An Open Letter to the President of UBF


The following is an open letter to Dr. Augustine Sohn, President of University Bible Fellowship, from Joseph L. Schafer, dated March 2, 2015.

Dear Augustine:

Thank you for contacting me yesterday about my status in University Bible Fellowship.

For approximately two years now, the only messages I have received from your organization were requests to attend various meetings and reminders to submit annual chapter reports. I decided to ignore those requests because, for more than five years now, leaders of UBF have been unresponsive to my repeated pleas for dialogue about important matters that affect the health of the organization and the credibility of its gospel witness. My nonresponse was not retaliation. It was an indication that I had no clue how to proceed in our relationship, because my pleas went unheeded and sometimes were not even acknowledged. Perhaps you have heard the humorous saying: “Oh, I’m sorry. I forgot that I only exist when you need something.” I am sorry to say this, but that line accurately conveys my feelings toward UBF and its leaders right now.

By your message, I am once again being asked for something that UBF needs to continue its work, and nothing is being offered to me in return. We cannot continue in this fashion. The time has come to define our relationship.

You asked me to answer two questions:

1. Do you still regard yourself a member of UBF and an International Advisory Member?

2. If so, would you like to participate in voting for the next General Director?

Before I am able to answer these questions, I need you to clarify what you are asking, and I need to know the organization’s stance on several important matters. Therefore I now ask you, in your capacity as President, to answer four questions in an honest and straightforward manner. These answers may be as brief or as long as you wish, but I need to receive them in a timely fashion.

This letter to you is an open letter. I am publishing it on a public website, because I want it to be part of the public record. Many others been asking similar questions, and your answers will be of great interest to them. To promote honesty, openness and transparency, I will accept your response as an official statement by UBF and it will become part of the public record. As soon as I receive it, I will publish it in full, without editing, on the same public website.

The meaning of a question depends heavily on its context. For each of my four questions, I will explain the context so that you will know precisely what I mean.

Context for Question 1. Augustine, you asked if I regard myself as a member of UBF. The organization has a body called Members, a group of approximately 70 persons who meet annually in Chicago. I declined invitations to join that group, so I have never been a Member of UBF in that sense, and I assume you already know that. In my 30+ years of interacting with the organization, I never applied for membership or signed a membership pledge. In most organizations, the meaning of membership is explicit. It is a social contract between the individual and the group in which the person pledges to abide by certain rules and perform certain duties (for example, by paying annual dues). In return, the organization’s leaders grant him rights of membership, providing him with meaningful resources and services, representing his interests and becoming responsive to his concerns. Augustine, because you used the term member, you must have in mind some category of person or some condition of good standing with respect to the organization. I am not being coy when I say, I honestly do not know what you mean by member.

Question 1: What does it mean to be a member of UBF? If there is such a thing as being a member, please explain the duties, responsibilities, and rules of conduct expected of members, and describe what the organization and its leaders provide in return. Also explain whether leaders are obligated to make good-faith efforts to respond to members’ serious concerns in a timely fashion.

Context for Question 2. Before someone can rationally decide whether or not to join an organization, he needs to know whether the organization’s interests align with his own.  This requires the organization to state its positions on important matters within its spheres of activity. UBF presents itself as an organization dedicated to making disciples of Jesus, so the methods by which it teaches and trains disciples should be clarified. When I first became involved in UBF more that thirty years ago, I experienced the leadership of the late Samuel Lee, the organization’s founder and General Secretary. Lee was described as an exemplary disciplemaker, a role model for others to follow, and his influence on organizational culture was profound. Here are some of Lee’s activities that I observed firsthand or heard about through the testimony of credible witnesses.

