collins in a debate about the dating of Daniel. I confess to not feeling reassured as to your instincts by your suggestion that Dr. Collins got to be professor at Yale for purely political reasons. That makes me suspect that you see the world in less nuanced terms than I do.

          Back on track, I hope we agree that a speaker addressing a non-specialist audience has certain duties of honesty. One such duty is to disclose controversial premises that lay people generally do not know to be controversial.

          Rightly or wrongly, I believed that Ravi failed to do that, and that is what made me initially suspicious of him. What made me hugely and convincedly suspicious of him was the stuff I found after that.

          So our very intriguing discussion here is very peripheral to my main criticisms of Mr. Zacharias.
          That said, I intend to do some Daniel reading shortly. If you want to send me a link to the most convincing (and hopefully accessible) article in favor of the early dating I will read it.


          • Phil in reply to Steve Baughman says:

            “If you want to send me a link to the most convincing (and hopefully accessible) article in favor of the early dating I will read it.”

            For a technical presentation, I would refer you to this:


            • steve baughman in reply to Phil says:

              Yikes, Phil. I guess I will need to study Daniel full time with a link like that. OK, I will dig in at some point. I am interested in the issue. 35 pages. Poor tree!


            • Steve Baughman in reply to Phil says:

              Phil. I am TOTALLY premature and sticking my neck out here. I’m on paragraph two, I have no idea who Daniel Conklin is, but I suspect he does not have a PhD. And that he does not teach at a very prominent school.

              OK I have not googled him, I know I’m being cocky and annoying. The red flag is his “no evidence whatsoever” for X because X “is only a theory”.

              Pet peeve.Report

              • Steve,

                Assuming this is current, David Conklin teaches at Southwest Florida Bible Institute, with bachelors work done at Moody Bible Institute, and an M.A. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. But he has probably read thoroughly the major writers supporting the 6th c. date.

                You may not find much on the web, but my bet is that the best recent defenders for a 6th c. view would be either Andrew Steinmann or Sinclair Ferguson, both of whom have written Daniel commentaries. I can not vouch for either for sure, as those books are not cheap, but Steinmann and Ferguson are near the top of the conservative evangelical end of academia.Report

              • Thanks everyone. I am enjoying the Conklin article very much. It is packed with info. I had no idea how complex the Daniel issues are. Only half way done.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Steve Baughman says:

                Offered without comment, the only other evidence of Conklin’s work, perspective, and research interests I could find online:


                Things I will comment on:

                I’ll concede I didn’t look very hard for more information after that (first 2 pages of Google results). I did also find an analysis of the tektronics paper that disagreed with it very strongly, but the analysis didn’t have much authority either (internet forum, didn’t bother checking into the author) and I have very little interest in the book of Daniel. I have quite a lot more interest in retrieving information about context for sources, which is why I bothered looking into it in the first place.

                Couldn’t find anything at all about his academic background, but I wasn’t personally red-flagged by that lack, because one occasionally does find independent scholars online who are ghostly, even pseudonymous, and also doing pretty fiercely good work in their field.Report

          • Steve,

            Regarding the dating of Daniel, most evangelical Old Testament scholars nowadays recognize this as a difficulty, some taking the early 6th c. BCE view and others taking a 2nd c. BCE view, but this can be a bit simplistic.

            For example, someone like John Goldingay (Fuller Seminary) takes Daniel as having authentic 6th c. material that was finally redacted in the 2nd c. Tremper Longman, who writes Old Testament surveys used in many evangelical seminaries today, finds a 6th c. date defensible, but he does not discount the arguments used by advocates of a 2nd c. date. Joyce Baldwin, a preeminent evangelical interpreter of Daniel, from the late 20th century, says this (quoted from Longman’s NIV Application Commentary on Daniel):

            “The fact that the standpoint of the writer (sixth or second century B.C.) cannot be ascertained for certain does not greatly affect the interpretation.”

            Goldingay, in his Word Biblical Commentary, notes that the primary driving factor for questioning the 6th c. date is an a priori belief that would deny the possibility of predictive prophecy, from the starting gate.

            Since Ravi was at Ontario Bible College in the 1970s, he may not have been overly familiar with more recent Daniel scholarship, among fellow evangelicals. But he at least knows that a late date for Daniel does not necessarily or completely blow up claims for at least some element of predictive prophecy, even for a late, 2nd. c. date.

            If you have about 25 minutes, Michael Heiser, an Old Testament scholar working for Logos Bible Software, has a helpful Q&A on this topic, from his Naked Bible Podcast, geared towards a knowledgeable lay audience, that carefully weighs the arguments, from different angles:


            I hope that helps! I am glad that I am not the only one who sometimes talks when their mouth is full 🙂Report

        • Richard Hershberger in reply to Phil says:

          A note as an outsider to this discussion: positing that someone at Yale must be (redacted – Phil didn’t call anyone a name – but meaning there for liberal politics and not brains/scholarship- maribou) and therefore should be ignored suggests that you are more used to discussions within a certain intellectual circle, where this argument is met with nods of agreement. It is not the sort of argument suited to a broader audience. This is particularly the case when the topic is “What is the mainstream scholarly consensus?” It strongly suggests that your usual circle is well outside what is generally meant by “mainstream” at best, and “scholarly” at worst.Report

      • You’re obviously a brilliant guy. Ravi is obviously a flawed individual in some respects but that’s the whole point. Jesus wasn’t flawed. Even the Muslims say he was without sin. Everyone knows they’re supposed to love everyone all the time and basically follow the Ten Commandments but it’s equally obvious that no one can. So God sent Jesus not Ravi to cover for you and me and Ravi. It’s obvious that you’re using Ravi and his flaws to validate your atheism. Put Jesus on trial if you will not Ravi. There is no exclusitivity in Jesus. You can be any religion and he will cover for you. It’s the perception of exclusivity that causes many people not to accept the gift Jesus and God offer. But that exclusivity is an illusion.Report

        • I have little patience with folks who respond to “Look! A major evangelist is duping millions with the full support of institutional Christianity!” with “Jesus saves!”Report

          • Teresa Rollins in reply to Steve Baughman says:

            Really not part of institutionalized Christianity. I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints! Just thought you were a seeker and thought I would respond. Thought my response might be thought provoking but I guess it wasn’t. No worries. I hope you find what your looking for. Also you seemed to be impressed with Ravi’s friend Abdu. Didn’t you wonder why he obviously held Ravi in such high esteem. All of us have feet of clay. As a Christian I just think Mercy comes before Justice. Also what do you gain by trying to tear down another person? Think maybe you really dislike institutionalized Christianity. I think it definitely has its limitations also. Ultimately Christianity is about a personal relationship and it’s not with an institution.Just trying to be real not argumentative. Thanks for the reply.Report

            • STEPHAN DENEIR in reply to Teresa Rollins says:

              Good message, Teresa, and congratulations because you got a reply, at least!
              (my comment of March, 2 (almost at the end) was left without reply…)

              • Steve Baughman in reply to STEPHAN DENEIR says:

                Teresa, PS.

                Teresa: PS. If I have succeeded in being thought provoking with you, perhaps you would contact Ravi at and ask the following question:

                “Mr. Zacharias. Did you send that email of October 29, 2016 in which you appear to threaten suicide if the young woman you had an online sexting relationship with confessed to her husband? If not, why have you refused media requests to comment?”

                In our Internet age the Great Commission is easy. (That’s why armchair Christians fire of cliche posts with such abandon.) Demanding that Ravi explain his horrific conduct will be a bit more of a challenge. I hope you and Stephan are up for it.

                Please let us know what you find out.Report

            • Steve Baughman in reply to Teresa Rollins says:

              Teresa, no, your response was not “thought provoking.” Not in the least. On the contrary, it was the typical reposnse that I get from Christians: evasive and lacking in self-awareness.

              If someone reports to you that your pastor is embezzling money from widows in the congregation do you really expect to be “thought provoking” when you reply “God sent Jesus, not the pastor, to die for our sins”? Really?

              If you do, then you are not only lacking in self-awareness; you lack compassion for the widows.

              Make no mistake about it, Ravi Zacharias may not be embezzling money from anyone. But he has solicited countless millions in donations on the false claims that he is “a professor at Oxford”, etc.

              But in fairness to you, I sympathize with your plight. Preaching to me about Jesus is much easier than taking steps to fight the cancer of deception in your religious tribe. And that is exactly why you posted what you did.

