In the report on Ravi Zacharias by Miller and Martin there is one aspect that is particularly troubling and demands further inquiry. It has to do with Zacharias travels to Bangkok, Thailand. Is it a coincidence that out of all the places he could have purchased property he chose to do so in the city known for its international red light district? And with the time he spent in Bangkok this blog would like to ask while writing books is the ultimate reason Ravi Zacharias traveled to Thailand is for sexual vacations? Was he a sex tourist who spent time in the massage parlors of the red light district in Bangkok? If he abused women in Georgia what was he capable of in Thailand? These are questions this blog post is asking.
“Men acquire a particular quality by constantly acting in a particular way.“
“Bangkok, like Las Vegas, sounds like a place where you make bad decisions.”
Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.
1 Corinthians 6:18 NIV
The life of a Thai sex worker in Bangkok
When I read the report about Ravi Zacharias that was written by Miller and Martin it left me with many questions. One aspect of the report dealt with Ravi Zacharias’ activities in Thailand. While I still process the report it became clear that a difficult post needed to be done about Zacharias. It’s not an easy one to do, but given his ministry and the sex abuse and rape charge it needs to be asked. Let’s start with reviewing what was written about Ravi Zacharias and Bangkok.
What Miller and Martin’s Report Said About Ravi Zacharias and Bangkok
This is what the report from the law firm Miller and Martin wrote about Zacharias and his travels and activities in Bangkok.
“In addition to finding alone time when he traveled with others, Mr. Zacharias traveled alone to Bangkok and other parts of Southeast Asia for substantial periods of time. RZIM staff described these as writing trips where he would work on his latest book. On such trips, he would stay for days and sometimes weeks alone. According to a text message to a Thai masseuse in February 2016, he spent his days writing and his nights receiving massage treatments. All of the message therapists we interviewed now live in the United States, and we have little insight into whether Nr. Zacharias engaged in inappropriate behavior in Asia.
We also learned that for several years, Mr. Zacharias owned two apartments in Bangkok. Property records confirm that he bought one of the apartments in 2010 and the other in 2011, both in a residential tower in Khlong San District of Bangkok. He sold them both in 2015.
The Notes application of his phone contains address that correspond with the property records, along with information about common area and maintenance fees for the two units. The Notes application also reveals that between 2010 and 2014 he spent a total of 256 days in one of these apartments and sought rent reimbursements from RZIM for those stays. The other apartment, in the same building but on a different floor, housed one of his massage therapists. An entry on Mr. Zacharia’s phone for the lower floor unit includes this massage therapist’s initials.”
A Brief Overview of the Sex Industry in Bangkok and Greater Thailand
The sex industry in Thailand as I learned plays is up to 3% of the country’s GDP. Thailand has long had prostitution. However it had a resurgence during the Vietnam war. The Vietnam conflict which started in 1955 after Dien Bien Fu. But it accelerated with American troops dramatically after the Gulf of Tonkin incident in1964. As the war raged, in the 1960’s and 70’s American troops were sent to Thailand for rest and recreation and that helped fuel the sex industry in Thailand. The sex industry in places like Bangkok grew dramatically. Prostitution is technically illegal but the government doesn’t enforce the laws. Its become very lucrative for the Thailand government and became a destination for foreign tourists. In Bangkok you can find Go Go Bars, brothels, sex shows, sex circuses, and other establishments. If you want to read more about the facts of the sex industry in Thailand there is a good webpage that documents the issues and provides basic information you can access here. Another interesting development that this blog learned is that according to the Sydney Morning Herald the demand for water from massage parlors and the sex industry in Bangkok is resulting in the city sinking. This is expected to create problems for Bangkok especially with rising sea levels due to climate change.
In reading about the sex industry in Thailand, this blog learned that its incredibly hard to find common statistics about Bangkok and the country. Even the World Health Organization struggled to have basic facts but did suggest that there is 103 such sexual massage parlors in Bangkok, each employing 100 to 500 women. That would mean if you do the math that there are 51,500 individuals who work in the massage parlors in the city. A study conducted in 2003 by Thailand’s Chulalongkorn University estimated 2.8 million sex workers, of which 1.98 million were adult women, 20,000 were adult men and 800,000 were children, defined as any person under the age of 18. Child prostitution has long been a problem but the United Nations put pressure on the Thai government to crackdown on the dreadful situation and did so in 1996. And while child prostitution is a problem still in Bangkok it appears to have moved more to the border areas of the country.