  • Lee reserved the right to change the name of anyone at any time. He reserved the right to name your children.
  • Lee reserved the right to tell you to quit your job at a moment’s notice.
  • Lee reserved the right to tell you at any time to change your clothing or hairstyle.
  • No one could marry without his specific approval. He chose whom you could marry, and the wedding would be at a time and place of his choosing.
  • In some cases, the length of time between when Lee introduced people to each other and the actual wedding was less than one week.
  • When Lee married couples, he made up the wedding vows himself, frequently inserting promises that had nothing to do with marriage (e.g. promises by the couple that they would to go as missionaries to Russia). These vows were not agreed upon by the couple ahead of time.
  • If you turned down a marriage candidate that Lee chose for you, you could be severely rebuked and trained for it.
  • No one could miss a Monday night meeting or a Friday night meeting or Sunday worship service. If you missed a meeting without what Lee considered to be a valid excuse, you would get rebuked and trained.
  • Lee would impose quotas on fellowship leaders to bring a certain number of people to weekly services and to conferences. Those who failed to do so would be shamed or punished in various ways.
  • If Lee thought you did not offer enough money at the annual Christmas worship service, he might rebuke you in front of everyone.
  • Sometimes Lee told missionaries and shepherds whose families were well off to ask their parents to give large sums of money to the organization.
  • When Lee denounced or rebuked people, he often did so harshly, without warning, standing before the congregation. During these denunciations, some of the things that Lee said had little or no basis in fact.
  • No one in Chicago who was considered a shepherd or missionary could travel outside the Chicago area for any reason without Lee’s approval. If you did travel, it was understood that you needed to be back in town for the next Sunday worship service, otherwise you could be rebuked and trained.
  • If you lived outside of Chicago and you were selected to go on a “journey team” to Korea or elsewhere, you were told to buy an airline ticket to Chicago with an open return date, which could be very expensive. The reason for the open return date was that, once you were in Chicago, Lee reserved the right to keep you there indefinitely for training activities of his own choosing.
  • Lee prescribe unorthodox diets and medical treatments and, in some cases, surgical procedures, and the doctors and nurses in Chicago would carry them out.
  • If you objected to any of Lee’s practices, missionaries and shepherds would immediately counsel you to obey Lee because he was God’s servant. Failure to obey even in a small matter could result in training, monetary fines, public shaming and shunning.
  • Lee sometimes urged missionaries to send their infant children back to Korea to be cared for by relatives so that the missionaries could focus on their ministry activities. In at least one case, he told a missionary couple to give one of their children to another couple who were childless.

Augustine, you and many UBF elders lived under Lee’s leadership; you had ample opportunity to witness his activities and hear about what he was doing.  If these statements are true, I believe UBF’s credibility as a disciplemaking ministry is deeply tarnished and will remain so until (a) the organization acknowledges that they happened and (b) takes a stand on whether these activities are appropriate. If they are inappropriate, leaders must then decide whether and how the organization’s culture can be rehabilitated, making a long-term commitment to identifying and rooting out residual forms of these practices that are present in varying degrees at UBF chapters worldwide.

Question 2. Do you confirm or deny that Samuel Lee, the founder of UBF, engaged in practices similar to those I listed above? If you confirm, does UBF regard these as appropriate methods of Christian discipleship? If  UBF does not consider them appropriate, will the organization issue a mea culpa, apologizing to everyone who received this kind of treatment from Lee and from other UBF leaders who did similar things, and will UBF take publicly visible, measurable and determined steps to root these practices out from its organizational culture? If so, give a timeline for these measures.

Background for Question 3. In recent years, I have heard multiple allegations of UBF members (however that is defined), shepherds and missionaries becoming aware of or being involved in the following:  domestic violence against women and children, sexual molestation, inappropriate physical contact between staff and disciples, and regrettably (in one prominent example) incest. In cases where laws may have been broken, no one made reports to law enforcement officials even when minors were involved. Training and policies on abuse, with mandatory reporting of allegations involving minors, are commonplace in American churches and campus ministries. As far as I can tell, UBF has no policies and does not train its staff on how to handle incidents like these, and the organization appears ill equipped to develop them on their own.

Question 3. Does UBF have any official policies or training on violence and sexual abuse? If not, what will the organization plan to do about this? Do your plans involve external consultants, and when will this be carried out? Give a timeline.

Background for Question 4. Augustine, you asked whether I consider myself to be an Intenational Advisory Member (IAM) and whether I will be voting for the next General Director. In most organizations, elections are a process by which voters select leaders from a pool of multiple candidates. To help voters make rational and informed choices, candidates will state their qualifications and accomplishments, describe their beliefs and lay out a vision for what they intend to do if they are elected. However, it is my understanding that, in the election of the next General Director, IAMs will be given one preselected candidate and will be asked to vote “Yes” or “No.” I find this confusing. I do not know what “Yes” or “No” means in an election with one candidate. Does the organization want my input to help it make a choice, or does it merely want my vote to lend an appearance of choice to a decision that has already been made? And whatever it means to vote “Yes” or “No,” I have no clue how to make an informed decision without knowing what the candidate stands for, what his beliefs are, and what he plans to do if he becomes General Director. I have heard through the grapevine that the preselection committee is now deciding between two candidates. I know one of these candidates well; I understand his values and his leadership style. But I have many questions about the other candidate; although we have been acquainted for many years, I lack an overall sense of what he believes and how he leads. One week ago, on February 25, I was surprised when this man used social media (his personal blog and his Facebook timeline) to promote an article from the website of an organization named The Berean Call ( I applaud this man’s use of social media; I have no qualms about that whatsoever. But I had never heard of this organization, and so I decided to poke around their website to see what they are about. What I found was astonishing: pages and pages filled with extreme views that bear no resemblance to my beliefs or those I heard preached in my 30+ years of involvement with UBF. That organization, which claims to promote discernment, declares that the Roman Catholic Church is a cult; the theory of evolution is demonic; the field of psychology is evil; so-called Christian psychology is godless humanism; the Alpha Course is unbiblical; World Vision and Rick Warren are helping to build the kingdom of the Antichrist; and The Message paraphrase of the Bible is wicked. I am not exaggerating one iota here; if you doubt me, visit the website and see for yourself. This set off sirens of alarm. Do the views of this candidate for General Director resemble the views I read on this website? The link from his personal blog and his Facebook timeline suggest there is some agreement and tacit endorsement going on. I bring this to your attention not only because it is disturbing, but to illustrate how uncomfortable it is for me to be asked to vote in an election with no understanding of what I might be voting for or against.