              Perhaps you will try harder?Report

              • I don’t really consider myself a part of a tribe. I just believe in love and I believe that there is no greater gift than to give your life for a friend. When you are selfless rather than selfish that’s basically what you are doing in a figurative practical way. So ideally I wish to be selfless but I often fail miserably and that’s basically why I’m a Christian. Because I don’t want to fail (at being selfless). I think most pastors feel the same way but being human they often fail too. It’s fine to fail but it’s a travesty not to try. Guess I’m wondering what your world view is I think you’re intellectually gifted so please try to articulate it if possible. I think your passion could be used more constructively but I guess you think that your anger toward Ravi and institutionalized Christianity is constructive. I just respectively don’t agree. I can sense that you think you are doing something honorable in exposing Ravi for inflating his credentials but I think the average person probably isn’t as shocked or mortified as you are. I’m not excusing his behavior but I just think he’s insecure and not a cunning con man. To err is human and to forgive divine to quote Pope.Report

              • Steve Baughman in reply to Teresa Rollins says:

                Teresa. You can talk all you want about love and forgiveness and my hateful motives (and ignore your Eph 5:11 duties.) I consider it a very worthwhile endeavor exposing a powerful systematic deceiver who threatened suicide to pressure a young married woman from taking steps to repair her marriage. But we are just different that way 😊Report

              • Don’t really know the details about those allegations but I think I did read that the young woman in question was a frequent litigator.If Ravi’s transgressions are that grievous then I agree with you and think he should be held accountable. But I also think he might be a bit fragile and probably very disappointed in himself which is a punishment in and of itself. I don’t think you’re hateful. Being a crusader is an admirable quality and your passion almost jumps off the page, but I think your time, energy and talent could be spent so much more positively. We do seem to be at an impasse belief wise My belief is simple really, if you’re acting out of love, good things happen and I think God shows up. it’s like a corollary.. I’m still not sure what you believe, but I guess describing yourself as an atheist says it all. One more suggestion, listen to some of the new Christian rock ( I love classic rock) music and ask yourself what motivates these young hip incredibly talented young people. They could excel in any genre! I know the last suggestion is random and off topic but the new Christian musicians are primo:)Report

              • Steve Baughman in reply to Teresa Rollins says:

                The young woman in question had never filed a lawsuit in her life. If you are really interested get my book “Cover up in the Kingdom.” You will see why am so passionate about this.Report

              • Sounds like there was some kind of consensual inappropriate relationship but I don’t see why litigation was necessary. Think you seem to feel personally betrayed by Ravi’s behavior. I find his actions disappointing (and all too human) but not criminal. People’s actions often contradict their stated beliefs. As do my own. My belief in the phenomenally transformative power of love is based on my own observation and not by what a pastor ( highly degreed or otherwise) tells me. And I think unconditional love is exponentially more transforming and mostly exemplified by divine not human love.Report

              • Steve Baughman in reply to Teresa Rollins says:

                PS. Your use of “fail” is most revealing. Is intentional systematic deception over the course of one’s entire career a mere “faliling”?Report

              • I know life is tough and failure is constant. The transformative love I’m describing is deep soul drenching and steady. Unfortunately it took me several decades to find it (though I often had glimpses of it ) and was much more elusive when I was younger. I know that doesn’t sound very scientific but I think science comes up a little short and words are often inadequate when discussing the spirit.Report

  7. Sorry, Phil. I should’ve said “let me deal with the important issue first.” I seem unable to edit it right now.Report

  8. Phil. As I suspected, your assumptions and mine maybe too far apart for us to have much to say to each other.

    Here is what you say about John Collins of Yale. “I am acquainted with authentic Bible scholars, and John Collins is not one.”

    Here is John Collin’s scholarly CV/bio.

    For those who don’t want to click on the link, anyone who does not see an “authentic Bible scholar” here commits the true Scotsman fallacy.


  9. Kazzy says:

    But how was the food?!Report

  10. I hope the mods don’t mind me posting this here even though I think I posted it at my other OT article on Ravi and will try to get it on my website when webmaster is available. I think Ravi’s suicide threat is the explosive issue. I had a scare yesterday about it being a forgery. Here are my thoughts. Mods, if too long or violates any repetitiveness rules (I will read the rules some day) sorry.


    12/15/17 By Steve Baughman.

    First, I want to be clear that the only suicide emails I refer to here are the ones dated October 29, 2016 that were provided to me by Julie Anne Smith, a Christian blogger who works with victims of clergy abuse. Ms. Smith told me that she received the emails in January or February of 2017 from Lori Anne Thompson (LAT), the woman with whom RZ had the online relationship. She also tells me that the image of the emails is a Word doc that had been copied-and-pasted from the original email, which she never saw and which LAT told her was destroyed.

    Ms. Smith told me that LAT provided the emails in the course of seeking support for difficulties she was having as a result of feeling she had been abused by Mr. Zacharias. The emails were only a very small part of the communications between LAT and Ms. Smith, and were not provided in the context of any discussion of contemplated legal action.


    The first public reference to Mr. Zacharias’ suicide threat appears in a letter to RZ dated April 27, 2017. The letter was from LAT’s attorney, Mark Bryant, to RZ and was marked “Personal and Extremely Confidential.” The letter outlined LAT’s grievances against RZ and contained this paragraph written by Attorney Bryant:

    “In an email following many lengthy telephone conversations with you (we have copies of your emails and the call register) Lori Anne informed you of her decision to tell Brad about this misconduct. You responded by email that you would end your life and ‘bid this world goodbye’if she confessed and outed you to her husband. You later admitted that this was not true and we have independent confirmation of many of these discussions by an anonymous third party.”

    This letter was made a matter of public record when RZ’s attorney attached it to the federal complaint as Exhibit 1 when RZ filed his lawsuit on July 31, 2017. (See RZ complaint and this Exhibit at


    Here is what the emails say:

    4:38:00 PM EDT: RZ says “Are you going to tell him it’s me?”

    48 seconds later, with no apparent communication in between, RZ sent another email saying “”You promised you wouldn’t Lori Anne. If. You (sic) betray me here I will have no option but to bid this world goodbye I promise.”

    (I have posted the actual image at

    On Nov 9, 2017 the parties settled their federal lawsuit and, apparently, are bound by a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) that renders them unable to comment on the suicide emails.

    If those emails are authentic, RZ been far more involved with LAT than he is letting on. If they are forged, RZ remains accountable for his academic credential deception, which I and others have documented, but he emerges as far more credible as regards the dispute between himself and LAT. A journalist for a Christian publication told me this week that his/her editors are reluctant to publish the emails without some forensic confirmation.

    I consider the emails to be explosive and have made a big deal about them in my videos and writings. So I confess that I was a bit rattled yesterday when someone I take to be well-informed about computers emailed me to tell he that he thought they were fake. He pointed out that the image we have appears to have been manipulated. The words “From”, “Date”, “To” and “Subject” are bolded in the first one but not in the second. (Again, see for the image.)

    I have taken some time to collect my thoughts about the suicide emails and I share them below in the hope that it will encourage others, especially the religious press and the Boards of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and RZ’s other self-named ministries to look into and shed light on this most serious allegation.

    Here is why I believe that Ravi Zacharias threatened suicide in order to suppress the online affair he was having with a married woman.


    The best defenses I can think of on behalf of RZ are not that great. Here they are. (I imagine there are others and I encourage those with further defense suggestions to share them widely, and with me. Feel free to accuse me of not trying very hard or of being a bad defense attorney. All I really care about is us getting to the bottom of this, assuming we are not already there. And I think we are.)

    1. No anti-RZ inference should be drawn from RZ’s refusal to comment on the suicide email. LAT cannot comment either. That’s all a part of the settlement agreement. For all we know LAT’s lawyer, Mark Bryant, insisted on confidentiality to protect his client because she had forged the suicide emails. RZ would love to talk about all this, but he cannot.

    2. It would have been very simple to forge the image that purports to be a copy of a suicide threat email sent by RZ. All it takes is word processing skills and a computer. In fact, we know that the image cannot be an exact copy of an email. It appears to have been manipulated.

    3. RZ is an intelligent man with a stellar reputation who also knows that he has enemies who would like to destroy him. It is unlikely that he would put a suicide threat in writing and send it via email to a woman with whom he was experiencing relationship conflict.

    4. The world is full of people who will do wicked things for money. We have no reasons to think the Thompsons are not such people. We also know that Brad Thompson once sued his pastor for damages.

    5. The fact that Mr. Bryant demanded $5million from RZ for what his clients had supposedly suffered is outrageous.


    I find the defense arguments very unpersuasive. Here is why:

    1. It is unclear why, if the emails were forged, the Board at RZIM, which has a fiduciary obligation to the Ministry, not to RZ, has not thoroughly investigated and publicly demonstrated the inauthenticity of the suicide threat allegations that so seriously tarnish the Ministry’s reputation. As far as I can tell, the Board has been publicly silent on the matter.

    2. It is unclear why RZ did not deny the suicide threat allegations as soon as they went public. In his federal complaint RZ expresses concern for his reputation and rebuts in detail the serious allegations made in Attorney Bryant’s letter. But he makes no mention of the suicide email.

    3. A forged suicide threat being used to extort money would have strongly supported RZ’s legal theory of racketeering and extortion. But he did not mention it in his complaint.

    4. Insofar as a Word Doc purporting to be an image of RZ’s email would be easy to refute by forensics, it is unlikely that an educated person like LAT would believe she could get away with so crude a forgery.

    5. It is unlikely that an educated person like LAT would not be cognizant of the fact that forging a suicide email and using it to demand money could subject her to very serious criminal penalties under Canadian and U.S. law.

    6. As anyone who has copied and pasted between formats knows, it is not hard to think of innocent reasons for the bolding differences in the two emails and the fact that they are clearly not exact copies of an email screen. When I just now tried to copy and paste an email from my iPhone 6 it only allowed me to copy the content, not the time, date, subject. Had I wanted to send the the former and the latter together I would have had to figure out another way to paste them together. That would have been an innocent act, and would not have affected the content.

