Newsweek co-owners Johnathan Davis and Etienne Uzac are making their own headlines this week for their ex-gay proprietary support. Davis and Etienne founded International Business Times Media, and acquired Newsweek last August. Since then, national journalists have uncovered strong ties to Olivet University founder David Jang, a Korean pastor hailed as a “Second Coming of Christ” by his followers.
Herein it gets a bit convoluted.
The Guardian reports that Davis once taught journalism at Olivet, and his wife, Tracy, is the university’s president. Uzac sat on Olivet’s board of trustees until last year, and his wife, Marion, who has also worked at IBT Media, was previously the press secretary for the World Evangelical Alliance. Olivet is a member of the alliance and Jang sits on the alliance’s North American council. Olivet graduates have been hired to work in a number of roles at IBT Media. The Guardian has confirmed that as Olivet expands its operations around the U.S., IBT Media has given money to the college.
Davis said in an interview that their work and faith were separate, and that he wanted “the journalism to speak for itself” both at their new magazine and at the International Business Times, a news website that was IBT Media’s flagship title until it bought Newsweek.
In February 2013, Davis wrote on Facebook that he considered this op/ed to be “shockingly accurate.” An excerpt is below.
“The truth is no one simply chooses to have same-sex attractions (SSA). These feelings are the result of many factors, mostly environmental and familial, mixed-in with one genetic factor, a sensitive temperament. I make this claim not with a preponderance of scientific evidence, but with the clinical experience of my own practice as a psychotherapist over the last three years, plus an additional twenty years of observations from my colleagues at the International Healing Foundation.
“…it’s common for activists to claim that ex-gays are merely repressing their sexual urges and choosing to engage in heterosexual sex. If a former homosexual relapses, they then point to this example and generalize it to the entire ex-gay community as proof that change isn’t possible. Another argument they use to defame ex-gays is to say he/she was never really gay – therefore, if they weren’t gay to begin with, they didn’t really change. All you have to do is read the comment section at the end of this and any other article I’ve written, and any number of these strategies will be employed to disqualify my experience and those of the ex-gay community.”
The author of said post, Christopher Doyle, writes at the end: “Even though I’ve been married to my wife for over six years, have three beautiful children, and have not relapsed in eight and-a-half years, these activists claim that I, and others like me, am still homosexual. In essence, you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.”
Mother Jones uncovered 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.” The progressive media outlet also wrote: “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.”
As the story unfolds, how will this negative press affect the return of Newsweek in print?