Please note: This article discusses rape, sexual assault and sexual abuse.
Ruth Malhotra: “The RZIM Board has been used as a cover to defend Ravi’s actions …”
The public relations manager for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries sent a letter to the RZIM board, outlining what she believes to be the organisation’s history of “cover up” and withholding of information about the evangelist’s alleged sexual misconduct.
Three days before last week’s release of the ‘Independent Investigation into Sexual Misconduct of Ravi Zacharias’ report, Ruth Malhotra wrote a 26-page ‘confidential’ letter to the chair of the board, a role occupied by Zacharias’ daughter Sarah Davis before her recent resignation.
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Published in full on The Roys Report, the letter documents how Malhotra believes “key information was withheld from the RZIM Board by Ravi and the Senior Leadership Team during the crisis of 2017-18, as well as more recently with the spa allegations.”
She also believes “the RZIM Board has been used as a cover to defend Ravi’s actions and the actions of the senior leadership …”.
Malhotra’s letter adds to the aftermath of Zacharias’ alleged misconduct which last week’s report summarised in terms of “witnesses [describing] encounters including sexting, unwanted touching, spiritual abuse, and rape”.
These allegations gained traction last year after several women spoke publicly – including massage therapists at day-spas which Zacharias co-owned – in and around the international evangelist’s death in May.
While Julie Roys previously had accused Malhotra of being part of “providing cover” for Zacharias, she confesses to not realising how Malhotra had attempted to confront issues within RZIM. Roys also had not considered how the RZIM culture might have stifled Malhotra’s bravery.
“I repeatedly raised concerns and objections to the tone and content of our public statements …” – Ruth Malhotra
“Malhotra also gives gut-wrenching details about the spiritual abuse she suffered at the hands of RZIM leaders,” writes Roys. “And she shares vulnerably about her own internal struggles — trying to ‘protect the brand and reputation of RZIM’ and ‘support Ravi,’ while also aiming to uphold truth and integrity.
“There’s no doubt Ruth Malhotra was put in a no-win situation at RZIM and my heart breaks for her.”
From her perspective, Malhotra in the letter states that “as a PR expert, I repeatedly raised concerns and objections to the tone and content of our public statements, but my guess is this feedback was not communicated to the Board”.
Among damning details provided in the letter, Malhotra was part of a 2017 Task Force investigating sexting claims made by Lori Anne Thompson. She wonders “whether the senior leadership informed the Board of Ravi’s admitting to numerous lengthy phone calls and his simultaneous refusal to turn over his phone records”. Malhotra also claims Zacharias told her he had several phones but evaded her questions about them.
With Zacharias’ academic credentials also being challenged at the time, Malhotra remembers it being “odd” to discover Thompson had received an out-of-court settlement of $250,000 – when RZIM president Michael Ramsden “told staff on various occasions that no money had changed hands”.
Malhotra also “knows with certainty” that a 2018 internal investigation of RZIM over the Thompson case was not actually conducted, contrary to senior leadership’s statements. In light of such an internal culture that lacked transparency, Malhotra asserts that the RZIM Board were steadily kept in the dark about the scale of potential damage.
“I believe that the Board was not adequately briefed on the severity of the risk to RZIM’s reputation once the spa allegations came to light in August 2020. Undue emphasis was given purely to upholding Ravi’s legacy and maintaining the image of Ravi presented in the eulogies a few months prior.”
“Repentance means taking full responsibility for what happened under the leadership’s watch …” – Ruth Malhotra
As an example of continuing to focus upon upholding Zacharias, Malhotra described the first senior RZIM leadership meeting about the spa allegations, held in September last year. “There was widespread resistance to the idea” of investigating the claims, Malhotra states.
Her account of that meeting involves RZIM senior vice president Abdu Murray suggesting they hire “an ex-cop in Atlanta” who “doesn’t have a light touch”, in an attempt to discredit Zacharias’ alleged victims. “… That approach might be effective in going after the accusers and exonerating Ravi.”
Such unflagging support for Ravi Zacharias aligns with how Malhotra came to understand within RZIM after only a few months in her role. “It quickly became evident to me that there was not just an unhealthy adoration for Ravi, but also a focus on self-preservation — and we were all expected to play along,” she writes, adding how her then-manager warned her to “not cross the Zacharias family”.
Among key outcomes from the Ravi Zacharias scandal, Malhotra wants to see “repentance” and cultural change occur from the top of RZIM. “Repentance means taking full responsibility for what happened under the leadership’s watch, and in this case, I believe Sarah [Davis], Michael [Ramsden] and Abdu [Murray] should – at the very least – seriously consider the possibility of resignation. In addition, a full investigation must be carried out into the corporate culture before anything of substance at the organisation can or should move forward.”
Nathan Zacharias: “Pharisees still run rampant in Christian culture”
A different perspective on Ravi Zacharias was offered by his son Nathan, who worked for RZIM as a video producer/editor. Posting on Instagram, Nathan expressed how RZIM “does not speak for me” and his comments are evidently shaped by torment over his father’s death and the public scandal surrounding him. Eternity has published his comments in full and advises readers might need to approach them with caution. They are the words of someone still coming to terms with what has happened, possibly angry at RZIM accepting that the accusations are true.
“The last few weeks have been a brutal twist in an already painful season,” wrote Nathan Zacharias.
“I have not been given much of a voice in this process, but I am currently trying to find the best platform through which to share some things in the wake of all this.”
“In the meantime I will say this: First, RZIM does not speak for me. They have formed their own opinion. But it does not dictate mine. I do not agree with them for legitimate reasons. I will not, however, debate those differences publicly.
“Second, in either case (innocent or guilty), I think the way this has been discussed by Christian media and leaders is an absolute disgrace.
“Regarding some specific individuals who were once my colleagues, how ‘brave’ you are to aggressively take on a man who can’t even defend himself, as well as attack his grieving family who is far more blindsided and hurt by this situation than you can ever be. And how ‘righteous’ you are to think that we must continually pile on our punishment AFTER he has already faced the ultimate judge. God chose to spare Dad from all this by calling him home when he did. But how ‘virtuous’ of you to insist that you hand out the relentless punishment and humiliation that God saw no place for in dad’s lifetime.
“… Nothing could change how much I love my dad and miss him. I am still proud to be his son.” – Nathan Zacharias
Even *if* these allegations are true, there is no doubt that God actively blessed my dad and did so right up until he passed. His impact was only getting greater. So what these individuals are saying – along with any person or organisation that wants to cancel my dad – is that God was wrong to do so, so we must now correct God’s blessing/mistake by erasing my dad and his voice. To that I say, ‘That’s a bold strategy, Cotton, let’s see if it pays off for him.’
“What this whole incident has shown is that Pharisees still run rampant in Christian culture when someone allegedly falls. Its just that now they use laptops instead of stones. They are cruel, and their disgusting rush to plant their self righteous flag in my dad’s shattered legacy betrays the truth about them – ‘for the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.’
“Finally and most importantly, nothing could change how much I love my dad and miss him. I am still proud to be his son.”