Suggestions for UBF Ethics Committee

Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 8.39.09 PMI wanted to contact UBF Ethics committee but I could not easily find their contact information at If they are serious about making ethical reform they should make it easy to post suggestions for ethical reform in a way easily explained in the website via some form of contact listed on the website.  I wanted to suggest to the ethics committee two things.

Suggestions for the Committee

First, that the UBF Ethics Committee should officially announce a policy that we are allowed to read material even if part of it is critical of UBF. 

Generally speaking organizations that are cults forbid people from reading material that criticizes their group and organizations that are not cults do not make such a prohibition.  Allowing people to read such material as an official policy would suggest to the public that UBF is not a cult.  And if UBF wants to improve, members should be willing to listen to criticism so they know areas that they should improve in. How can someone be serious about making reform when they will not listen to suggestions for how to reform?

Second, that UBF Ethics Committee should officially reject the “pastor’s permission” policy.

I heard that the Ethics Committee was considering ethics based on a document labeled “Code of Ethics for Pastors by the National Association of Evangelicals” Although there are many good points in that document, I disagree with one statement, “Do not recruit parishioners from a previous church without permission from the pastor. Avoid interfering in the ministry of a previous congregation.”

If I understand that statement correctly we should not recruit Jehovah Witnesses without their pastors permission

If we refuse to recruit Jehovah Witnesses without permission from the Pastor we are doing them a disfavor. Jehovah Witnesses are taught to be afraid to read information critical of their group. They are stuck in their group and afraid to leave even though that means they have to refuse blood-transfusions in order to stay in their group, which may cost them or their children their lives.  Refusing to share critical information with someone or recruit them because you do not have their Pastor’s permission can be cruelty in such cases.

Will they take me seriously?

I hope the ethics committee will take these suggestions seriously.  Although I do not know if they still are looking into that code of ethics or if that is old.

If UBF takes my suggestions seriously, then there will be an easy way to contact UBF for ethics suggestions listed on the website in an easy to find place. And UBF will officially announce a policy, in an easy to find place, that we can read material critical of UBF without sinning and that we should not be punished by those in higher authority positions for such an action.

And finally, if UBF listens to me, they will unadopt or will not adopt any policy of not recruiting from outside organizations without a pastors permission. I think UBF should not make policies just so they get endorsements from groups like NAE. Instead, UBF ought to decide their policies on their own merit independent of peer pressure to get endorsements from organizations.


  1. Thank you for reaching out to us, Fellowship. I had not realized something obvious until your email to me the other day. Where is the contact info for the ubf Ethics Committee? Good question.

    I can tell you that Alan, one of the members of the committee, has commented here on ubfriends from time to time. Maybe he will read this post and respond to you.

    In regard to your two issues, here is my reaction.

    I very much agree with your first point, about making some sort of announcement about critical material and websites. That’s something I longed for most of my 24 years at ubf– some kind of intentional act taken by ubf leadership to show that we were not a cult. Something. Anything. But no action was ever taken. The closest action was joining the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. But as you point out, the ubf leadership seemed to be seeking stamps of approval (they are a member of over 20 associations) rather than seeking to come into the light.

    Your second point probably needs some more explanation. On the surface, it seems natural to not interfere with another church. But the NAE guideline is really not about respect; it’s about money and authority. The Evangelical part of our body has become a massive territorial empire. For example, check out this blog post about non-compete clauses and the supposed unity in mission statements. Churches are hurting due to people leaving, and every pew seat has become kind of like the student head count in schools– they don’t want to lose the offering money or the loyal support for their cause.

    UBF then, fits well into this Evangelical-territorial type mold. ubf directors are VERY territorial. This is shown in marriage-by-faith situations repeatedly. Don’t dare try to marry someone from another chapter at ubf without the director’s approval! This territory fighting even went to the fellowship level at my old ubf chapter. The in-fighting got so bad that it was a major reason why my friends JH and KH left the ministry. After my own marriage, fighting broke out among the leaders because each fellowship desperately wanted to keep me and my wife, since we belonged to two different fellowships. I won that battle and kept my wife in my fellowship :)

    So I think we should go further on this request to the committee. Not only should ubf reject some of the NAE guideliness, but they should tear down the directorship system. I REFUSE to call ubf directors as “pastor”. That deceptive switch of title that happened a few years ago is nearly blasphemy.

    I wrote in more detail about this directorship problem at ubf in My Reasons for Leaving UBF

    “…staying a member of UBF in my situation means supporting a director-style leadership model. My leaving is a rejection of the benevolent dictator leadership model.

    Most people love power. Imagine having the power and authority to build any kind of church you wanted! As the Director of Detroit UBF, I had almost no accountability. Once a year someone would email me to make sure all my numbers were reported for weekly Sunday service and Bible study attendance. Once a year someone would remind me that we had not sent any offerings to the central chapter. As long as I attended two or three staff conferences a year, I was deemed to be fit for service.”

  2. Dear “fellowshipbibleuniversity”, thanks for posting.

    I also agree with your first point.

    Concerning your second point, I understand your objection, but I think you’re misunderstanding the text of the code of ethics. The wording is indeed pretty ambiguous. But I believe when they say “do not recruit parishioners from a previous church” they are only talking about NAE churches, i.e. evangelical churches that work and preach according to NAE standards and share that same code of ethics. They certainly did not have Jehovah’s witnesses in mind – they are definitely not evangelical churches, they basically have their own religion.

    Questions I would like to ask the ethics committee are: Is it right for a Christian to have an abortion when the husband left your church or when a new child would interfere with your activities for “campus mission”? Is it right for a Christian pastor to suggest or even demand such abortions? Is it right for a Christian to divorce just because the spouse left from your church? Is it right to remarry soon after in such a case? Is it right for a Christian pastor to suggest or even demand such divorces and remarriages?

    These are all things that have happened in UBF, but so far I have not heard even one clear statement about these things from an UBF official. UBF has neither admitted that these things have happend nor made a statement whether they even consider these things sinful or not in the first place. In fact, some missionaries have indicated abortion is not really an issue for Christians, since the Bible does not explicitly forbid it.

