Posts Tagged ‘the-personal-story’

Finally, My Personal Story

December 2, 2003

[NOTE: See a followup to this letter written in February, 2004.]

This is a letter that I wrote in November, 2003. It represents my first attempt to describe my experiences in UBF in one document. I have obscured peoples’ names where I thought it was appropriate.

To whom it may concern:

I am writing to testify to the unscriptural teachings and aberrant practices of the University Bible Fellowship (UBF) that I know of and experienced as a member of the Chicago UBF chapter, which has been the world headquarters of UBF since 1976. I was born to UBF parents in 1968 in Korea. My father is Joseph K. C., the current President of UBF, in Chicago. I was in Chicago UBF from 1976 to August 2001. I was by no means considered a fringe member of the group but served the group in various capacities that could be considered important. I officially left the group in January 2002.

In the following paragraphs I will refer frequently to Samuel Lee. Mr. Lee is considered the co-founder of UBF along with its current leader, Sarah Barry. Mr. Lee was the General Director of UBF from the time of its inception to January 2002 when he died. He was also the leader of Chicago UBF from 1977-2002.

  • Abuses related to excessive control and medical quackery

In 1991-1992, Samuel Lee took notice of a teenage UBF recruit named John P. who had an acute skin condition (psoriasis). Thinking to cure Mr. P., Mr. Lee, who had no medical training to speak of, began to subject him to stranger and stranger “treatments.” The treatments began with ordering Mr. P. to lie outside in the UBF church parking lot in a tub of salt water. Bathing in salt water and exposure to the sun is a commonly used home remedy for psoriasis and other skin conditions. But when the salt baths did not seem to cause a significant change in Mr. P.’s condition, Mr. Lee’s “treatments” then progressed to injecting salt water into individual skin lesions on Mr. P. with a syringe [10 – 30 times per day], causing excruciating pain. [Additional “treatments” included suctioning blood out of individual skin lesions and pressing herbs into open lesions with exposed muscle underneath and lighting the herbs on fire.] Not one of the medical doctors in Chicago UBF, including my father, did anything to stop Mr. Lee. I witnessed these things, and Mr. P. who was my friend at the time revealed all this to me. Finally, Mr. P. left UBF. On February 27, 1994, the CBS television news affiliate in Chicago broadcast an investigative report about Chicago UBF and Mr. Lee during its prime-time news broadcast. Mr. P. was one of those shown interviewed by CBS and recounted the medical quackery practiced on him by Mr. Lee. To the time shortly before his death, I heard Mr. Lee and some leaders under him claiming that Mr. Lee had “completely cured” Mr. P. of his skin condition. [In an interview with a Chicago Korean newspaper, Mark Yoon claimed that Lee’s treatments had completely healed Mr. P. Mr. P. still takes medications to control his condition.] Mr. P.’s sister who was also a UBF member at the time can be contacted at [email address withheld]. She will be able to put you in contact with Mr. P.