    In any event, it is likely that if LAT had tried to forge an email and use it to demand big money she would have done a better job. Stay tuned on this issue.

    UPDATE: This just in from Julia Anne Smith. When you forward from an icloud mail it “the from/date/to/subject and title are bolded.” “So she copied and pasted a forwarded message.” Did this issue just disappear?

    7. On Dec 3, over three weeks after the legal settlement, RZ issued a statement denying the accusations that LAT had made. But according to Christianity Today, when it came to the suicide emails, “Zacharias declined to comment to CT on the image of the emails showing the apparent suicide threat, citing the nondiosclosure agreement.” I consider RZ’s post-NDA willingness to publicly deny certain serious allegations while invoking confidentiality regarding the suicide threat to be evidence of guilt.

    8. The email images did not appear mysteriously from nowhere. They were provided by LAT to a Christian advocate for victims of clergy abuse, a woman named Julie Anne Smith who runs the Spiritual Sounding Board blog. (I only point out that Ms. Smith is a Christian to preempt the suggestion that an atheist posse is out to get RZ.) Ms. Smith says that LAT provided the emails to her in January of February of 2017, months before Mr. Bryant’s demand letter. They were not provided in the context of any discussion about legal action but in the course of a support relationship for one who felt she had been taken advantage of by a powerful man.

    8. Ms. Smith told me that she had been in email contact with LAT after the settlement and that LAT had given no indication that she wished their prior communication not be shared. Had LAT forged the emails, surely she and her lawyers would have been vigilant in demanding that Ms. Smith not to make them public. A decent lawyer would have discouraged Ms. Smith by informing her that she could be liable for the tort of public disclosure of private information if she had released that information over their objection. But neither LAT nor her lawyers took any steps to ensure that Ms. Smith did not release the emails.

    9. It is now amply clear that RZ has been a risk taker for decades. Just last week the respected Christian theologian and apologist John Stackhouse told Christianity Today that he had been worried for 20 years that RZ would eventually get outed for “inflating his academic credentials.” Dr. Stackhouse also said that RZ’s questionable credential claims have been “quietly mentioned” by evangelicals for decades. RZ continued to take serious reputational risks for well over a year after I began to make his false credential claims public in the summer of 2015. (See my article “The Christian Industrial Complex Shields its Own.” That in a matter so central to his public reputation RZ was a reckless risk-taker increases the likelihood that took risks with LAT.

    10. It is unclear why RZ would agree to a confidentiality agreement that prevented him from denying such a serious and false charge as threatening suicide to suppress an online affair. But he did. Given his Dec 3, 2017 press statement, either the NDA allowed RZ to deny certain allegations (but not the suicide threat) or he violated the NDA, selectively.

    11. It is unlikely that Attorney Bryant would claim in a personal and confidential letter to RZ to have a copy of a suicide threat email if RZ had not written it. It is also unlikely that Attorney Bryant would claim in that private letter to have logs of “lengthy telephone conversations” if such conversations had not happened.

    12. RZ began his online relationship with LAT in late 2014. He does not say when he began receiving the nude photos, but it is clear that he did not report it to his Board until LAT’s lawyer contacted him with a legal threat in late April of 2017. While this is not directly relevant to the suicide emails, it undermines RZ’s claim that he made a serious attempt to terminate the by then sexually charged online relationship. By going along with LAT he raised the reputational stakes and made extreme measures, like a suicide threat, more attractive.

    13. The fact that Brad Thompson previously sued a pastor bothered me. But then I looked into it. it turns out that BT’s pastor had engaged in, and was eventually disciplined by his church for, improper financial conduct, to wit: encouraging BT to invest in the pastor’s family business. Incidentally, I have sued a few people over the years and each time I am reminded that litigation is not a process that generally rewards or is kind to liars and opportunists. I cannot speak for BT’s litigation experience, but mine would make me much more reluctant to try what some folks think BT and LAT pulled on RZ.

    14. The fact that Attorney Mark Bryant of the Bryant Law Center in Paducah, GA, demanded $5,000,000 from RZ for the suffering his clients had endured is indeed truly ridiculous. The fact that Attorney Mark Bryant’s demand letter was so sloppily written suggests that he never believed he had a strong legal case against RZ. He just wanted to wave that suicide email and the threat of “public litigation” at RZ to score some big bucks. Unfortunately for RZ, the fact that it looks like it worked, does not do much to mitigate RZ’s guilt.


    Would I feel more comfortable if we had original emails with headers and a forensic report establishing that RZ wrote them? Of course. Am I bothered that the only image we are able to present to the public at this time is not an exact copy of the email RZ sent? Of course. (UPDATE, see item 6 above.)

    But as any trial lawyer knows, no matter how just and true our case is, the universe does not always deal us the perfect evidentiary hand. There is no such thing as a case without wrinkles, especially when you have able opponents whose agenda it is to make your every step as difficult as they possibly can. Wrinkles can be especially problematic when your able opponents don’t play by the rules of honest and open public discourse.

    None of that need weaken our belief in the claims we make to judges, juries, and to the public. In the Ravi Zacharias matter, by far the best account of the evidence is that the risk-taking evangelist did what so many powerful men do with weaker women, and then made a dumb move in covering it up. Try as they could, his Boston and New York lawyers were unable to quarantine their client’s suicide email.

    I know that many Christians eagerly await the forensic and investigative reports from Boards of RZ Inc. showing that I am wrong. I hope that each of these people will contact RZIM at and urge them to get right on it.Report

    • Maribou in reply to steve baughman says:

      @steve-baughman You’re fine. As the author of the post, unless you’re struggling to be civil to commenters (which I’ve never seen you do) or doing something REALLY egregious that we would’ve objected to in a post (likewise), we really don’t care what you put in your comments section :). Even if it bothered us, if it wasn’t one of those first two things we’d probably try to talk it out …Report

  11. Jaybird says:

    The Daniel thing. If Daniel was written before the events that happened, it makes the case that the predictions were prophecy somewhat stronger.

    (Not a whole lot stronger, mind… from what I understand, the priests had a tradition where they said that any prophecy that ended up not being true was a prophecy that came from somewhere other than YHWH and, as such, needed to be destroyed. So this resulted in a Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy on a societal scale and directly benefitted the prophets who learned to use vague metaphors over direct descriptions with measurable timelines.)

    If Daniel was written after, then it’s yet another “prophecy” written after-the-fact that, yes, uncannily was able to describe stuff that already happened.

    Which wouldn’t really discredit the whole architecture of what the Believers believe anyway but, hey, it’s better to have prophecies to point to than to not have them to point to.

    All of which is kind of beside the point in the first place.Report

    • Phil in reply to Jaybird says:

      “If Daniel was written after, then it’s yet another “prophecy” written after-the-fact that, yes, uncannily was able to describe stuff that already happened.”

      If it is ‘yet another’, what are some more examples?Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Phil says:

        Well, the question of whether the Gospels were written after the year 70 would be a prominent one.

        Did Jesus talk about the destruction of the Temple back when it was still standing or are the only records of him talking about this records that were written after 70?Report

        • Phil in reply to Jaybird says:

          “Did Jesus talk about the destruction of the Temple back when it was still standing or are the only records of him talking about this records that were written after 70?”

          That would be an impressively executed conspiracy. But that would mean that the synoptic writers didn’t know that Titus would destroy the Temple either, and collectively decided to mention that in their various accounts of the Olivet Discourse sometime after the smoke cleared. I’m thinking every NT writer had to be in on the plot.

          But some things aren’t so easy to figure out, like the forecast of the second regathering of the Jews which didn’t really begin till the 20th century. But hell, I guess somebody like Ravi Zacharias could have slipped Isaiah 11:11 in there during the Eisenhower administration.Report

          • Steve Baughman in reply to Phil says:

            Phil. Surely you see that there are many many different ways to view Isaiah 11:11. No? Do you really think that all reasonable minds should agree that it is a case of prophecy fulfilled in 1948?

            BTW, I finished the Daniel article you recommend. Great bunch of info. I will post some comments on it when was the dust settles. Whenever that will be. Thanks for recommending it.

            Steve BaughmanReport

            • Phil in reply to Steve Baughman says:

              “Do you really think that all reasonable minds should agree that it is a case of prophecy fulfilled in 1948?”

              Oh, I think they should because there are only two events in history that fit the bill. But I suspect that most of the reasonable folks you have in mind are forced by default to believe the deep sea vents and accidents tales.

              Btw, did you see this today? The entire UN security council, not to mention the general assembly, is in turmoil over one lousy decision.

              Lots of us Bible thumpers are tempted to see this as a continuing prelude to stuff mentioned in Zechariah 12:

              2 Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem.
              3 And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Phil says:

                How many people have to be gathered against it to be considered all enough for this to be true?Report

              • Phil in reply to Kazzy says:

                “How many people have to be gathered against it to be considered all enough for this to be true?”

                I’m not exactly sure what you are asking, but there are other places that mention armies assembling (actually being assembled…”And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon”) against Jerusalem. Hundreds of millions of troops.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Phil says:

                Well, it would seem to me that for the prophecy as stated here to be true, “all the people of the earth” would need to be “gathered against” Jerusalem.