    So these were the first things I would ask the ethics committee. I believe questions like your second one are negligible as long as such fundamental questions haven’t even been answered.

  3. More good points, Chris. Those questions about the abortions are very important, and won’t go away. I was always told those abortion stories were just malicious rumors. But they aren’t rumors, they are true.

    We have private confirmation of all these questions, but el-zippo in terms of public confession. I’m not saying ubf leaders need to confess on a public blog. But they do need to confess in front of all ubf members.

    Sometime in 2012 or so, MY visited me in Detroit. We had a 3 hour coffee shop discussion, and it was very helpful. He admitted his role in the abortion story in Chicago. He knows it was wrong.

    Around the same time my family had dinner with AN and SN (the American UBF ancestors of faith who left around 2001). She told me that in the 1970’s in Korea, she actually read the letter that SLee had sent one missionary candidate couple demanding they have an abortion “for the sake of mission”. He expressed disgust over their getting pregnant during their missionary training.

    The rug that ubf has swept all this under is way too small to cover up the garbage, and it smells anyway, so we all know the rug is there. Abortions, suicides, lawsuits, gold bars, excommunications, deprogramming, sexual misconduct–it’s all there and all of us older people know it.

    • “was always told those abortion stories were just malicious rumors”

      I’ve got three different kinds of responses when I challenged UBF members about this: 1) The same kind of response as you, 2) silence – literally, they simply didn’t answer anything, just sat there and listened with a sad face, 3) attempts to downplay or belittle these things, saying abortion was not a sin according to the Bible. But I didn’t meet anyone who showed outrage about it – what in my view should be the natural reaction, even for non-Christians. Of those who were convinced it was all only malicious slandering I at least expect they are outraged about such false accusations and try everything to refute and disprove. But I haven’t seen any attempt to do that either.

      Also, I want to mention that there are not only the cases of SL ordering such abortions (and MY driving a missionary to an abortion clinic to help execute that order). During the reform movement in 2002 there was a public letter from a Korean UBF member from the Nam San chapter in Seoul who claimed that his wife was “counselled” by the chapter director’s wife to abort her 3rd child “for the sake of mission”, and who therefore executed 2 abortions without the knowledge of her husband, until she finally confessed it to him after 5 years. We have never gotten a reaction of UBF to this open letter.

      So regarding abortions we are not speaking about a single case, we have several independent cases. Because it’s too shameful for the victims to speak about it, it must be feared that there is a considerable dark figure of such cases over the decades and the cases we are aware of might be only the tip of that iceberg.

  4. I can confidently say that most if not close to all ubf leaders today (like MY) would state, if asked, that abortion is wrong and a sin.

    But don’t expect any explicit public statement/acknowledgment any time soon (at any major public ubf gathering and almost certainly not online!), for a multitude of reasons that I think most of you can guess.

    In my opinion, most, if not all, of the reasons for not doing so will not have support from Scripture, which is sad.

    • “I can confidently say that most if not close to all ubf leaders today (like MY) would state, if asked, that abortion is wrong and a sin.” – See more at:

      Yes of course. They would say breaking-and-entering is a sin too–if you ask them point blank. But behind the scenes, if push came to shove, they would say “Do it all for the glory of God!”, which when translated means, “Do it all for the glory of UBF!”.

      In any case, I will be here with my blogs, Lord willing, in 2019 when I predict the next crisis wave will hit ubf, if the pattern holds true. And it seems it will because the same people are in the echelon and the same ideology controls most of ubf-land.

  5. Ben, how would this person (or any ubf member) go about contacting the ethics and accountability committee?

    That is a simple question. Is there a simple answer?

  6. btw “fellowshipbibleuniversity” is pretty cute and creative.

    Also, I don’t see your first suggestion happening anytime soon, for reasons most of you who have been around can guess.

  7. Hi fellowshipbibleuniversity,

    Thank you for bringing up the important issue of ethics. Let me first say that although I am on the UBF ethics committee, the only one who is righteous is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Also I am only one of the members of the committee, so I have no pretense that I am speaking for the whole committee much less the whole UBF organization. I can offer some information though that will hopefully be helpful to you.

    I take away three points from your article, although you suggested two things.

    First, yes I agree, the ethics committee contact has to exist on the website. Many staff and elders in the ministry have been working on policies and guidelines in the last year. Part of this is a Code of Ethics and the policies around that. These have been going through a process of review & approval and will be finalized by early next year. Then they will appear on the UBF website. In the meantime, if you or anyone else has any questions or concerns, please email us at

    Second, per your comment about an official policy that we are allowed to read material even if part of it is critical of UBF, I would say of course we are! The Bible itself is critical of us including myself on a daily basis. Our main message is (or should be) the gospel of Jesus Christ, not how great we are. In the meantime, we repent and come to Jesus and we encourage others in the ministry who have fallen short to repent and reconcile with those they have wronged. Having said all of that, I again cannot claim to offer official policy in my comments here, but can say that official public statements are being vetted by members of the leadership along with the guidelines mentioned in the previous paragraph.

    Third, we used the NAE document to get ideas for our Code but we are not copying it. And we are excluding the statement about not recruiting parishioners from a previous church.

    • Alan,

      You wrote that ubf members are allowed to read critical material…

      “…we are allowed to read material even if part of it is critical of UBF, I would say of course we are!”

      That’s what a lot of ubf leaders say. It used to be said in Toledo ubf “We have an open door policy. You are free to go and free to stay.”

      But words mean almost nothing. Actions count. What we built in Toledo ubf using Slee’s ideologies was a sort of Hotel California.

      So I’d like to point out that it’s not enough for leaders to say “you are free”. Leadership is about demonstrating “you are free”. Show me the money! When will an upcoming ubf conference feature a main message about ubfriends?

      Something else about leadership. When people feel a certain way, what a leader says means nothing. Leaders need to pay attention to how people feel, not to the extent that emotions control everything, but to the extent that trust can be formed. Right now trust and friendship are missing in ubfland.

