Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

A UBF Easter conference memory

April 12, 2006

From my personal story:

In April 2000, I attended a UBF Easter conference where Samuel Lee was present. A college student named Daniel C., the son of current Chicago UBF elder, Isaac C., delivered a message during an evening meeting. For no apparent reason, Mr. Lee stated that he did not like the message that Daniel delivered or the way that Daniel delivered the message, and Mr. Lee ordered that Daniel be made to run laps around the conference grounds in the dark of night. This all happened even while Daniel’s mother was present at the same conference. The text of the Easter message that Daniel delivered can be read at [url withheld].

I thought that night for the umpteenth time in my UBF life, as I saw Dan C. trudge sadly into the night at the conference grounds, “Only in a cult does this stuff happen.”

Horror stories in the UC and UBF

April 12, 2006

(Related: 1, 2, 3)

This was a post from February about horror stories told in the Unification Church and in UBF about former members:

I was reading something written by Ingo Michehl, a former Moonie. He and I may have crossed paths around 1989-90 at UIC in Chicago while I was going to school there and he was recruiting there for CARP, a student organization and Moonie front group. As expected, there are echoes of UBF in a lot of what he writes about his Moonie experience. Something I wanted to highlight is his experience of the horror stories that were told about what would happen to those who left the group:

My last leader, Mr. Tetsuo Yoshizumi, in Chicago once came to me after my not having followed one of his directions completely. He stuck a few hundred dollars into my shirt pocket, pushed me and yelled “I don’t want you in my center any more! You are satan! Go back to Germany – with satan! NOW! Pack your stuff and GET OUT!”

I was shocked! If I obeyed his command I would commit “spiritual suicide” (since we were taught that upon leaving the church, satan would invade us completely, destroy our family, cause us to become insane or die through some horrible accident. At meetings we would continuousely hear testimonies of leaders about members who would not “unite” with their leaders (called CF’s or Central Figures). One story the regional director of Chicago, Rev. Hong, one of Mr. Moon’s first disciples, told was that upon disuniting with his directions, a member’s child had just been born without ears. Another disobedient member had developed cancer – satan’s punishment.). What would you have done in my situation if you had been indoctrinated with all these very real fears? Well, some part of me was rebellious, saying “OK! If all my work is not enough, and you really want me to leave – I’ll go!”. Yet the other part which was dominated by fear, guilt and low self-esteem which my leader had beaten into me (verbally as well as physically), was stronger, so I lowered my head and said “I repent! I’m sorry! I’ll never do it again!”

Here are some of the UBF defenses of the horror stories told by Sam Lee, defenses that I’ve heard and read:

  • “You have to know the ‘context’ and Dr. Lee’s motives.”
  • “Was it wrong for Dr. Lee to tell such stories? No.”
  • “You should not ask whether it was wrong for Dr. Lee to tell such stories. Rather, you should ask whether the stories are true.”

"The Discipleship Game" – Program of bondage

March 28, 2006

(Related: 1, 2, 3)

More from chapter 1 of the book “Twisted Scripture” by Mary Alice Chrnalogar:


The hidden agenda of abusive discipleship is that you should not make decisions without both you and your discipler feeling at peace about it. They claim this will ensure that you will make fewer mistakes on your Christian walk. At first this seems to make logical sense: more accountability, fewer mistakes. What you do not realize, however, is that slavery may soon begin to develop. Once you agree to play this discipleship game, your discipler will be a major deciding factor in many of your choices because you come to believe that you are likely to be in sin if you act without the disciplers confirmation.

How nice of the discipler not to want you to make any mistakes in your new Christian walk. The discipler wants to help you. You probably feel grateful that someone cares about what you do in a world in which people often do not seem to care at all. This discipler may also say that he wants to make sure you find and follow God’s perfect will, and that he is advanced enough to be able to help you with your decisions.