Around 1993, I was running an errand on the third floor of the Chicago UBF church building, outside of Samuel Lee’s office. A group of Mr. Lee’s staff was there along with a member named Jeremiah (Gary) Cowen. I saw Mr. Cowen sitting on the floor outside Mr. Lee’s office in such apparent pain that he was clutching his head, rocking back and forth rapidly, crying and moaning. One member of Mr. Lee’s staff was trying to console him. He was complaining of unbearable headaches. The rest of Mr. Lee’s staff, about 3-4 people, were just walking past Mr. Cowen, seemingly unconcerned. A few months later, I saw Mr. Cowen during a Friday night meeting at the UBF church building. He staggered as he walked as if he had little control over his motor skills. He dropped a pen on the floor. He was visibly struggling to just crouch on the floor and to reach out his hand to retrieve his pen. He was struggling in this way for several minutes, just to pick up a pen. It was painful to watch. I saw people walking past, keeping their distance from him, not bothering to help him. I learned from others that Mr. Lee had declared that Mr. Cowen was faking an illness and pretending to be sick to avoid “working hard.” This explained why no one was helping him. Mr. Cowen was eventually hospitalized, and it was then learned that Mr. Cowen had terminal brain cancer. This explained why I had seen him in such pain and why his motor skills had deteriorated to such a degree. But before the brain cancer was actually diagnosed, Mr. Lee had also declared that Mr. Cowen was acting sick and could not control his body because he was “demon-possessed.” It is known that one day, when Mr. Cowen was at home suffering, Mr. Lee ordered several men in the UBF building to go to Mr. Cowen’s house, physically carry him back to the building and force him to put his feet in a bucket of ice to “drive out the demons.” Vinay D. ([email address withheld]), a former member, was one of those men who carried Mr. Cowen to the UBF building and may be willing to testify. Jacob and Mary K. ([email address withheld]), both former members, who also saw what was done to Mr. Cowen may also be willing to testify. Mr. Lee was never reprimanded or disciplined for the damage he had done to Mr. Cowen.

In 1993, Samuel Lee decided that my eyes were too narrow. He ordered my parents to take me to a Korean plastic surgeon in Indiana to have a procedure called blepharoplasty performed on me. In spite of my objections, my parents exerted pressure on me until I was forced to do Mr. Lee’s bidding and have this unnecessary surgical procedure performed on my eyes. As you can tell, my parents did not consider even their children’s bodies to be off limits to Mr. Lee’s authority. As I have mentioned, my father is the current President of UBF and has been called a “saint” of UBF. My parents’ behavior of submitting to the UBF leader’s authority, even in matters affecting their own children’s welfare, would be considered exemplary in UBF, not aberrant. I was not the only child in UBF who was coerced into undergoing medically unnecessary surgical procedures at the whim of Mr. Lee. Grace Y. and Sarah W., the daughters of a current Chicago UBF elder named Daniel Y., might be willing to testify that they were also ordered by Mr. Lee to undergo the blepharoplasty procedure. Joseph A., a current Chicago UBF member and son of a Chicago UBF leader, might be willing to testify that he was ordered by Mr. Lee to undergo adult circumcision. Charles K., a current Chicago UBF member and husband of Mr. Lee’s youngest daughter, might be willing to testify that he also was ordered by Mr. Lee to undergo adult circumcision. My mother, Esther C., a current member of Chicago UBF, told me at that time that Mr. A.’s and Mr. K.’s undergoing circumcision under orders from Mr. Lee was for their “training.” At least one of these ordered circumcisions was performed by a Chicago UBF physician at home. No one in Chicago UBF that I spoke to thought it strange that Mr. Lee could and would order members to undergo medically unnecessary surgical procedures.

  • The case of Rebekah Yoon and an ordered abortion

It is known that around 1987, Samuel Lee ordered a female Chicago UBF member named Rebekah Yoon to abort the child from her second failed UBF marriage and enforced his order by sending a male member of his staff to carry it out. Rebekah Yoon was a Juilliard-trained violinist and gave violin lessons to both my siblings. She led the small musical ensemble in Chicago UBF of which I was a part. I know that both her failed marriages in UBF were of the UBF “marriage by faith” variety, that is, Samuel Lee chose her spouses for her and made her marrying them a matter of obedience to himself. Their marriage was rocky. It is known that the marriage ended in divorce after her first husband was confined and viciously assaulted by UBF members in the Chicago UBF church building and hospitalized for two weeks as a result; this account has been confirmed by her first husband. UBF leaders later claimed that the assault was retribution for his beating Mrs. Yoon; her first husband has denied that he abused her. She had a son, Joseph Park, through her first marriage. Samuel Lee ordered her to give up her infant son for adoption to a childless Chicago UBF couple, James and Elizabeth J.; Mr. J. is currently a Chicago UBF elder. Samuel Lee then forced Ms. Yoon into a second marriage. The second marriage was reportedly pushed with the promise that Ms. Yoon’s son would be returned to her if she consented to the marriage. In late 2000, Ms. Yoon’s son made known the details of his forced adoption, the second marriage and the ordered abortion in a written testimony posted on the RSQUBF web site. Daniel S. ([email address withheld], [phone number withheld]) and James R. ([email address withheld]), both former members, will know how to get in contact with Ms. Yoon and her son. In 2001, my parents, who were among the very first recruited into UBF and who were particularly loyal to Samuel Lee, admitted to my sister that Samuel Lee had ordered Ms. Yoon to have an abortion because, according to them, Samuel Lee did not want Ms. Yoon “to be like a prostitute.” My sister ([email address withheld]) is a current member of the Toronto UBF. Her phone number is listed in recent UBF publications as [phone number withheld].