    • Joe Schafer

      Alan, thanks for chiming in.

      You wrote: “Our main message is (or should be) the gospel of Jesus Christ, not how great we are. In the meantime, we repent and come to Jesus and we encourage others in the ministry who have fallen short to repent and reconcile with those they have wronged.”

      You also said that a Code of Ethics is being written and will be released sometime in the future.

      My question for you is this:

      Will the publication of the Code of Ethics be accompanied by any official recognition of collective wrongdoing by the ubf organization and its leaders?

      If the answer is no, then in what sense will this Code of Ethics have anything to do with the gospel?

      Jesus didn’t come to replace the Torah with a new and improved Code of Ethics. He came to lead us back to God. There is no way back to God that does not involve admission of guilt and repentance.

      Alan, I appreciate the desire to come up with a set of rules and standards for behavior. But if your organization claims to be all about preaching the gospel to college students — if you are all about leading young people to repentance and faith– and if your organization has no clear expression of repentance where it is so obviously needed, then in my opinion you should stop this business of evangelizing because you have no credibility in that department.

    • Hi Joe,

      Great question! I personally hope and pray that there will be the kind of statement that you mention. All I can say about that now is, as I mentioned before, official public statements are being vetted by the members of leadership.

      I appreciate your heartfelt concerns and prayers in this matter.

  8. Thanks Alan. My hope and vision is that one day people won’t have to go through a former member intermediary and a blogsite to get these kinds of answers. I also hope that Chris and I will not be six feet under before his questions are answers, questions that have been ongoing for about 4 decades.

  9. fellowshipbible

    If I understood you correctly

    Yes I had three main points but it was easier to structure my essay listing two points I listed to share with the ethics committee before I knew it was not easy to find the contact info after my first point that it should be easy to contact them.

    There will be a contact method for the ethics committee at a later time on the website after a policy has been written. It is good there will be a contact method for the ethics committee but why after the policy is written? Would it not make sense to have the contact info before the policy is written to seek advice for how to write the policy? I hope after the policy has been written it can still be updated and rewritten based on whatever new comments are sent to the ethics committee.

    C The UBF policies will not be exactly like the NAE document and you agree with the point I listed as point 2 which is actually point 3 about a policy that should be excluded which will be excluded according to the current plan

    D If there is no official policy that we can read whatever we want what would happen if someone wanted to do a book club on books about cults would they have to avoid any books that mention UBF if they want to stay in the group of UBF but also do the book club. Let’s say they were not doing the book club with an-anti UBF agenda as their primary agenda, but UBF happened to be mentioned along with other groups in some of the books they want to read, would they have to censor their reading list in order to maintain activity with UBF and in order to maintain friendship with UBF members (I use the word members loosely.)

  10. fellowshipbible

    Chris although I agree that if abortion is murder it should not be done and UBF should teach that abortion should not be done. But I believe having a written policy to allow us to read material is more important than a written policy about abortion because

    1 If UBF leaders are influencing people to get abortions how will people know about it if they can not listen to or read anything that said it happened

    2 If someone can not choose to read or listen to material that says abortion is morally wrong how will they know it is murder and that it should be stopped.

    Having a written policy allowing freedom of speech would allow people to know abortion is morally wrong through communication with outsiders (some who support it and some who oppose it and when they hear the good arguments in opposition they can know the truth even with the bad arguments in support of abortion being allowed to be presented also) even without a written policy about abortion but having a written policy about abortion but no policy permitting freedom of speech might result in them not knowing that something else they happened to miss in a long list of sins is a sin.

    We do not need a long list of what is and is not sins but merely the freedom of speech so that someone might eventually communicate that something is a sin even though someone might have forgot it in the written policy

    That being said there is no reason they can not write about both freedom of speech and the wrongness of abortion.

    The same logic can be said about any other sin in regard to the ethics policy

    If the UBF ethics policy does not permit freedom of speech there might as well not be an ethics policy at all because who can talk about ethics when there is no freedom of speech and how can you apply the policy if it can not be discussed?

  11. fellowshipbible

    I Should have said

    Yes I had three main points but it was easier to structure my essay listing two points I wished to share with the ethics committee before I knew it was not easy to find the contact info after my first point that it should be easy to contact them.

    instead of

    Yes I had three main points but it was easier to structure my essay listing two points I listed to share with the ethics committee before I knew it was not easy to find the contact info after my first point that it should be easy to contact them.

    • Admin note: I shortened your display name, fellowshipbibleuniversity, as that name is too long for our format. Your login didn’t change though, thanks!

      Feel free to change your display nickname to anything you want in your profile settings after logging in.

  12. fellowshipbible

    What if someone is dealing with an ethics crisis before the policy is written? There can at least be something saying new news there is now an ethics committee which can be contacted at ______ they are currently working on writing a policy but if you are dealing with ethical problems now feel free to contact us at _________

    Of course if there is a serious ethical problem (like attempted murder) where someone might die without immediate help someone can call 911 and get the police so I guess we do not need an ethics committee for immediate help with some life or death problems. None the less don’t you think people should have immediate access to someone to ask for help with ethical problems? Maybe that is not a committees job however because the committees job might be to provide guidelines for how to help rather than to help directly. Much like the distinction between a professor who teaches future paramedics anatomy so they can save peoples lives but does not do hands on work and the paramedics who actually do the hands on work.

  13. fellowshipbible


    I know you provided the contact info here but not all UBF members might go here for the contact info in the meanwhile since this is not the official website. People should not have to go to some third party website.

    • @fellowshipbible. We can have different opinions here to some deggre. E.g. in my view saying abortion is murder is too hard for those women who may be overburdened psychologically, emotionally, financiall or otherwise and do it out of desperation. I would not want to compare these women with murderers. However, a Christian “pastor” advising (in case of SL, advises were equal to commands) and even actively supporting an abortion that’s a real scandal that is 1000 times worse than a woman who decides this on her own behalf.

