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Christian Research Institute (CRI)

Hank Hanegraaff

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About This Entry

This entry provides a brief look at Christian Research Institute (CRI) and Hank Hanegraaff. For indepth information we refer you to our collection of research resources.

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Objections To Hank Hanegraaff's Leadership

The background to the situations made public in the April, 2000, Los Angeles Times article are explained in an article by Jill Martin-Rische, the eldest daughter of CRI's founder, Walter Martin.

Jill and Kevin Rische operate Walter Martin's Religious InfoNet - a ministry that is dedicated to the continuation of Martin's unique and valuable ministry, with

In late 1997, Darlene Martin asked us to investigate allegations against Hank Hanegraaff that had been brought to her attention by close friends and many other concerned Christians. After an intensive two year investigation into the situation at CRI, we are now able to publicly address this issue.

In 1994, approximately thirty employees of CRI formed The Group for CRI Accountability in an attempt to hold Hank Hanegraaff accountable for his actions. He refused to meet with them individually or as a group. Instead, Hank Hanegraaff's lawyer, Sealy Yates, sent letters to members of the group which read in part:
"The kind of statements you have been making by way of your letter and the handouts . . . are libelous under California law. You can be held liable for the actual damages caused by your actions. In addition, you can also be held liable for punitive damages if your conduct is malicious. Malice can be established by proof that you acted willfully without any evidence that the statements were in fact true. . . .

If I learn of any future libelous conduct on your part with respect to Hank Hanegraaff or CRI, I will have no choice but [to] advise my clients to take appropriate legal action." --Sealy Yates (Letter dated May 24, 1994)
Robert Bowman, a member of the Group for CRI Accountability, responded to Sealy Yates:
"The spirit in which we as a group approached the [CRI] Board--as Christian brothers and sisters who are sincerely concerned for the integrity of a ministry we hold dear--is ignored. Worse still, in your letter we are maligned and threatened. We are accused of telling each other "lies" and "tales" and then "recklessly" and "carelessly" spreading "rumors and accusations as truth." You suggest that our accusations can be shown to have been made with "actual malice". And you threaten to sue us (all of us?) by suggesting that we will not make our complaints public unless we are prepared "to spend the next three to five years in litigation and risk a judgment against [us] which would not be dischargeable in bankruptcy. . . ."

I believe you are attempting to intimidate us into silence by threatening litigation because your clients cannot answer our charges . . . If Mr. Hanegraaff is innocent of our most serious charges, disclose the information that refutes them. I am a reasonable man. Show me that I am wrong, and I will make a retraction. Show me that the charges of the Group for CRI Accountability are wrong, and I will not only abandon the Group, I will take Mr. Hanegraaff's side against it." --Robert Bowman (Letter dated July 11, 1994)
After talking with many reputable Christian leaders (who were never CRI employees) about their personal experiences with Hank Hanegraaff and reviewing the affidavits presented by the Group for CRI Accountability, we decided to contact--personally--as many people as possible in an effort to arrive at the truth. If Hank was innocent, we wished to make that very clear to everyone. If he was seriously compromised by the evidence, we felt an obligation, as the family of Walter Martin, to say so. It is important to note here that the Group for CRI Accountability did not initiate contact with us. We were referred to them by several highly respected Christian leaders whose concern for CRI prompted them to call us and discuss the situation.

The following serious questions about Hank include:
  • Alleged plagiarism in both Hank's Memory Dynamics and Personal Witness Training programs
  • Alleged personal cruelty towards employees, i.e., yelling and swearing at them while they worked at CRI
  • Alleged use of foul language and crude remarks
  • Alleged abuse of power: threats and intimidation if questioned
  • Alleged wrongful termination of CRI employees who did ask questions
  • Alleged use of CRI resources to further the sales of his "for profit" businesses Memory Dynamics and Personal Witness Training
Again, these are SOME of the accusations. Several former employees also stated that, "Working at CRI under Hank Hanegraaff was like being involved in a cult. We never expected to encounter so much fear in a 'Christian' organization."

Darlene Martin was a strong supporter of Hank until a CRI Board meeting in 1996. At that meeting, Hank behaved towards her in a way that can best be described as offensive. It was a strange, hurtful encounter, and after experiencing this, Darlene began to worry that there might be some truth to the above allegations. She was shocked by this negative "side" of Hank and could not think of anything she had done to offend him--or why he had not approached her privately instead of embarrassing her in such a public way.

Still, even after this confrontation, Darlene found it difficult to believe the allegations against Hank. For the next two years, at her request, we made hundreds of phone calls and conducted face to face interviews with people who worked very closely with Hank. We hoped for the best, but ended up with a very negative portrait of Hank Hanegraaff--to our deep disappointment and dismay. We were shocked and horrified when we realized the extent of the problems at CRI.
Source: CRI Connection by Jill Rische Martin-Rische. The article was originally posted at waltermartin.org, but can now be found at the URL provided.

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  1. Described as such in the "Editor's Note" at the start of "The Road to Recovery," Chapter 19 ("updated and edited by Gretchen Passantino"), in Kingdom Of The Cults, by Walter Martin; Hank Hanegraaf, General Editor. Bethany House Publishers, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Revised, Updated, and Expanded Anniversary Edition, Oct. 1997 (Note that Apologetics Index recommended the current edition of Kingdom Of The Cults instead of the version edited by Hank Hanegraaff.) [back]

About This Page:

• Subject: Christian Research Institute (CRI) and Hank Hanegraaff
• First posted: Jan. 13, 1997
• Last Updated: Jan. 22, 2005
• Editor: Anton Hein
• Copyright: Apologetics Index

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