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Mon Feb 12, 2018, 05:22 PM

'The Community': 5 Things We Know About Fringe Christian Sect

Last week, several high-ranking editors and veteran reporters were fired from Newsweek, following a January 19th raid of their New York City office by the Manhattan District Attorney as part of an investigation into the publication's finances. The nearly 85-year-old magazine, as well as the International Business Times, are both owned by the Newsweek Media Group, which reportedly has connections to Olivet University a small, evangelical Bible college in San Francisco as well as a fringe Christian sect known as "The Community."

The extent of the relationship between the media organization, the university and The Community or the ties to controversial Korean pastor David Jang, who is the founder of both the school and the sect is not yet clear. (Newsweek Media Group and Jang did not respond to emails requesting comment; a representative for Olivet University tells Rolling Stone that their institution was founded by Jang "and is affiliated with a group of evangelical Christians. Like millions of other Evangelical Christians worldwide, Olivet is associated with and shares the beliefs of Evangelical Christians. Recent media reports which attempt to portray a business as a religious business due to the beliefs of their owners is a practice which is plainly discriminatory."

Yet details continue to emerge on what, exactly, is involved with membership in this Christian group that has been described as having some of the characteristics of a cult. Here's what we know about The Community so far.

It's been around for more than 25 years.
In a 2014 investigative feature, Ben Dooley at Mother Jones reported that Jang founded "the Community" in 1992 based on the idea that, instead of Christians focusing on their reward in heaven, they should create heaven on earth via institutions that "will remake the world in the image of the church." So far, it seems Jang has attempted to accomplish this by founding Olivet University in 2000, and launching several online publications including Christian Today and Christian Post. In 2006, he took a more secular approach when he founded IBT Media, publisher of the International Business Times, which acquired Newsweek in 2013.

Jang had connections to Rev. Sun Myung Moon.
According to the Mother Jones story, it was a libel lawsuit in Japanese court after Makoto Yamaya, a Salvation Army major, claimed that that the Community was part of Moon's Unification Church and that Christian Today had used mind-control on its employees that proved there was a connection between Jang and Moon. Though the court ruled that the case had no basis, filings showed that Jang had been involved with the Unification Church in his youth: he was a member of the student branch before attending another Moonie-run theological institute, which he helped transition into Sun Moon University in 1993. Additionally, four former Community members told Dooley that Jang would frequently discuss his involvement with the Unification Church, including taking part in a 1975 mass wedding ceremony, officiated by Moon himself. Now, Jang reportedly rejects Moon and his teachings. (Additionally, Olivet University denies there is any connection to Moon or the Unification Church.)


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