As long as all your decisions follow the disciplers agenda, you will get all the confirmation you could possibly want. You do not feel manipulated because you are making many decisions and are allowed to follow through. You see no control because your decisions either follow the path your discipler wants you to take, or the discipler may have no preference in a particular instance. When you veer off the “path,” the controlling discipler may first try to subtly persuade you (and, if that fails, tell you) that you are in sin.

There are terms a discipler may use to guide the disciple back onto the desired path:

* “I do not have peace about it”
* “I do not know if that is God’s will”
* “Let’s continue to seek God’s will about that”

You are free to disagree if a non-controlling discipler uses one of these phrases. When they are used by an abusive discipler, however, these phrases are a kind of discipleship code that really means: “NO, NO, and NO.”


Did your discipler actually tell you “no”? Of course not. Isn’t that sneaky? So sneaky in fact that disciples who are being controlled will nearly always swear they are never told what to do. Rather, they only receive advice. While this is often true, these victims do not realize that, under psychological pressure from their discipler, they may be making many decisions against their own God-given wisdom.

There are times, however, when sneaky is not enough and the controlling discipler needs to use a heavier hand (remember, we are not discussing moral advice). This is called “discipline.” A disciple who refuses to yield will be chastened, rebuked, counseled, or will have some other Biblical-sounding word thrown in his face to get cooperation. This frequently involves being told he is not broken, not submissive, not obedient, or not humble. The disciple might be accused of being rebellious, not dying to self, not trusting enough, or being hard hearted. This labeling game usually works remarkably well in abusive discipleships.

The result is that you are compelled not to change jobs, go to school, date, get married, or do other things without first clearing it with your discipler. If he or she does not “feel peace” about it, then you do not really have permission to do it and will probably feel guilty if you go against your discipler’s opinion.

I invite you to ask yourself, “Would I have played this game if I had known all the rules?” If you had been told at the outset that to be a disciple meant to obey practically all the advice from your discipler in every area of your life, would you have become involved?

A marriage of sorts…

March 17, 2006

(Related: 1, 2, 3)

From a recent Sarah Barry “life testimony”:

I gave my heart to God first, then to Samuel Lee and to Korea. I decided to trust God’s work in Samuel Lee.

“I gave my heart to God first, then to Samuel Lee…” is what you’d expect someone like Sam Lee’s wife to say. Barry is touted as someone who “gave up her marriage.” But in terms of commitment and loyalty, she virtually married Sam Lee. It’s easy to see that very little good could come of such an unbiblical dedication of her life and devotion.

This near-marriage-level loyalty on her part to Sam Lee is a confirmation of what was observed by someone who saw the two of them operate together more than 15 years ago. I’ll repeat it here:

“[Barry] turned into the classic codependent enabler–a role she played to perfection for years, always deflecting criticism from Sam Lee [as abusive father] and acting as a ‘safe’ outlet [‘comforting (spiritual) mother’] for those of us who needed to complain.”

It also confirms what a Korean senior-level leader who left UBF in the early 90s said to me about what Barry told him, that she had made it her life’s work to build up and and support Sam Lee’s leadership by any means.

As someone else has commented, this near-fanatical devotion to one man may be “the core of the whole misery of UBF.” But here is Barry openly admitting such uncritical devotion given to a leader because in the end she sees nothing wrong with it, thus encouraging another generation of her UBF admirers to do likewise.

The "marriage by faith" program at work

March 7, 2006

(Related: 1, 2, 3, 4)

I continue to see (and be amazed by) the usual deceptions being issued from UBF about the controlled and arranged nature of the “marriage by faith” (MBF) practice. Here are a couple of examples of former members’ reactions when they saw the true nature of “MBF”:

(1) I asked questions like, “What is marriage by faith?” and I was told nothing but flat out lies and half truths. I only discovered the truth after many years of witnessing many examples. You’ve only been there one year so you can’t possibly know. Nobody will tell you the truth because they don’t want to scare you off. It was very painful for me when I finally, after four years of asking questions, realized that I was being deceived.