Question 4: In the upcoming election for General Director, what does it mean to vote “Yes” or “No” when there is one candidate who has been preselected? And what information am I expected to use to make a rational choice in this matter?

Thank you for contacting me and asking these timely questions. I will send you my answers soon after I receive yours. If you cannot respond within one week, please explain why, and tell me when the answers will come.


Very sincerely,

Joseph L. Schafer


P.S. I have copied this response to members of the Ethics Committee, so that they may be aware of this open conversation.




  1. Thank you Joe for writing that to-the-point letter. Such open letters are tremendously helpful and the most appropriate way of dealing with the leadership. Much better way of dealing with problems than our internal ramblings and ravings. Even if you don’t get an answer (when Sarah Barry was general director, I also wrote an open letter to her, still haven’t got any answer). In many ways, UBF operates like a secret society, there is no open and no public communication. The election of the general director behind closed doors and his actual pre-election even deeper down in the secret power circles where no Non-Korean ever had access to in UBF’s history is a prime example, and answering in form of an open letter is the appropriate response.

    • Mark Mederich

      secret society cannot be tolerated, it means under the table deals by monied players which is even less acceptable in religion than in business

    • “Such open letters are tremendously helpful and the most appropriate way of dealing with the leadership.”

      I agree Chris. And we’ve seen numerous open letters to the same ubf echelon for over 50 yeras. The response is rather obvious and expected, even though the response is never explicitly stated by ubf leaders.

  2. Joe Schafer

    Thank you, Chris. I have many friends and acquaintances who are leaders in various campus ministries. I know that at least some of them will see this and perhaps have seen this already. They are well connected and word travels quickly. If UBF wants a seat at the campus ministry table, being treated as a serious player instead of a perpetual black sheep with a dark past and questionable theology and practice, UBF leaders need to handle this correctly, and they need to do it soon. If they blow me off, if they lie or attempt to evade the truth, I believe it will be noticed.

  3. Joe Schafer

    Twelve hours after this article appeared, it has been viewed almost 400 times by readers from all around the world. I have never seen an article rack up views so quickly and, at the same time, generate so few comments on the website. Friends and acquaintances from the globe, keeping watch together in silence, remembering and pondering what we experienced and all these things we have done. How could I have been such a willing participant? What on earth was I thinking?

    Father, forgive us, for we did not know what we were doing.

  4. These days I have been pondering Jesus’ prayer, Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.

    I really believe they don’t know what they are doing. In the spiritual sense, there are so many blind yes to the results of their actions or the wrongness of it.

    Also, they do not know what they are doing, means they are not equipped or prepared or dependable/trustworthy/reliable. More and more I feel that is the case for so many people who have been leaders.

    Honestly, this open letter is a pretty solid challenge, and the very nature of it probably means that you’ll never get any official response. But I appreciate your work and your desire to create open discussion.

    When you stand before the throne, Joe, one question you won’t be asked is, “Well, why didn’t you speak up?” And that’s something.

    • Joe Schafer

      And you won’t be asked that question either.

      For this, I owe a debt of gratitude to Sarah Barry. In the middle of John Jun’s term, she saw how the ministry was heading in the wrong direction, becoming even more Koreanized and unwelcoming to Americans. Instead of empowering Americans as leaders, UBF was pushing them out of the process. She saw my discomfort at one of those senior staff meetings; things were going badly, but I didn’t know what to do. I had no words for what was happening. When the meeting was over, she pulled me aside and said, “Why didn’t you speak up?”

      The moment she said that, a light bulb in my head lit up. It had never really occurred to me that I had the right and the responsibility to speak up. In the early months of UBFriends, she encouraged me repeatedly to keep thinking and writing and to keep on speaking up. That encouragement stuck with me, and I continued to follow that advice even when she didn’t like some of the things I was saying. I don’t know what she thinks of what is now happening. My guess is that she does not approve. But an important seed of this work was planted by her.

    • “For this, I owe a debt of gratitude to Sarah Barry.” – See more at:

      While I am not happy about her role in the cover ups, I too can thank Sarah Barry for inspiring me to do what I have done. She even thanked me on the phone once, even though I know she does not like my tone or agree with me in several things.

