Home Christian News The Story Behind the Ravi Zacharias Allegations (Part 1): Lawsuits, NDAs, and...

The Story Behind the Ravi Zacharias Allegations (Part 1): Lawsuits, NDAs, and Email Threads

The Thompsons Pursue Legal Action Against Ravi Zacharias

In April 2017, the Thompsons sent a letter via their attorney, Mark Bryant, to Zacharias threatening litigation. The couple asked for $5 million in damages. According to Thompson’s friend, the couple wasn’t looking to make money from the unhappy situation. According to the friend, the Thompsons are well off and have long been “uber generous” with their wealth. This portrayal of the couple’s financial status is corroborated by Roys, who also obtained the Thompson’s tax records:

Tax returns the Thompsons gave show that from 2010—2017, the Thompsons made between $193,000—$552,000 each of those years. In 2017—the year the Thompsons sent the demand letter to Zacharias— the couple made $443,000.

ChurchLeaders can confirm that what Roys reported here is accurate. 

According to Thompson’s friend, asking for monetary compensation in the letter from their attorney just “skewed it all” and made them look as if they were after the money. Lori Anne maintains that the reason she and Brad decided to send the letter was to prevent Zacharias from harming other people. She also says they were following Bryant’s legal advice, who suggested they put a price on their demand in order for it to be taken seriously. In the letter, the Thompsons ask Zacharias to take either of the following actions:

“You can notify your Board of Directors and all your insurance carriers for your ministry, your professional coverage, and your homeowners insurance of pending litigation,” the letter reads. It also stipulates Zacharias must not alter, modify, or destroy any evidence that may be in his possession concerning the Thompsons.

The second option states “the Thompsons will sign a release of you and your church and ministry in exchange for a certified check in the amount of $5 million dollars.”

Ravi Zacharias Files a Lawsuit

In August of 2017, Zacharias filed a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) suit against the couple, claiming they were trying to exploit him. Zacharias claimed the couple’s actions fell into the racketeering category due to the fact that they had attempted to exploit another minister prior to their interaction with him. 

Brad had filed a lawsuit against a Canadian pastor, John Visser, in 2008. As the Thompsons explain, Brad was a new Christian and in a pastoral counseling relationship with Visser at the time. While under Visser’s pastoral care, Brad had agreed to invest money in Visser’s businesses. 

It should be noted that Brad, who was not married to Lori Anne at the time of this lawsuit but was married to his first wife, did ask for monetary compensation in this case. His company lost more than $355,000 in the investment, which he says he was attempting to recoup. Brad dropped the suit when Visser went bankrupt. Lori Anne was not involved in the lawsuit. 

Additionally, Visser’s ordaining denomination, the Christian Reformed Church in North America, determined he was “guilty of abuse of the office of a minister of the Word and of deviating from godly conduct” and therefore “should be suspended for at least 90 days from the office of minister of the Word.” (see page 738 of the CRC’s 2012 Acts of Synod). Visser did return to his ministry position after that 90-day suspension. (For more details on that lawsuit, see Roys’ article here.) 

Another point should be made here about the fact that Zacharias requested he and Lori Anne communicate over BBM. If, indeed, the couple were trying to exploit Zacharias for monetary or some other kind of gain, logic suggests they would have taken pains to capture the evidence using a more recordable method of communication.

In his lawsuit, Zacharias claimed that the couple was trying to damage his reputation and his relationship with his family by demanding he go to his board notifying them of the pending litigation. The lawsuit explains why this would cause damage to Zacharias as, “Plaintiff’s wife and daughter, among others, serve on RZIM’s Board of Directors.” 

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Megan Briggs is a writer and editor for churchleaders.com. Her experience in ministry, an extensive amount of which was garnered overseas, gives her a unique perspective on the global church. She has the longsuffering and altruistic nature of foreign friends and missionaries to humbly thank for this experience. Megan is passionate about seeking and proclaiming the truth. When she’s not writing, Megan likes to explore God’s magnificent creation.