In 2013, IBT Media purchased the acclaimed American magazine Newsweek. This acquisition had immediate positive effects for the floundering publication when its new owners announced a return to print.
But some wondered about the identity and desired endgame of its new owners. “Who’s Behind Newsweek?” asked a 2014 Mother Jones report. “Why are the new owners so anxious to hide their ties to an enigmatic religious figure?”
The article went on to identify the true owner of the publication as Korean religious figure David Jang, whom CT had profiled two years earlier. “The Second Coming Christ Controversy” explained that Jang and his followers had founded a number of media outlets including The Christian Post, Christian Today, and the International Business Times. In addition, they’d started a Christian college in California known as Olivet University (no relation to Olivet Nazarene University) and were key influencers in the World Evangelical Alliance.
But the group wasn’t just a Korean evangelical ministry expanding its ministry to the West. Sources also alleged that the group had encouraged the belief that Jang was the “Second Coming Christ.”
In the years since CT and Mother Jones’s reporting (much of which revealed illegal work arrangements for Olivet’s primarily immigrant students), IBT Media (now known as Newsweek Media Group) has experienced a number of controversies. Last week, three editors were fired after fighting with management over what they believed had been a breach of journalistic ethics in this story, “Why is the Manhattan DA looking at Newsweek’s ties to a Christian university?”
Ben Dooley, who authored Mother Jones’s piece, joined associate digital media producer and former Christian Post reporter Morgan Lee and editorial director and co-author of CT’s 2012 Jang report Ted Olsen to discuss the group’s bizarre theological claims, how their media properties relate to their desire for influence in the evangelical world, and whether this latest controversy will change anything about how they operate.