UBF and support for healthy marriages

August 16, 2006

(Related: 1)

What support? You’d think that if a church decided to do the cultic thing by strictly arranging all marriages, they would at least provide sufficient support and guidance, knowing that the problems associated with arranged marriages will inevitably surface. But not so in UBF. Here’s something I wrote in 2004:

Date Posted: 14:59:47 10/11/04 Mon
Author: Joe
Subject: UBF’s support for healthy marriages

[A UBF spokesperson wrote as a way of defending UBF arranged marriages:]
>>b.) Since you bring up marriage, I would like to point
>>out that marriage is more of a process of forming a
>>relationship, rather than a single event. [Sounds nice, doesn’t it?]

I’ve wanted to write about this for some time, and I will do that more fully later. Not only is the way that typical UBF marriages begin wrong, but the way that UBF marriages are nurtured (or rather, not nurtured) is wrong. Consider the utterly asinine marriage “vows” that have been typically exchanged at UBF weddings.

“Do you promise to cook for him and do the dishes? Say ‘I do!’ Not loud enough! Say ‘I do!'”

* Add your examples here.

Consider how husband and wife typically refer to each other [in UBF]: “my coworker”

This betrays a lack of understanding and a lack of interest in trying to understand just what marriage is, just how serious it is, just how hard the work is to make a marriage work. Yet they are constantly pushing their recruits and their children to get married and often hurriedly putting two people together at the 11th hour.

Nick T. has recently expressed this better than I have:

10th-Aug-2006 04:07 am (UTC) – what normal people think of marriage
[by] nick__t

The ubf tries to define marriage as the ‘big day’ that the arranged couple becomes a couple formally. The ubf has no concern or theology about what constitutes a marriage after the big day.

If we survey healthy churches, there is almost no interest in how a couple become married. What healthy churches are concerned with is how the couple progresses, and the welfare of the people in the marriage.

For example, I went to the Grace to You website of John MacArthur’s church. I went to resources, plugged in the keyword ‘marriage’, and it came up with 244 results, mostly books on marriage. A ‘marriage’ search at the Willow Creek Church Seed’s Bookstore came up with 1108 items, mainly books. Healthy ministries do all kinds of things to be a blessing to married couples, and thus entire families. Marriage in God is so much, but ubfmarriage is so lame and pathetic they can’t even describe it.

ubf cares about young peoples’ marriages about as much as Stromboli cared about Pinocchio.

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Easy believism

July 29, 2006

(Related: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

No, not that easy believism. I’m talking about the easy believism described below (from here):

He [a “Christian journalist”] wrote to me stating he has met with the Joe Jr. team [leaders of a church] and that the church was no longer a cult. He stated he has taken the “leader’s word at face value and trusted them.” If this is an example of what is available for Christian guidance for cult members, God help us all!

God help us indeed!

I wouldn’t count on such people, who show such gullibility and such a lack of discernment about cults, to care one whit about the testimonies or plight of former members or about the evidence. I’d go further and say that dealing with such gullible people can reopen the very wounds that our former cult inflicted upon us. Sadly, such gullible and undiscerning people, for the most part, call themselves evangelical Christians.

Spiritual abuse in Kiev, Ukraine

July 17, 2006

(Related: 1, 2, 3, 4)

Here’s are some accounts of spiritual abuse in the Kiev, Ukraine chapter of UBF whose director, Peter Kim, is apparently a disciple of Peter Chang in Bonn and praised as an “exemplary” chapter leader. Many familiar themes in there for me:

17th-Jun-2006 12:51 pm (UTC)
[Author:] hdchris

I decided to translate the issues he mentions, because they once again affirm that UBF abuse is the same everywhere in the world:

* Andrew and his elder brother Ivan were down with influenza and temperature above 39C. Yet, they were commanded to attend a meeting. Ivan did not attend the meeting, therefore his wedding was postponed. Andrew being younger and not so courageous to decline attended the meeting that lasted after midnight when there was scarce public transport. After that, he got a sever pneumonia and later bronchitis, which healed completely only after leaving UBF, because in UBF he had never enough time to rest and recover.

* Andrey said the leader propagated wrong information about me and my wife (who was from Kiev) after we left UBF, in order to put us in a bad light

* Before conferences, they had 15 different meetings a week in Kiev (in Heidelberg, it was similar, by the way) where they had to come to the center

* The leader ordered some to run to the station, singing songs. Those who refused to run were kicked out.