                I’ll bet dollars to donuts that that *never* happens.

                And while I might be being hyper literal here, if we are going to get into the business of claiming godly predictions, I do think accuracy matters.Report

              • Steve Baughman in reply to Phil says:

                Phil. I simply do not share your view of the Old Testament prophecies as clear-cut references to future events.

                You say Isaiah 11:11 predicts the founding of Israel in 1948. I have two responses to that.

                1. There sure is a lot of disagreement amongst Bible believing commentators about what Isaiah 11:11 actually means. See

                2. I wonder how many dispersed religious people over the millennia had Holy documents that predicted that they would eventually be restored. Somebody has to win the lottery, but that doesn’t mean God was behind the lucky winner’s fulfilled prophecy.

                3. OK, three points, sorry. I think you are overlooking the self fulfilling nature of the restored Israel prophecy. Judaism became Christianity which became the Conqueror of the planet. I don’t find it surprising that the Conqueror would help nudge along the prophecies of its own religion.

                Think of it this way, if Christianity had not conquered the world would Isaiah 11:11 have been “fulfilled”?Report

              • Phil in reply to Steve Baughman says:

                “I wonder how many dispersed religious people over the millennia had Holy documents that predicted that they would eventually be restored.”

                I don’t know of any at all. I don’t think there are any.


                “I think you are overlooking the self fulfilling nature of the restored Israel prophecy….if Christianity had not conquer the world would Isaiah 11:11 have been “fulfilled”?”

                I don’t think self-fulfillment is at all plausible. The event that actually resulted in the reformation of Israel as a Jewish nation was War 2. How would you suppose either the Jews or the Christians arranged the holocaust?Report

              • steve baughman in reply to Phil says:

                Phil. I really think you are looking at world history thru the lenses of Christian apocalyptic theology and engaging in a massive exercise in confirmation bias.

                Let me stick my neck out: Prophecy is BORING. Why? Because anyone can cherry pick “scriptures” and wow! us with their being “fulfilled” before our very eyes. That takes 60 seconds to do. Showing it is bogus takes hours, at very least.

                In my born again days of the 1970’s Hal Lindsay and Chuck Smith were all the rage. I remember hearing Smith speak, he had just returned from the UN where he overheard some UN guide say that an empty flagpole in front of the building “might be for the leader.” Drum roll! 666! Preparing the way for The Antichrist. The Soviets (no longer in existence) was on its way to bringing about Armageddon.

                It all seemed soooooo real. Not so now. On the contrary…..

                The “prophecies” you identify remind me of all those stories of miracle healings that have such pre-investigation lustre.

                Let me leave you with this: if your God wanted to predict the future in documents he gave us 2500 years ago, he could have done a clearer job of it. Instead, your own co-religionists cannot even agree among themselves what the prophecies are saying.
                IMHO, nuff said.Report

            • Phil in reply to Jaybird says:

              “I didn’t say “conspiracy”.”

              Well, there would have had to been significant collaboration, cooperation, collusion…the necessary elements of a conspiracy. How else would you characterize it?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Phil says:

                Assuming one author from whom others cribbed, you’d just need one who “knew in his heart” (or her heart, I suppose) that Jesus *MUST* have predicted something like this happening.

                “Conspiracy” implies some shadiness. Like someone knew it wasn’t true but went on to say that it was.

                I’m just trying to say that it was merely a “prophecy” written after-the-fact that, yes, uncannily was able to describe stuff that already happened.Report

              • Phil in reply to Jaybird says:

                “Assuming one author from whom others cribbed…”

                Which one?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Phil says:

                There’s the Markean priority theory in which Q was first and then Mark follows and Matthew was intended to be a response from the Matthean school and Luke from the Lukeans but I’ve always thought that Matthean priority made the most sense without the encumbersome need for the Q document, the M document, and the L document that the Markean priority people have.

                You’ve got you your Matthew written first, see, from the perspective of the school that came up without Pauline influence and then Luke as a “that’s mostly right, here’s what *REALLY* happened!” version from someone more aligned with Paul. Mark was a version that took Matthew and placed it to the writer’s left, then took Luke and placed it to the writer’s right, and then he jumped back and forth between the two making a Reader’s Digest version suitable for gentiles who just wanted to hear the highlights.

                So this version only requires the author of Matthew to know in his heart that Jesus must have made this particular prophecy and then created a cascading already fulfilled prophecy (only coincidentally written after the fact).Report

              • Phil in reply to Jaybird says:

                “Mark was a version that took Matthew and placed it to the writer’s left, then took Luke and placed it to the writer’s right, and then he jumped back and forth between the two making a Reader’s Digest version suitable for gentiles who just wanted to hear the highlights.”

                But there are things mentioned in Mark’s account that are not in either Matthew or Luke. For instance, in Matthew, “Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers.” But Mark goes into more detail, and notes that “Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple: and when he had looked round about upon all things, and now the eventide was come, he went out unto Bethany with the twelve”, and came back the next day and “cast out them that sold and bought in the temple”. So, do you think the writer (not an actual Mark) cooked that up, or did (s)he get that from one of the Q, M or L documents?

                May I ask, do you come from a Catholic background?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Phil says:

                Nope. I come from a *REAL* religion: Southern Babtist.

                Anyway, the details added by Mark seem to be some variant of “adding details that would help set the scene for gentiles”.

                It’s not “cooking it up” as much as “helping set the scene for the target audience that more might be saved”.

                Instead of suspecting that I’m suspecting nefarious motives on the part of the authors, suspect that I’m suspecting that they’re trying to save the souls of people by spreading the Word of God and following what they believe in their hearts to be the best way of doing that.Report

              • Phil in reply to Jaybird says:

                “Instead of suspecting that I’m suspecting nefarious motives on the part of the authors, suspect that I’m suspecting that they’re trying to save the souls of people by spreading the Word of God…”

                Okay, but still, in your view, somebody started making up stories and telling them as the truth, which is lying any way you look at it. And that’s the problem. Why would people collaborate to do that? I can easily understand the motivation for late-dating, especially prophecy, because the implications are so severe. (Who would want to find out that Luke 16:23 is a reality the hard way?) But average Jews living average Jew lives didn’t really have a good reason to start pimping a new religion.

                To me, it is infinitely easier, for all kinds of reasons, to accept the Gospels as either eye-witness accounts, or thoroughly research history, which is what Luke claimed his work to be.Report

              • Steve Baughman in reply to Phil says:

                Phil, many New Testament scholars would dispute your view of the gospels as either “intended as history” or “made up.”

                In fact, I think most of them with.

                The Gospels need not to be scandalous lies if they are shown not to be histoeical. These were fantastic stories of human hope, struggle, history. We don’t accuse the folks who made up the Aesops’s fables or The great Greek legends of bad faith because they didn’t put the word “warning, fiction!” on their works.

                You truly are oversimplifying. The Gospels are well intentioned stories that emerged from a community under extreme persecution and in the state of intense apocalyptic expectation. There are many historically false claims in there, but no lies.

                Incidentally, I hope you know that exactly 0 of the 27 new testament documents was written by an eyewitness to Jesus. Even conservative scholars admit to this.Report

              • Phil in reply to Steve Baughman says:

                “Incidentally, I hope you know that exactly 0 of the 27 new testament documents was written by an eyewitness to Jesus. Even conservative scholars admit to this.”

                Like Peter, right?

                Bruce Metzger was a conservative scholar. The Wikipedia entry about him notes that:

                “Metzger argues that the early church which assembled the New Testament did not consider divine inspiration to be a sufficient criterion for a book to be placed in the canon. Metzger says that the early church saw it as very important that a work describing Jesus’ life be written by a follower of or an eyewitness to Jesus”

                That aside, a guy named Steven Weinberg is credited with this valuable axiom:

                “An expert is a person who avoids the small errors while sweeping on to the grand fallacy.”

                A small error would be like overlooking the fact that in Luke 21:24, Jesus is quoted as saying “And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.”

                So even if someone wrote those uplifting words after 70AD (just to inspire persecuted Jews), the fact remains that Jerusalem is no longer trodden down of the Gentiles.Report

              • Steve Baughman in reply to Phil says:

                Phil. “Metzger says that the early church saw it as very important that a work describing Jesus’ life be written by a follower of or an eyewitness to Jesus”

                If “follower” of Jesus means someone who hung out with the guy, Bruce Metzger did not say that.

                You are absolutely wrong on this issue. Not a single New Testament document was written by anybody who had met Jesus.

                Peter? It is widely agreed that Peter did not even write the book attributed to him. (2Peter.).

                BTW, it is not reassuring that you are citing Wikipedia here.Report

              • Phil in reply to Steve Baughman says:

                1 and 2 Peter. And naturally, since they respectively begin with

                “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia…”


                “Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ…”

                then liberals will conclude that Peter didn’t write the letters.Report

              • Phil in reply to Phil says:

                Peter also addressed the sweet and hopeful tales theory:

                “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.”Report

              • Steve Baughman in reply to Phil says:


                Early Christian Writings on the generally accepted date of first Peter, 80 to 110 AD.

