Board Vote

Christianity Today mentioned in yesterday’s article about RZIM that they had no information on if the board votes regarding the report and statement last month were unanimous.

I don’t know what the overall breakdown was. I just know that it was *not* a unanimous decision.

My Process in Responding

Someone on Instagram asked me about my response to some specifics in the report. Since that is likely a thought many will have, I will share their question and answer it here as well.

Question from @taciabf

My answer:

I can’t respond to those in the same way because there is no evidence on which to base my response. It is all “she said.” Most of the report is hearsay with no evidence to back it up. Part of my goal is to show where the report is clearly biased and inaccurate. Because if it is unreliable with the things there is supposed “evidence” for, why should we consider it reliable in the allegations with no evidence?

The things there are “evidence” for, well that is why I want to see the phones to see if it’s accurate/real. But after 3 months of asking, RZIM has not returned them yet.

As for your question about leadership’s transparency (in some areas, but most definitely not all), you answered your own question. You praised them for their apologies and transparency. And that is happening everywhere. Unfortunately, people on staff have lost jobs as a result. But not the leadership team leading the public response. Not a single one of the ones making these decisions has lost their job. And it’s unlikely they will. They will move forward as the smaller group they had already predetermined months ago. They will have a future, they will have jobs, and their reputations will be intact as they receive praise for being so open and apologetic.

It’s people like my mom – someone who doesn’t believe the report – who has lost her job and future and reputation in all of this. In this day and age, you don’t lose by considering someone guilty. You lose by considering them innocent. And that is what I believe RZIM’s mindset was.

No, I don’t think they had evil intent. But they were told for weeks on end leading up to the delivery of the evidence and report that Dad was guilty. For 6-8 weeks the investigators said it was a done deal. Do we really think that wouldn’t impact their discernment when actually seeing everything? That is a ridiculous way to enter into an examination of the evidence. It’s why when we select a jury, the goal is to have people who know as little as possible about the case before they see the evidence. Because if they already think the person is guilty, then that is how they will see the data. RZIM’s leadership team was a jury that was told there was no doubt about Dad’s guilty for weeks before they actually saw anything or could dialogue with the investigators. Does that sound like an unbiased process?

Even with that predisposition, I think they found themselves in a tough spot where they probably believed some but not all of the accusations. In fact I was told they didn’t believe all of it. But my guess is it was easier to accept it all than have to publicly accept only some and denounce the rest. The path they chose was easiest, despite the emotions they’re putting forth, and it has absolutely won them praise.

Touch of Hope

The M&M (thanks for ruining the candy for me) report makes mention of the Touch of Hope fund that my Dad utilized to help people in need. The description of it basically makes it sound like a slush fund, which it was not. There was an application process, and my Dad was not the only one involved in its operation. Yes, it was up to his discretion, but there were others often involved in the recipient selection process.

Perhaps hindsight may show that more safeguards would have been appropriate if for no other reason than to prevent it from being discussed exactly the way it is now. But I know RZIM ran a tight ship with financials, and they didn’t treat TOH any differently. The organization was annually given some of the highest marks possible for its financial integrity, and even examinations brought about as a result of all this have not uncovered anything to be considered otherwise.

The way M&M references the TOH financials is a blatant misrepresentation. And it’s one of many claims the Board and leadership know to be erroneous, but they have allowed it to be accepted because it’s easier.

TOH was not the shady one man show the report claims it be.

Additionally, in yet another example in the report of narrative dictating motive rather than actual information, they say “significant” amounts of the funding went to four individuals.

As the reader, what do you think when you read that sentence? To me it sounded like this fund was basically used for four people. But then I thought, “what is significant?” Significant is a very subjective word. The percentage of funding is more important than the investigator’s definition of the word significant, but they conveniently don’t give us that number. The amount could have totaled 25% of all grants, which would be “significant,” but that also leaves room for a whole lot of people who received funding and were not massage therapists. And that information would drastically change the readers perception of that sentence. If it was a majority of the funding, I’m guessing they would have said so. Instead, they said “significant” and let our minds do the rest.