* Those who came late to the meetings were ordered to buy food for the others (which is costly and time-consuming in Kiev)

* Those who wanted to visit their parents in the summer holidays were publicly dispraised

* It was not allowed to date or to marry without approval of the pastor

* Those members who attended other churches in Kiev were considered lost sheep

* You could not be in a good standing with UBF without attending *all* meetings

* One shepherdess was told to come to a meeting, although she had fever and her infant at home

* When the wife of the leader left the hospital in order to attend a UBF meeting, though she was on a drip, this was presented as exemplary behavior

* If you leave Kiev and visit another church in another town, you are denounced by the leader

* For those who lived in common life apartments it was mandatory to attend the early morning meeting at 6:30am in the center

* Those who are not active in the church are regularly criticized in public

* The leader blamed the members with the words even my children (3 and 10 years old) are giving more tithes than you do

* The members are told to obey *everything* the leader commands, even if it seems to be false

* Every week you need to write a sogam with a list of your own problems and application of the Bible to your life, and have to share it in public. Those who do not write are publicly denounced.

* UBF exerts training for spiritual education. Some demands of these trainings are given as if they came out of the mouth of Jesus Christ directly. Only God can demand such things from others.

* In Kiev, one of the trainings was to hold a chair over the head (even the person who was defending UBF in that discussion was among the people who were trained that way).

* If you missed the early morning meetings, sometimes money was collected as a punitive measure.

* The leader regularly said we are the disciples of Jesus Christ, we are more similar to the first church, in other churches the people compromise

* You were not allowed to miss the many meetings during the preparation phase for the conferences.

* The leader said I regret having founded the marriage of Ivan and Ira

I can also add another story I was told by another ex Kiev UBF member. He once missed the Sunday service, because he drove to another town. When he came back, he was kicked out of his home (a UBF brothers common life apartment) by the leader (though the leader of course was not even living in that apartment), and he had to spend the night in the railway station. That happened in winter.

What was Peter Kim’s response to the ex-member who presented this list of issues to him? The leader refused to even look at the list, but answered: “If you don’t like how we do it, you can go.”

Geographical distribution of UBF abuse

July 17, 2006

I’m updating my geographical distribution of UBF abuse list. The following is a simple listing of current UBF chapters where I have seen or been told of what I would consider to be reports/complaints/observations of spiritual abuse and other kinds of abuses and also aberrant teachings/practices:

United States:

Chicago HQ (obviously) and affiliates:

UIC (part of Chicago HQ)
IIT (part of Chicago HQ)
COD (part of Chicago HQ)
Northwestern U. (part of Chicago HQ)
Northeastern Illinois U. (part of Chicago HQ)
Loyola U. (part of Chicago HQ)

Triton (Chicago satellite)
Wright (Chicago satellite)
U. of Chicago (Chicago satellite)
DePaul (Chicago satellite)

U. of Illinois Urbana
Western Illinois U.
Toledo
Columbus
Akron
Cincinnati
Arlington, TX
Los Angeles
Arizona
Penn State U.
Washington D.C.
Baltimore II
New Jersey
New York
UMKC (Kansas City, Mo)
Minneapolis

Canada:

London
Montreal
Ottawa
Toronto
Waterloo

South America:

Mexico
Venezuela

Germany

Bonn
Cologne
Heidelberg

Eurasia

Moscow, Russia

Kiev, Ukraine

Minsk, Belarus

Sofia, Bulgaria

India

Hong Kong

Mongolia

Turkey

Korea (Yes, I know Korea is part of Eurasia.)

Seoul:

Anam I
NamSan
Kwanak (SNU)
Kyung Hee
Yonhee

KwangJu

UBF’s Matthew 23 hypocrisy

June 28, 2006

(Related: 1, 2)

Someone has hit it right on the head in regard to UBF’s hypocritical twisting of Christ’s commands in Matthew 23:

Another passage from the same London UBF sermon:

“Look at verses 9,10. ‘And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ.’ We have our fathers and spiritual shepherds who lead us. We have leaders in our church. They have the position in order to keep the spiritual order of the church. They are the same as us in that all believers are children of God. There must not be any difference between people and there is only one who is above us- our Father in heaven. (9b) Look at verses 11,12. ‘The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.’ Jesus tells us that we should serve one another. In order to be exalted not by men but by God, Jesus’ disciples should humble themselves.”

They quote the Bible verse which says we should *not* have “spiritual” fathers. Then they conclude: “We *have* our fathers and spiritual shepherds who lead us. We *have* leaders in our church. They have the *position* in order to keep the *spiritual order* of the church.”

What’s that for a sermon? The Bible says one thing and their interpretation is to state the opposite!?

They claim the only thing in which the leaders are “the same with us” is that they are also children of God.

Then they insert a sentence which is correct but which comletely contradicts what they said before: “There must not be any difference between people and there is only one who is above us- our Father in heaven. “

Another way of UBF to deal with Bible passages which do not fit their ideology is to simply quietly skip over them.