                I get that dating is not an agenda free activity. But I hope you do also.Report

              • Phil in reply to Steve Baughman says:

                “Early Christian Writings on the generally accepted date of first Peter, 80 to 110 AD.

                I get that dating is not an agenda free activity. But I hope you do also.”

                Yeah, I can go with that. But the burden of proof is on the late-daters. If someone identifies himself as the author of a document, the critic becomes an accuser, and it is up to him to prove fraud. Pissy arguments about style do not cut it. What would count is contemporary refutations. If 1 Peter was a lie, it would not have been accepted, copied and distributed without someone knowing and pointing out that it was a lie. So, who among those general acceptors, can show documents that expose the fraud?Report

              • Steve Baughman in reply to Phil says:

                Phil. I do not know where the burden of proof lies. I am not as sanguine as you are in assuming at lies with the one challenging the claim of self-authorship. After all, there was I widespread practice of people using pseudonyms back then.

                And there is plenty of evidence to shift the burden, in any event, as I think I showed in the link I sent you.

                I know nothing about this, so I look to the experts.

                And when the vast majority of them say the things that were claimed to have been written by Peter werw not I give them difference. I Grant it is not an ideal way to go about forming believes, but is the best I can do on things that I am already not an expert in (which includes almost everything.)

                And I guess I should ask you, is your belief about Peter a parent or a child of your religious commitments?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Phil says:

                Okay, but still, in your view, somebody started making up stories and telling them as the truth, which is lying any way you look at it.

                No, it’s not.

                I’ll tell you about one of the conversations I’ve had with a Southern Babtist about the whole “Jesus turning water into grape juice” discussion. She told me that she knew, in her heart, that Jesus would *NEVER* turn water into wine. He didn’t approve of alcohol, you see.

                So if she told me that Jesus turned water into grape juice rather than wine, was she lying?

                From my perspective, she’s telling me a deep truth. A truth that she knows deep in her heart. I pointed out the original Greek that the author of John used. No dice. Why? Because she already *KNEW* the truth.

                Same for the people you’re saying are lying.

                I don’t think that they were lying. I think that they were telling the truth that they knew in their heart.

                I can easily understand the motivation for late-dating, especially prophecy, because the implications are so severe.

                Would you say that the implications behind early-dating have anything to motivate those who argue for it? Anything at all?Report

              • Phil in reply to Jaybird says:

                “So if she told me that Jesus turned water into grape juice rather than wine, was she lying?”

                No, she’s just ignorant, and committed to an unreasonable premise. Fortunately, it isn’t a dangerous one.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Phil says:

                As unreasonable premises go, we’re in “swallowed the camel, why are we haggling over gnats?” territory at this point.Report

              • Steve Baughman in reply to Phil says:

                Why should there not be metaphor and poetic language in the Christian holy documents just like there is in then holy documents of other belief systems?

                Because we have somewhere along the line built a theology on literalism, and one single error means the whole edifice comes crumbling down. That is why evangelical Christians fight tooth and nail to reconcile Matthew versus Luke on the different versions of the death of Judas, for example.

                They are irreconcilable, but much ink has been spent trying to pretend otherwise.

                Think of how liberating it would be if all those brain hours going into such silly matters went into productive stuff (like exposing Ravi Zacharias. 🙂

                Steve BaughmanReport


    Mr. Zacharias misled the public in his December 3 press release. In that statement, his first public comment on his federal lawsuit against Lori Anne Thompson, he says this: “Subsequently, she began to contact me via the email address I had used to contact her husband after first meeting them. My responses were usually brief. Then, last year, she shockingly sent me extremely inappropriate pictures of herself unsolicited. I clearly instructed her to stop contacting me in any form; I blocked her messages, and I resolved to terminate all contact with her.”

    This sounds innocent enough. Mr. Zacharias communicate with Ms. Thompson through an email address that both she and her husband had access to.

    But the truth is that Mr. Zacharias actually gave Ms. Thompson his private Blackberry info and asked her to contact him through this “more secure” method of communication. That is how he received the nude photos. How do we know? Because that is what he told the Federal Court in his July 31, 2017 complaint.

    Here is what he says in paragraph 36: “Plaintiff asked Ms. Thompson that she communicate with him via private BlackBerry Messenger (“BBM”)—a more secure method of communication than e-mail given its superior security and encryption capabilities.” (For his entire complaint see )

    Ravi Zacharias has been racking up untruths at an astonishing rate. More to come. Stand by.Report

  13. Bruce Ramsey says:

    I’m sorry to learn that Ravi is human after all. Of course, if you study the Bible, it sounds like the only thing that separates Christians from non-Christians, is that the Christian enters Heaven first. I mean, Paul said he was the “chief of sinners’ and “the good that I would do I don’t do”, “O wretched man that I am”. Still, even if a Christian is just a saved sinner, it would be sooooo refreshing if they could be 100 percent truthful with what they believe and how they feel. Be TRUTHFUL, NO tricks, no Christian “taqiyya” (which is lying for your God to spread your religion like is OK to do in Islam). The Bible says to not murmur. Well, if that murmur is based on true feelings and beliefs about your faith, I say, GO for it. You become damn creepy when you put out a phony front to get people to believe like you. Be truthful, ALWAYS.Report

  14. Richard S. Dillard says:

    Something struck me as being odd about this post. It was that final statement: “Instead he fires potshots from the safety of his keyboard, and hides behind ‘confidentiality’when the questioning gets tough. To my mind that makes him a coward, a bully, and probably a very guilty man.”

    We’re talking, of course, about Ravi Zacharias here. A man that routinely faces unknown questions that challenge him from audiences across the globe–some from those who clearly don’t share his Worldview.

    Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but not to having that opinion respected: 1) if it isn’t supported by evidence beyond a resonate doubt, 2) when meaningful conclusions get drawn from terribly this slices of information, or 3) when they don’t accurately correspond or aren’t coherent when viewed as a whole.

    Ravi and RZIM may have inflated his credentials, but there’s nothing to suggest beyond a reasonable doubt that they did it out of arrogance or with the intention to decieve, as evidenced by the corrections to the official record that they’ve painstakingly made as they’ve learned of the inconsistencies. And there is no evidence that suggests beyond a reasonable doubt Ravi engaged in anything with LAT or her husband for which he didn’t otherwise take full responsibility.

    Is Ravi immune to the trappings of our powerful and popular men? No! But given what I know about Ravi’s history and character, it is actually more plausible, in my mind, given the evidence we have of their prior lawsuit with other Christian Leaders, that LAD and her husband intentionally set this whole thing up to extort money and gain notoriety as a victim and survivor of sexual misconduct in order to launch her blogging career. And we don’t need to think any father back than the recent Kavanaugh confirmation hearings to know how this works…regardless of means. The motives of those trying to destroy his reputation and the ends they were getting to achieve are both extremely clear, as in the case of LAT and Ravi.

    Ravi is not a perfect man. Never claimed to be. But what I find in this post and with this author is someone who “…fires potshots from the safety of his keyboard, and hides behind ‘reasons that equal excuse’ when the questioning [about real evidence] gets tough. To my mind that makes him a coward, a bully, and probably a very [arrogant] man.”

    And don’t think for a moment that the false bravado, superficial charm, and smart-assery with which the original post was written got lost on me. You’re insincerity and overall lack of compassion must be a natural consequence of your atheistic worldview. What you didn’t and won’t find is the same treatment from Ravi…a man you have systematically tried to undermine and destroy. Why? I think you know the answer, and it’s not because he’s driven by the verdict of his conscience out of guilt. He’s driven by the love of Christ, and that dinner with him may be the closest you ever come to it this side of eternity. But I guess you can always attack someone’s character if you can’t attack their arguments, right?

    So I have just one question for you. If you were involved in a scandal and made an honest mistake in handling it, would it matter to you whether Ravi Zacharias or LAT were the plaintiff?Report

  15. Richard: You say “Ravi and RZIM may have inflated his credentials, but there’s nothing to suggest beyond a reasonable doubt that they did it out of arrogance or with the intention to decieve, as evidenced by the corrections to the official record that they’ve painstakingly made as they’ve learned of the inconsistencies. And there is no evidence that suggests beyond a reasonable doubt Ravi engaged in anything with LAT or her husband for which he didn’t otherwise take full responsibility.”


    1. Where is this “beyond a reasonable doubt” thing coming from? That is the standard for putting people in jail, not for assessing the character and conduct of a public figure who refuses to discuss the case against him. (Ravi won’t talk, he will only respond in writing when he cannot be cross-examined.)

    2. Ravi has lied since the early 1980s about his credentials. You have not paid attention if you do not see an “intention to deceive.” He calls himself “Cambridge educated” after having spent one semester auditing classes at Cambridge when he was 44. Claimed he chaired a “department” where none existed. Claimed for YEARS to be a “professor at Oxford” when he never was. And loads more. Sorry, Richard, you are not thinking straight if you see no intent to deceive in Ravi’s career-long self-presentation.

    3. No, Ravi did NOT “take full responsibility” for his sex scandal. He hired lawyers to buy the Thompson’s silence. He refuses to talk about his suicide threat, which we have in writing.

