The owners of the newly resurrected Newsweek are coming under scrutiny for their ties to an evangelical school founded by a former minster associated with Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Unification church, as well as endorsing gay reparative therapy.
According to The Guardian, Newsweek‘s parent company, IBT Media, has strong ties to Olivet University, a Christian college founded by Pastor David Jang from South Korea, with IBT’s chief content editor Johnathan Davis’ wife serving as president of the school.
Additionally, Davis once praised an editorial that endorsed gay reparative therapy, a controversial practice that purportedly cures same-sex attraction.
Davis and his business partner, Etienne Uzac, relaunched the venerable news magazine in early March after the previous owner, IAC Interactive, put the final issue to bed in December, 2012.
In an interview with USA Today, Uzac, who is IBT’s CEO, claimed that each partner has a 50% stake in the new company.
The revamped Newsweek inaugural issue cover story identified the founder of digital currency Bitcoin as Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto, but has been criticized by media critics and fellow journalists after Nakamoto denied being Bitcoin’s creator.
Newsweek‘s editors continue to stand by the story.
Attention now is being paid to IBT’s connection to Olivet University based upon an interview that Davis gave in 2012 to Christianity Today, stating that he once had once been an employee of the school, along with acknowledging his wife’s employment at the Bay-area school.
CEO Uzac sat on Olivet’s board of trustees until last year, and his wife, Marion, who has also worked at IBT Media, previously served as press secretary for the World Evangelical Alliance.
According to The Guardian, Olivet graduates have been hired to work in a number of roles for IBT Media.
A 2012 investigation into Jang’s activities by Christianity Today investigation in 2012 claimed that Jang was“involved in” the Unification Church of the Rev Sun Myung Moon – whose followers became known as “Moonies” in the 1970s and 80s – and had taught at one of its schools.
Tracy Davis told the Guardian in an email: “Mr Jang is not part of Rev Moon’s church.”
Additionally, Christianity Today reported that before 2006, some of Jang’s followers hailed him as the “second coming Christ” and encouraged this belief among new church members. There is no evidence, however that Jang personally encouraged this belief.
Davis has also not denied that he wrote a, now deleted, Facebook post in February 2013, where he described as “shockingly accurate” an op-ed article written by Christopher Doyle, which explained that gay people may have developed their sexuality as a result of being sexually abused as children, and could be cured of their homosexuality by therapy.
Davis wrote that the op-ed “cuts like a hot knife through a buttery block of lies.”
In a recent interview Davis stated that his personal belief about homosexuality has no “bearing on my capacity here as the founder of the company. I’m not sure how it’s relevant. People believe all sorts of weird things. But from a professional capacity, it’s unrelated.”