Posts Tagged ‘horror-stories’

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.”

Those who "ran away without saying goodbye"

July 3, 2004

There are many hundreds and probably thousands of UBF “runaways” (as UBF refers to them) (*). They are those who have always been spoken of in sogams, often derisively, as “those who ran away without saying goodbye.” Sometimes they leave in the middle of the night after packing their bags in their “common life” apartment. Sometimes they leave a few days after sharing a “gracious” sogam at the Friday “leaders meeting.” They leave because they feel the controlling vise of UBF beginning to close in on them, beginning to squeeze them. The “love (bombing)” they felt initially has been replaced by relentless control, and the meetings they first attended with joy, they now attend with dread. They leave without saying goodbye and just try to forget their experience. These hundreds and thousands are the ones that will probably never be heard from on the Internet. Can these be said to have left UBF “on good terms” as UBF might claim?

Where do you find hundreds and thousands of such former members who feel troubled enough, scared enough about the group they were recruited into that they leave the group in such a way and don’t look back? Don’t you find them in cults?

To get an idea of why some people might leave UBF without saying goodbye, read the following from

1. Report by a former Korean woman missionary of the UBF

(in extracts, translated by Cheong, Yoo Seong)

To those still wanting to lure me into the UBF and to those wanting to help me to resist: had to spend the last days full of fear and scared, after R. and L. (the names are known to the editor), both belonging to the UBF, suddenly visited me (on Dec. 28th) and repeatedly harassed and threatened on the phone (between Dec. 29th 1984 and Jan. 1. 1985). I have therefore decided to write down my request so that you can help me if anything happens to me by the UBF. I ask you for help, e.g. to inform my family and the police, if that will happen! I hereby express definitely that it is my absolutely determined decision to neither come back to UBF – for instance no participation any more at the Bible course or conversation – nor allow any search for contact with me, particularly if I am alone. My only desire is to get away from the UBF definitely and thus to be able to be free completely.

I have nothing else left than fear of the UBF which has held me and wants to hold me against my will; once I have been locked in in my room because I wanted to dissociate myself from the UBF. After that I even was displaced and held from my Dortmund dormitory to Cologne till I could escape in the night. That is another reason why I still fear, that the UBF people could come again and kidnap me …

It has not been beyond UBF leaders, in my experience, to do the following types of things to people who might be contemplating leaving UBF:

  • Order members to deflate the car tires of those who might try to leave (happened to Jonathan R.)
  • Board up the apartment doors of those who might try to leave (see my personal story)
  • Confiscate passports so that people can’t leave the country (also see my personal story)
  • Order a group of members to “visit” a person who might try to leave in order to berate and harrass them
  • Order a group of members to phone a person who might try to leave in order to berate and harrass them

(*) This is partly backed up by a recent discovery about the actual number of members in UBF in North America. After 30 years of operation in North America, UBF has a total membership (counting everyone who walks in the door on Sunday as a member) in the 3 figures (some number less than 1000). And that’s among the approximately 70 chapters listed as UBF chapters in North America in the Korean UBF “Daily Bread” booklet. That’s a number that actually matters.