After suffering such abuses in UBF, Ms. Yoon eventually decided to leave UBF. It is known that when Samuel Lee suspected that she wanted to leave the group, he sent men to board up the door to her residence so that she could not retrieve her belongings. Joshua L. ([email address withheld]) was present when the men sent by Samuel Lee boarded up the door to Ms. Yoon’s dwelling. The above-mentioned Daniel S. may also know of others who saw what Samuel Lee’s men did to Ms. Yoon’s door. Anton S. ([email address withheld], [phone number withheld]), a former member of Chicago UBF, may also be willing to testify about another case in which Samuel Lee had the apartment door of a UBF couple nailed shut when he suspected that they were about to leave the group.

Samuel Lee was not disciplined for any of these abusive acts. Those who spoke up against his actions were expelled from the group or themselves “disciplined.”

  • The suicide of Samuel Choi, Jr.

Samuel Choi, Jr. was my brother-in-law. He committed suicide in 1999 at the age of 20 while being “trained” by Samuel Lee in Chicago UBF. Samuel was sent to the USA by his UBF parents in the summer of 1998 after completing his freshman year of college in Korea. There were suggestions that Samuel should go to a small satellite chapter of UBF in Chicago, but shortly after he arrived in Chicago and shared a “mission report” at a Chicago UBF meeting, Samuel Lee ordered that he join one of the bigger fellowships in Chicago UBF and that he live in a “common-life” arrangement in the neighborhood of the UBF building, i.e. share an apartment with other male UBF members. Within a few months it became obvious that Samuel was not ready for life or study abroad. He was failing badly in school due to the language barrier. The abusive and high-pressure environment of Chicago UBF also wore on him. He dropped out of one and then another university. He was ready to go back home to Korea. His UBF fellowship leader, Joshua Hong recommended that he go back home to Korea. Samuel’s sister, whom I am married to, approached my father and suggested that Samuel should return home to Korea. My father’s reaction, as it was with every major and minor decision, was that we should “get Dr. Samuel Lee’s permission” to do that. Samuel’s fellowship leader took Samuel with him to see Mr. Lee to get his permission to send Samuel back to Korea. Mr. Lee denied Samuel his permission to return to Korea. Mr. Lee also ordered Samuel to surrender his passport to him and submit to his “training.” This “training” consisted of doing menial chores around the Chicago UBF building, such as raking leaves.

It has been suggested that Samuel was a “weak” person. But Samuel had been able to pass the very stringent Korean national university entrance examination and had been admitted to two prestigious universities in Korea, one of them being Seoul National University. (High school graduates in Korea must cram for months and months, staying up very late every night to memorize everything they need to in order to have a chance at passing the university entrance examination. Even then, only about 25% of all applicants are admitted. To say that a university admission is precious in Korea is a major understatement.) He had exercised the option to take a leave of absence from his university after completing his freshman year in order to come to the USA. I have learned that during Samuel’s time of difficulty in the USA, Mr. Lee learned of Samuel’s having taken a leave of absence from the Korean university. In addition to denying Samuel his permission to go back home to Korea, Mr. Lee called Samuel’s mother in Korea and ordered her to cancel Samuel’s enrollment in the Korean university, dropping Samuel out of the university that he worked so hard to enter. Samuel’s mother felt terrible about doing this, but she obeyed Mr. Lee anyway. His hopes for successful study in the USA dashed, Samuel had to watch as Mr. Lee, through his own mother, destroyed what he had accomplished in Korea as well.

