The past week, I have been compiling article links and analysis for “Ravi Zacharias and RZIM 2020 Research and Resource Post: Timeline, Links to Articles/Analysis, Nonprofit Reference.” The light for a change of discernment has been dawning for many associates of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM), mostly since RZIM released an intermediate report confirming Mr. Zacharias had been sexually abusive to multiple women in spas that he had owned. The horizon is changing, and that compilation may help those who are in the process of understanding and reinterpreting what actually happened–despite earlier denials and deflections about the reported abuses.
In the course of work on that post, I came across two blog posts by Ruth Hutchins that I think are particularly important to read and reflect on. They are: The Ravi Zacharias Case Takes a Turn, (December 24, 2020) and What Should RZIM Do Next? (December 27, 2020). This pair of articles is a must-read for two reasons.
First, Ruth Hutchins gives us a “grand tour” overview of the big picture on how this current pivot point for push-back unfolded. The pace of change in push-back has been quite dramatic, and likely confusing to many.
Second, in both articles she raises the issue of how nuance is necessary. For a range of individuals associated with Ravi Zacharias and RZIM, it is complex to change their views on the situation. It is also tough for an institution to scour out corrosion and change its course. Ms. Hutchins recommends conducting an objective post-mortem on the organizational systems and how it ended up with something really bad happening is crucial to making sure it doesn’t happen again. I agree.
Processes of change, and keeping people in instead of kicking them out are issues that I’ve long been concerned about. Related questions become highly relevant now, with several key employees and associations of RZIM are calling for drastic changes to the organization.
- Do we tell them,”too little, too late,” and set an immediate and absolute high-bar response as the only acceptable?
- Or are we conciliatory as possible, pushing for best responses while encouraging whatever degree of of change right now as being better than staying stuck?
- Which approach helps with current interventions/changes needed, and with working toward future prevention so these are few such extreme abuses?
In the big picture of identifying and dealing with abusive individuals and institutions, I’m most concerned that we keep moving toward safety and sustainability. And we need to have on board with those goals as many people as possible. But there are nuances to the barriers people have to getting on board.
The way I see it, there are tiers of culpability and complicity, plus mental acceptance and emotional attachment, to deal with. For instance,
Leaders–board members, administrators, key employees–who mishandled things absolutely have to make things right–or be removed (automatically, if they were directly responsible for corroding the organization and refuse to overcome any “ethical inertia” they’ve had).
Many associates who were defenders and commenders of Mr. Zacharias and RZIM have a high “emotional intertia” threshold of past support to overcome in order to get to where they stay for the time being as “loyal opposition,” or perhaps dissociate themselves entirely.
Those who were everyday followers likely have mental and emotional issues to address, but less than the insider associates who were more actively involved in the ministry and platform.
What are the core concerns for insiders who become whistle-blowers and/or loyal opposition?
These are the kinds of questions I’ve been pondering for a very long time, and hope to refine my thoughts on them and post in 2021. In the meantime, I strongly recommend reading Ruth Hutchins’ insightful articles, and probe your own paradigm on what you value and believe about change, collaboration, and justice …