(2) I left after seeing the actual practice of “marriage by faith” on someone here … and the pressure placed on others to do the same. … I moved into a newly purchased house dubbed the “… House” and lived in common life with two “Shepherds.” One of whom has married a Korean woman “by faith” and another who is traveling to Korea in May to attend the 200* *** and more than likely meet a marriage candidate or two.

Occasionally, there will a slip of the UBF tongue such as the following:

“Shepherd Matthew Chiesi decided to marry to Shepherdess Mary Chiesi only by reading her life testimony, without even seeing her picture.” (quote from a UBF web site, early 2005)

But I’m sure the attempts to deceive the public and newly-recruited “sheep” about the nature of the “MBF” practice will continue.

In spite of the deceptions and denials, the signs that “MBF” is a program (arguably the most important program) in UBF should be obvious: So many “native shepherds” married to imported Koreans (London and Bonn as examples), the immigration ulterior motive of this program, the utter lack of marriages outside of UBF because of the lack of freedom to meet and marry people outside of UBF.

You might see a UBF guy in New Jersey or Germany marry a UBF girl from the Ukraine, and he may have spent a week at most in the Ukraine at a UBF conference or something. Or a guy marries a Korean girl who barely speaks English. Why do so many UBF marriages involve the INS or other national immigration agency? Some might mistake the “MBF” program for a “foreign wives” service. The point is, it should be obvious that a system is at work here because the results are systematic.

Picture this: You are a stranger to a church and ask a married couple in said church how they met. They might answer after a pause to think: “Oh, our pastor ‘introduced’ us.” If you ask all the married couples, and 99% of the couples answer something to the effect that “Our pastor ‘introduced’ us” or “Someone introduced us,” it might be a tip-off that something is really amiss at that church.

“MBF” is not a program of controlled, arranged marriage? Just look at the evidence.

"Shamanistic influences on Korean Christianity"

February 27, 2006

(Related: 1)

Here’s an interesting post on the shamanistic influences on Korean Christianity and how it relates to some people’s UBF experience:

I’ve been reading an article about Shamanistic influences in Korean Christianity at the Rick Ross website. ( I have seen this discussed on forums before, but I was able to connect some of the things that were said to my own experiences with UBF.

For example, the author of the article, Jeremy Reynalds, writes: One Korean scholar believes that Shamanism poses a very real danger to Biblical Christianity. He writes, “Korean Christianity faces imminent and dramatic confrontation with the power of Shamanism. If we overcome, we remain true to Jesus Christ. If we compromise, we are reduced to yet another form of Shamanism with Christian veneer” (Lee 1994:3-4). This same scholar says that “bok,” or material blessing, lies at the heart of Shamanism. He says that among other (negative concepts) shamanism emphasizes material blessing and success in society without any accompanying concern for others. “It is individualistic, self-centered and possessed with selfism; a combination which results in divisiveness. Bok is not amenable to either individual or social ethics” (Lee 1994:4). With this in mind, it is perhaps not surprising that the concept of Biblical blessing eventually became distorted in the Korean church.

I remember that after spending time with UBF members, I started to hear a lot about how God will “bless” us, not only with spiritual riches, but also materially (for example, when we got a large tax return, this was Gods blessing in our lives). Also, these blessings were connected with the things we would do in life; if we faithfully carried out the ministry God had for us (a UBF-based ministry), we would gain Gods blessing. I have no problem believing that God blesses us when we obey him (for example, He blessed Daniel when Daniel abstained from food forbidden by God). But I have also learned that sometimes, people who live godly lives have hard lives in this world, and sometimes those who live apart from God have comfortable lives in this world (for example, in the parable about the rich man and Lazarus, in which the sinful man is rich in this life, and godly Lazarus is a poor man). We had started to think we would be guaranteed blessings if we did the things UBF prescribed for us. When things in our lives started to get difficult, we thought we were doing something wrong, even though God often uses hard times to test and strengthen our faith. Another quote in the comments section…

I recall that Sam Lee applied the “shamanistic” label to the UBF “missionaries” he expelled for attending charismatic revival meetings, as described here. Turns out that Sam Lee and his disciples fit the definition of “shamanistic” better and the definition of “Christian” worse.

