Archive for April, 2005

Random thoughts on growing up in UBF

April 18, 2005

(Related: 1, 2)

Some random thoughts on growing up a UBF 2ndgen:

Date Posted: 14:51:23 04/16/05 Sat
Author: Joe
Subject: Re: 2nd gen situation
In reply to: Chris ‘s message, “2nd gen behavior” on 06:33:06 04/15/05 Fri

>And actually, there are many other 2nd gens who left
>UBF, including the son of the “UBF president” …
>Why did they leave
>and others don’t? Maybe Joe can elaborate a little bit
>more on this. I’m not a 2nd gen and only speculating

Just some random points:

I think 2ndgens in larger chapters are under more peer pressure from loyalist 2ndgens in UBF than what I grew up with. I’m 37 years old. There are very few other 2ndgens, former or otherwise, that are that age. The 2ndgens today have a large social network of UBF 2ndgen friends that I did not have. I think this tends to keep them loyal to UBF. It’s probably the same in the “Children of God” group.

Even without the social network, I was loyal to UBF. I was angry and defensive when a TV news report came out about UBF or when students editorialized about the “wacko Korean cult recruiters” in the student newspaper. I thought we were being “persecuted.” So I can identify with (and doubt the honesty of) the general 2ndgen defensiveness about UBF.

I experienced abuse and neglect, including some of the worst that Sam Lee had to dish out, but I always “got over it.” I always dealt silently with my initial anger at being abused and could always come up with some justification for accepting the abuse. I had no choice. I couldn’t leave UBF, so I learned to deal. This process didn’t make me a better Christian or a better person.

Part of my loyalty to UBF came from my natural loyalty to my parents in spite of their neglect and emotional distance. Children can be so loyal to their parents, even when their parents don’t reciprocate. I wrote frequently of my admiration for my “great and sacrificial” parents in sogams, and people frequently reinforced it by telling me how “great and sacrifial” my parents were. I’m not sure now whether I really admired my parents or whether I was conditioned to admire them. In any case, my loyalty to UBF was tied to my loyalty to my family.

[I guess we needed constant reminders of how “great and sacrificial” our parents were, otherwise we might ponder the truth, that they were neglectful and distant. They get points for at least providing for us. (I remember us feeding ourselves a lot of uncooked Ramen noodles for dinner, the Sapporo Ichiban brand.) But we had no family life to speak of. As another former 2ndgen member wrote: “My relationship with my family was purely functional.”]

Fear of conflict with my parents, particularly my father, played a large part in keeping me in UBF. When I expressed dissatisfaction with UBF the response from my parents was so fierce that I didn’t want to go through the conflict again. Fear is a major factor in keeping 2ndgens in UBF, fear of parents and fear of an uncertain future once we leave. Most of us take the easy way out and stay in UBF.

UBF was my extended family. I was supposed to see Lee and Barry like grandparents or godparents, senior “missionaries” as my uncles and aunts. I was never very comfortable with this, but I guess it might serve to increase the loyalty of some 2ndgens to UBF. probably doesn’t represent the views of all “Children of God” 2ndgens. The views of a few vocal 2ndgens on the Internet probably doesn’t represent all UBF 2ndgens either.

Summary of what gives UBF its "cult" reputation

April 15, 2005

(Related: 1, 2, 3, 4)

Asked and answered:

On Wed, 30 Mar 2005 21:50:53 -0500, ——- ——
> Could you please highlight for me some of the major problems
> many have with
> UBF, and why some consider it a “cult”?

I think the foremost problem with UBF that has caused them to be in the news and in the sights of cult experts for some 30 years in the United States is the issue of excessive control over recruits’ lives. If a recruit shows any type of commitment to UBF, they will most likely be pressured to spend more and more time doing UBF activities which leads to the recruit’s becoming isolated and alienated from their family and friends (unless the recruit’s parents are recruited themselves as is the case with one —— UBF family). At the same time, the recruit’s family and friends may notice significant negative personality changes due to UBF putting pressure on them to conform to the image of a UBF chapter leader. It’s at this point that many parents of UBF recruits have become concerned and called cult experts and the media about UBF. This resulted in several UBF recruits undergoing involuntary and voluntary deprogrammings in the 80s. As the February Columbus 10TV news story shows, parents of UBF recruits continue to notice the same things happen to their sons and daughters after they join UBF.

