Reporting the Truth. Restoring the Church.
Why Not Quit?
Exposing abuse and corruption can be a thankless job. Powerful figures doing wrong often deny and attack those exposing them. And their supporters often join suit—attacking the messenger, rather than holding their leader accountable.
This edition of The Roys Report features a very personal talk from Restore Conference founder and journalist, Julie Roys, delivered at the recent event this past October.
It’s centered on one question: why continue reporting, advocating, and shining a light when doing so comes at such a high personal cost?
Journalists like Julie often ask this question—and so do many abuse survivor advocates, whistleblowers, and allies. The work can be grueling, and the pay off at times seems minimal. But in this talk, Julie shares not just her own struggles, but also the convictions she’s gained over years of exposing abuse and corruption. If you’re struggling to keep fighting for truth and justice, this talk will not just encourage, but inspire you to keep going.
Julie Roys is a veteran investigative reporter and founder of The Roys Report. Julie previously hosted a national talk show on the Moody Radio Network, called Up for Debate. She also has worked as a TV reporter for a CBS affiliate in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and as a newswriter for WGN-TV and Fox 32 Chicago. Julie's work has also appeared in Christianity Today, Religion News Service, The Federalist, and The Christian Post. She and her husband, Neal, live in the Chicago area and have three children and two grandchildren.
Recovery & Empowerment: A Path Forward
Clergy sexual abuse is one of the most devastating forms of abuse, impacting almost every area of life. After surviving abuse like that, how do you recover? And after being preyed upon by a powerful church figure, how do you recover your agency, your voice, your life?
This edition of The Roys Report features an unforgettable session from the recent Restore Conference, and one of the most raw and vulnerable talks you’ll ever hear. It comes from Lori Anne Thompson, a victim of clergy sexual abuse by one of the most powerful men in evangelicalism for nearly 40 years—Ravi Zacharias.
But even before Ravi, she experienced the pain of abuse by her father. And then, after becoming a believer, the pastor who had become a father figure to her used his position to extort money from Lori Anne and her husband.
Statistically, Lori Anne should be a shell of herself. But anyone who knows Lori Anne knows her as uncommonly kind, extraordinarily bright, perceptive, healthy—and truly, one of those people whose presence in your life just makes your life better.
She has walked a road no one should ever have to walk. And yet, through that process, she’s learned the keys to not just surviving abuse and trauma, but how to thrive after abuse and trauma.
The voice of abuse survivors is too often missing—and silenced—in American evangelical churches and ministries. Lori Anne has a vital perspective as a survivor and healer, and she’s distilled decades of experiences and wisdom into this riveting 52-minute talk.
Lori Anne Thompson
Lori Anne Thompson. RKin, MA, is a survivor of clergy sexual abuse who now seeks to serve the survivor community through selective speaking, extensive writing, and in her role as an intake specialist at a survivor-centric law firm. She graduated from Queens University, Canada, earning a Bachelor of Science Kinesiology and a Master of Child Advocacy & Policy from Montclair State University. Learn more at loriannethompson.com
Julie Roys, LORI ANNE THOMPSON
JULIE ROYS 00:02
Hi, I’m Julie Roys, founder of The Roys Report and the RESTORE conference, and you’re about to see a video from Restore 2023. Alot of conferences charge for videos like these, we’ve decided to make them available for free. We’ve done that because we don’t want anybody to miss out on this valuable content for lack of finances. But of course these do cost us money to shoot and to edit. So if you’re able we’d really appreciate it if you consider donating to The Roys Report so we can continue this important service. To do so just go to JULIEROYS.COM/DONATE. Also, I hope you’ll make plans to join us at the next RESTORE conference, which we’ll be announcing soon. As great as these videos are they pale in comparison to being there in person. As one speaker commented this year, RESTORE is more of a restorative community than it is a conference. And every year that community just grows deeper and richer. And so I hope you’ll be able to join us at the next RESTORE. Be watching for that. And in the meantime, I hope you’re blessed and encouraged by this video.
LORI ANNE THOMPSON 01:11
The survivor community is a community that I was born into. It’s also a community I never ever wanted to be part of. 100% of those of us who have survived any kind of abuse did so in a social structure, where the despot has ruled the day. Where the power dynamic was as tangible as what it was invisible. Where dominance and subordination or submission have been the typography of our tyranny. The Oxford Dictionary in the Oxford Dictionary, tyranny is defined as cruel, unreasonable, or arbitrary use of power or control. The work of Dr. Judith Herman has informed so much of my understanding. and she writes this, and I quote, “The rules of tyranny are simple. The strong do what they will simply because they can. The weak and vulnerable submit
How to Judge ‘Independent’ Investigations
Third-party investigations have become increasingly common as churches and Christian institutions continue to be rocked by scandal. But how can you tell if an investigation is truly independent—or just another attempt to cover up?