It has been suggested that Samuel was suicidal before he came to the USA and that he had even attempted suicide in Korea. He had not tried to commit suicide in Korea. He had told his mother that he had once contemplated suicide as a teenager. However, a history of depression did run in his mother’s side of the family. Samuel’s grandmother had a history of depression. Samuel’s uncle, now a member of UBF in the USA, had actually attempted suicide in Korea. For this reason, his mother was worried about her son as she sent him to the USA, into the environment of Chicago UBF. Mr. Lee was no doubt aware of Samuel’s family history of depression since he had been the personal “shepherd” to Samuel’s mother for a while in Korea, and Mr. Lee took a special interest in her family.

Shortly after Mr. Lee ordered Samuel to surrender his passport to him and to submit to his “training,” on a Monday morning in October 1999, Samuel attempted suicide. He was talked off the ledge by police officers, and they accompanied him to the Chicago Read mental health facility. The wife of Samuel’s fellowship leader, Karris Hong picked him up from Chicago Read; her husband was in Korea at the time. She and some of her fellowship members tried to keep Samuel under a makeshift suicide watch, but she did not notify our family though we lived in the same neighborhood, and she did not notify his parents in Korea. On the Friday of that same week, Samuel disappeared. He was not at the regular Friday night meeting for all members. His fellowship members, his supposed suicide watch, should have been concerned; they said nothing about it to me or my wife who were at that Friday meeting. Samuel slept at a friend’s house that Friday night. The next morning, Saturday, he jumped from a 12-story downtown parking structure. It was not until the police showed up at the Chicago UBF building on that Saturday afternoon that I learned that he had unsuccessfully attempted suicide earlier that week.

I have wondered why the wife of Samuel’s fellowship leader would have neglected to inform us, Samuel’s immediate family who lived in the same neighborhood less than three blocks away, that he had unsuccessfully attempted suicide that Monday. And why did she try to solve the problem in her own way by setting up a totally ineffectual suicide watch? The answer is clear to me now. It was because she knew what Mr. Lee’s “clear direction” in the matter was. As another former member wrote in testifying about Samuel’s suicide, “[In UBF] Once M. Samuel Lee gives the direction, there is no other way except obeying him, even though his direction is unreasonable.” I strongly believe that Karris Hong’s fear was that if she told us or Samuel’s parents of his suicide attempt, we or they would have moved to help him return to Korea, regardless of Mr. Lee’s “clear direction.” It is likely that Karris Hong did not agree with Mr. Lee’s “direction,” but she feared Mr. Lee and the possible repercussions if she did anything to undermine his “direction.” She chose to stay out of trouble instead of doing what was wise and right. It is a scenario that has been repeated so many times in Chicago UBF.

Just one day, less than 24 hours after the suicide, on a Sunday, Mr. Lee ordered that Samuel’s shared apartment room be completely cleared out and all his belongings taken somewhere. Paul Chung and several other current members of Chicago UBF carried out his order that afternoon. [This was done without consulting us at all, his nearest of kin in Chicago.] My wife and I were just too numb at that point to object to this at all. Mr. Lee’s motivation for ordering this seems obvious to me: Look for and get rid of any evidence, perhaps a suicide note, that might implicate Mr. Lee’s abuse as a possible motivation for the suicide.