For instance, the verse 8: “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one Master and you are all brothers.” The messages talks about verses 5-7, then continues with verse 9, probably in the hope that nobody notices if they skip a verse. The obsession of UBFers with titles like “Dr.” or “missionary” or “shepherd” is one of their most revealing spiritual problems. This verse addresses this problem directly. The title “Rabbi” means something like “teacher” – the same as UBF shepherds claim to be “Bible teachers.” They use the title “shepherd” or “missionary” in exactly the same way as those people used the word “Rabbi.”

The problem is mentioned in verse 7 as well: “they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them ‘Rabbi.'” Here, UBF is able to comment the verse, because it starts with “they…” (the Pharisees). The UBF comment is: “They sought their own glory by being greeted in the marketplaces and being called “Rabbi.” Jesus tells them that they should not be called ‘Rabbi’.” That’s all. Jesus tells *them* – it’s only a problem of Pharisees. Then UBF skips verse 8 completely which starts with: “But *you* are not to be called…”

A UBF recruit’s account of the UBF discipleship game

June 12, 2006

(Related: 1)

Excerpts from a late 2005 email from a UBF recruit that shows how UBF plays the typical discipleship game to gain greater and greater control in non-moral areas of a recruit’s life, and it all starts with the pressure to join “common life”:

I recently joined one of the common life housing by the () center. I really wasn’t sure how I would like this arrangement. The reason that I was uncertain was just because I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to move into the church housing, figuring that there would be strict rules about curfew and things like that. And also being used to having my own space and living on my own and wasn’t sure how I would like sharing my space with so many other people.

However, I decided to go on and move into the common life housing. At first it was great. I was in such a great environment feeling as though I was growing closer to God and growing spiritually.

I began to have doubts a few months after moving into the common life housing. There were multiple reasons for this: 1) my bible teacher invited me to our weekly fellowship/testimony sharing meeting, which I had not been attending before. When I told my shepherd that I was not interested in going to the meeting, I was rebuked and accused of not wanting to “grow in my relationship with God.” I was so frustrated and hurt. My shepherd was completely overlooking the fact that I had taken a great step by deciding to move into the common life housing …

2) I was rebuked for not writing a weekly testimony. It is understandable that my shepherd wants to encourage me to daily spend time with God and meditating on his Word. However, I felt that my shepherd thinks that she needs proof of this every week by me turning in a testimony weekly. It doesn’t seem to matter that I read the bible every single day and that I am struggling to come to God daily in prayer. Now I write a testimony and share at every bible study, but I only do it because I feel that I am being forced to, not because I really want to.

3) One of my roommates talks about “keeping spiritual order.” Another of our roommates was having trouble with their shepherds/ fellowship leaders. The leaders seemed to be abusing their authority in my roommate’s life and we all agreed on this. But then, the other roommate said that our struggling roommate should respect their authority because the leaders were placed in authority by God. Then my roommate brought up Hagar and Sarai, justifying “spiritual authority” with this story. Saying that God told Hagar to return to Sarai and submit to her even though she had been abused. My roommate said that this is an example of keeping spiritual authority, and by Hagar’s obedience she was blessed. [What an incredible twist of scripture.] …

4) Some of the testimonies that people share are very revealing. They speak about disobedient sheep who refuse to come to God because they do not write testimonies. They talk about their own struggles with disobedience by not following orders given by their shepherds and how they should repent.

… One day I feel like UBF is a great place, and then the next day I feel like something just is not right.

UBF and cultural relativism

June 1, 2006

(Related: 1, 2, 3)

This was part of a Feb. 2006 post from elsewhere:

UBF, in using the “it’s just a cultural difference” argument, tries to leverage the post-modernish notion that “cultural elements” are somehow beyond good and evil, exempt from any judgment based on any moral standards.

Actually, it’s not a post-modernish notion. It’s just good old-fashioned cultural relativism. So, UBF, this supposedly Christian organization has continually appealed to cultural relativism to try to defend its practices for the last 30 years or so.

"a culture of ingratiation"

May 18, 2006

(Related: 1, 2, 3, 4)

The following is part of someone’s analysis of the UBF culture:

In my opinion, there is a huge amount of desire for recognition in UBF. This results often in competitive, ambitious behavior to get it. A typical place to try and get it is to show off somehow during testimony sharing. Competition or ambition exists to be, among other things, the most

diligent
sacrificial
spiritual
knowledgeable (Bible knowledge, usually)
witty (but only in message examples–there is a tacitly assumed range of acceptable topics for humor)
studious
fruitful (a big one, this)
handsome
obedient (especially to Samuel Lee, or now, the memory of him)
“proper” (he who follows the UBF way most closely)

In this setting, UBF members are constantly eyeing each other to see who is doing what and how much, especially if anyone is veering off the path (Koreans call this 눈치–Hangul here in case you can’t see it, or “noonchee;” ask your wife; it literally means “measuring with the eyes” and basically means critical or judgemental). They (not necessarily members only–“sheep” learn to do this too) work hard to be accepted by others, especially leaders. There is a form of very strong peer pressure and corporate behavior. This is what I call, for lack of a better phrase, a “culture of ingratiation.” It means to gain favorable acceptance, especially from the leaders, by deliberate effort. Basically it’s a drive to be recognized, to be accepted and praised. The term “ingratiation” fits, but might be a little incomplete–if you can find a larger term that includes it, then that one might be better. I find it to be really immature behavior.

