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Title University Bible Fellowship

Founder (Samuel) Chang Woo Lee and Sarah Barry
Leader David Kim

University Bible Fellowship (UBF) is a campus Bible study ministry formed in 1961 in South Korea with the intent to focus solely on college student ministry. Sarah Barry went to Korea as a Presbyterian missionary as part of the Student Volunteer Movement (SVM). UBF began as a para-church organization and with noble intentions. Over the last 50 years, UBF has moved toward becoming a church outright. UBF is connected to over 20 mission-oriented organizations but not officially affiliated with any mainline denomination. As of 2011, UBF has sent over 2,500 Korean missionaries to more than 85 countries. In the US, UBF is present on more than 75 universities. The regional headquarters of UBF are 1) Seoul, South Korea 2) Chicago, USA and 3) Bonn, Germany. The Chicago chapter of UBF was banned from the NAE in 2004, and re-admitted in 2008. In 2008, UBF also became listed in the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA).

1. Regulation of individual's physical reality
  a. Where, how and with whom the member lives and associates with
  b. What clothes, colors, hairstyles the person wears
  c. What food the person eats, drinks, adopts, and rejects
  d. How much sleep the person is able to have
  e. Financial dependence
  f. Little or no time spent on leisure, entertainment, vacations

2. Major time commitment required for indoctrination sessions and group rituals

3. Need to ask permission for major decisions

4. Need to report thoughts, feelings and activities to superiors

5. Rewards and punishments (behavior modification techniques- positive and negative).

6. Individualism discouraged; group think prevails

7. Rigid rules and regulations

8. Need for obedience and dependency.

Control of UBF members is a long-term process, occurring like the proverbial "frog boiling in water" when the temperature is raised one degree over a period of time. The process of control begins with a simple invitation to a 1 hour per week Bible study on campus. Membership is not open. Every UBF member is required to have a shepherd. The person who invites the student to Bible study is the one who gets to be that person's shepherd. The shepherd is introduced as only a Bible teacher. Control is instituted by demanding a Bible study appointment every week and by requiring a student to answer a question sheet. Students who do not answer the question sheet are normally required to answer the questions during the Bible study appointment. If a student proves obedient to the weekly Bible study, the student is required to attend Sunday worship service. At first, the student receives much attention. Many people are overjoyed to see the new person. A new Bible student in UBF will receive many invitations to meals and fun activities like soccer. A Bible student in UBF quickly finds that missing a Bible study appointment or a Sunday worship service for any reason is not a good thing. Guilt, shame and/or harassment immediately follows. But a Bible student who studies regularly and attends UBF worship service regularly soon discovers that they are in a very good situation. The student is praised for their obedience. Such praise continues for a while and then the challenges begin. UBF has conferences three times a year: Summer Bible Conference, Easter/Spring Bible Conference and Christmas Worship Service. A faithful Bible student will find out that they must participate in these conferences. After a year or so of such commitment and service, the Bible student finds that he/she is willing to cut off ties with their family and friends. Normally UBF shepherds will not instruct a person to do this. The student simply finds cutting ties to be the natural progression of the Bible study they have received. The student's mind has been bound to UBF activity as the "truth of God". Stopping UBF activity has become equated to failing to obey God. From here, the UBF chapter director will usually start to get involved in the student's life. The student's shepherd becomes the "nice guy" and the chapter director becomes the "bad guy". The student will normally go back and forth, and find their mind struggling with one question: Should I obey God and do UBF activity or participate in some family or friend's activity? UBF shepherds will coerce a faithful student with many deceptively subtle tactics. Many UBF shepherds do not realize they are doing this, and will strongly deny that they are controlling people. However, every time the student makes a decision, they will remember the Bible study question sheets and how Scripture has been bound to UBF activity and to the UBF chapter director, who now has control over major life direction. At this point, things often go one of two ways. A student who raises objections or differing opinions of any kind will be trained. UBF has special training for particularly disobedient Bible students, called "dead-dog training". Training normally involves being required to write testimonies and daily devotion more than weekly. Some students are demanded to write down their schedule and submit their activity sheets to either their shepherd or the chapter director. For those who refuse to obey to the shepherd's satisfaction are given "dead-dog training". This has included walking barefoot for 5 miles in the cold, being locked out of the UBF center building, waling on your knees around the center or in extreme cases, some form of "obedience demonstration" like pulling down your pants in front of a shepherd. UBF Bible students will find that their shepherd and/or chapter director will decide their place of employment, their path of study at the university and their marriage. All of this control is exerted so cunningly that the student thinks they are making their own choice, when in reality the student is supporting UBF idealism, which culminates in making countries into "priestly nations".

