In the spirit of noting the “plagues” visited upon Newsweek, I might have found the Holy Grail of the Newsweek-Russia connection (of course, by way of David Jang). Well maybe it is more like The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch.
David Jang is a member of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) and also founder of Olivet University. The WEA has acknowledged the controversy around Jang in the past. Despite this, WEA said“the WEA International Leadership Institute uses the technical platform of Olivet University as a delivery mechanism in its online delivery of education”. The WEA seems to have put to rest the concerns expressed about Jang by saying they had already been addressed by affiliate organization The Christian Council of Korea (CCK) in a separate investigation.
Jang employed WEA Theological Commission chair Thomas Schirrmacher at Olivet University. Schirrmacher is a Christian theologian and former(?) doctoral adviser at Olivet subsequent to cultivating a close relationship with the school’s leadership. According to his Wikipedia page (which does not mention his Olivet connections), “He is chairman of the Theological Commission of the World Evangelical Alliance and since 2014 president of the International Society for Human Rights (ISHR).”
The ISHR, headquartered in Frankfurt, Germany was founded by the late Mr. Ivan I. Agruzov (1924-2012) of St. Petersburg Russia, who suffered forced labor in Estonia and Germany in WW2, but stayed thereafter where he became “deeply rooted in the Russian Orthodox Church”.
Schirrmacher has had close relationships with the Russian Orthodox Church’s department for foreign affairs and the ISHR is one of “the largest human rights organizations in Russia”. (The Russian chairman is Vladimir Novitski.)
The activities of the ISHR seem consistent with a legitimate human rights organization on the surface. However, an expert source on the Orthodox Church notes to me that “Putin has made life for NGOs in Russia very difficult. Such an organization would have to have protection from Putin or Kirill.” (This organization simultaneously maintains close ecumenical ties between the Russian state church and evangelical community.)
Were this all transparent, surely they could be applauded if everything was as it seemed.
However, in the past, Russian intelligence penetrated the World Council of Churches (WCC), which the WEA seems proud to identify with. The KCIA penetrated the Moonies (which David Jang was a member of). The model for this kind of influence should be all too familiar for students of history.
This provides a plausible basis for my theory that Russia Insider and Newsweek are engaged in a “dialectic of conspiracism” which is in Russia’s interest.
Why all the opaqueness if there is truly nothing to hide?
(Edit, I updated this story to correct my inaccurate statement that Schirrmacher is the seminary rector at Olivet. He is the Martin Bucher seminary rector and proposed direct talks with Olivet’s leadership on collaboration. He was indeed a doctoral adviser there. Apologies for the careless reading on my part as I do strive to bring you accurate analysis.)