This public petition was signed by over 100 former UBF members and was successful in removing UBF from the United States organization called the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). In 2008, UBF re-applied and was re-admitted to the NAE after the leadership changed at the NAE.
To: The National Association of Evangelicals
We, the undersigned, call on the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) to revoke the membership of the University Bible Fellowship (UBF) which has been a member organization of the NAE since 1995. We former members of the UBF and concerned relatives, friends and others feel compelled to inform you of the true nature of the UBF. Many pages can and have been written relating peoples’ negative personal experiences in the UBF organization. However, we will merely point out certain facts and observations that have been made and reported about the UBF by neutral parties, the press and experts who deal with the problem of abusive churches and cults, both here and abroad.
In his book, Churches That Abuse, (Zondervan, 1992) Christian sociologist Ron Enroth devotes a chapter (chapter 5 – “Manipulation and Control: Abusive Churches Use Fear, Guilt and Threats”) to describe the spiritual abuse of an American college student in the Chicago headquarters of the UBF.
Joachim Keden, pastor and former cult expert of the Protestant Church in the Rhineland (Germany), classified the UBF as a cult-like group. Pastor Keden described the UBF’s cultic practices and teachings in an article included in the book Sogenannte Jugendsekten und die okkulte Welle (So-Called Youth Cults and the Occult Wave) published by Aussaat Verlag, Neukirchen-Vluyn 1989, p. 132-146. The translated text of this article can be read at http://UBF-info.de/ext/keden1989.en.htm.
Andrew Schäfer, the current cult commissioner of the Protestant Church in Rhineland describes the UBF as a cult-like group. Mr. Schäfer also devotes an entire chapter to describe the UBF in his recently published book, Im Labyrinth der Seelenfänger (In the Maze of the Soul Catchers),
In August 1991, in its monthly publication, the Documentation Service of the German Protestant Centre for Religious and Ideological Issues (EZW) published a 4-page report titled “Erfahrungen mit der University Bible Fellowship (UBF): Persönlicher Bericht einer Mutter” (“Experiences with the University Bible Fellowship (UBF): Personal Report by a Mother”). The report is basically the personal memoranda of the mother of a UBF recruit who first accompanied her daughter into the UBF and then helped her daughter to leave the group. The translated text of this report can be read at http://UBF-info.de/ext/mdezw1991.en.htm.
The UBF is described as a cult on pp. 97-111 of the book Sekten – Die neuen Heilsbringer (Cults – the New Bringers of Salvation), A Handbook, by Heide-Marie Cammans, Düsseldorf, Germany 1998. The translated text of this report can be read at http://UBF-info.de/ext/cammans1998.en.htm.
The Wellspring Retreat & Resource Center (wellspringretreat.org), a Christian residential treatment facility for recovering cult victims, reports that it has treated former members of the UBF who showed signs of having been psychologically damaged by their time in the group.
The American Family Foundation (www.csj.org) in its publication Cult Observer has characterized the UBF as a cultic group.
In September 1986, the UBF was banned from the campus of the University of Winnipeg in Canada for cult-like activities. The banning of the UBF became front page news in the Winnipeg Free Press, the newspaper with the largest circulation in the city of Winnipeg and one of the largest and most respected newspapers in Western Canada. The text of the two Winnipeg Free Press articles published on October 25, 1986 can be read on-line: lead article, followup article.
In February 1991, The Silhouette, the student newspaper of McMaster University (Ontario), published a brief story headlined “Cult Banned” about the 1991 banning of the UBF from another Canadian university, the University of Manitoba for cult-like activities. The text of this report can be read at http://www.geocities.com/escapeUBF/outside_material/SILHOUETTE.htm.
In December 1993, the UIC News, a weekly publication of the University of Illinois at Chicago, published an article headlined “UIC worries about cult recruitment; three cases this fall.” The article dealt mainly with the UBF’s activities on the UIC campus. The text of this article can be read at http://rsqUBF.fortunecity.net/documents/external/uicnews1993.html
In September 1999, the Ilmenau University News, a publication of the Ilmenau Technical University in Germany, published a brief titled “HRK Warns of Cult.” The brief reported that the chairman of the Conference of College Rectors (HRK) in Germany sent a written warning to all German colleges to beware of the cult-like group UBF, appealing to the colleges to refuse any support or recognition to the UBF and to apply their authority where necessary to restrict the UBF’s campus activities. The translated text of this brief can be read at http://UBF-info.de/ext/hrk1999.en.htm.
In June 2000, the Guardian Unlimited, an on-line British daily newspaper published an article headlined “Cult Following” in which the UBF is mentioned alongside the Unification Church and the International Church of Christ as a cult-like group that targets college students for recruitment. The text of this article can be read at http://www.geocities.com/escapeUBF/outside_material/Guardian.htm.