That paragraph also uses the context to make the reader think that he was likely involved with all four, though they allude to “evidence” for only one. But by wording it the way they have, they essentially get 4 for 1 – four allegations despite only mentioning “evidence” for one. I put the evidence in quotes because I still haven’t seen the evidence. They continue to find reasons to delay giving the phones back.

So all of that wording is intentionally used to create a picture, using carefully chosen words and little to no evidence.

Finally, I’ll tell you about a conversation that was relayed to me last summer. During a meeting with some staff, the topic of dad’s generosity came up. At that point one person referred to Touch of Hope, and mentioned that they (and others) would often tell Dad that they believed many of the Touch of Hope recipients to be lying to Dad. They said they would tell him they suspected they were lying just to get money from him. Dad’s response was that he knew they were likely lying, but sometimes the long term impact didn’t come from the amount of money; it came from the fact that they knew someone was willing to take a chance on them. In other words, even though the recipients were likely lying, Dad knew the gift of someone believing in them might actually foster a change within.

So one of many MANY questions about the investigation is this: is it relying on information from any of the same people that were once considered completely untrustworthy?

Generosity as “Proof”

On page 5 of the story…oops sorry….on page 5 of the report, there is information given about Dad giving large tips or lavish gifts like a Persian rug and a Louis Vuitton wallet. They use these details as a way to back up that there must have been inappropriate behavior if he was giving gifts like that.

Dad being generous is not news. And the LV wallet is laughable. Because while the writer mentioned the name to try to prove a point, it is a near certainty that the wallet was a knockoff.

Dad loved going to the markets in Asia and getting good deals on all of the knockoff products out there. My sisters and family friends would have him get them all the time. He’d buy watches, purses, accessories and his beloved Mont Blanc pens. All cheap, because they were all fake. It was one of the few times where I didn’t get his logic.

He’d say, “Look at this Mont Blanc pen! It was so cheap.”

I’d say, “Yeah but it’s fake.”

He’d say, “I know but it’s a Mont Blanc for such a good price.”

I’d say, “But it’s not actually a Mont……oh fine. Good deal, Dad.”

There were times in the past where he’d bring back purses, scarves, etc and just leave them out at the office for any of the staff to take. Dad was very generous to anyone. He took an interest in everyone’s life. The assertion that him giving someone a generous was in any way a signal of inappropriate behavior or expectation is absurd.

The people at his favorite restaurants, stores, etc, all loved him. They would welcome him in as soon as they saw him coming. He knew their family’s names, and he asked them about their lives. If it was an Indian restaurant he would speak Hindi to the guys (assuming they did too, of course). He knew what they studied and what they wanted to do. He treated them as a person.

That personal interest in their lives often led to financial assistance as well. Sometimes he helped a new friend. Sometimes it was an old friend. There are staff members he helped with financial needs personally. One year with the organization’s budget was tight, he and mom gave the staff Christmas bonuses out of their own pockets so that the staff could still have a year end gift.

Side note: Now his organization has removed his pictures and is painting over his vision statements. Of course this is all done by people who benefited from Dad’s efforts in their behalf. He worked to do his part in giving them a platform and a presence on a global scale. So if we’re doing away with every idea or initiative he created/backed, perhaps we need to apply that cancelation to each speaker with which he shared a stage. He backed their presence on the global stage. So, perhaps they should be removed now.

But back to his generosity, there are plenty of people who can (and wanted to) speak on record about how he helped them by giving them money to put towards car purchases, tuition, family needs, etc. All out of his own pocket. And we knew about. Because it wasn’t sketchy. It was kind.