In this edition of The Roys Report, experts address the red flags and key features to look for in any so-called “independent” investigation. And they answer questions like: Can a third-party investigation by a law firm ever be truly independent? What advantages are there to hiring an investigative team that’s familiar with church culture to conduct investigations involving Christian institutions? And what are the hallmarks of a “trauma-informed” investigation?
The answers to these questions are especially relevant due to the current controversy over the third-party investigation announced by the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, or IHOPKC. Mike Bickle, IHOPKC’s founder, has been accused of abusing multiple women and IHOPKC leaders have been accused of mishandling reports of abuse. After announcing it had hired a national law firm to conduct the investigation, IHOPKC changed course and dismissed the law firm. Then, it hired another law firm, but is refusing to divulge the name of the new firm.
Joining us on the podcast is a top American litigator and former GoDaddy general counsel, who’s also a Christian with a passion to protect victims. That litigator is Christine Jones, who also serves on the board of The Roys Report. She has considerable expertise in this area and her insights on this issue are incredibly helpful.
Two other experts joining me, Pete Singer and Robert Peters, are known for the organization they lead—Godly Response to Abuse in a Christian Environment, or GRACE. GRACE has become the gold standard in the Christian survivor community because of the quality of its investigations and its commitment to protect survivor interests.
Listen now for a lively, and eye-opening discussion that will help you discern whether to trust a third-party investigation—or to cry foul.
Christine N. Jones
Christine N. Jones is a top American litigator, business executive, and civic leader who has a passion to protect the vulnerable. Until 2012, she served as general counsel for GoDaddy. During her time there, she helped drive federal Internet-related legislation, including laws to keep the internet safe from child predators like the Protect Our Children Act and the Keeping the Internet Devoid of Sexual Predators Act. Christine also practiced law at Beus Gilbert, which has been ranked as one of the top law firms in the country. She also served several years as the COO of the Prostate Cancer Foundation. Christine recently launched her own firm, Newman Jones, a private law firm in Arizona, which specializes in representing victims of abuse in churches and Christian organizations.
Pete Singer is Executive Director at GRACE, which focuses on abuse prevention and response in faith communities. He is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker with 30+ years’ experience across settings. He received his MSW and certificate in Trauma-Effective Leadership from the University of Minnesota. He trains and writes on trauma-informed practice and his counseling practice focuses on children and adults who have experienced trauma. He has published and contributed to a number of articles and book chapters including Wounded Souls: The Need for Child Protection Professionals and Faith Leaders to Recognize and Respond to the Spiritual Impact of Child Abuse and forthcoming work Toward a More Trauma-Informed Church: Equipping Faith Communities to Prevent and Respond to Abuse.
Robert Peters has been with GRACE
Hope & Disillusionment: Recovering from Ravi Zacharias Scandal
What do you do when the man you looked up to as your spiritual hero is exposed as a fraud? How do you recover from the disillusionment and betrayal? And how do you find hope when your world is turned upside down?
On this edition of The Roys Report, you’re about to hear a highlight session from this year’s Restore Conference featuring Carson Weitnauer, a former director with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. Ravi Zacharias had a huge impact on Carson when he was coming of age. When Carson was hired by Ravi’s ministry, he thought he had found his dream job.
But then in 2020, the dream became a nightmare as more and more evidence showed that Ravi Zacharias was not the man he purported to be. He was not a model Christian leader and sterling apologist, but a serial sexual predator, who lied and manipulated to cover his tracks.
The revelations rocked Carson’s world—and especially his faith. And in this incredibly raw and vulnerable talk, Carson doesn’t sugar-coat anything. He tells of his journey from believing the exposés about Ravi were just Satanic attacks—to realizing that his own leaders, people he looked up to, were lying to him.
He tells of the excruciating betrayal, pain, and depression he experienced. He talks about almost losing his faith and feeling like God had abandoned him. But he also talks about hope and hanging on, even when life seems bleak.