    4. You say that Ravi “routinely faces unknown questions that challenge him from audiences across the globe.” Well, sort of. He does a Q&A where he controls the mic and the agenda. He refuses to do debates (I have tried to set one up for him on generous terms, his staff says he does not do those.) As far as I can tell he has never done debates. I have also seen zero interviews with non-friendly journalists.

    To answer your question, if I were caught in a scandal I am pretty sure that I would admit it and apologize. I am certain I would not falsely blame those I have harmed. Ravi Zacharias is a bona fide scoundrel and a coward. May I suggest you check out the latest? Simply google RZ credentials and RZ sex scandal. 6 weeks ago he admitted never enrolling at Cambridge or being a prof at Oxford. More and more Christian bloggers are demonstrating concern about him for credential fraud and sex.Report

    • Jess in reply to steve baughman says:

      Clearly a set up. The BlackBerry thing could well have been innocuous, given that she is an expert in kinesiology and was conversing with him about exercises for his back pain. I wouldn’t discuss health problems unencrypted either. The pair set him up. He realized, too late, he was being set up, and that even though he twice blocked her and told her not to send revealing pictures, it would look bad for him, just because all such allegations always leave mud, no matter the innocence of the target. Having behaved scrupulously all his life, he feared that a pair whom he was probably placating out of fear of what they could do, were going to go ahead and frame him. Which they did. His suicide note really doesn’t prove guilt or even a guilty conscience at all. Not unless you are biased against him and against Christians. Which you are, from the way you write.Report

      • steve baughman in reply to Jess says:

        Jess, Ravi admitted in his complaint that he initiated the “more secure” communication with her. He is the one who has lied for 35 years about his credentials. He is the one who refuses to discuss the written suicide threat he made to cover up the affair, which we have and which he has privately admitted to sending.

        Any idea why Ravi settled his case on terms of silence if it was “clearly a set up”?

        Nice to see the old ad hominem again. It’s been a few days.Report

        • STEPHAN DENEIR in reply to steve baughman says:

          I have been an interested, and passioned reader/viewer of RZ books and youtube movies for a few years now.
          Therefore, I have read with interest, but also with increasing indignation, the way in which you try to bring this man down. How you try to proove, as someone above says, that Ravi has feet of clay, just like you and I.
          The point about “inflating his credentials”… Waaaw! Doesn’t mean anything to me (maybe because I am European), especially not when I compare it to the skills of Ravi, and his marvellous talent to teach us about the Christian worldview which is based only one thing: love. You can’t reach that level with a PhD only.
          The point about the relation with a married woman. Please leave this over to court, if crime would have been committed, and let Ravi and his family sort this out. It is none of your and other people’s business.
          I would like to encourage you to develop your musical gift, play the banjo and make people happy! That will bring much more happiness into our world.
          With kind regards,
          Stephan (Belgium)Report

          • Steve Baughman in reply to STEPHAN DENEIR says:

            Stephan. With all due respect, you are utterly clueless if you think that this matter should be “left to the court.“ Are you really saying that the public should keep its nose out of the scandals our influential opinion-makers are involved in? If so, you support a Scoundrel’s Paradise.

            But I don’t think that’s what you really mean. I think you just have an attachment to Mr. Zacharias and you’re very uncomfortable with the bad news coming out about him. Correct?

            It would be nice to receive a more thoughtful suggestion from you as to what we as a community that cares about integrity in philosophical discussions should do about a man who has systematically fabricated his academic credentials since the early years of his career. Perhaps you can also give us some insight on how we should deal with a dogmatic moralist preacher who threatened suicide to pressure a married woman not to confess their online relationship to her husband.

            If you favor a Scoundrel’s Paradise, “Just play more banjo” is a lovely answer.Report

          • Steve Baughman in reply to STEPHAN DENEIR says:

            PS, Stephan. I did not adequately explain why you are “clueless.“ Ravi Zacharias is not accused of a crime. Extra marital misconduct and lying about your credentials is not a crime. There is no “court” adjudicating these things. (And civil lawsuits rarely shed light on such matters because they are dismissed with nondisclosure agreements that prevent the parties from discussing the evidence.)

            So telling us to leave it to “the court” is extraordinarily ignorant. Clueless.Report

            • STEPHAN DENEIR in reply to Steve Baughman says:

              Dear Steve,
              Scoundrel’s Paradise means nothing to me, and it does not impress me either. It is one of the so many stories which can easily be avoided.
              But for me, it is almost incredible and incomprehensible to see how you sustain in defending your point, with words, words and words again. All of these, I think I can summarize them in one word: hate.
              For some reason there is hate in your heart, towards someone who has done nothing wrong to you personally. The only reason I see left, really, is jealousy.
              You bury this under intellectual reasoning beyond comparison. And I must admit, for making the same point, time and time again, with different wordings and reasoning, you have a great talent.
              But whom does it serve, apart from yourself? Who does get better of all you have written above? Did you create happiness or satisfaction to anybody else? That is what I meant with playing the banjo. I don’t know how great your talent for that is, but surely you could make much more people happy with it, much more than with your preaching’s of hatred.
              So please, try to understand the message that Ravi brings to us, and don’t be jealous of his unique gift to fill the hearts of so many people, with love and understanding. I hope you can do this one day, it will make you another person. Not only for yourself, but for all the beloved ones that are on your path.
              With kind regards,

              • Steve Baughman in reply to STEPHAN DENEIR says:

                This is lovely. Take note, one and all. I present incontrovertible evidence of massive deception by a prominent evangelist and his followers can rebut not a single charge, so they accuse me of “hate.”

                This is how cults survive.

                Stephan, if you had a substantive defense of the guru (“No! Look! Here is proof, Ravi really did enroll at Cambridge and really was a professor at Oxford and really did not threaten suicide to cover up an online sexual relationship !”) you would offer it.

                Instead you evade and accuse.

                Shame on you and the hundreds of other Ravi lovers who have responded in the identical way.Report

              • STEPHAN in reply to Steve Baughman says:

                Hello Steve,
                I find it very pity that you call Christianity a cult. You pretend you know it and therefore you reject it, but still you have not understood the message. Please re-read what Teresa has written recently and try to understand. Open your heart for it, and don’t reject until it has had the chance to get through your shield of omniscience. Please.
                To me, there is more behind your sustained accusation, as you repeat and amplify the same things on and on. You are not a party in this whole story, nor have you suffered any personal damage from it. So what is your honest motive really? Is it not jealousy?
                Or is it frustration about people who talk about love and forgiveness, as their message puts yourself to the test? Because deep in your heart you know that the beauty of the message goes along with obligation, which no one can fulfil at all times. But if one of those preachers makes a mistake! Let’s project our own failures upon him!
                Please think about this.
                With kind regards,

              • Steve Baughman in reply to STEPHAN says:

                Stephan. I don’t think we are getting anywhere. You continue to ignore gross misconduct by a man who travels the world preaching morality. I did not say Christianity as a cult. I said you behave like a cult follower.

                Please spare me the preaching. This has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with maintaining integrity in the God debates.

                You may want to turn your back on the problem but I don’t. That is really where we are different.

                I will give you the last word.Report

  16. Ed Bodker says:

    Steve, thanks for your diligence in pressing this matter forward and being willing to discuss it openly. Much is lost however, among the details of the debate, when we fail to stress the real damage caused by charismatic leaders capitalizing on the insecurity of naive followers. It matters little in the broad scheme of things that RZ lies about credentials to convince followers or if he partakes of sexual deviation. The “big sin” is that evangelical Christianity insists on making scripture about authoritative literalism and dogma rather than contextual truth. This idolatry of “Biblical Authority” renders Christianity unavailable for those seeking, with honest skepticism, a path towards spiritual integrity. It is not just RZ, it’s the idolatry of literalism preached by most, if not all evangelical leaders. This is Christianity sinning against Christianity, it is Christians creating a huge stumbling block before those with critical minds, who want to but are not welcome within the church to give Christianity genuine consideration. The sin is not against atheists, it’s a sin against family. This, in effect, is Christian idolatry weeding out other Christians who’s inclusion would undermine the confidence of “True Believers,” those with insecurities so strong as to insist on excluding those with dissenting thoughts.

    There are many intriguing and important questions that become squashed by this bulwark of authoritative exclusiveness. Once as a young boy attending a “Training Union” class in a Southern Baptist church, I asked a genuine question that was bothering me. I wanted to know, if a young boy in Africa was eaten by a lion and he had never heard of Jesus, would he go to hell? The teacher evaded the question and told me “we have to have faith in what the Bible says.” I couldn’t accept that as an answer because I still didn’t know what would be the fate of that boy and it didn’t seem fair to me that, if the boy didn’t know about Jesus he would still go to hell. In my own childish way, I insisted on a better answer. The teacher took offense and went to get the preacher to set me straight. I thought the preacher might take my question seriously and have a better answer so I was willing to listen, but after those adults were finished with me, my question was neither addressed nor answered and I went home feeling full of shame an anger. On a collective scale this is what evangelical Christianity is about, using authoritative idolatry, (literalism) to repress difficult questions, those that challenge the primacy of authority over truth. Because of this, Christianity is becoming ever more relegated to a place of irrelevance by an ever growing consensus of non-christians who are concerned about the future of humanity. This is the clear reason so many view creationism as a ridiculous alternative to science. Conservative Christians want a contest between authoritative dogma and scientific findings. And therefore, Christian truth and insight that could possibly have a positive influence within the world is rejected or ignored in large measure by Christian representatives insisting on making an idol of the Bible.