      I agree that freedom of speach and freedom to read is extreme important. The point I considered not so important is whether recruiting from other (healthy) churches should be allowed. I believe as long as people speak in terms of “recruiting” something is fundamentally wrong anyway.

      One point is clear anyway: Since its foundation over 50 years ago, UBF never had any real written code of conduct or ethics, and it was left out on purpose. As all spiritual abusive groups and cults, it operates with “hidden” and “unwritten rules”, even “unspoken rules”, and work only with subtle behavior and mind control through authoritarian relationships. They always avoid to make things explicit. As one book of spiritual abuse explained, one of the reasons for this is that as soon as you write down these rules and make them explicit, it becomes clear and obvious how ridiculuous and aberrant they are. Also, it would be easy to officially prove the aberrancy of the group. They always want to have the option of denying that such rules exist. Plus, it makes leaders more “flexible” in the application and interpretation of their own rules. Therefore you can understand why it is so hard for UBF to finally write down their own rules.

  14. Fellowshipbible:

    You bring up a great point for further discussion:

    “Maybe that is not a committees job however because the committees job might be to provide guidelines for how to help rather than to help directly. – See more at:

    From a Scripture viewpoint, the ministry of reconciliation is supposed to be one of the God-mandated, primary missions of Jesus’ followers, not relegated to a 3 person committee (for example: 2 Corinthians 5:17-19)

    Forbes ran an article about a new book that seems highly relevant. We need vastly more discussion about the ubf corporation and less talk about individuals.

    Here is a great excerpt from the book “You First: Inspire Your Team to Grow Up, Get Along, and Get Stuff Done” by Liane Davey.

    Five kinds of toxic teams are listed. ubf as I knew it, was mostly #b and #c, with some #d thrown in for good measure. I see elements of all 5 toxic qualities in ubf as an corporate entity. This is perhaps why ubf is often described as a “mixed bag”– it is a mixed bag of toxic elements and hard to identify clearly at times.

    a. The Crisis Junkie Team—stalled by unclear priorities and lack of role clarity, this team lurches along until a crisis forces it to unite around a common goal.

    b. The Bobble Head Team—homogenized by shared values and perspectives, this team maintains harmony at the cost of little innovation.

    c. The Spectator Team—fragmented by team members who have “checked out”, this team sinks into apathy.

    d. The Bleeding Back Team—plagued by underground conflict and personal histories, this team keeps the peace in public but fights in private.

    e. The Royal Rumble Team—scarred by attacks and emotional outbursts, this team swings back and forth without ever moving forward.

    The five suggested solutions are very helpful. What if ubf started doing these things more and doing the heritage less?

    1. Start with a Positive Assumption: Short-circuit your biases, unpack your baggage, and truly appreciate the value that your teammates are bringing.

    2. Add Your Full Value: Show up, get off cruise control and bring the benefit of your experiences, your relationships, and your personality instead of just doing what is in your job description.

    3. Amplify Other Voices: Loan your credibility and your airtime to teammates whose minority perspectives are usually shut out of the discussion.

    4. Know When to Say “No”: Retrain yourself when and how to say no to the things that would dilute your focus, stretch your resources, and slow you down.

    5. Embrace Productive Conflict: Tap into the value of different points of view by disagreeing about the issues in a way that promotes understanding and reduces defensiveness.

  15. fellowshipbible

    Chris said, “As all spiritual abusive groups and cults, it operates with “hidden” and “unwritten rules”, even “unspoken rules”, and work only with subtle behavior and mind control through authoritarian relationships. They always avoid to make things explicit.”

    – See more at:

    A primary ingredient to the mind control you seem to claim is happening according to Steven Hassan and others is fear of accessing information critical of the group. If UBF ethics committee officially states that we can read information critical of the group that will help prevent that mind control problem from being as severe if it is really happening and if it is not happening why would they have a problem accessing information critical of the group. Mind control is a bit strong of a word as people might imagine that someone has complete control of someone else’s thoughts and dismiss the possibility that they are influencing someone else’s choices from a systematic process involving implanting fear of accessing outside information explaining “undue influence” or “mind control” as well as other methods.

    Unless people are allowed to access outside information I do not see any success with dealing with the major UBF problems, even if the abortion clause gets put in it will not stop leaders from being able to influence people to do something else unethical that was not put in unless there is a clause about accessing outside information.

    And by the way there are numerous Bible verses that could be interpreted to indicate that we should be willing to read material other than the Bible and whatever some group tries to restrict us to in order to make the group look good. And I could list some but I am going to challenge people to try to use outside information to find such a list because other people have made such lists of Bible verses allowing people to access outside information.

    Is there an unspoken rule that people in UBF should not access information critical of UBF practices by reading material other than the Bible? Or is there no such unspoken rule in which case why not post that we can read material critical of UBF?

    Could it be that different “shepherds” have different policies on this practice? Perhaps such a policy should be written even if not all “shepherds” try to forbid looking at critical material to prevent an ethics violation by the small minority that is doing it, if it really is a small minority and protect people who are their “sheep?” And to give praise to those who allow “sheep” to read material critical of the group to encourage them to continue that policy.

    If each shepherd governs their own sheep what is to stop them from making unwritten rules that the main group did not start as many as they want and to eventually become abusive.

    Even if the top leaders are not abusive there is nothing to stop the sub-leaders from becoming abusive if they are not forbidden from forbidding access of information critical to the group. They could each start their own little “mind control cult” without telling the leadership what they are doing. Numerous people have done it when they started their own Bible study or Church group.

    If new shepherds start their own group every time they invite students why not have a policy to prevent such undue influence?

    Was Brian K implying that he was put in a position of power where he could have done such a thing if he wanted to?

    Brian K said, “Most people love power. Imagine having the power and authority to build any kind of church you wanted! As the Director of Detroit UBF, I had almost no accountability.” – See more at:

  16. fellowshipbible

    AW seemed to imply we can read information critical of UBF by reading the Bible because people are sinners and UBF members are people and therefor by reading the Bible we will see things critical of the group since it is composed of people who like people in other groups are sinners.

