This past week Ravi Zacharias International Ministries released a damning report that showed how the Christian evangelist engaged in rape and sexual abuse. But how did we get here? We arrived here because many Christians choose to ignore the scandals with a person like Ravi Zacharias. Two years ago on a Sunday morning at Falls Church Anglican in Falls Church, Virginia this was on display. Despite inflated academic credentials and a sexting scandal John Yates promoted Zacharias. And that same morning an employee from Ravi Zacharias International Ministry spoke about what he was doing in Canada as a speaker with this ministry. Scandal happens because of the indifference of churches and the employees of ministries. Ultimately there is apathy to care and do the right thing. What makes this even more notorious is that Falls Church Anglican drew a line in the sand over homosexuality and got national headlines for breaking away from the Episcopal Church; and yet they didn’t give a damn about the abuse or scandal by Ravi Zacharias and looked the other way.
“No man knows the value of innocence and integrity but he who has lost them.”
“If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters.”
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
This Washington, D.C. area blog was once born out of an incident of spiritual abuse. A false accusation from an Air Force Officer from Eric Simmons Redeemer Arlington taught me years ago why rape and sexual assault is a major issue in the United States military. Its about the abuse of power. You can read more in, “Unless You Experience Spiritual Abuse Then You Won’t Understand How Painful it is.” So as a result of that experience this blog travels and writes about the issues in religion. Often it looks at the dark side of evangelicalism.
On February 26, 2019 I showed up at The Falls Church Anglican, which is in Falls Church, Virginia here in the D.C. suburbs. I was curious to see what they were about, because as I wrote about the issues with Neo-Calvinism, this Anglican Church was affiliated with The Gospel Coalition. And no, it’s not a mistake. You can read about it in more detail in an article that John Yates wrote in 2015 called, “Who Are These Anglicans in TGC?” John Yates used to lead The Falls Church Anglican, and today Sam Ferguson is the rector. This church is part of the Anglican Church of North America which separated from the Episcopal Church over homosexuality. The church lost its historic building which went back to 1767 and meets in a new location.
But on that Sunday morning I sat in the back, listened and took some notes. And while the main sermon was part of a series about the promises and warnings of Jesus what grabbed my attention was something very different. John Yates said a couple of words about Ravi Zacharias International Ministry, and spoke about how Ravi was a great apologist for the Christen faith. The Falls Church Anglican was honored to have one of its members work for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Canada. And with that Logan Gates was introduced. Gates smiled, and made a few comments about his family’s long history with The Falls Church Anglican. He mentioned how important his faith was to him and how he met with college students and at events speaking about faith in God in an apologetic way. Gates also mentioned the influence Zacharias had on himself and his faith. Then he spoke briefly about his time in Canada. As I sat there in the back I was stunned and could not believe what I was hearing. While I saw The Falls Church Anglican and Logan Gates extol Ravi Zacharias my stomach was in knots. All I could think about was the growing scandal with Ravi Zacharias. First you had his inflated credentialing and being dishonest about his degrees. Blogger Warren Throckmorton wrote about this here, here and here. Then you had the issues of Ravi’s sexual abuse through his sexting of Lori Anne Thompson. Ravi had sexted a married woman and when she decided to go public he threated to commit suicide. You can read about this here, here, and here. All of this hung in my mind as I was listening to John Yates and Logan Gates speak. At the end of the service I saw Logan Gates speaking with other people. When he was done talking I introduced myself and asked him as an employee of Ravi Zacharias International Ministry could he address Zacharias’s inflated credentials and the other ethics issues that dogged the Christian evangelist. When I did this, I was not trying to play “stump the chump” instead I was asking how Logan Gates dealt with this issue. Gates was caught off guard by my questions and struggled with them. He mentioned he heard about the issues but didn’t know what to say. He was not trying to dodge the question, he just didn’t know how to respond. Logan Gates gave me his business card and said he would be willing to talk further. I took it and left The Falls Church Anglican.
