The Jivan Wellness in Johns Creek, Georgia, United States, was co-founded by Ravi Zacharias, the most famous Christian apologist in the world. He was diagnosed with a malignant and rare cancer in his spine in March this year, and passed away on 19 May at the age of 74.
The spa, whose opening was attended by the biggest names in the Christian missionary world, however, had to be closed down, according to Ravi’s erstwhile business partner Anurag Sharma (co-founder of Jivan), because of the way Ravi treated the women who worked there.
Steve Baughman, a lawyer based in the San Francisco Bay Area, has carefully documented the case against Zacharias at his website. He has written a book on the subject titled Cover-Up in the Kingdom: Phone Sex, Lies, And God's Great Apologist, Ravi Zacharias.
Baughman communicated with masseuses who were formerly in the employment of Zacharias. They told him that Zacharias sexually molested the help at his spa. He also used to “fly women in from India” to give him treatment at Jivan. In 2016, it was revealed that he was also involved in an online sex scandal with a married woman.
Baughman also notes that Zacharaias falsified a lot of his credentials.
For years, Zacharias claimed to have been a “visiting professor” at Oxford, and made other various claims relating to the prestigious university. All false. He also made bold claims like he is “educated in Cambridge” and that he was “a visiting scholar at Cambridge University.” These claims are repeated on the back of many of his books.
Zacharias also widely claimed to have studied quantum physics under the renowned Cambridge physicist, Dr John Polkinghorne, whom he referred as “my professor in quantum physics.” He repeated this in many of his YouTube videos.
All these claims are false. Zacharias actually had no academic graduate credentials, only a professional degree which is intended to train people for Christian ministry.
"What we see in Mr Zacharias’s self-presentation over the past 35 years is a very clear pattern and practice of deception,” Baughman says.
Zacharias also claimed to have won the “Asian Youth Preacher Award” at an international event with “young people gathering from all across India and Asia”. He also claimed to have chaired the “department of evangelism and contemporary thought” at Alliance Theological Seminary.
All of this - the award, the department and the seminary - don’t exist, except in Zacharias’ head. In fact, Zacharias, who aggressively marketed himself as "Dr Zacharias” since the early 1980’s, wasn’t a “Dr” at all. He intentionally deceived people regarding having an academic doctorate.
Baughman criticised the response of the Christian corporate world to these findings.
“It hardly needs to be pointed out that if an atheist like Richard Dawkins were behaving in this manner, Christians would not hesitate to call out his dishonesty. This double standard is indefensible.”
“The dialogue between theists and skeptics is a hugely important one, to my mind anyway. It must be conducted without resort to false pretences. When Ravi Zacharias comments, as he does, on things like the second law of thermodynamics, the fact that he is a professor at Oxford and studied quantum physics at Cambridge gives his arguments great credence that they would not otherwise have,” he says.
The funny thing is the likes of Zacharias deny “heaven” to well-respected Indian figures like Gandhi because “no one can go to the father except through Jesus Christ” (John 14:6). Good people, including Gandhi, have to suffer for all eternity in hell because they rejected Christianity.
On the other hand, Gandhi, as a devout Hindu, accorded respect to all religions including Christianity, which, unfortunately, only made him amenable to appropriation by evangelists.
This brings out the reality of how a pluralistic and inclusive faith only prepares itself to be abused by an exclusive, monotheistic faith by tolerating its aggression.
While all his life Zacharias claimed the superiority of his beliefs over Hinduism and criticised it as a path to hell, after his death, his brothers in Christian faith have found a way to blame his misdeeds on the ‘demonic’ Hinduism.
“Walter Martin literally wrote the book on cults, and Ravi Zacharias edited it. It’s unimaginable that Ravi Zacharias, who hailed from India, would found a business that sells pseudoscientific Ayurveda services, which are rooted in Hindu paganism..”
“Ravi Zacharias’ spa even encouraged its customers to take part in the pagan religious practice of Yoga. What was Ravi Zacharias thinking?”
“To non-believers, this could be just another instance of powerful, wealthy people exploiting the weak for sex. For the believer, however, there could be deeper spiritual concerns. Hindu practices (like Yoga) are demonic.”
This isn’t shocking.
Since the colonial age, Hinduism has been labelled as hideous, grotesque, ignoble, disgusting, and Hindus have been called weak, effeminate, slavish people, who deserved to be subjugated.
In India, Hindus have been burnt alive on the stake just for practising their religion.
The Christian missionaries who were colonialism's "agent, scribe and moral alibi” and acted as the "ideological shock troops for colonial invasion” pushed the idea that Indic faiths were the “principle problem of India” and had to be cured by “Christian light”.
Like all other colonial powers, the British saw Christian instruction as “the best guarantee against rebellion, as it would rescue the natives from their polytheistic Hinduism and make them part of the assimilative project of colonialism”.
There were repeated calls from the evangelist lobby to eradicate Hinduism — "such a religion as the religion of the Hindoo, the Indian government were bound, as in the sight of God, to put down with all the strength of their hand".
The missionaries argued that the British could not allow their Indian subjects to continue to live under the “grossest, the darkest and most degrading system of idolatrous superstition that almost ever existed upon earth".
Christian imperialism has deep roots in India and calling Hinduism demonic, satanic, gross, dark, diseased; and Christian priests encouraging violence against Hindus, continues to this day, openly, and without any visible pushback.
There is another problem.
While the Christian establishment blatantly spreads Hindu-hatred, why should it be allowed to appropriate Hindu culture?
Why should someone like Zacharias, who has openly spoken against Hindus and made his living by converting people out of Hinduism, be allowed to appropriate Ayurveda and Yoga?
Dunn in the above article calls Hindu Yoga ‘demonic’. The fact is that the Christian missionaries in India are appropriating all kinds of Hindu practices, from Hindu pooja, sculptures, temple architecture, tilak, mantras, saffron attire, Hindu spiritual music and dance forms, rudraksha, mangalsutra to even scriptures, and Hindu spiritual concepts (like Yoga, Moksha) etc.
Would Mr Dunn show the courage of denouncing all these? Because Hindus aren’t quite thrilled about such open theft either.
According to Zacharias’ friend Johnny Hunt, he hoped to use the profits from the services at his spa that he labelled as “Ayurveda” and “Yoga”, to spread the gospel.
So, the money made from cultural appropriation of Hinduism by a Christian missionary would be used against Hindus. Reminds one of how the British colonial rule subjugated the natives using the revenues it extracted from them. Hindus were made to pay for their own extermination.
Not that Zacharias needed the money from the spa. His salary from Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) — one of the biggest evangelistic ministries in the world — approached nearly $200,000 per year, apart from the generous royalties from the books he authored. RZIM, with $24 million annual revenue, sponsors the spread of Christianity around the world.
Already, in India, the evangelists in power today are using the Hindu temple wealth (as state selectively controls Hindu temples in India), and Hindu taxpayers’ money to further the missionary agenda.
The least the Indian government can do is pass a law against cultural appropriation of Indic civilisation and cultures.
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