    But can we read information other than the Bible to find fault in UBF members maybe not to destroy the group but to protect ourselves from undue influence and to improve the group?

    If people said Apostles Paul’s letters are not part of the old testament and they say things critical about me or my group so they ignored them….

    Will at that time there were not the so called 66 books of the bible. And even when all 66 were written they were separate not all in one book, how did people know what should be there in the 66 books without accessing outside information other than the old testament? And the same could be said when the book of Isaiah or Jeremiah and so on and so forth were first written before the so called 39 books of the old testament were all in existence at once in once place.

    When Jesus spoke was it OK to listen to him because he was outside information?

    Why read Martin Luther and John Calvin if we are to go by the Bible alone?

    Are Dr. Samuel Lee’s sermons only quotes from the Bible plus nothing else or does he use his own phrases not found as exact quotes from the Bible?

    Why did I hear one of the Pastors quote from Confucius or Korean sayings? Were these Korean sayings from the Bible?

    When a UBF shepherd teaches the Bible do they merely read it word for word or are they providing an outside source of information? I have seen many UBF sermons that use new phrases that can not be found in the Bible.

    How can a UBF shepherd tell something to repent of what they are doing without first knowing that they are doing what they are doing and how can they know they are doing what they are doing without accessing information outside the Bible? If a UBF shepherd knows John Doe (pseudoname) is committing adultery did the Bible say John Doe was committing adultery or did he first observe John Doe either do some actions or someone say he did some actions and then conclude using the outside information about John Doe plus the Bible that he committed adultery?

    Can a Shepherd use read outside information about a sheep’s behavior outside the Bible like a sheep’s “testimony” but a sheep is forbidden from reading outside information about the shepherd’s behavior?

    The shepherd is allowed to see if the sheep is a wolf but the sheep can not look if the shepherd is a wolf. If the shepherd is not a wolf why would this be so?

    Granted outside information might be inaccurate but a sheep can see the outside information is inaccurate if what he observes and what he reads do not agree (or at least perhaps inaccurate for the current method of operation at the current location for his or her current personal life.) But the outside information is more than just events it can be two different people coming to 2 different conclusions about if a historical event (that they both agreed happened approximately the same way) demonstrated moral integrity on the part of the shepherds or a moral example of what to be learned to do different next time.

  17. fellowshipbible

    I should have said someone to repent instead of something to repent

  18. fellowshipbible

    Aw said, “Second, per your comment about an official policy that we are allowed to read material even if part of it is critical of UBF, I would say of course we are! The Bible itself is critical of us including myself on a daily basis.” – See more at:

    But can we read material other than the Bible that is critical of UBF?

  19. fellowshipbible

    I am not talking about a policy saying we can read the Bible even if it says things that one might interpret things which one would consider critical of UBF members or non-members including ourselves, but about reading material other than the Bible critical of UBF.

    The policy should be that we can read material (other than the Bible in addition to the Bible) that might be critical of UBF without getting special approval from leadership without fear of punishment for reading material critical of UBF

    People in UBF read the Bible to say critical things about me all the time but that does not mean they interpreted it correctly (although I believe they are sometimes correct) to interpret it correctly requires outside information such as the correct point of view, perhaps a dictionary etc.

    I will not consider the original intent of my question/suggestion answered unless I know if there is an official policy that we can read material outside the Bible that is critical of UBF without punishment from UBF for reading material outside the Bible that is critical of UBF

    Perhaps I should have been more specific to mention I meant material other than the Bible that is critical of the group, I thought that was implied but maybe not. (Assuming the best intentions that my question was not being dodged by someone pretending to answer it)

  20. fellowshipbible

    Perhaps I should have said if there will be such a policy rather than if there is, because I am guessing there is not yet such a policy

    • Fellowshipbible, thanks for explaining why this policy about reading outside material is important to you. I’m all in line with your here.

      But we need to be aware that the whole issue is much broader and a bit more complicated.

      As I said, UBF usually does not really “forbid” reading outside material. It’s more subtle. They hinder you from reading these material by 1) overfeeding your with their own material (UBF daily bread, lectures, questionnaires, newsletters etc.), by 2) keeping you busy around the clock so that you don’t have time to read, 3) dismissing critical material as “100% lie and slander” or as tools from Satan to make you doubt first UBF and then God altogether and then burn in hell.

      In the early 90s there was no Internet and the only material available in German were infrequent newspaper articles, a small passage in a book about cults, and one long article by the German cult commissioner for cults, but it was really hard to find. Still, it sometimes happened that concerned parents or pastors read these articles and gave them to UBF members, and these informations helped them to leave UBF. Therefore, our chapter director finally made us even read that critical article. The idea was that we would not read it in a “weak moment” and he was in control when we read it and he could study our reaction to it. Since the article was written by a liberal theologian based on a historical-critical Bible interpretation, it was easy to dismiss him as not being a real Christian, but actually a “tool of the devil”. Once members had accepted that, they were unwilling to really consider what the article really said, and in the following were “immune” against any criticism since they “had seen it all already”.

      In the early 2000s, things changed drastically, when websites of the reformers appeared on the Internet with many articles from insiders. Most of it was written in Korean, but then also American and German reform websites appeared with some translations. Now our chapter director used a different tactic, by claiming it was all lies and slander, and when reading these articles, we would be “infected” by the “R-group virus”. Again, these websites were also depicted as a tool of the devil. The chapter directors wife asked me with tears not to read in the Internet, and instead concentrate on raising 4 shepherds.

      You see, there was no official, explicit and consistent policy of UBF regarding outside material. Most were simply frightened because they believed reading these critical articles were the first step to lose their faith and burn in hell.

      Also, the issue of “information control” is much broader. When you were forced to attend every Sunday worship at UBF, it was impossible to visit your parents or listen to the pastor of your home church. During the week, instead of meeting with friends, you were told to be in the center, and live in “common life” apartments, so it was impossible to meet with old friends. This way, they totally cut your from outside opinions and information. You were only listening to and talking to the like-minded people in UBF. Also, inside UBF all the information flows only bottom-up, never top-down. This is another way of information control.

