Three Problems that plague UBF
1. Shepherding - From the group's inception in 1961 in South Korea, and continuing with the group's expansion into North America in the 1970's, the group's primary characteristic can be labelled "shepherding". The group practices a non-Charismatic, Koreanized version of the Shepherding Movement. Using one-to-one study sessions, the group slowly changes the student's identity into that of a "shepherd" (or "shepherdess" for females). These shepherd relationships are paramount in the minds of the group leaders. In fact, the chapters of the group are often structured along "shepherd lines", going back several generations. A student's shepherd becomes the student's life-long, self-appointed spiritual and moral advisor. Shepherds are trained to obey and to become new parents for the college student members. Shepherds rarely respect personal boundaries for students and shrewdly intrude into every facet of a student's life over time. Students are pressured to sign UBF membership covenants to guarantee obedience and submission to the group.
2. Arranged Marriage - The end-game purpose of UBF missionaries and shepherds is to pair up young couples into "families of faith" and "mission families" who can be part of their "holy nation". The leaders pressure students to avoid dating and accept a shepherd-appointed marriage candidate. The shepherds gauge how much faith the member has by how little the couple knows about each other--the more blindly accepted the proposal is, the more faith the member is claimed to have.
3. Abuse - The high-pressure, authoritarian culture of the group allows abuse to foster. Beyond the abuse of a student's time and money (for offering and special gifts), the group has not dealt with many cases, both alleged and proven, of severe abuse, such as sexual harassment and physical beatings. The toxic control element of the group's culture allows such abusers to not only avoid punishment, but affords them a way to be promoted into higher leadership levels.
Feedback to ubfriends.org
Cultic groups have not gone away
Most people think such groups are things of the past: phenomena of the 1960s and 70s. This is far from the case; cults continue to flourish in many different forms, capturing and exploiting many thousands of people in their seemingly benign embrace.
Gillie Jenkinson | Hope Valley Counselling
Am I really in a cult?
Almost everyone thinks they would never join a cult. It is easy to think you make your own decisions. Take these quizzes to find out for sure.
If you find yourself in an undue influence group with cultic tendencies, professional help from therapists and psychologists may be helpful. A word of caution--some professionals may not yet be aware of the harmful, long-lasting impact from years of undue religious influence.
● Phase 1: leave physically and psychologically.
● Phase 2: cognitively understand.
● Phase 3: emotionally heal the trauma, loss and pre-cult vulnerabilities where relevant.
● Phase 4: recognise recovery and posttraumatic growth.
source: "Out in the World: Post-Cult Recovery" by Gillie Jenkinson
People who have worked with ubfriends.org
Brian Karcher (the ubfriends admin) has spent numerous hours talking with the following people, including video interviews. These friends have had an incalculable infuence on his family's recovery. Brian recommends reaching out to the following people for help understanding undue influence groups, especially the UBF group. The information here will also likely be helpful to those recovering from hyper-evangelical religious organizations.
Ashley Easter - The Courage Conference (especially for marriage and family issues, and students)
Bob Pardon - MeadowHaven Center (especially for couples)
Resources for Help
For help with recovery and dealing with undue influence groups like the University Bible Fellowship (UBF), professional therapy may be helpful. Some resources below are paid memberships. Please be aware that cult recovery often requires specialists who understand the nature of undue religious influence.
Whether you find the thought of seeing a therapist daunting, or you look forward to your first meeting with excitement and intrigue, you should feel proud of the fact that you are considering taking steps to improve your life. It might feel like defeat, but deciding to get help is a sign of strength, resilience and courage.
As an educator and therapist, I see the value in teaching and offering practical information along with listening. My job is not to judge. I want you to feel heard, and understood. People do what they do for a reason. It it’s something you want to change, let’s look at it together so you understand why you’re doing it and how to start to change it. I want to help you get what you are hoping for, and where you want to go in your life.
Hope Valley - UK: https://www.hopevalleycounselling.com/services
Here is a website that gives pointers on how to detect signs of depression, suicide red flags, and how to make conversation starters of such topics: https://seizetheawkward.org/
Resources for LGBTQ and UBF
Groups like University Bible Fellowship are rarely friendly for LGBTQ people. Here are some resources for help for you or family members related to LGBTQ. Brian Karcher is also fully affirming in this arena.
It Gets Better: https://itgetsbetter.org/
The Reformation Project: https://reformationproject.org/
Book by Brian Karcher: Uncircumcised - Welcoming LGBT People Into the Family of God