CEO of Christian Social Justice Magazine Steps Down Amid Accusations of Racism, Sexism

The founder of a popular progressive Christian magazine is stepping down as CEO amid accusations of sexism and racism.

Cameron Strang, the son of influential Christian magazine publisher Stephen Strang, launched Relevant in 2003 as a way to bring the gospel to a younger audience. Examining the intersection of religion and pop culture, the magazine is distributed nationally with an average circulation of 70,000.

A September 18 post on Medium by former Relevant editor Andre Henry exposed accusations that Strang's leadership style was often insensitive and he was dismissive to issues of race and gender.

Relevant CEO Cameron Strang
'Relevant' CEO Cameron Strang is stepping down RELEVANT

Henry, who is African American, claimed Strang complained about a plan to publish a story a day about people of color during Black History Month.

"Soon after that meeting, I was stripped of all decision-making power. I remained managing editor in title, but oversight of web content was given to the brand manager, oversight of magazine content was delegated to our contributing editor."

Henry says he quit the magazine a few months later, "largely because of race fatigue."

"Relevant has one guy who the business is built around—his personality and charisma—and wields absolute power," he told Religion News Service. "I think evangelical churches are often built around the charisma of one personality, and that person holds a lot of power. They're the gatekeeper of what content suits their brand, and shy away from some hard social justice subjects."

When an issue of Relevant featuring hip-hop act The Roots didn't sell as well as expected, former editor Ryan Hamm alleged Strang responded by saying, "Maybe our audience doesn't want to see scary black men on the cover."

Former managing editor Rebecca Marie Jo also claimed that Strang once referred to a television character as a "whore" in a meeting and regularly had unpredictable emotional outbursts in the office.

Relevant has long positioned itself as a publication with an eye toward social justice issues. In 2011 it launched Reject Apathy, a semi-annual magazine supplement focusing on progressive issues.

"The company rightfully did/does touch on issues that affect people of color, but that's the trap society falls into," former copy editor Kathy Pierre told the Huffington Post. "It's not enough to just talk about Black or Latinx or Asian or Indigenous issues, there has to be a real buy-in and a commitment, which I hope what's happening now can produce."

After the allegations were made public, Strang issued a statement on Tuesday saying that he will be "stepping aside" from his role at the magazine.

"Call it a sabbatical, or a leave of absence, but I want to use an extended period of time to engage a process of healing, growth and learning," he wrote. "I will be seeking counseling, as well as reaching out to Christian leaders about ways I can grow and better understand important issues, especially about race and equality."

Strang apologized for "long-term insensitivity and poor leadership."

"I've learned how my insensitivity has hurt people, and when it came to women and people of color on our staff, I was blind as to how some of my statements were especially insensitive and hurtful," he added. "Hearing that I've hurt so many members of our team and ended up reinforcing toxic systems I want to help tear down has been hard. I've caused pain to a lot of people and I'm deeply sorry."

Strang promised that, in addition to his decision to depart, the magazine was "bringing together outside voices to serve as third party sources of accountability."

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CEO of Christian Social Justice Magazine Steps Down Amid Accusations of Racism, Sexism | News