On that same Sunday, Samuel’s suicide was not even mentioned. It was amazing to see how quickly things were back to “business as usual” in Chicago UBF after Samuel’s suicide. When Mr. Lee first spoke publicly about the suicide during a regular Friday meeting about two weeks after the suicide, he could only talk impassively about suicide being an unpardonable sin; he never accepted responsibility. My father suggested cremation of the body to Samuel’s parents and they assented. They were ordered not to come to the brief, small funeral attended only by Mr. Lee and the Chicago UBF elders. Samuel’s name was not mentioned in Chicago UBF again.

Though he denied any responsibility for Samuel’s death, Mr. Lee’s actions showed that he thought otherwise. There was the aforementioned ransacking of Samuel’s apartment room the day after his death. But Mr. Lee also had John Jun, the leader of Korea UBF, write a statement and press Samuel’s parents in Korea to sign it. The statement basically read that Samuel’s parents bore full responsibility for Samuel’s suicide. As she told my wife and another former UBF member, Samuel’s mother refused at first to sign such a statement, but Mr. Jun pressed the issue until both Samuel’s parents signed the statement. What would be the purpose of extracting such a statement from them? Obviously, Mr. Lee’s motivation was to protect himself in case of a lawsuit. Throughout this whole ordeal, Mr. Lee’s whole motivation was not to console, comfort or “shepherd” the hurting. It is obvious to me that his whole motivation was to protect himself.

(Addendum: In Korea, as the leaders of their UBF chapter in Seoul, Samuel’s parents told the members of their chapter that Samuel had died as a “martyr” in Chicago. It is unknown what details they provided in their explanation that he had died as a martyr. They even held a ceremony of some sort in their chapter to celebrate Samuel’s death as a martyr. They built this mythological ending to their son’s life, perhaps to comfort themselves and their chapter members, and probably also to protect Samuel Lee’s reputation at any cost. When Samuel Lee learned of the mythology they had built up around their son’s death, he took the opportunity to call Samuel’s mother to his office when she was next in Chicago and tell her that Samuel had committed suicide, that he was not a martyr and that he went to hell as a result of the suicide. This apparently led to a big argument between the two in Lee’s office and allegedly lowered Mr. Lee’s lofty standing in the eyes of Samuel’s mother.)

No one reprimanded or disciplined Mr. Lee for his part in what happened to my brother-in-law or for his actions in the aftermath of the suicide.

  • Abuses related to recruiting numbers and quotas

Between 1993-2000, I served both as a fellowship (small group) leader and assistant fellowship leader. Samuel Lee, as he often openly stated, wanted to have the most numerous chapter in UBF since Chicago is the world headquarters. Therefore, he exerted constant pressure on the fellowship leaders to keep up with his demand for greater numbers at the Chicago UBF Sunday worship services. During the weeks prior to UBF international conferences held in the USA, this pressure would be even greater because Mr. Lee demanded that the largest contingent at these conferences be from the Chicago headquarters. To keep up the pressure on the fellowship leaders and their assistant leaders, Mr. Lee would force them to promise to bring a certain number of people from their fellowships to every Sunday worship service or to register a certain number of people per day from their fellowships for conferences. If these leaders were found not to have kept their “promises,” they would be given what became known notoriously as “Skokie training” as punishment. This punishment consisted of these “promise breaking” fellowship leaders being driven to Skokie, a suburb of Chicago, and being dropped off to walk back to the UBF building. At a brisk pace, the walk would take close to 2 hours. I was punished in this way twice. In winter months, Mr. Lee would sometimes order fellowship leaders to undergo this punishment in their bare feet, so they would make the walk back home in freezing temperatures in their bare feet. A current Chicago UBF fellowship leader by the name of Abraham Lincoln (formerly Longhri) might be willing to testify that he had to walk back home barefoot. If he is not willing to testify, these former Chicago UBF fellowship leaders or assistant leaders might be willing: Dacian M. ([email address withheld]), Jacob K. ([email address withheld]), Joshua L. ([email address withheld]). Mr. Lee was never reprimanded or disciplined by anyone in UBF for his behavior.