So I think the major issue is excessive control. UBF’s attempt to control will only increase the longer a recruit remains. UBF will likely attempt to control where the recruit lives, trying to get the recruit to live with other UBF members whenever possible in a practice called “common life.” UBF will then attempt to control what the college recruit does after graduation. UBF will most likely pressure the graduate to stay in the same chapter, limiting the graduate’s options for job or post-graduate education location.

In what is probably the ultimate attempt to control a recruit, UBF will arrange the recruit’s marriage (the practice called “marriage by faith”). The leaders will suggest to the recruit whom they think he/she should marry and then apply pressure until obedience is achieved. The recruit may reject the leaders’ choice of marriage partner initially, but the leaders will persist with more “suggestions” and more pressure until obedience is achieved. There is no dating or even a platonic courtship in UBF in which two recruits may meet and choose each other for marriage. A common arranged marriage is a UBF member with American citizenship with a member of a Korean UBF chapter who immigrates to America shortly before the marriage, with the two members knowing little to nothing about each other before their marriage.

Other issues that have been cited about UBF are authoritarianism and the heavy use of guilt and compulsion to order the lives of UBF members. Offering and tithing is usually compulsory. Meetings and conferences are compulsory. Recruiting more members is compulsory. Dissent is not tolerated. Near-absolute obedience to leaders is expected. This is all after a recruit has become sufficiently commited to UBF.

UBF has a history of incorporating violence and humiliation in its methods of training recruits. Other methods of UBF training have been described as extremely intrusive (weight loss “training”, weight gain “training”) or bizarre (walking long distances, sometimes barefoot in the winter).

In practice, UBF has almost zero relationship with other churches, ministries, Christian institutions of higher learning or seminaries based in the United States. Other than the current UBF Director, Sarah Barry, I am not aware of any other leader of UBF who has formal seminary training or recognized ordination as a pastor, and Barry’s own claimed seminary training is under some suspicion.

Leaving UBF is almost always traumatic. Members often leave without notifying anyone that they are leaving, sometimes packing their belongings in secret. Many need counseling after they leave UBF.

Misuse of offering funds in UBF has also been cited, with members having little to no say and given no details on how funds are spent.

Due to the heavy time commitment expected of UBF members, there is a history of local authorities being notified of the neglect of UBF children by their UBF parents.

"Mercy" that extends only to the door

April 5, 2005

(Related: 1)

This is the concept of “having mercy” on someone in UBF:

Date Posted: 18:26:39 04/03/05 Sun
Author: [Toledo UBF person]
Subject: Re: Kicked Out or Leave
In reply to: Question ‘s message, “Kicked Out or Leave” on 18:07:00 04/03/05 Sun

I think most people just leave. When we decided to leave because UBF refused to address abuse, we announced it. We didn’t say when we were going to leave, but sometime in the near future. After we announced it, they gave us the “bum’s rush.” We announced it on a Sunday and the director schedules a going away meeting the following Wednesday or Tuesday and that was that. They couldn’t get us to leave fast enough. I was also told that the leaders told the members not to talk to us. In fact, just today I passed one of the former members on the street and waved to him repeatedly. He ignored me. So, did I leave or was I kicked out?

Toledo UBF spokesperson replies:

Date Posted: 19:14:43 04/03/05 Sun
Author: anonymous
Subject: Re: Kicked Out or Leave
In reply to: bruce ‘s message, “Re: Kicked Out or Leave” on 18:26:39 04/03/05 Sun

>In fact, just today I
>passed one of the former members on the street and
>waved to him repeatedly. He ignored me. So, did I
>leave or was I kicked out?

