The R-Group

If you’ve been in UBF for a few years, you likely have heard someone talk about the dreaded “r-group” people. This is the term for people who left the ministry and became vocal about changes. The “r” is often referred to as “reform” since most people up to now wanted to reform UBF practices and undocumented beliefs. I remember attending several conferences where some of these people formed a picket line, holding signs and passing out material. We were told to walk past the “r-group” people and not even look at them. While picketing a UBF conference is rather extreme, I’m not so sure those people had other choices. They passionately believed in freedom of speech and were desperate for facts. They had been silenced and shunned, and were looking for a way to present their opinions, many of which were not mere opinions but fact-based conclusions.

But among senior staff, the “r” does not mean reform. It means “rebels”. As a staff member, I heard the term “rebel” associated numerous times with people who left the ministry. Those who left are considered to have become rebellious toward God’s servants and toward God. Even those who left with a pact to “agree-to-disagree” are spoken of in terms of being rebellious in some way.

I have exchanged emails with many of the “r-group” people during my defense of UBF ministry. I did not admit it at the time, but I did not find them rebellious at all. Some were bitter and angry, indeed, and for good reason from what I could tell. But when I saw through the emotions, I could see facts.

Here is one of my favorite songs from the late ’80s by the Altar Boys, dedicated to all the “rebels” of the world. Our actions shout louder than any words. Yet sometimes we need the guts to speak.

Rebels, attention, can you hear me?
Man, we’ve got to take this message out in the streets
In this wilderness our voices must be heard
With everything we’ve got to be a light in this world

Rebels, attention, do you hear me?
It’s not easy I know, but you’ve got to stand with me
I’ve seen too many people fallen to the lies
The truth has to come from you and I

We’ve got to shout louder! louder!
Louder than the world!
Shout it straight from your hearts
Give it to them all you’ve got, shout it!

Hey rebels, attention! you can hear me
All the fired out brains and kids without names get to me.
I see them lying there in the city morgue
Mom and Dad’s wondering what went wrong?!

Hey rebels, I’m pleading did you hear me!
The way we live the way we love is everything
So what if I memorized every verse
We shout louder than the world by the way we serve!

Shout it! Make actions scream
Shout it! What this world needs
Shout it! Stick to our guns
Cause from our hearts (then) from our lungs.

2 thoughts on “The R-Group

  1. This reminds me a bit of the recent events in Libya, where the people who rose up against Gaddafi were also called “rebels”, even by the international press. Gaddafi and his sons and cronies used to call them “rats” even though Gaddafi was the one sitting in his bunker during the whole uprising like a rat. The rebels themselves preferred to be called “freedom fighters”. Maybe a more appropriate term for the reformers in UBF, too.

    “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” Martin Luther King

  2. Chris, this reminds me LOT of the events in Libya. I’ve been reading how Gaddafi has been reacting. I even found some websites that published part of his infamous Green Book. Most people reading this blog will probably think I’ve gone insane by saying this, and just dismiss me entirely. But for those still reading, I will say it because it is based in fact: to untwist the UBF mindset and correctly understand how good, intelligent people of faith can sustain and support such a system, you need to understand what Gaddafi did in Lybia (like so many good humane acts) and what the Nazi’s did in Germany (like such good-sounding idealism of how to create a pure society). I am not talking about the military aspects, but the ideology aspects. Looking back, it is rather easy to see how terrible these regimes’ actions became. But it was not easy at all to see such things in the beginning. Even now, as you point out, Gaddifi is claiming to be the one in power and persuades those loyal to him to fight the “good fight”. The Nazi party’s initial rise to power in Germany is fascinating to me these days.