U of W bans Korean cult recruiters from campus
The Winnipeg Free Press/October 25, 1986
By Catherine Bainbridge
Members of a group condemned for using mind-altering techniques and psychological abuse to gain converts have been banned from the University of Winnipeg campuses.
The University of Bible Fellowship, which came to Canada three years ago from Korea, is active in Winnipeg recruiting students at university and college campuses.
The mainly female Korean missionaries, referred to as shepherds by the group, have been regularly approaching students at the U of W, a few blocks from the UBF Bible house on Sherbrook Street.
“They’re always around here,” Caroline Krebs, president of the U of W Students Association said.
“It’s rather alarming. They’re in the library, cafeteria and hallways – harassing and bothering people.”
Krebs said the university warned UBF members several times not to recruit on campus but eventually had to resort to banning them.
University security officers have been instructed to escort UBF members caught approaching students off the campus, she said.
“They’re always around when classes get out,” she said. “They are certainly very persistent”
Krebs said the UBF missionaries started recruiting at the U of W last December and continued through the summer.
And even though one member was recently charged with petty trespass and others were told they were banned in the presence of the Winnipeg police officers, they continue to recruit at the U of W almost daily, a campus security guard said.
The UBF calls itself a Christian Bible study group dedicated to campus evangelism in a pamphlet distributed by the group.
But according to Gord Gillespie, spokesman for the Manitoba Cult Awareness Center, the group uses classic cult techniques to recruit its members, eventually isolating them from friends, family and society.
“They are very professional and very well organized,” Gillespie said. “They are as bad as any of the others – the Moonies, the Hare Krishna and the Scientologists.”
Krebs said Korean women usually approach young white male students, while they are joined by a man when approaching a female.
“They seem to go after people who look socially unsure of themselves.”
Gillespie said youth cults tend to attract thoughtful and idealistic young people, often at a time when they are searching for meaning in their lives.
“That’s a sad thing,” he said. “These cults have always had an appeal to an intelligent type of person who wants to do something about society and the way it works.”
He said he doesn’t have detailed information on the Winnipeg group, so far the only chapter in Canada, but the psychological damage done to former members of the U.S. is just now being uncovered.
“It’s mean stuff and we’re just starting to hear more about it.”
Blanche Brauns, head of an anti-UBF lobby group in Chicago, said in a letter she sent to cult awareness groups that UBF practices appear to be Christian, but many who left it, including her son, have suffered psychological problems when re-entering society, especially those who did not receive exit counseling and rehabilitation.
“From the outside, it appears to be very much a Christian group with Christian beliefs,” she said.
“But they twist the scriptures to suit themselves and their behavior and practices are abominable.”
According to another mother who joined the lobby group after her son was taken in UBF, the group leaders destroyed her son’s self respect using guilt and confession tactics, eventually building themselves up as saviors and gods.
“Pat was only in there for a short time,” she said.
“But it still took five straight days to deprogram him. He had got to the point where he couldn’t do a thing with out his shepherd’s permission.”
“This is not a religious issue. This is mind control,” she said.