Thanksgiving. Christmas. We are now entering the final 7 weeks of 2015. As we share in mourning for France, I renew the call for everyone to stand up against abusive ideologies and to stop enabling the purveyors of any kind of religious system that covers up abuse. What is the ubf answer for terrorism such as we just witnessed? They say “just study the Bible” and everything will be okay. And yet their system of “going back to the Bible” fosters abuse of many kinds. For ubfers, these last seven weeks of the year is the most intensive season of indoctrination and abuse.
The financial abuse kicks into high gear as babysitting money balloons to account for all the extended and additional meetings, practices and rehearsals for the end-of-the-year CWS (Christmas Worship Service) drama and dance productions. The pressure to offer high amounts of money sets in as well, limiting the family Christmas presents and celebrations in favor of showing loyalty to UBF. The psychological abuse, from my experience, hits an annual high during these last 7 weeks. UBFers are directed to spend much time reflecting on how thankful they are for their shepherds and that one chance meeting on campus years ago. Their minds are bound once again to the manger scene, and reminded of how much Jesus and Mary resemble the UBF leaders. Once again their theology of sacrifice is deeply ingrained into the souls of ubf members.
To counteract this prime time abuse season, I will be sharing quotes from my book, Identity Snatchers. And to kick off the series, I am offering Identity Snatchers for free on Kindle, one day only, Sunday 11/15. I believe the most effective way to counteract the abuse at UBF is by exposing the UBF lifestyle and by deconstructing UBFism.
The Holiday Challenge to be Mission-centered
As the holidays approach, ubf students will be challenged to cut short their time with their families. Some might be allowed to return home, but not without nervous glances and many prayer meetings with their shepherds. Surely any student who returns home will be put on a prayer list to “protect their hearts and minds” from the unspiritual and ungodly effect of their family. The students will hear ramped up calls by shepherds to be mission-centered and to shed their evil family-centered ideas.
The Holiday Challenge to Participate
The holidays should be a time of rest and reflection, and doing good deeds for the poor and others. UBF shepherds use the time however to challenge students to commit their lives to UBFism.
In addition to the standard meetings, new members are pressured to participate in numerous music and arts programs. Consider this quote by a former member:
“Every time a UBF holiday or major conference was upcoming, I would have to participate in a play, called a “drama,” scripted and directed by one of the UBF Koreans. The purpose of these plays was to entertain the audience at important UBF meetings, and to break down the personality of the actors. The manner in which we portrayed our characters in these plays was most unconventional and unnatural. I remember always being in a psychological state of dissociation when acting in UBF dramas. One time toward the end of my stay in UBF, I was told to write a script for a holiday drama. However, when we met to practice the drama, another UBF Korean showed up with a script of his own. ‘Ha! We never intended to use your script,’ he told me, ‘it was just training.’” –Anonymous, former Baltimore UBF member
The Holiday Pressure
The end of the year is sometimes filled with extra pressure and stress. UBF shepherds channel this into more pressure to indoctrinate students with UBFism, cleverly disguised with Christian terminology.
The UBF system begins and ends with pressure. The sources of that pressure seem innocent enough and are always rewarded with good food and many compliments. The student is invited to more than just a weekly Bible study meeting. Over time the student is pressured to attend an endless array of meetings. The intention of all these activities may be good and noble, but whatever good intention exists, such intention is spoiled with the pressure to attend. The new student discovers over time that the good fellowship is really intended to break down a student’s defenses in such a way that the student feels as if he or she made their own decisions. Such intrusion into a student’s life is unhealthy, but seen as a kind of holy love or spiritual cure.
The UBF system is setup in such a way that the student will think they are in a Christian discipleship program, with the expected Christian goals of purity, love for God, love for others and justice. To outsiders and newcomers, the UBF system often appears to be nothing more than a hyper-evangelical conservative Christian group with a few oddities. As a new student attends more and more drama rehearsals, prayer meetings and other fellowship, something seems odd, but usually they dismiss the oddity as being part of the Korean culture. This culture is heavily present at most UBF chapters. However, something more harmful is contributing to the odd sensation or mixed bag that outsiders often claim to see.