“Culture of ingratiation” bothered me a bit when I first read it. Could I come up with better words? But thinking about it again, the author has captured it perfectly with “ingratiation”. It’s all about human action, human accomplishment. Where’s the grace in UBF? Where’s the grace in the gospel of UBFism? It’s missing. “Grace” is mentioned, but it’s rendered meaningless, dead–drowned, strangled, suffocated by the culture of ingratiation.

In my totally unqualified opinion, “ingratiation” sounds like it has the same roots as Phillip Yancey’s concept of “ungrace,” the man-made laws and legalism that rob grace of any meaning and wonder in UBF. All I have to do is remember the 15-20 foot wide X-Mas “registration battle” chart (among other charts) plastered against a UBF headquarters wall to know what Yancey means by “ungrace.” (Christmas 2006 UPDATE: They’re still using that huge “registration battle” chart.)

UBF and human rights

May 4, 2006

(Related: 1, 2)

The right to make your own decisions is a fundamental human right. It is the pattern of all cults and abusive groups to attack this fundamental right, subtly, relentlessly, from the start of your recruitment process. Here’s a comment on UBF and the concept of human rights, which was prompted by the report of another UBF message that tries to erode respect for the concept of human rights:

31st-Mar-2006 02:51 am (UTC) – Jesus’ lordship as dictated by a UBF leader

“The author claims that ‘But we cannot talk about our human rights with Jesus.’ ”

This just continues a pattern established by Sam Lee in his sermons for many years. He consistently disparaged the concept of human rights in his sermons. The motive was obviously to erode respect for human rights so that many kinds of abusive training could be justified. So, here is more evidence that UBF continues or wants to continue to employ abusive training.

A Christian ministry knows and teaches that our fundamental rights and value as human beings come from God’s image in us and God’s absolute moral character. UBF evidently does not have a clue about that. They never have.

The sick thing is that they try to bring Jesus down to their level. Jesus did not operate that way. As Chris has said, because a UBF leader is the one who dictates “Jesus’ lordship” to you in your life, it’s easy to see through the statement, “But we cannot talk about our human rights with Jesus.”

Here’s another important observation made by someone else:

31st-Mar-2006 03:51 pm (UTC)

UBF seems to want to present the notion of human rights as a concept invented by men (for example, the founding fathers of the U.S.). Every other Christian organization I’ve been a part of has specifically acknowledged human rights as something that flows out of humans’ special creation by God; therefore, each one of us has individual freedom of choice, worth, and purpose.

This has prompted me to add the following to my “statement on reconciliation”:

5. They continue a system of authoritarian shepherding … As has been their decades-long habit, they continue to disparage any notion of human rights, rights which might restrict or moderate the totalist nature of UBF “training.”

The UC, UBF and "decisions of faith"

April 24, 2006

(Related: 1, 2, 3)

Another post from earlier this year concerning similar experiences in the Unification Church and UBF:

Here’s another excerpt. Here we can see the Unification Church playing a “discipleship game” similar to that experienced by many in UBF, the game called “make a decision of faith (and make sure your ‘decision’ matches our will)”:

I soon found myself fascinated and entangled with the doctrine, feeling compelled to stay by the message that upon continuous repetition I had unconsciously come to accept. I was unable to overcome the fear I had been indoctrinated with, i.e. the fear of betraying God and of being invaded and destroyed by satan if I left this “heavenly fortress” (or “bootcamp”) that, I had come to believe, protected me. THE FEAR I HAD BEEN “INJECTED” WITH, AND MY DESIRE TO SERVE GOD, WERE FROM THEN ON OFTEN USED TO MANIPULATE MY DECISIONS, TO ELIMINATE CHOICES WHICH DID NOT SERVE THE GROUP’S PURPOSES – THUS UNDERMINING MY OWN FREEDOM OF CHOICE. My leaders in California, including Mr. Aokie (regional director), Myra Stanaecki, and a woman named Jossenta, upon learning that I was scheduled to begin my civil service (the mandatory substitute for military service) in Germany by Dec. 1st., 1986, had a meeting and, rather than advising me to return home, told me that … “I should decide.” Since I had accepted their teaching, choosing that option would have been equal to betraying God and committing spiritual suicide. As a freshly commited new member I would never opt for this choice – and they knew and relied on it.