For awhile now, Crossroads Christian Communications has been using a David Jang website for it’s news feed at Crossroads 360.
And with the purchase of Newsweek by a Jang company called IBT Media, interest has spread far past US evangelical circles.
The New York Times did a piece on David Jang and Olivet University in October, the last few days have seen two important investigative pieces. The Guardian looked at IBT Media, Olivet University and other Jang media holdings on Friday: Faith and a media icon: Newsweek’s unconventional new owners
A Mother Jones investigative article which came out yesterday titled Who’s Behind Newsweek? , not only confirms the work done by Christianity Today and The Guardian, but goes far deeper than anyone associated with Jang or defending him is going to be, or should be comfortable with.
But the connections between IBT and Jang’s Community, a Mother Jones investigation has found, go much further than Davis and Uzac have acknowledged. Thousands of pages of public records and internal documents—ranging from emails to budgets and strategic plans—and interviews with more than a dozen former IBT employees and members of Jang’s inner circle make clear that:
- Olivet and IBT are linked to a web of dozens of churches, nonprofits, and corporations around the world that Jang has founded, influenced, or controlled, with money from Community members and profitable ministries helping to cover the costs of money-losing ministries and Jang’s expenses. Money from other Community-affiliated organizations also helped fund IBT’s early growth.
- Olivet students in the United States on international student visas say they worked for IBT and other Community media entities, sometimes for as little as $125 a week. Both Olivet and IBT described these positions as internships, and said no-one was allowed to work illegally. Several students I spoke with say they were not told they were interns, and documents from Olivet and the businesses list students as reporters, editors, and salespeople.
- According to the Times, Uzac and Davis “said Jang had no financial stake in IBT or influence on the business.” But the pair acknowledged to Mother Jones that Jang has provided “advice” to IBT. And while there’s no evidence Jang controlled editorial matters, internal documents show him routinely weighing in on a wide range of business decisions, from personnel and business strategy to typography.
- Jang sees Community-affiliated media organizations, including IBT, as an essential part of his mission to build the kingdom of God on Earth. He has said that media companies affiliated with the Community are part of a new Noah’s ark designed to save the world from a biblical flood of information.
When Christianity Today began to poke at the shadows of Jang’s interests in North America, The Christian Post struck back with some of the most base and ugly smears I have ever seen and with legal threats, which is a documented Jang tactic. As bad as the Post articles were, the comment sections were flooded with Jang supporters toeing what seemed to be the community line. It makes more sense now given what Mother Jones has uncovered with the use of Olivet students and spouses as cheap help, contravening US labour laws. It makes sense given an IBT Media no-talk rule.
As The Guardian and Mother Jones articles have been picked up (example: The Business Insider: Newsweek Backers Tied To Program Seeking To ‘Propagate The Gospel’ Through Journalism) Jangs people at Olivet University and IBT Media are suddenly clamming up.
The questions are not going to go away, I hope more media outlets investigate and I hope that more frightened Jang followers and Olivet University students find the courage to tell their stories. Jang can’t sue everyone investigating his theology and his business practices.
Crossroads Christian Communications Inc. initially provided The Christian Post with a video news report filmed in Burlington. fitting into the neo-conservative political slant of The Christian Post. That news report got dumped by The Christian Post around the time Crossroads 360 came out, Christine Williams who hosted the video, left Crossroads not long after. Now Crossroads is running a content feed from The Christian Post.
To call what The Christian Post puts out news, is stretching credulity. I would have thought after the debacle of the pieces striking at Christianity Today, ethics would have been considered by Crossroads. I was wrong.
Cultural and language barriers aside, I strongly urge every Crossroads employee, every Crossroads 360 reader and every Crossroads donor to to read the linked articles and ask themselves if the Jang tactics are something they can support in good conscience. Hopefully US Immigration officials and other US government departments will investigate Olivet University, IBT Media and other holdings. Just 16 hours ago, The Christian Post put up a puff piece on one of 100 Huntley Street US hosts.
I’m stating my objections publicly. I urge BDBO readers to do due diligence and ask Crossroads to cut ties with The Christian Post.
While media attention over IBT Media will die down quickly, troubling practices and beliefs have been going on with Jang, his followers and around his holdings for some time and despite protestations to the contrary. Given Jang’s stated beliefs, the penchant of attacking critics and whistle-blowers, and the scrubbing, hiding, and the skirting of damaging information, it is prudent to be skeptical that changes will be forthcoming.
Bells can’t be unrung, the media reports are piling up and Crossroads has a decision to make.