1. Use of deception
  a. Deliberately holding back information
  b. Distorting information to make it acceptable
  c. Outright lying

2. Access to non-cult sources of information minimized or discouraged
  a. Books, articles, newspapers, magazines, TV, radio
  b. Critical information
  c. Former members
  d. Keep members so busy they don’t have time to think

3. Compartmentalization of information; Outsider vs. Insider doctrines
  a. Information is not freely accessible
  b. Information varies at different levels and missions within pyramid
  c. Leadership decides who “needs to know” what

4. Spying on other members is encouraged
  a. Pairing up with “buddy” system to monitor and control
  b. Reporting deviant thoughts, feelings, and actions to leadership

5. Extensive use of cult generated information and propaganda
  a. Newsletters, magazines, journals, audio tapes, videotapes, etc.
  b. Misquotations, statements taken out of context from non-cult sources

6. Unethical use of confession
  a. Information about “sins” used to abolish identity boundaries
  b. Past “sins” used to manipulate and control; no forgiveness or absolution

Anyone who criticizes UBF or UBF leaders is considered to be part of the "R-group". This stands for "rebellious group". Critics are demonized, marginalized and rejected in behind-the-scenes meetings that most Bible students are unaware of. UBF leaders engage in a massive information control effort. UBF has an Internet Committee, who has many tasks such as promoting positive information about UBF and removing anti-UBF material from websites. UBF has begun publishing books that describe various doctrines and activities, but these cost money and are not widely distributed. Each chapter director is allowed to control what books and announcements are passed onto their chapter members. Leaders in UBF meet almost daily. They create many "prayer topic" lists, which recount the status of each and every member in that chapter of UBF. Every person invited to UBF, whether they study or not, has been on such a list. Names are rarely crossed of, because a UBF shepherd will pursue a new student endlessly. Only after months of trying to contact a student for Bible study will their name finally drop off the list. Sometimes a senior shepherd will visit with a younger shepherd when the young shepherd fails to convince a new student to do something. These meetings are almost always private, so that other students don't know when the meeting happened or what was discussed. UBF has special classes or groups of leaders to help control information. New students are called "sheep". Shepherds and shepherdesses are the Bible teachers. Long-time shepherds can become Staff members if chosen by their chapter director. Some shepherdesses can become Staff, but it is rare for women to be in leadership in UBF. Above Staff members are "UBF Members". This is a very closed group and requires exceptional commitment to UBF ideology to be invited to join. Refusing to accept an invitation to be a shepherd, or a Staff shepherd or a Member shepherd is not tolerated. Such a refusal is tantamount to disobeying God. Directors are the ultimate level a "sheep" could attain to. But a native sheep (American, German, etc) will find many struggles and battles if they aspire to become a Director. The only way for native sheep to become a Director is to "pioneer" a house church at some university, where they are allowed to establish a new chapter of UBF.

1. Need to internalize the group's doctrine as "Truth"
  a. Map = Reality
  b. Black and White thinking
  c. Good vs. evil
  d. Us vs. them (inside vs. outside)

2. Adopt "loaded" language (characterized by "thought-terminating clichés"). Words are the tools we use to think with. These "special" words constrict rather than expand understanding. They function to reduce complexities of experience into trite, platitudinous "buzz words".