    • It is important to understand that information control is one of the four fundamental components of mind control according to the BITE model. “Outside information forbidden” is one of the elements of that component. The other fundamental components are behavior control, thought control and emotional control. Note how all these things play together.

  21. Hi Fellowshipbible,

    Thanks for your patience and for clarifying your question.

    I did not mean to imply that I think the Bible is the only document people can read that is critical of UBF.

    From the standpoint of the Code, there are items that deal with the sins of others and not retaliating, but nothing at this point that explicitly says people can read material specifically critical of UBF without special approval and without fear of retaliation.

    It sounds as though you think such a statement belongs explicitly in the Code, is that right? If that is an issue with you right now, feel free to use that email address I shared to contact us.

    What do others think about such a statement explicitly being in the Code? I appreciate your thoughts.

    • Surely there must be explicit statements in the Code that tell the world that ubf has decided not to be a cult.

      I suspect the Code, no matter what is in it, will be used as another tool to further the toxic environment and spread the spiritual abuse. I’m not really convinced creating a Code is good for the ubf entity right now. What good is adding a Code that people can now go around judging people by? Have any of the 20 or so top abusers been relieved of ministry duties and asked to leave? If not, then this plays right into their hands. Why add committees and codes and Christian-speak (elder, pastor, etc) on top of the heritage? Or does the Code do away with the heritage?

      Maybe you could post the Code to ubfriends for public scrutiny? Or at least give a copy to all ubf members before it is finalized? How many people have given feedback on this Code?

      My questions would be…

      Has the chapter-director style directorship been dismantled and replaced with a healthy Christian style of leadership? Are there clauses in the Code that describe how to leave ubf? Are there clauses that allow freedom in marriage and remove the marriage-by-faith restrictions? Are there clauses that remove the requirement to have a personal, life-long shepherd? Are there clauses that speak to how to prevent and deal with numerous kinds of abuses?

  22. Hi Brian,

    Thank you for your thoughts and interest in this subject. You asked 12 questions in your one comment. Please forgive me if I don’t have the time or capacity to answer all of them right now.

    Per your first question, the primary audience for the Code is UBF leaders. It is not a PR document. Of course the underlying purpose of it is to facilitate telling the whole world the good news of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ through our words and deeds.

    I’m sorry that you have suspicions about how the Code might be used. The spirit we’ve taken in approaching it is that the Code should truly help members have a Christ-centered ministry and be Christ-centered people. Also, the Ethics Committee is not the UBF police department, enforcing the law and punishing people for not living up to it. And we do not want to encourage such application. While the vast majority of those in UBF are quite amazing and wonderful people, they are also flawed like you and me. Even leaders sometimes need counseling, help and friendship. They need our prayers. Yes, there is also a place for discipline and even removal of leaders as a last resort. We are hoping to establish more formal guidelines and a process for this.

    The Code itself is being reviewed by literally dozens of leaders and will be reviewed by a larger group of representative members (maybe 50+ more people) before approval. We may receive feedback from others as well, even from those outside UBF. Out of respect for our members though, in my opinion they should have an opportunity to see it before it is posted here.

    I can’t go into detail at this juncture about the details of Code here since it should be vetted within UBF first. I don’t agree with the pejorative generalizations that you make, but I can say the short answer to your last 5 questions is yes.

    Please pray for us.

    • Joe Schafer

      Alan, thanks for this update. I appreciate what you are doing and what you are trying to do. A Code of Ethics might prove to be a huge step forward. It might also have no effect whatsoever, because written rules and regulations have no power in themselves. It is my hope and prayer that, if and when a Code of Ethics comes out, it will be an authentic expression of what the good people in ubf actually believe and what they actually intend to do, to foster a culture of honesty, transparency and integrity. I hope the Code of Ethics will be an outward expression of an ongoing inner transformation within ubf and the start of serious efforts toward reconciliation with estranged members and ex-members. If that happens, it will be no small feat. I have been frustrated by the slow pace. But I also understand that, in matters like this, you cannot move too fast, because if you do, you may end up with a document that is nothing more than that, some hollow words with no reality behind them. Doing it badly would be worse than not doing it at all. Doing it poorly would set the process back by many years. I think you have (at most) one good shot at this. May God grant you wisdom to do it properly.

  23. Thanks for sharing Alan. I am sure our readers from ubf here greatly appreciate hearing these details.

  24. It has been said that the Internet can help people by providing information otherwise unreachable. But there is a danger that even the young generation that uses the Internet miss all the relevant information, e.g. if they only use the Internet to be in touch with their social circle of like-minded friends on Facebook.

    Therefore I recommned UBFers come here for discussions, instead of using Facebook. Besides that, Facebook makes us depressed and narcissistic, and harms our overall self-esteem.

    • I’m sure you realize that to some/many UBFers, reading UBFriends makes them depressed, angry, bitter, resentful, and perhaps quite incapable of obeying Mt 5:44, or even Jn 13:34!

  25. fellowshipbible

    AW said

    “From the standpoint of the Code, there are items that deal with the sins of others and not retaliating, but nothing at this point that explicitly says people can read material specifically critical of UBF without special approval and without fear of retaliation.

    It sounds as though you think such a statement belongs explicitly in the Code, is that right? If that is an issue with you right now, feel free to use that email address I shared to contact us.”
    – See more at:

    I wish to suggest that such a statement or a statement of similar meaning and intention belongs explicitly in the code and I will not consider the problems solved at the or one of the roots unless it is in there

    If some portions of UBF restrict people from reading information critical of the group I would consider those portions of UBF to likely be operating in a manner similar to those of destructive psychological cults. Even if some parts of UBF allow people to read information critical of the group it should be in the code for those who officially or unofficially do not allow people to read information critical of the group.

    This would help towards preventing some leaders from causing problems for those under them without accountability where as it should not cause a problem for those leaders who are not mistreating people. If someone writes slanderous articles about innocent leaders they can compare the leaders real behavior with the articles and find the articles doubtful.