Brief Overview of Logan Gates
Logan Gates who works as a speaker for Ravi Zacharias International Ministry in Canada grew up in McLean, Virginia it appears. He was into running and attended Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology and then studied at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Logan led Intervarsity Christian Fellowship for a year at the University of Virginia and also began doing more in ministry. He also worked as a field researcher for the ORPHAnetwork in Nicaragua. In 2014 he interned for Falls Church Anglican as a summer seminarian. The Falls Church Anglican is his family’s home and his parents were active in leadership. In his farewell to the church this is part of what he said. “The Falls Church has been my family’s spiritual home since I was very young. My parents (Peter and Susan Gates) were involved in the church as Sunday school teachers, small group leaders, and coordinators of the church’s annual retreats to Canaan Valley. I grew up loving “Lemonade on the Lawn,” apples and doughnuts at Shrine Mont, and the thrill of competing on the “Galatians” team at the church’s summer day camp. Through the Children’s Ministry, Crossroads, and Cornerstone, I gave my life to Christ and began to grow in my faith.” He explained how he felt called by God to go into ministry in his last year in college and ended his farewell by saying the following. “Through my experiences serving in Latin America, God has particularly laid the Latino community on my heart. In addition to interning at TFCA this summer, I’ve been working part-time for World Vision’s Child Development and Protection Team in downtown D.C. I’ve enjoyed getting to know more of the church family. If I haven’t met you during my internship, I hope I’ll have a chance to chat and get to know you better sometime in the future!” Logan then went to the University of Oxford where he picked up a degree in applied theology in 2015. He then was hired as an itinerant speaker with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries which is where is at today. He’s been with the organization for over six years and gives frequent talks and has appeared in some media publications. Logan also is involved in the Veritas Forum and is marred. .
The Abuse of Lori Anne Thompson and Ravi Zacharias Allegedly Engaging in Rape
As I said over the last few years there has been a lot hemorrhaging information about Ravi Zacharias. But with Lori Anne Thompson’s sexting by Zacharias the scandal became worse as it went into a sexual direction. Lori Anne was gagged by a non-disclosure agreement that was meant to cover up the scandal and do damage control. Then in September of 2020 more dark information surfaced. They concerned Ravi Zacharias behavior inside an Alpharetta, Georgia spa that he owned. In that spa he not only violated the Billy Graham rule but also had allegedly sexually harassed and abused some women. According to new evidence Ravi Zacharias exposed himself and asked to be massaged around his genitals. While some said Zacharias is dead its important because his ministry is still operating and they are fundraising off his name. Plus Zacharias material and books are being sold and pushed. Ravi Zacharias International Ministry at first denied the allegations of sexual abuse. Then in late December of 2020 they agreed to have them investigated by Miller and Martin. You can read their press release here.
While Lori Anne Thompson still pushed for her freedom from a non disclosure agreement Miller and Martin continued their investigation. Christianity Today validated some of the allegations about Ravi Zacharias and sexual abuse and misconduct taking place at the spa. When the final report was released by Ravi Zacharias International Ministry the following issues were found:
- When it came to sexual abuse at the spa there were at least five more victims that previously known.
- There is evidence of alleged sexual abuse in foreign countries where Zacharias traveled for ministry work and lived. Zacharias owned a couple of apartments in Bangkok, Thailand in 2016. The report said that he “spent his days writing and his nights receiving massages.” Between 2010 and 2014 he spent 256 days at one of the apartments in Thailand.
- An investigation of Ravi’s devices found 200 “selfies” of nude images. And while none of this is illegal you have the ethics issues and hypocrisy of someone stressing sexual purity.
- Zacharias used tens of thousands of dollars that were given to Ravi Zacharias International Ministry to fund the lifestyles of four different massage therapists.
- Zacharias would masturbate in front of the girls and to engage in sexual activities. One therapist told Miller and Martin that Zacharias “required sex” from her. She used the word “rape” to describe how the Christian apologist acted.
- Zacharias then used Jesus to guilt trip his victims to keep them from speaking out. If they went public with their stories then they would be responsible for for putting “millions of souls” in danger of hell.
To its credit the Ravi Zacharias international Ministry gave an apology to Lori Anne Thompson, and she gave a victim impact statement which you can watch above. But if you want to read more about this development with Zacharias you can read the following press articles.
- Religion News Service, “Report: Ravi Zacharias was guilty of sexual misconduct. RZIM board apologizes.”
- New York Daily News, “Evangelist Ravi Zacharias accused of rape, sexual abuse in new report.”
- CNN, “Famed Evangelist Ravi Zacharias engaged in sexual misconduct, his ministry says.”