Carson Weitnauer is an author, speaker, and the founder of Uncommon Pursuit, a Christian apologetics ministry. He formerly served on-staff at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and resigned to advocate for survivors. He has coauthored multiple books. Learn more at uncommonpursuit.net
CARSON WEITNAUER, JULIE ROYS
JULIE ROYS 00:02
What do you do when the man you looked up to as your spiritual hero is exposed as a fraud? How do you recover from the disillusionment and betrayal? And how do you find hope when your world is turned upside down? Welcome to The Roys Report—a podcast dedicated to reporting the truth and restoring the church. I’m Julie Roys.
And what you’re about to hear is the second of 11 talks from this year’s Restore Conference. Speaking is Carson Weitnauer, a former director with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. And as you’ll hear, Ravi Zacharias had a huge impact on Carson when he coming of age—and internalizing his faith. So, in 2013, when Carson was hired by Ravi’s ministry, he thought he had found his dream job.
But then in 2020, the dream became a nightmare as more and more evidence showed that Ravi was not the man he purported to be. He was not a model Christian leader and sterling apologist, but a serial sexual predator, who lied and manipulated to cover his tracks. The revelations rocked Carson’s world—and especially his faith. And in this incredibly raw and vulnerable talk, Carson doesn’t sugar-coat anything. He tells of his journey from believing the exposés about Ravi were just Satanic attacks—to realizing that his own leaders, people he looked up to—were lying to him.
He tells of the excruciating betrayal, pain, and depression he experienced. He talks about almost losing his faith—and feeling like God had abandoned him. But he also talks about hope and hanging on, even when life seems bleak. If you’ve ever experienced betrayal trauma or church hurt, I think you’re going to resonate deeply with Carson’s journey. Here’s Carson Weitnauer, a former director with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries—and someone I’ve come to know as a man of integrity and courage.
JULIE ROYS 04:02
Hi, I’m Julie Roys, founder of The Roys Report and the RESTORE conference, and you’re about to see a video from RESTORE 2023. Though a lot of conferences charge for videos like these, we’ve decided to make them available for free. We’ve done that because we don’t want anybody to
Pivoting Your Church From Toxic to Healthy
How can you transform a toxic church culture into a healthy one? And what’s the best way to initiate change?
In this podcast, theologian Scot McKnight and his daughter, Laura Barringer, join me to discuss their latest book, Pivot, a sequel to their earlier best-selling book, A Church Called Tov. While their first book explained the characteristics of a “tov,” or good, culture, Pivot tackles the next challenge—transforming ingrained toxic cultures into tov ones.
As Scot and Laura discuss, transformation can be a grueling and painful process. And their research shows transformation takes an average of seven years!
But it is possible. And cultures led by narcissist leaders that create consumers can transform into ones led by servant-leaders that make disciples.
In their characteristic relatable and warm style, Scot and Laura explain the practical steps required to do that. Specifically, they discuss the priorities, practices, and powers necessary to pivot, or transform, toxic cultures. And they give real-life examples of churches that have undergone this transformation and lived to tell about it!
Scot and Laura draw from their own experiences in churches, conversations with leaders seeing transformation happen, and a deep well of research to provide actionable insights for churches and ministries.
Scot McKnight is a professor of New Testament and has been teaching for more than four decades. His specialty is in the fields of Gospels and Jesus studies, but his passions are in the intersection of New Testament in its context as it speaks to the church today. Along with his daughter, Laura Barringer, they have published A Church Called Tov and a follow-up book, Pivot, which discusses what churches can do to help transform themselves from toxic cultures into tov (goodness) cultures.
Laura Barringer is coauthor of A Church Called Tov as well as Pivot: The Priorities, Practices and Powers That Can Transform Your Church Into a Tov Culture. She previously co-authored the children's version of The Jesus Creed and wrote a teacher's guide to accompany the book. A graduate of Wheaton College, Laura resides in the suburbs of Chicago with her husband Mark and their three beagles.