    It is incumbent upon those of us who have been rejected by evangelical Christianity to seek the truth about that in Christianity which relates positively to humanity and the world but unfortunately, this has to be done in-spite of “kept Christianity” rather the with it.

    This is the way I see it. I stand open to correction if others see it differently.

    Hope I can make it to guitar week at Swananoa this year and maybe we can find time to chat.

    All Best,
    Ed BodkerReport

    • DC in reply to Ed Bodker says:

      Concerning your genuine question and the unsatisfactory answer you were given; the young boy eaten by the Lion will be in heaven with God. According to Christ, who taught the Apostles, who in turn taught us through scripture: Man has sinned and the wages of sin is death. The gift of God is eternal life through Christ. Christ lived a perfect life. Christ’s willing sacrifice paid for the problem of our sin and it is through his life that we are saved. Jesus conquered death and those who have faith in Christ will receive a glorified body, Christians living today have the spirit of adoption, the adoption is what we are waiting for. The redemption of our body is a future event for Christians alive today. The access point to the grace of God is belief in Christ.

      But what of those who lived on Earth before Christ revealed himself fully and walked among us? They were saved by Christ, yet had very limited knowledge of the future covenant. Even though the Messiah was referred to in every book of the Old Testament, the people of God had not yet received the Holy Spirit. They didn’t have all the information and they were still saved without any evidence of regeneration. When we preach the Gospel, God is using the believer, yet it is Christ who saves the individual, not the person God is using. It is folly to presume that God is incapable of finding a way to bring the Gospel to specific individuals who have not heard it by man or had access to a Bible. As a previously agnostic Physicist and Mathematician, it was science that confirmed the existence of God to me. Science is the collection of data. Science says nothing, it is scientists who interpret the data. My experience has shown me that the dogma of materialism is more guilty of illogical and biased interpretations than Theistic religions. To think that there is a God who can exist and not be authoritative is illogical and impossible. To believe that God did not provide us with a way to know Him and know the truth can only leave us with Deism, Theism would not be possible. Because a particular individual’s interpretation of scripture can be wrong, doesn’t mean that God doesn’t exist. The teacher’s lack of insight and inability to give you an answer to your liking, isn’t a valid reason to turn your back on God.Report

      • Steve Baughman in reply to DC says:

        Wow! You sure have it all figured. Your confidence is matched only by your willingness to oversimplify.

        So, what of those who sincerely do not agree with your theology? Hell?Report

        • Teresa Rollins in reply to Steve Baughman says:

          You don’t have to be a professed Christian to believe in unconditional love. But as a Christian I believe strongly that it’s a mandate not an option. Christ is the best example of unconditional love but the things that move most people the most (assuming it’s love and not anger, etc.) are acts of love, kindness, compassion, and things of beauty. I think that’s a universal standard. Lots of people are content with not behaving in a loving way, but the ones that believe it’s a mandate are the ones I admire the most. Everyone has a moral standard acknowledged or not. And if you’re good with your moral standard then there is no need to change or need for redemption (at least in your mind). But just because you presumably believe that acting in a loving way is an option and not a mandate doesn’t make it so since you’re not the ultimate authority and neither am I or anyone else on this blog. Also I believe every relationship involves a persons “theology” Not believing in God allows you to be your own authority so to speak. . Also I like you and think you’re an awesome guitarist!Report

  17. Steve Baughman says:

    Ed. Excellent comments and observations. The problem, as I see it, is that evangelicals need to be the only ones who are right. This is a psychological issue masquerading as a theological one.

    Happy to chat at the Swanannoa Gathering around the beer tent. I will be there this summer. Please make sure to pull me aside for a talk.Report

  18. Lisa says:

    I wonder why people who do not believe in God, try so hard to prove he is not real. Why they feel they must go around trying to discredit and or make Christians look bad. Why put so much energy into it? I do not believe in extraterrestrial life, many others do, but I do not waste my time going around trying to disprove it. What you will never understand is that Christianity is based on faith. The same faith you have in evolution, which there is really no proof of. Yes some finches on the island of Galapagos, but that is not evolution, that is adaptation. Have you witnessed a monkey or ape turning into a human? No you accept it on what? Faith, because you haven’t witnessed it with your own eyes. And if you really study evolution, you will find that there is no proof. My point is, you cannot understand Christians or Christianity because you have not wished to, or have not had an encounter with Jesus Christ. I have and it changed me, I know God is real. You may call it weakness, a crutch, what have you, and I take no offense. I do not care what you believe of me or God, because I don’t need you to. And I don’t need to be offended for God because, he is who he saids he is. He doesn’t need your belief or approval either. We do not have to believe in something to prove its existence. The President of the United States does not need us to believe he is the president for him to be the president, he simply is. I hope you have peace in your heart and are truly happy.Report

  19. Steve Baughman says:

    I am simply pointing out that there is a very corrupt evangelist loose on the circuit. And that his Christian colleagues don’t care that he is corrupt.

    I remain baffled at how quickly Christians change the subject from their own lack of integrity and make it about the messenger’s anti-religious dysfunctions.

    Really revealing.Report

  20. I think exposing someone for not behaving like a Christian when you don’t believe that Christ like behavior is a standard is kind of baffling. Or do you think it’s a standard that only applies to the clergy? Also who determines the standard?Report

  21. Steve Baughman says:

    A very prominent public figure has built a career on lies. And you think I should remain silent. Fine. But I disagree.

    I also disagree that this is a theological issue.Report

  22. Ok then what’s your philosophical view? And I don’t think you should remain silent but I think my point was valid no matter what label is used to discuss it.Report

  23. Also, I agree with Ed.Report

  24. Rocky says:

    Hey Mr. Banjo man what have you done for the cause of Christ , this comes as no surprise for the day we live in even amongst believers there is a lot of disunity , as for yourself I would be asking who’s tool am I ,they even accused Jesus of being a demon , it seems that whoever stands for truth and righteousness gets hammered these days and I am sure all through history I just wasn’t there to see it , maybe the person with no sin should cast the first stone or maybe no skeletons in your closet , funny how that works , maybe we should be looking at our own short comings instead of wasting our time trying to prove Ravi is a human being , he has done more to further the Kingdom of God and encourage thinkers to believe and believers to think than a lot of others , anyway this response is probably a waste of time that we only have a limited amount of , Jesus said I am the way and the Truth no man comes to the Father except through me , this is what it will come down toReport

  25. Steve Baughman says:

    Another fine example of Christians unable to except inconvenient facts. And then changing the subject. My goal here has little to do with “the cause of Christ“ and everything to do with reporting facts about a smiling scoundrel in sheep‘s clothing. Christians who are secure in their beliefs would welcome this information. But there are very few of these.Report

    • Lowell in reply to Steve Baughman says:

      The entire witness of scripture is the record of God using flawed human characters, “cracked pots” to shine the light of hope into the world.

      Those other “cracked pots” find themselves of satanic use, as evidenced by Judas, the betrayer of God. Yes, Ravi is cracked. And Steve, you are cracked.Report

  26. Mike says:

    I don’t think things are quite so clear cut really. From a 2018 essay by the alleged victim:

    “…There were many more such predators to come, from male managers in the workplace, to a high level physician in our community, to pious predators in the pulpit.”

    I personally have a very hard time with supervictims. Something feels very wrong with stories of women that claim to be constantly under predation by evil men.

    My second big issue is they factually extorted him. Their LAWYER sent this in a letter (from Christianity Today).

    “In the alternative of protracted and public litigation, [the couple] will sign a release of you and your church and ministry in exchange for a certified check in the amount of $5 million,” stated the letter from the Bryant Law Firm.

    I’m no lawyer, but I’ve never heard of asking for cash as an alternate to litigation. This wasn’t a settlement request. It was a shakedown.

    I’m sorry. Red flags add up.Report

    • Steve Baughman in reply to Mike says:

      I am a lawyer. It is standard practice to send a demand letter prior to litigation. I have sent hundreds of them.

      What do you think of Ravi’s Suicide email? And what do you make of the fact that he refuses to discuss it?

      Incidentally, if you think his victim is gaming the system, perhaps he might pop on over to her blog, where you will see what a devoted and passionate activist against clergy abuse she is. Lori Anne Thompson is her blog name.


      • Mike in reply to Steve Baughman says:

        I think the email looks bad. I could see more than one way to see why a person of his stature would be react badly to even something that looks way worse than it really is.

        But I think Lori Anne Thompson looks worse. I’m sorry, she’s a super-victim. I’m very confused at how a person can be victimized quite as many times as she claims to have been. It’s suspicious. I’ve known people like that and I no longer believe them if they tell me that the sky’s blue.

        I’m very glad she’s an advocate of abuse. Even if we take her claims at face value, Ravi was a scumbag, but not an abuser.

        Wouldn’t a demand letter mean that there is a claim? Not just “give me money so I won’t go public.” ?

        If she’s a victim there’s some wrong doing, not just “we had an affair, you’re famous, give me cash.”