    I am asking publicly so that there can be a public response. There is a time for privacy but if every matter of public policy is discussed privately perhaps the public policy can hide like an elephant hiding in a strawberry patch that no one sees unless someone points it out or accidentally bumps into it. Although I can send you an email in case you do not check this website frequently and it is more convenient for you.

    I would still hope you respond to my inquiry publicly. I do not wish to name any specific leaders or sheep still alive at the time but discuss this in general so I do not see why it can not be discussed publicly.

    I am not saying you are or are not trying to avoid public discussion. But I would say other people (unnamed) in other groups and possibly also in UBF would try to avoid discussing things publicly in order to hide the problem. I believe there could be a very valid reason you want me to discuss over email like convenience and not necessarily to avoid public discussions.

  26. fellowshipbible

    Briank I think simply adressing information control would be a good start even if there is a top 20 list of UBFs most official leaders you wish were removed, if people can simply access information about how abusive leaders manipulate people they can learn to avoid them. If the top 20 are removed, what is to stop new abusive leaders from joining would it not be more helpful for people to learn how to avoid abusive leaders control in general then to remove a few leaders. Those top 20 leaders suddenly might find themselves without followers if the information is accessed of how such people behave in general (without even their names being mentioned) unless they change their behavior.

    So they would not need to remove the top 20 if people were simply allowed to access information

    Unless of course there is some sort of physical attack by these top 20 the moment someone meets to study with them and it is not all mind games but in that case we do not need UBF to remove them that is what police and courts should be there for.

    Brian said, “Have any of the 20 or so top abusers been relieved of ministry duties and asked to leave? – See more at:

  27. fellowshipbible

    I made a humerus typo I said “official” when i should have said “abusive” is there some way to edit comments I made in the past?

  28. fellowshipbible

    I think there should be a code. Yes I understand that some leaders might use the code in a bad way, but it is important for the sheep to have a code to protect them from leaders.

    For example I do not dare discuss things as myself publicly with some without some anonymous identity unless I see in the code or some other official policy that we can access information critical of the group.

    At the very least it would protect me to some degree.

    • fellowshipbible, many of the problems you share, in my experience, are “escalator problems”. In other words, what do you do when you are on an escalator and it stops? Well you just wall up (or down) the stairs.

      The more of us who “come out” publicly and show who we are, the better.

  29. fellowshipbible

    I should have said even if the top 20 abusive leaders were not removed people could still access information to avoid them another typo

  30. fellowshipbible

    Actually that was not a typo I should read my writings more carefully.

  31. fellowshipbible

    BrianK I think all of the problems you listed could be resolved if people could simply access information because they would learn how to deal with the problems. (Possibly leaving the group if necessary although preferably the group members would improve based on the information which then could be freely accessed and the problems can hopefully be dealt with without people having leaving the group as their only alternative left over.)

    • fellowshipbible, I’m not sure it’s that simple. Everyone has access to all the 150+ testimonies of former ubf members, all the documents from the 1976, 1989, 2000 and 2011 “crisis” moments, and all the articles on this website, and my website, It’s all freely available.

      The problem is that ubf people are conditioned to think that reading such things is unspiritual, a waste of time, or evil and sinful. The B.I.T.E model of control combined with bible verse proof-texts and daily ubf heritage indoctrination are just some of the layers of burden that entrap the ubf mind. I described this in my 2nd book, the Butterfly Narratives.

  32. fellowshipbible

    Chris can you please explain what you mean by, “Also, inside UBF all the information flows only bottom-up, never top-down.” – See more at:

    I thought information came from the top down. That is the shepherds taught shepherds who taught shepherds below them in rank all the way down to the very bottom being the sheep or the person the sheep/bottom level shepherd or pre-shepherd is trying to recruit

    Although information about sheeps personal behavior might come from the buttom up.

    • “I thought information came from the top down. That is the shepherds taught shepherds who taught shepherds”

      Yes, that’s right. The chain of command, decision-making and teaching goes top down.

      When I say “information” I mean the information what’s really going on inside the group and information about the people in the group.

      As you noticed already “information about sheeps personal behavior might come from the buttom up”. That’s absolutely true. In our “fellowship meetings” we were told to “share” the personal and private struggles of our sheep with the others in the meeting and the fellowship leader. This was a breach of privacy since the sheep told their personal shepherds about themselves because they trusted them and believed these things were kept private. The pretext for this sharing of private information was that we needed to know their “spiritual state” in order to pray for them. The fellowship leaders were then expected to share these internal information to the chapter director. When one personal shepherd refused to reveal some private information about a sheep, the chapter director pressured him saying he (the chapter director) was his shepherd so he need to know (the chapter director was considered kind of archshepherd or ubershepherd for all the sheep of the personal shepherds).

      Another example: The chapter directors in Germany had to report membership numbers, and amount of offerings to the national director (a part of that money had to be sent to the national headquarters – as the reformers claimed, in the early years they even sent all of it). Again this is an information flow from bottom up. On the other hand, when the chapter directors asked to reveal how much money the headquarters had collected over the years and how it had been used, the national director refused saying they had to just “trust” him. I guess it was similar in the US. Therefore nobody knows exact global membership numbers, even though the exact numbers of SWS attendants and Bible studies were sent to the headquarters every week. But nobody ever saw the statistic made from these numbers.

      The leaders always want to know everything about the members. Sogam sharing is another example. Week for week, we had to share our most private thoughts, sins and struggles in sogams (testimonies). The chapter director was always attendant and listening. But he never shared his own testimony.

      Whenever anything happened in UBF, like a struggle between missionaries, we did not hear about. Maybe later, when this caused a division we were told a version in which the chapter split in order to pioneer more universities. But we never were told what was really happening behind the scenes.