- Washington Post, “Evangelist Ravi Zacharias engaged in sexual misconduct, report says.”
- New York Times, “Ravi Zacharias, Influential Evangelist, Is Accused of Sexual Abuse in Scathing Report.”
How Did We Get Here? The Role Falls Church Anglican and RZIM Employees Like Logan Gates Play in This Mess
So the question needs to be asked…how did we get here? In this section I want to be clear that I am not holding the current rape allegations against any church as those were recently learned. However, the problems with Ravi Zacharias have gone back years. As I saw with my own eyes at the Falls Church Anglican one Sunday morning Ravi Zacharias was being promoted and his ministry encouraged. Where was the due diligence of John Yates not only to protect his congregation but to prevent other people from being harmed? As a pastor in his role he actually enabled the abuse of people like Lori Anne Thompson by looking away. And before someone says, “But Dave they didn’t know…” This blogger knew because of the information on the internet from reputable sources. Plus when I traveled up and down the East Coast and to the Midwest a few times I asked a couple of pastors about the Ravi Zacharias situation and they were aware and concerned about what they were hearing. John Yates and Falls Church Anglican showed how a local church enables spiritual abuse and contributes to the problem. What is even more disturbing in my view is that John Yates’ church made national headlines over leaving the Episcopal Church because of the issue of homosexuality. Now if Ravi Zacharias changed his view on gay marriage churches like Falls Church Anglican would react swiftly. But when it came to people like Lori Anne Thompson being abused, the sexting scandals, and also the academic fraud issues Falls Church Anglican ignored them. John Yates and his church didn’t give a rat’s behind.
Now what about the RZIM employees? What role do they play in this? People like Logan Gates or Cameron McAllister, Nathan Betts, Shawn Hart, Jo Vitale, Andy Bannister and so many other employees go to RZIM to work and help enable a ministry that is toxic and harmful. They profit from the situation by drawing a paycheck. Was this blogger the only one asking Logan Gates about the academic scandals and more? How did all these individuals react when they heard the academic and sexual abuse issues (which I consider sexting to be sexual abuse)? Did they dismiss it? Did they ignore it? Did they question the faith of the people involved? Did they move on and just did not care? Or did they circle the wagons and defend Ravi while turning the issue around and make the other individuals the issue? This blog would suggest all of the above is possible. Logan Gates was there at RZIM for a good chunk of time while the scandal was plating out.
Now you know what is profoundly disturbing? Logan does all these intricate presentations about the importance of truth, why Christianity is the only religion, Christian holidays that fall on pagan holidays, science, the problem of evil and other issues. For the record this blog has written a number of articles about the problem of evil. (“Why the Problem of Evil is the Best Reason for Rejecting God” , “John Piper on When God Loves You Enough to Take Your Life. According to John is a Brain Tumor a Sign of God Disciplining Someone?” and “The Sutherland Springs Massacre and a Recent Post by Marshall Segal at Desiring God about God Causing Pain. Did God bring about the Shooting in Texas? Is God the Source of Evil?“}But here is what troubles me. Someone like Logan can do all this apologetics talks and engage the community around him. But do you know what drives people like me from faith? Indifference, which in a scandal likes this is complicity. People like Logan who go and work for a ministry who ignores the issues and then covers up the Zacharias situation. And these problems have gone on for years. It’s the height of hypocrisy to talk apologetics, share your faith, talk about how its brought purpose and meaning to your life and then work for someone who lies by inflating his academic credentials or who sexts with a married woman in Canada and threatens suicide or rapes people in a spa. Often times evangelicals and people of faith point to the problems in society or culture and treat them as a threat. The reality is that its many of these ministries which drive people from God and keep them from the faith. Atheism is a natural reaction when evangelicalism is drowning in scandal. In the end people like Logan and John Yates are their own worst enemies as they are engaged in idolatry. Their promotion of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries illustrates that point. But here is another aspect that neither John Yates and Logan Gates or any other RZIM employee will not likely see or understand. They won’t comprehend their role in the scandal and their collective complicity. How? They drove the machine and kept it going which led to more people being harmed. These scandals happen, and continue to happen because employees of questionable ministries look the other way. And pastors and people in churches also promote questionable ministries that are bogged in scandal. It’s why evangelicalism is broken and can’t be redeemed or reformed. It’s a broken system that cripples itself and its witness to the world.