        There is something very wrong here. Ravi could be wrong. Lori Ann certainly is.Report

        • Steve Baughman in reply to Mike says:

          You make good points. Against the backdrop of all this is the undisputed fact that Ravi has built a career on deception. He has been lying about his credentials since the 1980s. So, in a credibility contest, he has two strikes against him already. And there is the fact that she just does not look like a sleazy person except in Ravi’s lawsuit, which contains multiple documented deceptions. (All we really have is that her lawyer wrote a $5 million demand letter. Did she authorize that? We may never know.)

          Then there is the fact that she appears to be a very sincere advocate for church abuse victims. I have contacted many people who know her and have heard nothing against her integrity except from then there is the fact that she appears to be a very sincere advocate. Check out her blog and see what you think.

          And then there is that Suicide email of October 29. And Ravi’s complete failure to produce a single email, BlackBerry message, text, or anything confirming that he asked her to stop sending those nude photos.

          He is certainly a very very sleazy man.Report

      • Mike in reply to Steve Baughman says:

        $5M for not talking about an allegedly consnesual text affair is certainly gaming the system. Sorry, meant to say that very clearly. Yes. I am sure she is gaming the system.

        Somehow she’s a victim in an allegedly consensual relationship? Since he’s a minister it’s worth money to her? Since he’s a minister she’s a victim?

        She’s an adult.Report

        • Steve Baughman in reply to Mike says:

          Yes, she is an adult and she bears some responsibility for this. But I think you are missing out on power imbalance in relationships like those between a prominent minister and a vulnerable younger person. And if you think she is gaming the system, I respectfully urge you to check out her website, Lori Anne Thompson, and see how passionate she is about clergy abuse issues. Does she strike you as someone who’s just in this for the money?Report

          • Mike in reply to Steve Baughman says:

            I am sure a $5M shakedown is gaming the system. And I know you are too. Be honest. You’re a lawyer, what potential litigation was this demand letter possibly trying to circumvent? Nothing. There was never any hope for a lawsuit, it was blackmail.

            Her lawyer didn’t go rogue. Unless her husband did, she’s gaming the system.

            I doubt her super-victim story. I think people like that actually believe they’re being victimized when they make really bad relationship decisions over and over and over. It’s easier to claim victimhood than admit mistakes.

            She can be a very serious advocate and be willing to game the system. Her sincerity in her blog doesn’t negate the suspicious preponderance of victimization she personally claims.

            And yep, I discount the absurd, yet popular “balance of power” argument. That does not turn a consensual relationship into something punishable by criminal or civil action.

            If she wasn’t gaming the system, there would have only been a free release of her story to the board of directors or the denomination, or maybe the press. Not a blackmail letter disguised as a “demand letter.”

            How young was she when this happened? Under 20? Under 25? Under 30? I don’t know, but from what I can tell, she was not under 30.

            We don’t have to deify Ravi or Ms. Thomspson here. He could be wrong in this situation, but she 100% is known to be wrong. Taken at her word she:
            1.) had an inappropriate relationship outside of her marriage
            2.) tried, successfully, to get a payoff on it.
            3.) claim it was a case of being victimized

            There is 0 reason why she should get money for her bad relationship choice. The only way to get a payoff is to leverage Ravi’s standing. That is extortion. It’s sleazy but it worked.

            It’s gaming the system. Try to spin it away because she’s a nice person all you want.Report

  27. Steve Baughman says:

    Hi Mike. If I am reading you right, your view is that, per se, a grown-up cannot be emotionally and psychologically abused, manipulated and taken advantage of by clergy, or, for that matter, by mental health professionals. If she doesn’t like what’s going on she can just walk away.


    Fine, but please know that your view is not very common amongst people who study the dynamic of patient/counselor relationships. Your view is also not what the law says. It is not “gaming the system“ to seek redress when abuse occurs in this sort of a relationship.

    Now, if I am misunderstanding you, and you do not view it as a per se thing, then you must have some non-public information about what exactly happened between Ravi and Lori Anne. (I assume that not to be the case.)If you don’t, I think your view needs to be thought through further.

    Also, you seem far more upset with the woman here than you do with the powerful, extremely rich, deceiver who has made a career fooling people about who he is. What’s up with that? I hope you will be willing to look at that.Report

    • Mike in reply to Steve Baughman says:

      I bet you actually believe that she was owed money for a consensual affair.

      But, to non-lawyers, blackmail makes you look bad.

      Claiming to be “this sort of relationship” really reframes it to suit.

      Tell me what the law says about any clergyman that ends up in a sexual relationship with an acquaintance now.

      Is he clergy? A pastor? A counselor?

      If she could claim this, couldn’t anybody in his life? Then he couldn’t have any non-“special” relationships. All would be subject to litigation if they went too far.

      I doubt it. So I think she was gaming the system.

      I am concerned about Ravi. That’s why I found myself looking into this in the first place.

      He could be wrong. She is wrong. Her claims should be considered in light of that.Report

  28. Steve Baughman says:

    Mike. 1. I have said nothing about whether she deserves money. 2. Laws vary from state to state, but many permit lawsuits against licensed counselors, clergy, doctors, who become sexually involved with vulnerable people in their care. Your view that anything between consenting adults is ethical and non-actionable is an extreme minority view. 3. If a licensed clergyman, as Ravi is, grooms a vulnerable married woman who comes to him for spiritual help and becomes sexually involved with her, even just over the Internet, I think that that would be considered unethical conduct and actionable under civil law, in many states, anyway. 4. Did this happen? I don’t know. I strongly suspect it did. And given Ravi’s extensive history of lying and Lori Anne’s lack of such history (the one lie we know was to her husband, and, unlike Ravi, she was so guilt-raccked she cut off her relationship with Ravi and confessed), the credibility war cuts in her favor very strongly. BTW, I hired a private investigator and found it very likely that Ravi had also lied in his federal complaint.

    So, this really isn’t about whether she’s entitled to money or anything of the sort. I see the evidence that she is an extortionist and blackmailer as almost nonexistent, and the evidence that he is a serial deceiver as extensive.

    Those are my main points. You are free to email Ravi’s PR person Ruth Malhotra at and ask her if I ever got a single fact wrong about her boss. Let me know what she says.Report

  29. Teresa says:

    Mr.Baughman…… “doth protest too much, methinks”Report

  30. Steve Baughman says:

    Well, you assume one can protesteth too much over a public figure’s career-long deceptions. But, we all care about different things. So have at it.Report

  31. S Parr says:

    First, I appreciate the determination, perseverance and focus on seeking and speaking the truth that you display. That is the mindset that led famous atheist Anthony Flew to abandon his atheism and admit that logic compelled him to believe in an intelligent designer. (See his book Why there is a God)
    Second, the Christian and Missionary Alliance has gone through its disciplinary protocols and made a statement about the false claims of scholarship as well as allegations of sexual misconduct. Were they too generous, closing the ranks on one of their own, or were they doing an honest job? You can read their conclusions here:
    The C&MA’s policies seem stringent and fair, concerned with alleged breaches of conduct (clergy) as well as those they serve, as well as the organization itself which is entirely appropriate. You can download their main document and look under E8 where Discipline is discussed. C&MA Manuals
    Third I can print to pdf any email, recording the time and date etc needed to verify authenticity. Not sure why this was never considered in proving the existence of any document. Makes me suspicious.
    We all need watchdogs to keep influencers honest.Report

  32. Steve Baughman says:

    1. The Christian & Missionary Alliance Press release was carefully crafted to say absolutely nothing. It can be no coincidence that it offers no hint as to whether their view is that Ravi did nothing wrong, or he did something wrong but it wasn’t a big deal, or he did something wrong but he repented. Nothing. Also they are not being quite honest in appealing to confidentiality. Their own manual indicates that confidentiality is discretionary with the church.

    I have had extensive communication with the denomination about Ravi and, no, I do not think this is simply a matter of reasonable minds having different approaches. These are extremely serious allegations, and there is absolutely no dispute that their most famous licensed minister lied for decades about his academic credentials (and has never publicly repented.) Not is there any dispute that he refuses to comment on the most serious allegation, that he threatenes suicide to cover up his online sexual impropriety.

    2. I do not know what you mean in your last paragraph. Would you kindly say more?Report

  33. Fingapa says:

    Just 1 comment: It seems to me that it didn’t bother you one bit that your food was paid for by someone you accused of having obtained their wealth by deception. Small observation but I think it speaks volumes about your character.Report

  34. SteveBaughman says:

    Yes. VERY small observation. And also a VERY desperate one. Have you checked the professional journalism ethics code on that issue?

    Amazing to me how Ravi defenders are so desperate to avoid the facts about his sleaze.Report

  35. Fingapa says:

    Oh! So it’s ok to do something if there’s a code that says it’s alright, I don’t have to follow my moral judgement. Wow.
    I’m not defending anyone. Just pointing out the hypocrisy.Report

  36. Steve Baughman says:

    I marvel at your focus on this. You are more interested in scoring a point than in the evidence of significant sleaze by a prominent evangelist.

    You are not alone. Almost without exception my critics have avoided discussing the evidence I present and focus instead on my flaws. (Usually it’s my God-hating atheism. But this is a new one.) 😊

    It’s been an interesting ride. I’m glad you piled on.Report