Tuesday, May 22, 2007

More German UBF experiences

(Translation of an article by Joachim Keden in “Sogenannte Jugendsekten und die okkulte Welle” [“So-called youth cults and the occult wave”] published by Aussaat Verlag, Neukirchen-Vluyn 1989)

(See also http://exubf.blogspot.com/2007/05/more-german-ubf-recruits-experiences.html and http://exubf.blogspot.com/2007/05/mother-of-german-ubf-recruit.html.)

1. Report by a former Korean woman missionary of the UBF
(in extracts, translated by Cheong, Yoo Seong)

To those still wanting to lure me into the UBF and to those wanting to help me to resist:

I had to spend the last days full of fear and scared, after R. and L. (the names are known to the editor), both belonging to the UBF, suddenly visited me (on Dec. 28th) and repeatedly harassed and threatened on the phone (between Dec. 29th 1984 and Jan. 1. 1985). I have therefore decided to write down my request so that you can help me if anything happens to me by the UBF. I ask you for help, e.g. to inform my family and the police, if that will happen! I hereby express definitely that it is my absolutely determined decision to neither come back to UBF – for instance no participation any more at the Bible course or conversation – nor allow any search for contact with me, particularly if I am alone. My only desire is to get away from the UBF definitely and thus to be able to be free completely.

I have nothing else left than fear of the UBF which has held me and wants to hold me against my will; once I have been locked in in my room because I wanted to dissociate myself from the UBF. After that I even was displaced and held from my Dortmund dormitory to Cologne till I could escape in the night. That is another reason why I still fear, that the UBF people could come again and kidnap me ...

Now I would like to outline briefly my previous relation to the UBF and furthermore give reasons for my fear; expressing my point of view and my opinion at the same time:

a) My relation to UBF

– Getting to know: May 1975 (I was in the 12th class in high school at that time)

– Activities: After the getting to know with the exception of the period Sept. 1978-1980, in various activities like participation in the Sunday service, Bible course (both study and leading courses), visit service, seminaries, Christmas programs, donation collection etc.

– I came to Germany in Oct. 1982 as a missionary in the context of the UBF invitation program for students as missionaries

b) Reasons for my skepticism against the UBF or for my disapproval

– Another person affected, who has been invited to Canada recently in the context of the missionary program and is now working in a textile factory in Canada, wrote in her letter: “To be able to dedicate myself fully for the fulfillment of the Gospel, I am now determinedly decided to give up human relations with my family. For example, I will send no more money, but donate everything to the UBF.”

– Although at first I was just as determined, I slowly started to question myself: Why shall the UBF members donate everything while sometimes they must get financial support even from home? My skepticism became larger and larger. Did the founders and leaders of the UBF maybe want to extend only their organization and their influence on the pretext of religion and especially based on their demand for absolute obedience, as it is the case for the Unification Church [Moonies]? Aren’t they maybe “religious businessmen”? Primarily, what concerns the mission program for the students, it seemed to me as if it weren’t all about the matter of faith but all about means for their propaganda. Eventually, the UBF seemed to me like a cult.

– The demand for absolute obedience shows clearly particularly in the ‘marriage rule’ within the UBF. Often the UBF conveys and arranges the marriage among the members. However, I haven’t seldom seen such couples who were forced to marry against their will. To me the criterion of this ‘marriage rule’ didn’t seem to be the will of God, but loyalty to the UBF. ...

– I believe the task of mission shall be fulfilled after only after a free decision. Obedience to me therefore means succession of Jesus in faiths, trust and love.

A Bible course for instance can lead to real faith only if the possibility to freely express your opinion is given. A Bible course performed in a fixed organizational frame only leading to a previously planned conclusion according to a predefined target, in which in the name of Jesus His words are misinterpreted arbitrarily and the weaker ones are suppressed by the stronger ones.

I wasn’t a victim of a direct physical use of violence or financial exploitation, however, that spiritual violence was for me more terrible than physical. The know-all attitude and arrogance of UBF, believing that only they have the right faith and others should repent and accept the faith of UBF, was nothing else but ‘religious violence’ for me. I have just suffered from this unbearable ‘religious violence.’

2. Report of a female student seeking advice, in excerpts

I., 25 years old (name known to the editor), studied Roman Catholic theology in Bonn. When she read in her Bible in the “Hofgartenwiese“ (a park in Bonn), she was addressed by a young Korean woman, who has lived in Germany for long time, regarding her religious opinions. The conversation ended with an invitation for dinner with M. (recruiter, the editor) in the UBF center in the Pfarrer-Martini-Str. 26 in Bonn.

“I ran through a so-called 1:1 Bible study with M., to which I had been invited. There Bible sections are worked through using a questionnaire with predefined questions. This Bible study takes place once a week and is characterized by a strong teacher/pupil relationship. It has fixed beginning and closing rituals (prayer). The individual lessons last for 1½ hours each and have to be prepared before and after so that some hours must be invested every week. The Bible sections aren’t gone through according to different topics but verse by verse. Individual persons are picked out apparently arbitrarily to fix certain attitudes of faith on them. There is no openness for other possibilities of interpretation. The Bible studies shall serve the personal faith. Additionally, a service takes place in the Pfarrer-Martini-Street every Sunday at 15.00 pm. No sacraments are given during the services, i.e. no Holy Communion held either.