      When the reform movement started, nobody would have even known about what was really going on unless people informed themselves in the Internet. We were only told that there was a “R-group” of evil rebels who wanted to divide UBF and spread lies and slander, and we should try to avoid them to not get infected by them. But there was never “real” information flowing top bottom, only propaganda. The newsletters that were sold by Samuel Lee are a good example. As I mentioned, they even contained faked photos. The newsletters did not share real information and news, but propaganda, a view of the fantasy world as the leader liked to see it (or rather wanted us to see it).

  33. fellowshipbible

    BrianK said, “The problem is that ubf people are conditioned to think that reading such things is unspiritual, a waste of time, or evil and sinful. The B.I.T.E model of control combined with bible verse proof-texts and daily ubf heritage indoctrination are just some of the layers of burden that entrap the ubf mind. I described this in my 2nd book, the Butterfly Narratives.”

    – See more at:

    So they will not read outside information

    1 for fear of possibly real retaliation by leaders

    2 for fear of retaliation by the description of god (a description of god that is different than God really is in that he disapproves of people sinning or wasting time, etc. looking at outside information) of presented by UBF

    Putting in the code that we can read outside information without fear of punishment would imply that God is not as described in point 2 and would give people grounds to point out a problem if leaders retaliate (point 1) that leaders are violating such a hypothetical new UBF code and make the leaders look rebellious because it is a code established by UBF leaders who would theoretically be higher in UBF rank and higher in rank means correct in UBF thinking.

    How does one access your whole books to read in whole?

  34. Hi Alan,
    I have a few questions to ask here based on what you’ve shared so far:

    1) “for leaders”: Can you clarify this? As you know, everyone in UBF is encouraged to be a leader, a shepherd and Bible teacher–exercising authority over another’s life in this capacity is a tremendously huge leadership position. Is the Code written for all members then? Or is it intended for a more specific group of leaders, such as chapter directors? Will it be publicly available?

    2) Who are the committee members and where can I find out more about them? I think that it is important for all UBF members to know who are writing this Code, for obvious reasons. Unfortunately, I’ve heard be bashed simply because of who posts here without regard for the content. “Who” matters a lot.

    3) If the Ethics Committee is not the enforcer of the Code, then who is? Will a separate body be formed for enforcing the Code?

    4) Will a draft of the Code be submitted for review by any persons outside of UBF? If not, why?

    5) Why is a Code of Ethics now being written? I have not seen any public admittance of anything warranting a Code to be written.

    I understand why you said that you can’t share more detailed information here, but many of these important, ministry-wide affecting committees and decisions, etc., are not made public. I don’t think there has even been an official, public announcement that an Code of Ethics is being written. The fact is that much is done in secret and, seemingly, by the same people, without the solicitation of suggestions or feedback from the general public of UBF. Combined with this article’s concern about information control, please understand why I, as a current member of UBF, might also be suspicious of the content and purpose of the Code.

    Furthermore, not only is there expressed sentiment to not read outside material critical of UBF, but outside information in general on regards to the bible itself and the God it talks about. In a June draft of the chapter guidelines, it mentions that only certain people be encouraged to go to seminary and then to return and then teach the rest of the UBF as it seems fitting and best. I found that part of the guidelines suspicious and discouraging. I sensed a fear that if people learn about the Bible or ministry outside of UBF materials they will then abandon UBF methods and teachings about the bible, Jesus, mission, family, etc.

    By the way, the Ethics Committee should really consider doing a Reddit AMA!

  35. Hi Charles,

    I’ll do my best to answer your questions.

    1) It certainly includes chapter leaders, boards of elders in larger chapters and those who are pastoring others. There is some further clarification to be done. Once done, I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be publicly available.
    2) We did an interest group at the 2013 ISBC, have been reported on and have done reports at several of the staff-level and representative member meetings. I’m not in charge of how it is advertised, but once the guidelines are in place I hope it will be better known. I don’t want to put peoples’ names on the Internet without their permission, but it is not secret information. There are 4 people on the committee: JR, HP, AS and AW. There are two North American elders, two chapter leaders; two Korean missionaries and two Americans.
    3) This is a work in progress so I can’t give a definitive answer to that right now. The committee is helping to support in prayer and counsel those who need it. We are trying to follow Biblical guidelines with regard to enforcement of discipline within the church. Obviously all in the community are responsible to some extent for this.
    4) We read several examples authored outside of UBF before doing our drafts and have gotten some good ideas from them. Yes, we would like people outside UBF to review the draft of the Code before it is finalized.
    5) It is being written because there was a widely perceived need for it along with several other types of guidelines for chapter leaders and others in UBF.

    With regard to material about UBF that fellowshipbible also raised, there is no way to enforce whether someone reads it or not. But what people do with what they read is most important. Whether the material is critical or laudatory, one has to be able to discern what the real facts are and deal with them appropriately (Matt 18:15-18). A leader should not retaliate if someone brings up an issue appropriately and there are ways that is being addressed in what we are writing.

    Thanks for your suggestions, including the Reddit AMA!

    • Alan,

      That all sounds so nice. What you say is well and good. However, based on people who are leaving ubf and my communications with them, nothing will make a difference until 1) they see action, decisive action that is visible and tangible and 2) they see something outside of Chicago.

      Chicago people seem to not realize how much gets filtered out here in the rest of the world. For example, does Bonn ubf give a hoot what Chicago does? No they don’t.

      I’m wondering how ubf can avoid a three-way split in the coming years? Korea, Europe and USA seem to be going in different directions.

  36. Joe’s recent comment about an apology perhaps belongs here. If any public apology from UBF is ever going to be made, this is as good as any a place–to start considering what to say.

    “We won’t pretend to know or understand all the myriad ways that we screwed up. We are only starting to become aware of them. For that, we need your help. We invite you, the people whom we have offended, to tell us what you experienced. We will give you a platform to tell your stories. We will listen long and hard. We will ponder what you say and allow it to sink it. This process will not be quick. It will take some major time and effort. But we promise to make time and to put in the effort, because the Holy Spirit has convicted us that we must do this, so that whatever hurt we have caused, we will not do it again. The gospel requires no less.” – See more at:

    Any official apology that expects to be “one and done” is clearly not going to work.