Fellowship leaders and their assistants were not the only ones that Samuel Lee would pressure for increased numbers. It happened very frequently that Mr. Lee would pass out “pledge” sheets to the whole congregation at the regular Friday night meeting. On the sheets was stated something to the effect: “I promise before God to bring the following two people to the Sunday worship service.” Each member would then have to list two people that they “promised” to bring to the Sunday worship service and then sign their name on the sheet and turn the sheet in before they left the Friday meeting. The following week, Mr. Lee would assail from the pulpit those who had failed to keep their “promise,” sometimes naming them publicly. On at least two occasions that I can recall, the names of all the members who had failed to keep their “promise” the previous week were displayed prominently on the large blackboard in the meeting hall the next week by order of Mr. Lee. Mr. Lee was never reprimanded or disciplined by anyone in UBF for this abusive behavior.

Around 1992, during the early part of preparations for the annual Chicago UBF Christmas worship service, I was told that the fellowship that I belonged to was holding an emergency meeting “just for me.” After I was pulled into the meeting, I was told that Samuel Lee had ordered that meeting and had ordered that I and another member of the fellowship be physically struck because we had not “registered” anyone as yet to come to that Christmas service. “Registering” someone meant having them sign an invitation form and pay a fee to attend the Christmas service. The person who had been ordered to hit me could only do so half-heartedly, so an older member of the fellowship proceeded to hit me harder. The other person who was supposed to be struck at that meeting was a former member named Rebecca C., the daughter of current Chicago UBF elder, Isaac C.

  • The shunning and slandering of former members

Common to most cultic groups is the shunning, slamming and slandering of former members. The shunning and slamming of former members was a constant during my years in Chicago UBF. But some of the most vicious slamming of former UBF members was against a group of Koreans who were forced to leave the group in the late 1980s. Because they attended a Korean charismatic revival meeting in the Chicago area on their own time, this group of members was derisively labeled “Hallelujah Christians” by Samuel Lee, and his slamming them during meeting announcements and even in his sermons became almost a weekly occurrence in my recollection.

To encourage the shunning of these and other former members through fear, Mr. Lee would incorporate various horror stories into his sermons that I was on hand to hear. These horror stories as I heard them consisted of stories about former members failing in business, failing in marriage and falling into bad health or getting into fatal accidents because they had dishonored Mr. Lee and left the group. Examples of these horror stories that were incorporated into Mr. Lee’s sermons can be found on-line at:

Mr. Lee was never reprimanded or disciplined for this type of abusive behavior.

  • Arbitrary abuses of authority

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].

In 1995, during the high-pressure preparation for another UBF international summer conference, I attended a nightly meeting of fellowship leaders and assistant leaders led by Samuel Lee. At that time, I had no known issues with Mr. Lee because I hardly spoke to him and he hardly spoke to me, and I had a misguided respect for and fear of him. Before the meeting started, when most of us were sitting quietly with our heads down, Mr. Lee suddenly looked directly at me and angrily called out curses against my mother, saying among other things that she would suffer debilitating health problems. He concluded by saying, “You will see! It will happen!” Neither I nor any other leader in the room said anything. I was amazed at this unprovoked outburst against my mother since my father had been and still is among Mr. Lee’s most ardent defenders, and my mother had often neglected her own children to serve Mr. Lee for many hours a day and into the night as a secretary, seamstress, barber, hair stylist, manicurist, maid, cook, etc. without pay from the earliest days of Chicago UBF.