SCOT McKNIGHT, LAURA BARRINGER, JULIE ROYS
JULIE ROYS 00:00
So how can you transform a toxic church culture into a healthy one? And what’s the best way to initiate change? Welcome to The Roys Report, a podcast dedicated to reporting the truth and restoring the church. I’m Julie Roys. And joining me today are theologian Scot McKnight and his daughter, Laura Barringer. They’re the authors of the bestselling book A Church Called TOV. TOV is the Hebrew word for good or goodness. And the book explained how to create a church culture that’s truly good–one that resists abuse promotes healing and spiritual growth. But what if your church or Christian workplace already has an ingrained toxic culture? Well, that’s what Scot and Laura’s new book PIVOT is all about. It explains the priorities, practices and powers that can help you pivot or transform your toxic culture into a TOV culture. But it’s not easy and it’s not for the faint of heart, but it is God honoring and it is possible. So I’m very excited to delve into this topic was gotten Laura But first, I’d like to thank the sponsors of this podcast, Judson University, and Marquardt of Barrington. If you’re looking for a top ranked Christian University, providing a caring community and an excellent college experience. Judson University is for you. Judson is located on 90 acres just 40 miles west of Chicago in Elgin, Illinois. The school offers more than 60 majors, great leadership opportunities and strong financial aid. Plus you can take classes online as well as in person. Judson University is shaping lives that shape the world. For more information, just go to JudsonU.edu. Also, if y
Recognizing and Healing from Spiritual Abuse
What are the telltale signs of spiritual abuse? And once you’ve been subjected to it, how do you heal?
On this edition of The Roys Report, we’re rolling out the first of 11 talks from this year’s Restore Conference. This was an amazing gathering of survivors of church hurt and abuse—as well as pastors and Christian leaders wanting to better minister to these survivors.
The gathering featured some incredibly powerful and eye-opening talks. One of those talks is on recognizing and healing from spiritual abuse, from Pastor Ken Garrett—one who knows about spiritual abuse firsthand.
Ken and his family were members of an abusive church in Oregon, which turned out to be a cult. But after escaping the cult in the mid-1990s, Ken went on to complete graduate research on spiritual abuse. And he created the Spiritual Abuse Forum for Education, or SAFE. This is a bi-monthly meetup for survivors of spiritual abuse connect and support each other—where people of any faith or no faith are invited to participate.
Ken also is the pastor of Grace Church in Portland, Oregon—and he’s the author of In the House of Friends: Understanding and Healing from Spiritual Abuse in Christian Churches.
This talk deals with narcissism, control, and breaking free. Ken, who is such a warm and gentle soul, guides us through these difficult issues with a father’s heart.
Dr. Ken Garrett is the pastor of Grace Church, Portland, a diverse, historic downtown church, and author of In the House of Friends: Understanding and Healing from Spiritual Abuse in Christian Churches. Ken has spoken and written for the International Cultic Studies Association, and provides support and encouragement to many survivors of abusive churches, cults, and high-demand groups in the Portland area. He founded the Spiritual Abuse Forum for Education, an informal gathering for mutual encouragement and education that welcomes and supports survivors of religious abuse from all faiths.
KEN GARRETT, JULIE ROYS
JULIE ROYS 00:04
What are the telltale signs of spiritual abuse? And once you’ve been subjected to it, how do you heal? Welcome to The Roys Report, a podcast dedicated to reporting the truth and restoring the church. I’m Julie Roys, and on this podcast we’re rolling out the first of 11 talks from this year’s RESTORE Conference. This was an amazing gathering of survivors of church hurt and abuse as well as pastors and Christian leaders, wanting to better minister to the survivors. As one speaker commented, RESTORE is more like a restorative community than a conference. And there’s really nothing that quite compares to being there in person. That said, we had some incredibly powerful and eye-opening talks. And one of those talks you’re going to hear today, the talk is on recognizing and healing from spiritual abuse, and the person speaking is Ken Garrett, someone who knows about spiritual abuse firsthand.
Ken and his family were members of an abusive church in Oregon, which turned out to be a cult. After escaping the cult in the mid-1990s. Ken went on to complete graduate research on spiritual abuse, and he created the Spiritual Abuse Forum for Education or SAFE. This is a bimonthly meet up with Christian and non-Christian survivors of spiritual abuse to connect and support each other. Ken also is the pastor of Grace Church in Portland, and he’s the author of In the House of Friends: Understanding and Healing From Spiritual Abuse in Christian Churches. Ken also is a warm and gentle soul who I’m proud to call a friend, and I’m so excited to share his talk with you.
But first, I’d like to thank the sponsors of this podcast, Judson University, and Marquardt of Barrington. If you’re looking for a top ranked Christian University, providing a caring community and an excellent college experience, Judson University is for you. Judson is located
I have been richly blessed (and also surprised and appalled) by this show.
Thank you Julie and your associates.
Insightful and Hopeful
This podcast has actually given me hope for the future of the church. The report holds church cultures and leadership to account in a way that is sorely needed. A timely, engaging and interesting listen.