3. Only "good" and "proper" thoughts are encouraged.

4. Thought-stopping techniques (to shut down "reality testing" by stopping "negative" thoughts and allowing only "good" thoughts); rejection of rational analysis, critical thinking, constructive criticism.
  a. Denial, rationalization, justification, wishful thinking
  b. Chanting
  c. Meditating
  d. Praying
  e. Speaking in "tongues"
  f. Singing or humming

5. No critical questions about leader, doctrine, or policy seen as legitimate

6. No alternative belief systems viewed as legitimate, good, or useful

Testimony writing, which is called "sogam" writing, is demanded of every UBF member. This is the primary means of thought control. Eventually the students will be required to share their "life testimony", exposing many details of their life and how they made a decision to participate in UBF activity, all for the glory of God's name. As a student progresses well through testimony writing as a "spiritual discipline", they may be invited to the privilege of "message writing". In both testimony writing and message writing, the shepherd's thoughts are inserted into the student's writing through many revisions to the document. Using external quotes or reading material from Christian or other sources is very discouraged and usually will be taken out of messages. Often the chapter director, whose job is to direct the spiritual lives of his members, will dictate the message to the shepherd. The person being trained in such a way is taught to be thankful for such help. UBF shepherds emphasize being thankful, and showing gratitude to the shepherd (but rarely does a shepherd show thankfulness to a Bible student, who is called a "sheep").

1. Manipulate and narrow the range of a person's feelings.

2. Make the person feel like if there are ever any problems it is always their fault, never the leader's or the group's.

3. Feeling-stopping. Like thought-stopping, this is the automatic suppression or blocking of feelings that are not acceptable by the cult identity- such as feeling "homesick" or feeling "depressed" or feeling "resentful".

4. Excessive use of guilt
  a. Identity guilt
    1. Who you are (not living up to your potential)
    2. Your family
    3. Your past
    4. Your affiliations
    5. Your thoughts, feelings, actions
    6. Social guilt
    7. Historical guilt

5. Excessive use of fear
  a. Fear of thinking independently
  b. Fear of the "outside" world
  c. Fear of enemies
  d. Fear of losing one's "salvation"
  e. Fear of leaving the group or being shunned by group
  f. Fear of disapproval

6. Extremes of emotional highs and lows.

7. Ritual and often public confession of "sins".

8. Phobia indoctrination: programming of irrational fears of ever leaving the group or even questioning the leader's authority. The person under mind control cannot visualize a positive, fulfilled future without being in the group.
  a. No happiness or fulfillment "outside"of the group
  b. Terrible consequences will take place if you leave: "hell"; "demon possession"; "incurable diseases"; "accidents"; "suicide"; "insanity"; "10,000 reincarnations"; etc.
  c. Shunning of leave takers. Fear of being rejected by friends, peers, and family.
  d. Never a legitimate reason to leave. From the group's perspective, people who leave are: "weak"; "undisciplined"; "unspiritual"; "worldly"; "brainwashed by family, counselors"; seduced by money, sex, rock and roll.

Emotions are viewed as "bad" and sinful. UBF students are taught to suppress emotions, which are viewed as a humanistic weakness. Those who express emotion are often trained to be "self-controlled". Some UBF shepherds like to use language such as: You have a "sleeping demon" or you have a "lazy demon". Students or shepherds are made to feel very guilty for not attending a UBF meeting or keeping a UBF commitment, even for valid reasons. This emotional control is normally emphasized in shepherds or shepherdesses (female shepherds). For example, after attending a family wedding, one shepherd was told "You acted like Satan" and required to confess in front of other shepherds that they had acted like Satan. Emotions are redefined through the question-sheet Bible study and participation in the UBF activities. Joy becomes "going to the center". Sadness becomes "being away from UBF co-workers". Bitterness becomes "leaving UBF". Anger becomes "criticizing UBF". etc.

Websites (Korean)


RSQUBF LiveJournal Community

Priestly Nation

"Forgetting what is behind"

Some accounts of former (sometimes current) members of the University Bible Fellowship and their friends and families.

RSQUBF discussion area

(articles, videos, information)

University Bible Fellowship (Wikipedia)