Followup to my personal story

From a followup to the letter that I sent earlier:

I am writing to make two additions to the November 22, 2003 personal statement that I addressed to you concerning the unscriptural teachings and aberrant practices of the University Bible Fellowship (UBF) that I experienced as a member of the Chicago UBF headquarters from 1976 – 2001. These two additions deal with institutional racism in Chicago UBF and the abuse of scripture to extract a so-called “first fruit” offering from most regular UBF members.

* Institutional racism

From the early 1980s, when I was old enough to be expected to engage in Chicago UBF recruitment efforts, I can remember hearing that “white Americans” were the most desirable kind of recruit. The rationale for this, as expressed by Samuel Lee and by the Korean immigrant UBF missionaries under his authority, was that recruitment efforts should focus on the “natives” of the foreign land, and they considered white Americans to be these natives in the United States. Members would share in their regular weekly written testimonies who they recruited (“fished”) that week and would emphasize with some pride that a particular recruit was a “white American.” Members would also share in their weekly testimonies about certain “sheep” (recruits) being “good leadership material,” that is, that these “sheep” might become future leaders of the group. The “good leadership material” always referred to white American recruits. I cannot recall one African American, Hispanic or Asian recruit being referred to as “good leadership material.”

In the late 1980s and into the mid-1990s, the emphasis on trying to recruit white Americans became more “politically correct.” “White Americans” were now to be called “North Americans.” Then in the late 1990s to the present, they were to be called “Holy Nation Men” and “Holy Nation Women (or HNWs)” And there was a particular and constant emphasis in 1999-2001 on recruiting “HNWs.” But it was still clear that these politically correct terms still referred to white Americans.

Between 1993-2000, when I served both as a fellowship (small group) leader and assistant fellowship leader, I attended the weekly meetings of fellowship leaders led by Samuel Lee. At these meetings, as I have earlier written, Mr. Lee exerted constant pressure on the fellowship leaders to keep up with his demand for greater numbers at the Chicago UBF Sunday worship services. However, in spite of his unrelenting demand for greater numbers, Mr. Lee never seemed to lose his focus on the importance of recruiting white Americans. During the fellowship leader meetings, Mr. Lee would frequently declare that only white Americans would be counted as a valid attendant of the Chicago UBF worship services. In other words, the number of people who were not white Americans attending the worship service would not count and would not be credited to the fellowship leaders. Sometimes, Mr. Lee would go further and declare that recruits of a certain racial background (other than white) would count against the worship service attendance total for a fellowship. One particular fellowship had a number of Chinese recruits attending the worship service on a regular basis in the mid-1990s. Mr. Lee declared that Chinese recruits attending the worship service would count as a “minus one,” that is, one would be deducted from the worship service attendance total for every Chinese recruit that attended. On other occasions, Mr. Lee would declare that each non-white attendant to the worship service would count as a “minus two” deduction from the worship service attendance total. In this way, he sought to penalize fellowship leaders who recruited anyone other than “white Americans.”

As an illustration of this type of institutional racism, in 1996 Kevin Albright, a current fellowship leader in Chicago UBF, shared the following at the annual UBF national staff conference:

“Second, focus on North American (NA) freshman sheep to raise disciples. There was a time when I had all black [African American] sheep or Chinese sheep or street sheep. Once Dr. Lee [Samuel Lee] gave me a direction to give away my black sheep. Reluctantly I did so. Then God gave me 3 NA [white American] boys to study with. Several months ago, Dr. Lee told me to give away my non-student sheep, which meant basically all of them. … Dr. Lee sensed my stagnant shepherd life. When I obeyed his direction from my heart, God granted me 5 new sheep in 2 weeks. These sheep are unfaithful. But God granted me 6 new sheep in the last two weeks, all NA [white American] freshmen, through diligent calling follow-up.”

(The full text of Mr. Albright’s report can be read here)

All of the former fellowship leaders and members mentioned in my November 22 statement should be able to testify to this form of institutional racism in Chicago UBF. Mr. Lee was never reprimanded or disciplined for encouraging this form of institutional racism.

* Abuses related to collections and offerings

In addition to the abuses related to collections and offerings that I mentioned in my November 22 statement, there is also the abuse of the Old Testament Law by UBF to justify the collection of a mandatory, so-called “first fruit” offering from most regular members who are employed. Most regular members are told that they must offer the first paycheck from any new job to UBF as a “first fruit” offering, and if they are hesitant to do so, then compulsion and shame are applied until they comply. I had to give this “first fruit” offering three times during my stay in Chicago UBF. All of the former fellowship leaders and members mentioned in my previous testimony should be able to testify to this form of spiritual abuse for monetary gain.

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