"The Discipleship Game" – Rules taught by men

February 17, 2006

(Related: 1, 2, 3, 4)


The following excerpt is a continuation of chapter 1 of the book “Twisted Scripture” by Mary Alice Chrnalogar. The author reveals one of the first twists of Scripture by abusive disciplers (“shepherds” in UBF): the expansion of the biblical definition of sin. We’ve seen this plenty in UBF. For example, UBF sermons have proclaimed that students missing meetings or Bible study appointments for any reason is a grave sin. Missing the UBF Sunday meeting for any reason is equated with “breaking the Sabbath”. They invent their own sinner categories such as “the slippery sheep.” (Hint for UBF recruiters: They’re not “slippery;” they’re just avoiding you and your constant pressuring.)

I continue to be contacted by students from major and minor UBF chapters, who describe the distress caused by UBF’s imposition of their man-made rules on them. Here’s the excerpt:

In his letter to the Colossians, Paul warns of the foolishness of man-made rules: “Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom…but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.” The Apostle also admonishes us, “Do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon or a Sabbath day” (Col. 2:8-23).

Leaders in most discipleship groups will admit that their rules are different than those in most churches. The truth is they feel they are closer to what an authentic Christian experience should be. I have heard many people compare the discipleship groups they were in to monastic orders or even the army. Some disciplers even draw the comparison: “We are God’s Green Berets!” But when people are inducted into such orders or join the military, they know what they are getting into and know what the rules will be. Ask yourself: When did you agree to the rules? When did you find out what the rules were?

The rules of abusive discipleship are not evident in the beginning. What is initially obvious is a great display of personal attention, love, and caring. This is what people usually (and understandably) find so attractive about such groups. They will call you even when no one else does, they will invite you out to dinner, they will tell you that they care. They will also tell you that you can grow much faster spiritually by having a discipler who is wiser (than you) in the Lord. They will impress upon you all the wonderful benefits of being a part of such a program. And they will teach you that Jesus did this exact same thing with his disciples. You will be assigned a “buddy” to stand alongside and be your constant friend. It is often true that, with spiritual guidance, we can grow much faster. The problem is that, in some discipleships, spiritual growth accelerates for a short yet seductive period before being restricted by controlling techniques.

As your relationship with the abusive discipler develops, you find out there are rules–actually more rules than you might have expected. By contrast, there won’t be hidden rules as you learn in healthy discipleship.

You may be led to believe that any violation of the disciplers rules can be a sin. This is part of the deceptive and hidden agenda built into the program. You begin to believe that it is actually sinful to not follow the rules once you have accepted the discipler as your buddy.

Once you become involved in a domineering program, you frequently discover that its considered sinful (or at least backsliding in your spiritual development) to break your commitment and end the relationship.

In a controlling discipleship, there are other ideas that are hidden from you. Aberrant discipleship teaches new meanings for such words as obey, submit, die to self, and brokenness. Their meaning is altered from the true Biblical understanding of these concepts. Abusive disciplers expand the meanings far beyond what the Bible teaches, to imply that, anytime you do not want to accept the advice of a leader, you are likely not broken, obedient, submissive, or dying to self. These non-Biblical definitions are usually concealed until the abusive disciplers feel you are trusted enough to accept their teachings.

In abusive discipleships, sin is expanded to mean almost anything that the leaders do not like (e.g., challenging leaders actions, not obeying leaders advice, disagreeing with leaders, questioning leaders, or openly criticizing leaders).