The people he helped spanned many walks in life. Some of them are massage therapists, who said that he helped them all while being perfectly professional and ethical in every interaction. Interesting that people we know of who stand by his professional behavior in every way were not included in the report, and in some cases not even the interview process. The only stories of people who didn’t accuse him of anything that they included were ones that still contained elements meant to portray him in a negative light. But the stories clearly defending him? They didn’t make the cut.

Dad believed that everyone should be treated with dignity, and he felt called to treat them that way through both personal conversation and financial assistance, when possible. Here’s an example that shows both. It’s one we just became aware of last year.

Every year, RZIM held an annual event for donors. That is where the most significant financial pledges for the ministry came from each year. It was used as an event to minister to the donor and to help determine what the support for the year ahead might look like. Part of this ministry to the donor, was that their accommodations and food were paid for – underwritten by both RZIM and the Davis Foundation. They just had to pay their airfare. They could listen to the updates and messages, interact with the team, and then give if they felt led by the Lord to do so.

One year, there was a friend of Dad’s that really wanted to go. He said he couldn’t make a pledge, but that he wanted to be there. Dad said he would give him money – enough to cover the cost of the accommodations and meals so that he in turn could give it to RZIM even if he couldn’t make a pledge on top of that. Why? 1) It would cover RZIMs cost so they weren’t spending more than necessary. And 2) because Dad knew how the man might feel having to go to the RZIM staff and say my Dad was paying his way, he gave him the money to pay for it so that the man could write the check himself and have the dignity of telling the organizers that he could at least cover his cost of being there.

Oh, that man was Anurag Sharma. The one who helped kicked off this whole nightmare.

February 23, 2021

This is a line used to convey Dad as not only having a problem, but being a theological reprobate, as well. Only one problem: its not at all the context in which he said it.

Dad was in debilitating pain at one point, which Miller & Martin was kind enough to “accept” as real. I’m still waiting to find out if they consider his cancer real too. But the pain was so bad that Dad had thoughts of coming off the road. The ministry was not thrilled with that idea and kept encouraging him to keep going. The only way he knew how was with the back treatments. They were the only thing that were providing relief. So when those proved helpful he told my mom himself that the therapist was “God’s reward” to help him keep going in ministry.

Miller & Martin and RZIM could have found that out had they bothered to interview my mom or involve her in the presentation by the investigators. But they didn’t. Why be thorough when a man’s legacy is on the line?

And one more fact, the investigation started with one investigator. Then that person was replaced (I don’t know why) and they started all over. When they went to interview people, they told some people they believed my Dad to be guilty and had the evidence to prove it before they asked them any questions. That means every person they spoke to that way was framing their answers and their experience with the idea of guilt in mind rather than objective observations.

In meantime, still waiting on the phones.

Steve Baughman

My first celebrity comment! Welcome, Steve. Can I expect multiple comments from you under the guise of multiple names just like you did with my Dad?

First of all, you missed my point. They weren’t being specific to that “information.” They were saying you and your comrades and your traveling digital circus made him more cautious about *any* alleged behavior so that’s why they don’t have more information. But then they go on to build their case around a supposed plethora of emails. So they craft a narrative to present his personality in a way that suits them, assuming caution due to almost getting caught. He’s so sneaky and devious. But then suddenly when they need more info he’s not cautious again. Works out well for them. They can have their cake and eat it too.

Second of all, if anyone would know about misleading readers, its definitely you.

I’ll be on the lookout.

February 18, 2021

First of all, that line is blatant speculation. Last I checked, this was supposed to be an investigation of available information, not a narrative. In a number of places in this “report,” they’ve gone to great lengths to not just report on his alleged behavior, but to actually make determinations about his personality and intent. They’ve inserted emotions and motives when we can’t possibly have any knowledge of that. Well, if they cared that much about determining his personality, maybe they should have interviewed people who knew it best over his 74 years. But they didn’t.

Second of all, they later claim to have emails, texts, and photos from the midst of the “Thompson matter” and well after. Soooo, which is it? Was he more careful or not? Or does it just depend on what point they needed to make on any given paragraph?