Perhaps that person just didn’t see you or recognize you. The truth is you *should* have been kicked out–when you were arrested. But instead you were shown mercy.

So rather than address the “bum’s rush” that the first poster was subjected to by the Toledo UBF, the TUBF spokesperson wants to talk about the poor guy getting arrested once; a common UBF attempt at character assassination when the issue is their abuse.

Okay, so the guy got arrested once, but he probably wanted to remain in UBF at the time, so UBF “mercy” abounded then. But when the guy makes his intention clear to leave UBF, where’s the “mercy?” It’s evaporated. The mercy seems to extend only to the doors, as does their institutional friendship and institutional love.

The TUBF spokesperson also uses an unspoken but common UBF tactic against those who leave UBF on not-good terms (i.e. almost everyone who leaves), the tactic of accusing them of “unthankfulness.” “We loved you and did so much for you and put up with you and showed you ‘mercy’ for all those years when we should have kicked you out long ago. See how ‘unthankful’ you are.” But the thankfulness never seems to flow in the other direction. After all, we offered tons of money from the sweat of our brows, we cleaned the “center” bathrooms, helped with construction work on the “centers” and chapter directors’ houses–all free of charge, cooked meals for the leader and his family (because apparently the leader’s wife can’t cook), gave up weekends and study time to practice and play music at various meetings and conferences, gave up jobs or scholarships or further study in other towns and other schools, gave up family time, all to be at the beck and call of the leader, quietly put up with you and your authoritarian control and manipulation, prayed for you almost everytime we prayed as we were taught to do, and satisfied your appetite for heaping spoonfuls of endless undeserved and exaggerated praise. But we’re the ones that are “unthankful.” Riiiiiight. We should have kicked you out of our lives long ago. Now you are kicked out.

Jesus, "OTHERS," yourself

April 4, 2005

(Related: 1)

(Alternate title: Do unto “OTHERS” as you would have them do to you.)

More on institutional racism in Chicago UBF from

Date Posted: 07:08:58 04/04/05 Mon
Author: Chris
Subject: Two kinds of “junk” sheep

The following had been posted here already two years ago:

Did you know that Samuel Lee classified people as “junk” sheep (who should not be invited and better be kicked out of UBF if they were already members), if they were not young enough or not white enough? The official euphemisms for these “junk sheep” were “uncle sheep” (not young enough) and “others sheep” (not white enough). Here is a passage from his Xmas letter in 1998:

Chicago UBF is growing recently. This year we had a goal to raise 350 American sheep. God answered our prayer by sending 350 Americans to our worship service on November 8th. We started this prayer when we had an average of 250 Americans. Among them were around 50 “uncle” sheep. I gradually sent the “uncle” sheep away to proper churches [So Lee admits UBF is not a proper church! What is it, then? They never defined it!] for their lifestyles and way of thinking [what was wrong with their lifestyle?]. They were too old to be raised as the leaders of this nation [or too old to get fully indoctrinated?]. So in reality, our number came down to 200. At the same time I could not deliver the messages even though I wrote all of the messages [he does not say why he could not]. So I began to try American shepherds as messengers. At first we lost many members [Lee implies here that the reason was that Lee preached better]. But after 6 months Pastor Ron Ward gained God’s power through his humbleness. Nobody prayed for the goal of 350 Americans. But I prayed [bragging about his own prayer – compare Mt 6:5!]. Of course, many prayed for 350 when I pushed them to pray. But when I did not push them, they did not remember our prayer topics. [UBF ministry is a ministry which only works by pushing people. Lee was very aware of this.] But God had mercy on us and this goal is established. [Why was this considered God’s mercy on *them*, and not mercy on those who were led to Bible study?] God is faithful to answer our prayer. The next goal is 500 Americans by Christmas time. Among Americans there are many kinds of Americans. We call them “others.” We pray that our “others” number may be decreased (!) and that our white American number may be increased. …

Just amazing. And again, Lee was not reprimanded or disciplined for his plain racism.