The most common non-Biblical idea that is planted in members minds by abusive groups is that they are rebellious, hardhearted, or prideful when they decide not to follow the group’s rules. Breaking a rule is usually taken to mean sinning against God. This is coercion because these dedicated Christians will force themselves to follow agendas they would otherwise refuse to accept.

An important, yet subtle, rule is:

You should wait until both you and your discipler
agree before you actually make an important decision.

You are led to believe that you should get this confirmation so you will “know” that whatever you want to do is God’s will. Actually, it simply means getting permission from the discipler.

Abusive disciplers expect you to:

  • make considerable time in your schedule for them
  • call them frequently to get advise
  • meet with them often
  • share with or confess your sins to them, and to be “transparent” to them in every area of your life (UBF: sogam sharing)
  • trust them with all your most intimate secrets–even though they may have nothing to do with sin (UBF: write a many-page “life testimony” containing intimate details which then gets “edited” down to 2 pages)
  • discuss even your non-moral decisions with them
  • trust the advice your discipler gives you, and obey this discipler in every area of your life.

John Jun on the "enemies of God"

February 13, 2006

(Related: 1, 2)

From the same recent “message” in which he sees the parents of UBF recruits as an “obstacle,” John Jun, the newly “inaugurated” Director of UBF states:

Burning anger consumed him, like a volcano. He took the disgrace as his personal insult. Out of his spiritual anger, he committed himself to killing this enemy of God, and removing the disgrace of Israel and the insult against God. David’s challenging spirit [classic UBF-speak] came from his holy spiritual anger.

God’s people [UBF-code meaning “UBF members”] must have spiritual anger. Once, Apostle Paul was preaching the gospel to an important official who had a spiritual desire (Ac 13:4-12). But a sorcerer tried to turn him from the faith. Then Paul, filled with holy anger, cursed him saying, “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right!.” Then the enemy of God became blind. Here we can see that if we truly love God and God’s flock, we come to have spiritual anger naturally. I pray that we also love God and God’s flock from the heart, and challenge the enemies of God with spiritual anger.

The language and philosophy here are not substantially different from Sam Lee’s: “We must HATE the enemies of God!!!” The future direction of UBF seems set. As in the past, those who disagree with UBF’s cultic methods are labeled the “enemies of God.” Internal dissent is also “of the enemy” and not tolerated. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss, not that much more could have been expected from an old crony like Jun.

"The Discipleship Game"

February 3, 2006

(Related: 1, 2)

The following is the beginning of chapter 1, “The Discipleship Game,” from the book “Twisted Scripture” by Mary Alice Chrnalogar. A few chapters of the book are on-line. One of the editors of the book is a former member of UBF who was personally abused by Lee/Barry. The game described in chapter 1 reminds me of PECAS’ writing on “systematic obedience training” through which UBF tries to usurp a recruit’s right to make his own choices. It’s helpful to know that, in essence, UBF’s system and tactics are as old as the existence of cults themselves.

The Discipleship Game

Chapter 1

You agree to wait for confirmation from your discipler before initiating important decisions. This works out to be getting permission.

Let’s start by playing a game. Below are twelve items, six of which you are to pick:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

What you do not know is that I have decided I don’t want you to choose items 4, 7, or 10. On the other hand, I do want you to take items 2 and 5. The rest are of no consequence to me. What are the chances you will pick the ones I want you to choose and not choose the ones I don’t want you to? Not very good, are they? How could I get you to pick the ones I want without telling you? How could I control you to make my choices your choices but make you think that you decided?

Easy. I could play a manipulative discipleship game. First, before you started the game, I would teach you that, although this may be your first time playing, I have played this game a lot. In fact, I have spent so much time in prayer and study that God now inspires me to know the best choices (This often implies that God inspires me to know the best choices for you too). Then we would begin to play. After two choices, I would tell you that it is God who wants us to agree on each choice. This, I would tell you, is the kind of spiritual unity the Bible teaches. With this in mind, you would proceed with the remaining choices.