In December 2001, the Johns Hopkins News-Letter, a weekly student newspaper of the Johns Hopkins University, published an article headlined “Cult-like Evangelist Group Targeted Recent JHU Undergrads.” The article dealt solely with the UBF’s aberrant teachings and practices. This article can be read at http://UBF-info.de/ext/jhu2001.en.htm
In May 2002, the Syracuse Daily Orange, the student newspaper of Syracuse University, published an article headlined “For Christ’s Sake: Cult-like Groups Pose Potential Threat To College Students.” The article names the UBF alongside the International Church of Christ, the Unification Church and Lyndon LaRouche as a cult-like group that targets college students for recruitment. The text of this article can be read at http://rsqUBF.fortunecity.net/documents/external/syracuse-do2002.html
The UBF has been been forbidden to do street recruiting of new members within the Chicago campuses of Loyola University and DePaul University after UBF shepherds were arrested on these campuses in the late 1990s for the undue harassment of students.
On February 27, 1994, the CBS television news affiliate in Chicago broadcast an investigative report about the UBF during its primetime news broadcast. This report focused on allegations of cult-like activities in the Chicago headquarters of the UBF.
On May 5, 1997, the NBC television news affiliate in Chicago also broadcast an investigative report about the UBF during its primetime news broadcast. This report focused on allegations of cult-like activities in the Triton University chapter of the UBF in the Chicago suburbs. The transcript of this broadcast report can be read at http://UBF-info.de/ext/nbc5triton1997.en.htm.
From 1985 to 1987, the Bonner General-Anzeiger, a daily newspaper that serves the city of Bonn, Germany, published a series of articles about cult recruitment at the University of Bonn. The translated headlines of these articles are: “Cults: Not Recognizable For Everyone” (8/28/85), “Information About Student Cults — Loss of Mental Autonomy” (12/16/86), “Loss Of Emotional And Spiritual Self-Determination Threatens The Newly Recruited Members Of Youth Cults” (12/18/86), “Trends Among Youth Offer Opportunities For Cults — Cult Expert Informs Regional School Committee” (3/12/87), and “It Often Starts With An Invitation To Tea — University Bible Fellowship Recruits Particularly Vulnerable Students.” In all these articles, the UBF is prominently mentioned as a cult-like group which targets college students and teenagers. The translated text of this series of articles can be read at http://UBF-info.de/ext/ga198508.en.htm.
From August-October 2002, the Bonner General-Anzeiger published another series of articles, this time dealing solely with allegations of cultic activities and abuses in the Bonn chapter of the UBF. The translated headlines of these articles are: “He Has A Position Of Totalitarian Power” (8/23/02), “Children Thankful For Beatings” (8/30/02), “ ‘Be Unobtrusive And Don’t Draw Negative Attention Anymore’ “ (10/8/02). The translated text of this series of articles can be read at http://UBF-info.de/ext/ga200208.en.htm.
On August 24 and October 7, 2002, the Süddeutsche Zeitung, a respected national newspaper with the largest circulation in Germany, also published articles about allegations of cultic activities in the Bonn chapter of the UBF. The translated headlines of these articles are: “ ‘Bible Friends’ Allegedly Abused Children — Public Prosecutor’s Office In Bonn Investigates The Leader Of The ‘University Bible Fellowship’ “ (8/24/02), “Unto Surrender — The ‘University Bible Fellowship’ Allegedly Turned Members Into Automatons” (8/24/02), and “ ‘Bible Friends’ Go Into Hiding” (10/7/02). Summaries of these articles can be read at http://UBF-info.de/ext/sz200208.en.htm.
In September 2002, in its Press Service No. 101 of 09/04/2002, the German evangelical news agency IDEA (www.idea.de) published a report titled “Bonn: Investigation of ‘University Bible Fellowship.’ “ The report covered the public investigation into allegations of cultic abuse in the Bonn chapter of the UBF. The report also covered the negative view of the UBF among mainstream evangelical organizations and churches in Germany. A summary of this report can be read at http://UBF-info.de/ext/idea200209.en.htm.
We believe that these neutral party observations about the UBF, as well as the many reports in the Christian and secular press about the UBF, constitute evidence of the true nature of this group. We also believe that these neutral party observations and reports are evidence that the UBF’s problems are systemic and not isolated to a few individuals or chapters (churches). Though the UBF’s public statements of doctrine may appear to be sound, and though the UBF’s spokespersons may profess to hold to orthodox-sounding Christian beliefs, there is no question based on the evidence, that the UBF’s extra-biblical teachings and practices have caused undeniable harm and brought disrepute to the faith. Yet, in spite of all this, the UBF’s leadership has consistently rejected calls for change from within and without to this day. The UBF’s being allowed to use the names of mainstream evangelical Christian institutions such as the National Association of Evangelicals to give themselves the appearance of legitimacy will only reduce the likelihood that the UBF’s leadership will see the need for change. We do not believe that the UBF, in its current state, is a group that the NAE should be associated with.
Therefore, we strongly urge the National Association of Evangelicals to revoke the UBF’s membership.