Someone earlier asked me about why he even had multiple phones, since it was presented as an example of secretive behavior. Here was my response: He had multiple phones so he could utilize multiple carriers, because some carriers had better service than others depending on the country he was in at any given time. Dad handed over his phones to office staff countless times for technical help. He was never afraid to do so. He was also not the only person on staff to have had multiple phones, including Ruth Malhotra, as I recall.

My intent with these posts is to show why I believe the report to be insufficient and suspect. There are clear cases of speculation and of giving details placed out of context in order to paint their picture.

February 17, 2021

We’re approaching close to two months since my mom requested my Dad’s phones back from rzim so we could examine them. She has requested them repeatedly, and we still don’t have them.

But in August, as we first found out about the allegations, we looked at his phones to check the contact between dad and two of the people involved – Anurag and Vicki. Not having any clue what Dad would accused of months later, we didn’t spend time searching through every part of his phone. Now I wish we had.

These pictures are some of the texts between Dad and Anurag. In Anurag’s messages, he speaks about the behavior of Steve Baughman, the man who has driven a lot of this. Anurag refers to Baughman as “SFO Attorney” and “Banjo man” and calls him crazy. The context of additional comments is that Baughman is baselessly attacking my Dad’s character and that my Dad is a good man. But Anurag would later team up with Baughman and say the opposite.

The other individual, Vicki, clearly did not have the discomfort with Dad that has been alleged in stories with her portion. Since she has tried to keep her identify vague I must respect that, so I can’t post messages as they give identifiable info. But she asks if he has been getting her repeated messages the last year, including her birthday text from him 9 months prior. She asks him to reply more often, says “You’re the ONLY intelligent person I know.” He talks about the ministry and family. She offers to give my mom and dad massages, and asks him for prayer.

These are clearly not the words of people who consider my dad to be a predator or a man with a double life. Rzim had these messages. Interesting they didn’t make it the report. It mentions details like he didn’t want to use rzim’s private wifi, so as to shape the narrative, but somehow mentioning that at least two of his accusers behaved in ways that contradict their stories didn’t make the cut.

And speaking of that wifi narrative, well I worked at RZIM until last summer Under one IT Director we were all specifically asked to *only* connect our phones to the public wifi and NOT the private network, as phones were considered a security risk on the network.

February 11, 2021

Since RZIM just released their report, I’d like to say a few things. Considering what I heard about the investigators’ aggressive behavior towards favorable interviews toward my dad, their rather one-sided interview list, and the fact that RZIM released a verdict of guilt in December without anyone at the ministry actually seeing the evidence, I just don’t exactly have faith in the process or complete accuracy of the information.

Sometime in December, this became less about the fearless pursuit of truth and accountability, and it became more about the fearful appeasement of the mob and channeling our own hurt through severe judgment. If these things about Dad are true, there was a way to handle this honestly and respectfully without being hurtful and voyeuristic.

I am deeply disappointed in the way this has been handled by RZIM. I don’t know or care who decided what. I just care what the decisions were because cooperation was only ever a one way street. The last 6 months, Mom has refrained from speaking out publicly as a wife at RZIM’s request for fear it hurt their public stance, she handed over dad’s devices (it was not RZIM who did that) for examination, and taken other sacrificial steps at their request too. She wasn’t interviewed by the investigators. It would seem getting as much of a full picture of a man would benefit an investigation of areas of weakness, but I guess was outside the scope of the investigation.

She’s been silenced and sidelined both personally and professionally, with no consideration or help given in return.

My mom was not given the courtesy of seeing the material and “evidence” first when it was finally presented officially a couple of days ago. Instead, a board of 18 people, senior leadership, and even someone no longer on staff at RZIM got to ask questions and pour over every detail of allegations that didn’t even involve them. Yet my mom, who has more of a right to know every single detail than anyone, was not allowed in. After many persistent requests, she was eventually emailed the report report. Something considerably different than hearing it directly from the investigator and being able to ask them direct questions.