Suppose in those six choices, you only stumbled on one of the three items I did not want you to take. This is the only time I had to tell you that I did not agree with you. And, when you were on your last choice and you still had not picked item 5, I shared with you that God revealed to me the superiority of item 5. So you took it last. Five out of six times you got your choice, but you also benefited from my “divinely inspired wisdom” to make a good last selection.

You feel as though you are making up your own mind pretty well. You feel neither coerced nor controlled. In fact, you appreciated the help you got. In the end, however, I got what I wanted without your knowing it; and, of course, I was the one who told you had twelve choices and who directed you to select only six. I set up the rules of the game.

Abusive discipleship is played approximately the same way. Control over people is disguised as agreement with a discipler who, you are told, has your best interests at heart. Unlike the game, the choices are not trivial, but are more likely to be important (e.g., whom to marry, what vocation to pursue, and where to live). Unlike the game, however, abusive discipleship results in unnecessary fear, shame, and guilt—and, most importantly, the rules of abusive discipleship are not Biblical rules.

Giving up on change

January 26, 2006

(Related: 1, 2, 3)

(Click to view the full-size version. Ok, so the cartoon’s not specifically about UBF, but it’s got a good point. I talk about someone who was abused in UBF 4 months ago and left. Then someone claims that UBF has changed so much in the last 4 months. And so it goes.)


Can Abusive Churches Change?

Those who find themselves in authoritarian churches often remain despite the difficulties because there is an underlying hope that the church can change. Even after they leave they often remain keenly interested in the affairs of the former church because they hope restoration will still occur.

Can abusive churches change? Although with God all things are possible, it is my opinion that it is highly unlikely that this will happen. Although a few have, they are the exceptions.

Why is change in these organizations so difficult? One reason is that change usually begins in the leadership. However, the leadership structure is designed so that the leader [or cabal of leaders] has control over the personnel. Although there may be a board, the individuals on the board are ultimately selected by the authoritarian leader. He selects men and women loyal to him [that cabal again], who do not question him, or hold him accountable. Therefore, he insulates himself from dealing with difficult issues or addressing his unhealthy practices.

Dysfunctional leaders also resist change because it is an admission of failure. In order for a genuine change of heart, leaders must first acknowledge a problem and repent. However, a leader who considers himself “God’s man” or the spokesman for God will rarely humble himself to confess his shortcomings. Spiritual wholeness and renewal cannot be achieved until unhealthy behavior is recognized and dealt with. Unless this behavior is confronted, the likelihood of real change is diminished.

In most cases, the leadership focuses the blame on others. Those who left the church were not committed, were church hoppers, etc. Stephen Arterburn writes, “Anyone who rebels against the system must be personally attacked so people will think the problem is with the person, not the system.” It is often useless to point out flaws because an abusive church lives in a world of denial. Many of the leaders are themselves deceived. Although sincere in their efforts, they may have no idea their leadership style is unhealthy and harmful. They are usually so narcissistic or so focused on some great thing they are doing for God that they don’t notice the wounds they are inflicting on their followers. These leaders often twist Scripture to justify their unhealthy behavior. Most members will go along with this because they assume their pastors know the Bible better than they do.

Lastly, authoritarian churches make every effort to ensure that a good name and image is preserved. Therefore, the leadership often functions in secrecy. Disagreeing members are threatened and told to remain silent or are quietly dismissed.

For these reasons, it is my opinion that it is best to leave an abusive or unhealthy church. Learn to let go [of the hope of change] and let God deal with that group. Only He can bring people to repentance [No doubt about it]. Although painful, leaving an unhealthy church and joining a healthy body of believers will begin the healing process and open new doors of fellowship, worship, and service for you.

Add to these reasons the dynamics of Korean Confucianism in which saving face is more important than anything.