Earlier this week, WORLD Magazine’s longtime managing editor Angela Lu Fulton announced that she will be leaving her role after 12 years on the job. In an email she posted to social media, she said that while she was “full of gratitude” for her time at World, she is leaving because she is concerned about “the direction World News Group is headed.”
“Although I believe the journalists at World continue to do good reporting that is desperately needed in the Church, the leadership at WNG seems to be shifting its focus and resources away from biblically objective journalism toward politically conservative opinions,” she wrote.
It’s the latest in a series of shakeups at World Magazine that hint at behind-the-scenes tension at one of the most respected conservative Christian news outlets in the country. Over the weekend, a New York Times report delved into the tenure of World’s respected editor Marvin Olasky, who led World for over 25 years until he received a “effective ‘vote of no confidence'” from the board.
Under Olasky’s leadership, World has acted as a watchdog outlet for Christian institutions, providing scrutiny and accountability in an evangelical world that has often allowed corruption to fester unhindered. During Olasky’s time in charge, World broke scandals like hyperconservative writer Dinesh D’Souza’s trip with “a woman who was not his wife” and accusations of sexual impropriety and aggression from North Carolina Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn.
“Biblical objectivity” was Olasky’s unique lens for World: a philosophy World used to take stands where its leadership felt the Bible was clear and fill in the blanks with reporting.
But, like so many other Christian institutions, World wrestled enormous internal tensions during the era of President Donald Trump. In October of 2016, World editors, led by Olasky, called on Trump to step down from the race following revelations of his comments about assaulting women. The New York Times reports that the board was “furious” with the article.
Since then, numerous hot button political issues like the COVID-19 vaccine, the killing of George Floyd and the aforementioned Cawthorn article roiled World staff. Olasky said he believed the staff tensions were “manageable” until board member and Southern Theological Seminary President Al Mohler launched World Opinions, which published essays on both religion and conservative politics.
“That’s when I realized this wasn’t going to work,” Olasky told the New York Times. “I realized we were really coming from different vantage points.”
“I am not interested in the project of a conservative opinion magazine,” Olasky continued.
And Olasky wasn’t alone. Four-decade veteran reporter Mindy Belz, who is the sister-in-law of World founder Joel Belz, resigned in October. In her final piece for World, she wrote that the magazine was “heading in new directions, some I don’t embrace and fear may compromise the hard reporting many of us have spent years cultivating.”
And senior reporter Sophia Lee joined Fulton in tendering her resignation on October 27.
The chief executive of God’s World Publications Kevin Martin played down to the impact of Olasky’s departure to the Times, saying “I don’t see in any way that we are becoming more partisan or more Trumpy.”
However, in her social media post, Fulton said her issue “was greater than just Trump.”
“To me, the issue is the belief that one narrow subset of Christians is in sole possession of ‘the correct’ ideology and are the only voices to be trusted,” her letter reads. “That mindset runs counter to the message of the Bible as well as the on-the-ground reporting that we do in diverse communities in the United States and around the world.”