She has given her life to this organization. And this is how she was treated in the worst crisis and pain of her life. It’s not ok, and that is why I’m speaking up.

Dad was a human being, a brother, a son, an uncle, a father, a grandfather and a husband. All of which take precedence over “Founder of RZIM.” However it is how his alleged mistakes affected RZIM and only one category of “victim” that seems to have been the focus. But for any family reeling? “We love you and will hug you as we shut the door behind you.”

He was not RZIM’s and the Christian culture’s commodity to buy when popular and sell out when no longer helpful to them. They were happy to run him into the ground no matter how tired he was or how much pain he was in. Now they’re happy to bury him. As I type this, they’re erasing him from social media. Unfortunately for Dad, he’s not as worthy of grace as the woman at the well or the woman accused of adultery. And unfortunately for him, he’s not as lucky as the woman who with the alabaster jar, who though still engaged with sin was welcomed by Jesus to worship Him – which is what Dad did through his messages. But we’re a better society now. We’re only worthy of a hearing if we’re not struggling.

Through this process they have done this on their terms in a one-sided and self preserving investigation. They have dictated the future of his name and called into question our own futures, while we have been told to keep quiet and just take it. Forgive me if I can’t do either anymore.

Regardless of whether today’s report is right or not, the handling of this has been very hurtful to a family that also had legitimate rights in this process. If these things are true, Dad’s choices absolutely went against his Christian beliefs. And that is deeply painful. But so have RZIM’s choices. And they have added more pain that actually could have been avoided.

In closing, I’ll quote from an ariticle posted by RZIM last summer, by Abdu Murray. “In cancel culture, we are defined by our latest mistake. Social recovery is rare. But being canceled needn’t define those victims. Jesus, after all, counted “canceled” people—tax collectors, zealots, prostitutes— among his disciples. Where others would respond to our shame with indignation, Jesus responds with love, forgiveness, and grace. Many are searching for a recovered or even redeemed identity. The culture will not give it to them. But Jesus can. In our temporal and cultural snobbery, we would do well to learn from the Eastern itinerant preacher from Nazareth.”

Wish they believed that. I do.

February 5, 2021

The last few weeks have been a brutal twist in an already painful season. I have not been given much of a voice in this process, but I am currently trying to find the best platform through which to share some things that I feel must be said. In the meantime I will say this:

First, RZIM does not speak for me. They have formed their own opinion. But it does not dictate mine. I do not agree with them for legitimate reasons. I will not, however, debate those differences publicly.

Second, in either case (innocent or guilty), I think the way this has been discussed by Christian media and leaders is an absolute disgrace.

Regarding some specific individuals who were once my colleagues, how “brave” you are to aggressively take on a man who can’t even defend himself, as well as attack his grieving family who is far more blindsided and hurt by this situation than you can ever be. And how “righteous” you are to think that we must continually pile on our punishment AFTER he has already faced the ultimate judge. God chose to spare Dad from all this by calling him home when he did. But how “virtuous” of you to insist that you hand out the relentless punishment and humiliation that God saw no place for in dad’s lifetime.

Even if these allegations are true, there is no doubt that God actively blessed my dad and did so right up until he passed. His impact was only getting greater. So what these individuals are saying- along with any person or organization that wants to cancel my dad – is that God was wrong to do so, so we must now correct God’s blessing/mistake by erasing my dad and his voice. To that I say, “That’s a bold strategy, Cotton, let’s see if it pays off for him.”

What this whole incident has shown is that Pharisees still run rampant in Christian culture when someone allegedly falls. Its just that now they use laptops instead of stones. They are cruel, and their disgusting rush to plant their self righteous flag in my dad’s shattered legacy betrays the truth about them – “for the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”

Finally and most importantly, nothing could change how much I love my dad and miss him. I am still proud to be his son.