The 1976 reform movement is acknowledged briefly in the official UBF history: “In 1976, a few shepherds caused a division and left our ministry. The next year Dr. Lee was sent to America as a missionary. We had time to reconsider the identity of our ministry and changed the name of our ministry into ‘University Bible Fellowship’.”
That’s it. That one sentence sums up what the public will hear from the official UBF leaders about the events of 1976; events which are ugly, disgusting and very painful to think about. Yet I contend that such events must be looked at and analyzed. What did the Korean shepherds want in 1976? Were they just sectarians who caused division?
1976 Allegation #2 – Human Rights Abuses
CLAIM: The 1976 claim was that UBF training involved beatings, sitting naked in ice water, starvation and pulling toenails. They further claimed that shepherds were instructed to hit each other and that several shepherds were hospitalized. The claim is that these things were done rather randomly, even for seemingly reasonable failures, such as missing a leader’s meeting because of a severe snowstorm.
FACTS: It is clear that something happened in the first 15 years of UBF history to cause numerous Korean shepherds who were leaders to speak out about such human rights abuses. Their statement in this section is telling: “We can not find anything like this in Jesus. If a victim sues you, UBF will be considered a cult and will be sentenced as guilty.”
COMMENT: I have heard this statement in UBF messages: Jesus did not care about human rights. The result of 24 years of UBF teachings was that my conscience became numb. Although the acts of violence appear to have ended (though some reports do exist), such actions have not been replaced with compassion. Instead, acts of violence against people’s minds and souls have taken the place of the historical acts of violence. There are reports of “dead dog” training in isolated cases after 1976. But such training has been changed into what I call “dead conscience” training. The physical torture has been replaced with mental torture. Shepherds in America will experience such mental pain typically only when they raise questions or issues about actions or teachings or history that bothers their conscience.
Forced arranged marriage
CLAIM: The 1976 claim is that Samuel Lee forced single male shepherds to take an oath: “I am the husband of a female German missionary.” The claim is that marriage was used to strategically encouraged loyalty to UBF and to Lee himself. One man’s name was changed to “Three Years”, so that he would remember Lee’s direction to marry in UBF within three years. The claim was that Lee ignored existing engagements and excommunicated anyone who would not marry in the way Lee ordered, which set up Lee as the arranger of marriages.
FACTS: The 50th anniversary book published by UBF in 2011 states that UBF wants to create a “culture of mature actions”. One of those actions is listed as “marriage by faith”.
COMMENTS: No one outside UBF would understand the phrase “marriage by faith”. But to an insider, this means the ultimate test of loyalty to UBF. Marriage done “by faith” requires both partners to be UBF loyalists. They must have already demonstrated clear loyalty to UBF teachings and ways. The majority of such marriages were indeed arranged by shepherds. After Lee’s death, other leaders took over this responsibility. Often multiple marriages would be celebrated on the same day. This was not as extensive as the mass weddings by the Moony/Unification Korean organization, but has a similar look and feel.
2012 Allegation #2 – Human Rights Abuses
I claim that the violent acts of the past history in UBF training have been replaced, in America, with narcissistic acts. While there are a few UBF leaders who may indeed have full-blown Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), many UBF shepherds display narcissistic behavior.
Coerced arranged marriage
“Marriage by faith” is an official, documented teaching of UBF. Although there is no longer one man, Lee, arranging marriages, there are many “marriage arrangers” who often use similar political or strategic plans to coerce UBF young people to marry within UBF. As of 2012, wanting to marry someone outside UBF is still grounds for being driven out of UBF. The claim of “no divorce” in UBF is also false. One rather recent arranged marriage in Toledo UBF ended in divorce only months afterward.