  • Physical abuse

Each Christmas in Chicago UBF, Samuel Lee would order that one of his Christmas “dramas” be performed for the Christmas worship service. For the most part, young male recruits who had just committed themselves to UBF would be chosen to be in these dramas. The drama practices would begin between one and two months ahead of the Christmas worship service. The “director” of these dramas was Mark Yoon, a leader of a satellite UBF chapter in Chicago. The co-director was Mark Vucekovich, now a leader of the DePaul University UBF chapter in Chicago. At these practices it was common for Mr. Yoon to hit the cast members with sticks, boards, and baseball bats. The cast members were sometimes ordered to hit each other. This was all done under orders from Samuel Lee. Two former members of Chicago UBF who were in the cast of these Christmas dramas, Nick T. ([email address withheld]) and James S. ([email address withheld]), can testify to this type of physical violence. I was on hand as a helper for many of these Christmas drama practices from 1996-1998, and I saw Mr. Yoon hitting cast members and also saw Mr. Vucekovich wielding a stick to “discipline” cast members. The hitting by Mr. Yoon that I saw was not done in jest or in a somehow “loving” way. He was causing real physical pain, causing real fear and anger on the part of cast members. No one in UBF reprimanded or disciplined Mr. Lee, Mr. Yoon or Mr. Vucekovich for their actions.

  • Abuses related to collections and offerings

Chicago UBF under the leadership of Samuel Lee was never shy about using compulsion and shame to collect tithes and offerings. Twice during my stay in Chicago UBF, a person in charge of managing special offerings, offerings collected at UBF conferences, contacted me. Once, when I was an undergraduate student with virtually no income, I was told that I had not offered what was considered a “respectable” amount of money. The other time, I was told that I had not offered as much money as my UBF “fiancĂ©.” On both occasions, I was ordered to make up the difference with an additional offering.

In 1998-1999, a special collection was ordered by Samuel Lee presumably to support a UBF family that had just lost a teenage son to cancer. After the collection, Mr. Lee accused one of the current elders of Chicago UBF, James H. K., of having offered a less than “respectable” amount for this collection. In at least one small and two large meetings that I attended, Mr. Lee publicly attacked Mr. K. and his wife from the pulpit, accusing them of selfishness and stinginess. Mr. Lee went so far as to attack them in the UBF Newsletter, whose content was solely under Mr. Lee’s control and which was distributed to UBF chapters all around the world. In a public letter sent to UBF chapters worldwide in April 2000, Mr. Lee condemned Mr. K. as “one who knows only money and scraped up all the money with an iron hook.” Mr. Lee was never reprimanded or disciplined by anyone in UBF for such actions.

As far back as I can remember, Chicago UBF has maintained a publicly viewable offering chart on a wall of the Chicago UBF church building. On this chart are written the names of all Chicago UBF members who offer a monthly tithe, the so-called “World Mission Offering,” which is compulsory for all “committed” members of the group. This chart tracks each person’s tithing month-by-month. Therefore, if someone fails to tithe for a given month, no matter what the reason, a blank space is there on the chart for all to see. If someone offers less than their normal amount for a month, no matter what the reason, a partially blank space is there on the chart for all to see. [Not only is it reflected on the chart, but the person who offers less than their usual amount will be pressured and guilted and sometimes publically berated for it.]

Though UBF members are held very accountable for each regular offering, as well as for frequent “special” offerings, as far back as I can remember, Chicago UBF has never given a public accounting to its members of how much in offerings was collected and how the offering monies were spent. Detailed collection and spending reports were not published in bulletins, newsletters, public letters or any other publicly available documents in the years that I spent there.

Thank you for this opportunity to testify to just some of what I know and have experienced. I want to reiterate that during my time in Chicago UBF I was not considered a fringe member of UBF nor was I considered someone who was “rebellious,” disruptive or someone who had no respect for authority. Also, though I have written much here, I do not believe that my personal experience of abusive authoritarianism in Chicago UBF is particularly unique. I have also attached to this letter a summary in letter form of the institutional neglect of children that I experienced both as a member of UBF and as a child growing up in UBF. Thank you for your willingness to consider all that I and other former members of UBF have had to say.


Joseph C.