Did Ravi Zacharias Visit Massage Parlors in Bangkok? And Were Sex Workers Abused?
When I read Miller and Martin’s report this blogger was stunned. However, I was also haunted by what I processed. The more I thought about it the more it troubled me. There remained a number of issues and questions that had to be addressed and I felt like exploding unless these issues were raised. Now keep in mind this section of the post is asking questions about Ravi Zacharias. This is not based in fact unless more information comes forward to confirm what is being said. But here is what ate me up.
Why Bangkok? Why did Ravi Zacharias choose to buy property and spent so much alone time in Bangkok which is internationally known for is sex district and prostitution? If he just wanted to write and have a home to retreat to why not buy property in Switzerland? Or Italy? Or Germany? Or the south of France? Why not purchase property in Australia or New Zealand? Why did he choose to purchase property in the the city that is internationally known for its red light district? Out of all the places in the world why there in Bangkok? For me this doesn’t make sense and raises a lot of red flags about Ravi Zacharias. And even if nothing happened you have to admit its incredibly poor judgment. Especially for someone giving conferences and speaking about faith in God, sin, truth and apologetics. This blog would like to pose the question, was Ravi Zacharias a sex tourist? Did he travel to Bangkok to visit massage parlors for sexual purposes? I think this is a question that needs to be asked. When you look at the rape and sexual abuse in a massage business in Georgia alone, in Bangkok he would be free to do what he wants to do and would have no restrictions. And the Miller and Martin report says that they don’t know what abuse he could have committed in Asia. However, patterns of behavior involving Ravi Zacharias suggest that women were most likely abused in both Bangkok and Southeast Asia.
Now here is another aspect to consider as well. Last night in working this post I spent a great amount of time reading up on the red light district and culture of Bangkok. And in the process I came across a British travel blogger who writes about travel in Asia. In April of 2014 a post was written that is quite complicated. Often times when it comes to culture we here in the West will look at a topic from one perspective and forget to look at it in a local context. For example many here would think that the red light district in Bangkok is horrific (and I’m not trying to say that it’s okay) but people may forget that there are other sides to a story. In a blog post called, “Thailand’s Sex Industry – The Seedy Side of Siam” the female blog author writes something that is complicated when she asks who exploits who? This is some of what is written.
But then in Thailand not everything is so black and white. Nomadic Matt wrote an excellent piece on his popular travel blog and he thinks that “The girls you see at go-go bars exploit foreign men as much as you think foreign men exploit them … Most of the prostitutes come from the poorest region of Thailand called Issan in the northeast. The girls know they can make a lot of money being a prostitute. Many have families to support … It’s an easy job to get, requires very little English, and the money is good.”
So here is another question this blog would like to ask. If Ravi Zacharias traveled to Bangkok for writing books and also participated in the massage parlors of the red light district was he also exploited? Were ministry funds used to pay for sexual services in Bangkok? Plus if he did go to the red light district did he open himself up to blackmail? Keep in mind these are all questions that I have that haunt me deeply in light of reading that report by Miller and Martin. This blog believes there is much more to the story in Bangkok that needs to be explored.
Is RZIM and Evangelical Christianity Ready to Learn More Information About One if its Idols? Can They Process It?
This blog would like to close this topic out by asking some more questions. And again this is from an outsider to evangelicalism who once spent years in the culture. Are evangelicals and organizations like RZIM ready to learn more information about Ravi Zacharias? In scandals like this there are often additional shoes that always drop. Just when you think it can’t get any darker it often goes in that direction. So if more information about Ravi Zacharias comes forward are evangelicals able to process it? Will RZIM be transparent and allow more disturbing information to come to light? Or will RZIM try and bury it because the information is too horrific to consider. Or you have family still trying to preserve Ravi’s reputation. Its hard to admit that you were deceived. And Zacharias fooled a lot of people into thinking that he was a great evangelist. In the view of this blog he’s no different than the Jim Bakkers or Kenneth Copelands. He’s just more complex and intellectual. But what would happen if more dark stories emerged from Thailand that took this scandal to another level? For example scandals involving sex workers or minors or more? Would evangelicals be able to process it or would they just double down and/or ignore it? It will be interesting to see what happens. My gut is telling me that were going to learn more information about Ravi Zacharias in time. I hope I’m wrong – honestly I do. But we’ll have to see what happens in the days, weeks and months ahead. Truth eventually comes out to the surface. That’s part of the reasons why cover-ups are damning and backfire. Eventually people learn the truth and this blog wants the truth regarding Ravi Zacharias and Bangkok to come out.