RZIM halts fundraising efforts amid fallout over report exposing sexual misconduct

"Ravi Zacharias International Ministries has halted fundraising efforts following the release of a report detailing the late apologist's extensive sexual misconduct." - C.Post

612 reads

There are 13 Comments

Bert Perry's picture

Part of it is certainly an admission "we are not going to be cost effective in fundraising with this manure-storm going on", of course, but this is a great start, nonetheless, to changing course to see what can be salvaged, who can get some healing, and the like.  Hopefully they've got resources available to help sort out what of Ravi's writing is valuable, and which is nonsense.  I feel for those staffers who are going to lose their jobs, most likely, because of colleagues who saw what was going on and didn't do anything, though.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Jim's picture

  1. Fire every employee who enabled his  behavior (like when ABWE cleaned house). 
  2. Get some new board members who are independent
  3. Purge Zacharias family members from board and executive ranks
  4. Develop policies that would preclude this type of behavior (see note below)
  5. Compensate victims 
  6. Purge Zacharias name and materials from RZIM website
  7. Rebrand 

Note: I have a family member who is a VP with a major investment bank. He is not able to trade any securities that his customers have. All of his personal security trades must be on the corporate system and only with approval. He is required to take a 2 week audit 'vacation' where all records are scrutinized.

This has to be answered: How could he purchase apartments in Bangkok and massage parlors in the US.

Unless they do this - RZIM will be gone.

Mark_Smith's picture

I am shaking my head why the RZIM ministry has any financial culpability in this. Assuming what I wrote is true, the victims can sue his business or his family, but the ministry did not own the parlors. The assaults did not happen in the ministry. If Zacharias assaulted someone at a ministry event, that would be different.

If your youth pastor moonlighted in another business, and there sexually assaulted someone, could that victim sue the church? No. Now, you can give money if you want, but that is separate from responsibility.

What if your pastor worked at the hospital as a chaplain. There, being paid by them, he assaulted someone. Is the church financially liable? No.

dgszweda's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

I am shaking my head why the RZIM ministry has any financial culpability in this. Assuming what I wrote is true, the victims can sue his business or his family, but the ministry did not own the parlors. The assaults did not happen in the ministry. If Zacharias assaulted someone at a ministry event, that would be different.

If your youth pastor moonlighted in another business, and there sexually assaulted someone, could that victim sue the church? No. Now, you can give money if you want, but that is separate from responsibility.

What if your pastor worked at the hospital as a chaplain. There, being paid by them, he assaulted someone. Is the church financially liable? No.

RZIM is culpable, because he arranged RZIM to pay financial support to some of the massage therapists.  Why RZ had enough money to begin investing in businesses, makes no sense to me.  He gave them gifts like Louis Vuitton purses and cash, on top of what the ministry gave them.  The report found that RZIM provided a discretionary set of funds to RZ with no oversight.

Mark_Smith's picture

dgszweda wrote:

 

Mark_Smith wrote:

 

I am shaking my head why the RZIM ministry has any financial culpability in this. Assuming what I wrote is true, the victims can sue his business or his family, but the ministry did not own the parlors. The assaults did not happen in the ministry. If Zacharias assaulted someone at a ministry event, that would be different.

If your youth pastor moonlighted in another business, and there sexually assaulted someone, could that victim sue the church? No. Now, you can give money if you want, but that is separate from responsibility.

What if your pastor worked at the hospital as a chaplain. There, being paid by them, he assaulted someone. Is the church financially liable? No.

 

 

RZIM is culpable, because he arranged RZIM to pay financial support to some of the massage therapists.  Why RZ had enough money to begin investing in businesses, makes no sense to me.  He gave them gifts like Louis Vuitton purses and cash, on top of what the ministry gave them.  The report found that RZIM provided a discretionary set of funds to RZ with no oversight.

That is true. RZIM did give aid. Not sure that makes them culpable. It might have been charity like when a church pays someone's bills.

Still doesn't make RZIM itself liable IMHO.

Now, that is separate from RZ's qualification as a minister!

As for him having money to invest. I hope EVERY minister who has preached for 40 years has retirement money. And one that was as successful as RZ's was, especially so. I hate the motto "Lord you keep him humble and we'll keep him poor."

Bert Perry's picture

Per what David and Jim have noted, the massage parlors were RZIM's business because Ravi was theirs.  There is a certain point beyond which I cannot go if I want to maintain employment where I am, and there is a certain point beyond which I cannot go if I desire to continue serving my church as a deacon.  Same thing applies for Ravi and RZIM, even if RZIM had not paid off a number of Ravi's victims.  And, of course, they did--so there is yet another level of responsibility on the part of the RZIM board and administration.

Personally, while I like Jim's list, my recommendation would be to go at it approximately backwards.  Rename the ministry, and leave prominently an explanation why with an apology for not acting on known issues.  Then clean out the board of interested parties, optimally by resignations with apologies, and then act to secure resignations among staffers who had obvious failures to act on known issues.

