Posts Tagged ‘cultural-differences’

The "cultural differences" rationalization

June 3, 2004

More than once I have heard abuses at the hands of Korean UBF leaders, even physical violence, being justified by saying that the allegations of abuse were due to a “cultural difference” or “cultural misunderstanding.” Strangely, I’ve heard these kinds of rationalizations from “American” members of UBF, not Koreans. One instance was a blog entry by Patrick Chan who has since left a UBF chapter on the West Coast. Some of the comments that I and others left on Patrick’s blog regarding this “cultural difference/understanding” excuse:

[comment by me]

… the vast majority of those who attempted to reform UBF (3 times) were “1st generation” Koreans, born and raised in Korea and steeped in Korean culture. They and I will tell you that the reform issues had to do with morals and ethics from a biblical point of view, not culture.

[comment by exUBFSoul]

2. Cultural Differences

The director of UBF, Sarah Barry, is not Korean.

UBF is a shepherding church and countless Shepherding/Discipling movement churches in AMERICA suffered from identical problems. The ICC is an AMERICAN church with identical problems. Different churches, different cultures, same system, and same problems. The logical conclusion is that the system is the problem.

If the problem were merely cultural it wouldn’t exist in Korea or among 1st generation Korean members but James Kim and the early reformers are 1st generation Koreans. The same pattern of abuse exists in Korea (one Korean shepherdess testified that she was coerced to have an abortion).

The aforementioned facts prove conclusively that the UBF problem of shepherds abusing their sheep is a problem that is independent of Korean culture.

[comment by me, acknowledging that culture does play a part, but not in the way that UBF people say it does]

Patrick, thanks for the opportunity to comment (again). There is indeed overlap between the views of 1st generation Koreans who tried to reform UBF (and have since moved on) and those who now vigorously oppose UBF. They and we saw many of the same problems in UBF, moral problems that go WAY beyond causing a guy to split up with his girlfriend. But I would be remiss in stating that culture had no part in how the 1st generation Korean would-be reformers reacted to the problems they saw in UBF vs. how someone like me has reacted to the same problems.

That very 1st generation Korean, James Kim, wrote an open letter to Samuel Lee in 1989 pointing out the fact that Samuel Lee had ordered several UBF women to get abortions. But in the same letter, Mr. Kim suggested that Samuel Lee be given a fixed and very substantial salary so that Lee could relinquish his sole and absolute control of the UBF offering treasury. Think about it: Mr. Kim is outraged that Lee could abuse his authority in such ways without any moral restraint and order women to abort their babies and expect to be obeyed, but incredibly, he basically suggests that Lee continue in his office as the Director of UBF and get a raise! Where Mr. Kim suggested a raise in salary, I would have suggested at least a resignation in disgrace for Lee. That’s where the cultural difference comes in. Mr. Kim and I, from different cultural backgrounds, both agree that the things Lee did were morally reprehensible, unbiblical, ungodly, wrong, etc., but our cultural differences do tend to color our different ideas about what to do about UBF’s problems. That’s part of why CMI, which is largely run by 1st generation Koreans, no longer has any association with anti-UBF activities.