Jesus Revolution: Is Josiah Based on a Real TIME Reporter?

The faith-based film ‘Jesus Revolution’ tells the story of the Jesus movement, which took shape in the late 1960s in California and had a massive impact on the youth population there. Most of the parishioners they attracted were part of the hippie counterculture. The plot predominantly revolves around Lonnie Frisbee (Jonathan Roumie), Greg Laurie (Joel Courtney), and Chuck Smith (Kelsey Grammer) — three people that played significant roles in the Jesus movement. Josiah (DeVon Franklin) is a reporter sent to cover this rising spiritual movement. He grows close and interviews Smith and Laurie, but doesn’t reveal who he is working for. It isn’t until a particular issue of TIME magazine comes out that Smith and Laurie find out the truth. 

Josiah Based is Seemilngly Not a Real TIME Reporter

No, Josiah doesn’t appear to be a real TIME reporter. The article, which seems to have been written by multiple people, came out in the June 1971 issue with the photo of Jesus on the cover. According to Laurie, TIME editors came up with the phrase Jesus Revolution. “We didn’t call it a revolution,” he explained in an interview with TIME magazine. “TIME magazine coined that phrase. We called it ‘The Jesus Movement.’ But I think actually TIME editors had it right, because they saw something bigger.”

Another article published in TIME in the same month indicates that Richard Ostling, the magazine’s New York-based religion reporter, was a major contributor to the story, so he might have served as a blueprint for Josiah in the film.

Ostling received a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and a second one in religion from George Washington University. Before his tenure at TIME began in 1969, he worked for four years at Christianity Today. Ostling spent about 27 years at TIME, penning cover stories on several subjects. He co-authored the article, ‘Aborting America: A History of the Abortion Rights Movement in the United States,’ with Bernard Nathanson. He also wrote articles on the likes of Billy Graham, the Dalai Lama, and Mother Teresa. He has also worked for the Associated Press.

Ostling was married to his wife Joan, who was an author and associate professor of English and journalism at Nyack College. They had two children together, Margaret and Elizabeth. Joan passed away due to breast cancer in 2009. At present, Ostling seems to run his own religion Q&A blog.

According to co-director-writer-producer Jon Erwin, he was drawn to the project after reading the TIME article. “The TIME Magazine cover from 1971,” he told PluggedIn. ”… was something I bought in 2015 from eBay. I read an article you couldn’t read online and was blown away by it. We were doing another movie called ‘Woodlawn,’ so I was researching the time period, and I read this story and I was mowed over by it like I wasn’t quite aware of this last Spiritual awakening.”

After Ostling and other reporters sent in their findings, Mayo Mohs penned the article. “Jesus is alive and well and living in the radical spiritual fervor of a growing number of young Americans who have proclaimed an extraordinary religious revolution in his name,” he wrote in the article. “There is an uncommon morning freshness to this movement, a buoyant atmosphere of hope and love along with the usual rebel zeal.”

Read More: Jesus Revolution: Is Chuck Smith a Real Person? How Did He Die?