One thing I would add to Jim's list is something that occurred to me (and others I've been talking with lately) is that while policies are great, they are no substitute for a culture in which these things will be reported.  Many quality engineers (guilty) will note that "Corporate culture eats corporate policies for lunch", and RZIM is no exception.  Part of why I'd recommend the name change first is it will suggest a change in attitudes starting from the top and generate a change in culture--plus the "RZ" communicates "the boss is untouchable."  

(in churches, I'd add to that that you might not want to have an "executive" pastor for the exact same reason)

Overall, the implementation can vary, but at the end of the day, what you want is a bunch of daily hints that tell every employee that what's supremely important is that the company/ministry do things in an honest, ethical, moral manner, and that lapses will degrade the company's--and their--brand.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Bert Perry's picture

Mark, if you follow a couple of these links around, you're going to find a number of people saying that they'd found a number of clear links between RZIM and these massage therapists that don't leave a whole lot of ambiguity about the nature of the payments. 

I agree with you that a pastor close to retirement age ought to have retirement money sufficient to open a small business.  However, with a business type that has a known correlation to sin--massage businesses to brothels, bars to drunkenness and fornication, etc..--I think it's fair for ministry boards to be very careful that they don't ruin their brand by failing to check up on the outside activities of their leaders.  The character qualifications in 1 Timothy and Titus do not, after all, have exceptions for what a leader does on his own time, no?

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

dgszweda's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

.

Still doesn't make RZIM itself liable IMHO.

Now, that is separate from RZ's qualification as a minister!

As for him having money to invest. I hope EVERY minister who has preached for 40 years has retirement money. And one that was as successful as RZ's was, especially so. I hate the motto "Lord you keep him humble and we'll keep him poor."

That will probably be up for the courts or the court of public opinion as to qualifications.  But the law firm said that there was no oversight of the funds and they were ministry funds not RZ's funds.  It was also not a small amount of money.  Because of a lack of oversight, there was a level of enablement.  We should welcome and expect oversight in our lives.  Non-profit organizations should manage how money is spent.

I am all for people having money to retire.  But he had multiple homes around the world, extra businesses.....  I am not setting what it should be or shouldn't be, but a lot of money and no personal oversight often brings a lot of issues in life in general.  He had multiple places in places such as Bangkok, and given his tendencies and what Bangkok is known for and his tendency to "disappear" there, my guess is there is way more here going on.

T Howard's picture

This is not about RZ having money to retire. This is about his habitual sexual immorality, predatory behavior and abuse, and cover up. RZIM facilitated RZ's sins by not providing necessary oversight and accountability to RZ concerning how he spent his discretionary RZIM funds. Further, the board refused to provide oversight and accountability of RZ or conduct an independent investigation into RZ's character and behavior while he was still alive.

Consequently, RZIM should be shuttered after it pays restitution to RZ's victims and severance to RZIM ministry employees (not including the board or senior ministry leadership).

Bert Perry's picture

For those not familiar with Thailand, the unfortunate reality is that prostitution there is rampant, and many people I've worked with report going to a bar after work--one they thought was respectable--and being approached with "you want Thai girl?"  One coworker, when he emphatically said no, was then asked "you want Thai BOY?"  So for anyone who's done business in Asia, traveling alone to Thailand, or spending a lot of time alone while there, is a definite danger sign.

I'd been holding off on saying this flat out, but it's time, and RZIM needs to brace itself for the possibility that this whole deal is going to get a LOT uglier.  They may soon be in a place where they simply come to an agreement  with Ravi's victims to close up shop and assign the intellectual party to a third party that will have the right to pull it from the market, check the facts, and re-release that which holds up with another author's name.  As Jim's note above points out, it's already close to that bad.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Mark_Smith's picture

The Thailand component... weird. I think you are right Bert.

 

I also feel for his family. My goodness what are they feeling and experiencing?

Bert Perry's picture

Mark, it's always been around, but its modern prevalence has to do with the end of slavery in 1905--women suddenly freed were not cared for by their masters anymore, so they did what they had to do to survive.  The current extent of the problem was also worsened by the use of Thailand as an R&R stop for American servicemen during the Vietnam War.  Then the world caught on that Thai labor was cheap, and European, Asian, and American businessmen started coming.  Has been quite the mess ever since, to put it very politely.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Mark_Smith's picture

When I was in the Marine Corps I spent time in Iwakuni, Japan, a Marine Corps Air Station in southern Japan right near Hiroshima. Being a squared away Marine I got several bonus opportunities. A group of Marines had traveled to Thailand for 2 weeks to train there.I turned down the chance to do that. We did fly there to pick them up and bring them back with a Navy Chaplain that I liked. On the way back there was serious engine trouble... and Marines started repenting like you wouldn't believe! It was kind of humorous. The things they confessed to... gross. In Thailand, the AIDS capital of the world at the time... but for many the repentance was short lived. 

One of the guys caught a drug resistant form of STD. He battled it for over a year, still visiting the ladies out in town. Then he'd come to my room at night and cry about it...