I noticed that a classification of Christians was made, i.e. everyone who doesn’t think in a similar way like UBF or comes to the same consequences as the members (e.g. unconditional priority of the mission before all other necessities like studies, family etc.) isn’t a ‘good’ Christian. ...

Since the group maintains centers in many countries of the earth, a letter chain exists. The letters are put up in the Bonn center. It frightened me a little when I was mentioned in letters from other countries which called to pray for me so that I would become a sheep ‘willing to learn.’ ...

After half a year I ended my Bible study at the UBF. There were several reasons for it. The frame of the interpretation at the Bible studies had been put too narrow for me. In addition, I couldn’t understand the behavior of M. and S. towards their little children: The parents left the children alone during the mission for a very long time every day. Even the baby often was alone in the apartment for hours. For me this behavior couldn’t be brought together with the Christian faith. When I asked M. and S. about it, they only said that Jesus will already look after the children and therefore nothing can happen, since the children are ‘in his hand.’”

3. Report of a female student who was a former follower of UBF

Another female student had similar experiences, too:

“Soon I started a Bible study with E. (recruiter, the editor). This meant that I committed the Gospel of John to my mind with a defined questionnaire alone with her verse by verse. At home I prepared the lessons, later talking everything over with E. once again. In the Sunday services I heard Bible interpretations of the leader of the center who let himself be called a missionary. Besides this there were “sogams,” a kind of personal testimonies with confession of sins and promise to change. The services closed with prayers for the success of the recruiting of UBF prospects (called “sheep”), for another 12 missionaries (“campus shepherds”) and for the success of the 10 year schedule to evangelize the USSR ...

But E. put pressure on me, to finally deliver – at first written and then also verbal – “sogams” during the service. I did my best to work something out, but, E., my personal “shepherdess,” didn’t agree with that. I finally managed to delay the “sogam-sharing” using various evasions and excuses. I wanted to gain time because first objections and doubts concerning the group and it’s biblical teaching contents and methods came to me. It lasted for a month till I – thanks to the help of well informed fellow students – could break loose from the group.

4. Chronology of the destruction of a personality
– From the viewpoint of a friend –

“Over one and a half years have passed since one of my best friends had been addressed by a UBF missionary, and this happened at a time, when my friend was in an emotional depression during his studies, since his examination work didn’t make proper progress. The missionary invited him ‘completely without obligation and casual’ to tea and Bible studies in the local UBF center.

By the offer to be able to finish his master thesis there with a computer he was lured to spend as much time as possible in the UBF center daily. At the same time, the contact to me reduced more and more. When my friend invited me for a dinner on the occasion of his forthcoming move in a kind of common life with his “new friends” about one year ago, I learned about his membership in the UBF. I assessed the group at that time as one of religious eccentrics, whose effusive Far Eastern kindness didn’t seem dangerous to me.

But then I noticed regarding my friend, that he had acquired for himself a strangely clipped way of speaking with an extremely sharp and sustained pronunciation of the letter ‘R’, particularly in the word ‘Lord/e’ frequently repeated. Having pointed out this change by me, he could, however, in the ordinary conversation immediately find his way back to his normal mode of expression. After a few minutes every conversation came back to religious topics or the Bible again and again and he increased, as also in prayer, in this strange way of speaking which also is practiced by all other UBF members I know.

Only when I heard that my friend, who usually was always a little mean regarding finances, had assigned his complete savings account to the leader of the UBF center because of “gratitude for the good completion of his examination,” it was beginning to dawn on me that the UBF could be a cult, however not a completely unselfish organization.

All my efforts from then on to enlighten him on the character of UBF – which appeared cultic to me to be more and more clearly – and on his own situation, were coming too late. My friend admitted having found means to turn his intellect off, which hindered him regarding his faith and blinded him, as he said.

The clipped language at first being only an expression of an outward identification with the group, now it reflected a completely reduced way of thinking. This was shown as well by a put on, compulsive permanent smile and an absent facial expression. To him himself this metamorphosis is a mark of a purification and calling to God. He himself has got rid of every privacy and intimacy by his allegedly voluntary detailed “sogams” in front of the group.

I have got the impression that my friend seems to have gone through a kind of brainwashing, which has destroyed the personality and individuality of my friend, to possibly make him to an extremely available tool. Also the in my eyes low in protein and high in carbohydrate diet of which he talks, in combination with little sleep (he seldom sleeps more than five hours per night according to his own words) leave noticeable physical and emotional marks concerning his general health state. My friend obviously is exposed to heaviest inner stress and his state of mind worries me a lot. For example he seems to be accessible to my arguments for short moments, however recognizes the ‘temptation’ in a flash and increases again in an apparent illusion which can increase in extreme situations to real attacks. Since the UBF membership all his high put, hopeful professional plans of my friend are abandoned. Furthermore, because of his desolate and unstable constitution, he seems to be hardly capable any more of an independent lifestyle, due to the dependence from the UBF community. Apparently it is forbidden to him to speak alone with me. The decline of the personality of my friend goes on. It is terrible for me having too see this all without doing anything.“