      It was the 2011 new year’s letter from Sarah that sparked me to do all that I’ve done so far. In that letter, she quoted Matthew 5:13-16.

      I wrote about this in the Penguin Narratives:

      “The prayer from Sarah was that all UBF missionaries would be men and women of integrity in the new year. Integrity… how could I have integrity when my belief system was losing touch with the reality around me? How could I have integrity when my conscience was more and more bothered by my role in the James and Rebekah moving incident? How could I be a man of integrity when my worldview was unraveling around me?”

      loc. 187, Kindle Edition.

    • “She pulled me aside and said, ‘Why didn’t you speak up?'”

      Joe, words like these should be taken with a big pinch of salt. After all, she supported Samuel Lee through all the decades and never really publicly spoke up herself, even not in the case of the forced abortions. She also helped shut down the reform movements. She said that she deleted every email she got from an address of a reformer without even reading it. She also did not reply to my open letter sent via registered snail mail. One person wrote in his testimony how she punched him on the mouth when he dared to mention an issue in the family of Samuel Lee. Another person wrote how she was there when somebody was beaten in a cellar in Chicago so that he needed to be hospitalized. Over all the years she enabled and supported that culture of abuse and never speaking up. Maybe she did not make her own hands dirty, but she silently tolerated and supported most of it. And then she complains when you behave exactly like you have been trained in the organization? I call this duplicity. She is the one who knows all the wrongdoings of Samuel Lee and the organization from the very beginnings, even before the 1976 events, better than anybody else. She should have been the first to speak up.

    • Chris, you have brought up one weakness/blind spot/sin of SB. I have attempted to address some issues with her, but it is practically not possible and too painful for her. I’m not surprised she didn’t respond to your open letter, or to other dissenters over the last half century. Very likely she still will not. It’s not right. It’s unfortunate. I wish she would respond. Because of her (imperfect) love for Christ, she gave up her American identity and adopted the cultural values of Korea out of her love for another nationality and ethnicity. Knowing all of this, I still love and respect her deeply, even though we clearly do not see eye to eye anymore.

    • Mark Mederich

      “Another person wrote how she was there when somebody was beaten in a cellar in Chicago so that he needed to be hospitalized.’
      hellfire is on the way.

  5. Someday I do hope that someone WILL say to me, “Why didn’t you speak up?”

    So far what I’ve often heard is “Stop. That’s enough. I can’t take it anymore!” That’s from my dear wife, no less.

    Thanks so much Joe, for this open letter. No one could have written it with such clarity and simplicity as you. I absolutely believe that it absolutely deserves an absolutely honest response. Not to do so would absolutely question the credibility and integrity of UBF worldwide.

  6. Joe Schafer

    To current UBF members (however defined) and leaders who have read this letter and become upset:

    I do know how you feel. We went through that pain together and we are still feeling it together.

    If you would like some food for thought, check out these two excellent articles that appeared in the last few days. Neither of these authors has UBF on his mind and perhaps they never even heard of UBF. These articles are very meaningful to me right now.

    • Thanks Joe for the links. I hope that my brothers and sisters in UBF may understand this: “Tribalism, as I use the term here, refers to a group attitude of undeserved pride and superiority based solely on identification with a group. It is the tendency to look down on other people for no other reason than they don’t belong to the group. Often it includes looking down on members of the group who are not perceived as “native” to it.”

      If anyone absolutely overcomes tribalism, responding to your open letter would absolutely be a piece of cake.

    • Joe Schafer

      In the last paragraph of the second article, Roger Olson makes a point that is profound.

      A tribalistic group will heap shame and punishment upon any member who is thought to be disloyal. When it does, it is merely channeling and redirecting shame and punishment that the group deserves.

      That is what happened as Jesus went to the cross.

    • Isn’t this also related to holding an atonement view of the gospel? The way of atonement was the main way of dealing with sin in the old covenant. It simply amazes me how many Christians think that we should still deal with sin (individually or corporately) using the way of atonement.

      I see a better way, Jesus’ way, which is the way of reconciliation. That way involves a combination of many things such as forgiveness, consequences, honesty, relational unity, godly sorrow and repentance.

    • It reminds me of the concept of the scapegoat (Lev 16:20-22). Jesus was the fulfillment of this and thus there is no longer any need for a scapegoat. I like your point, Brian about the way of reconciliation. Christ removes the need for a scapegoat and thus removes the barrier of hostility that separates us from one another. If we are one in him, then we can recognize this and make continual reconciliation the focus of the faith community rather than ongoing sacrifice and atonement. Otherwise, we are still trying to live according to a pre-Christ paradigm.

    • Joe Schafer

      Brian and David, thank you for your helpful remarks.

      Through this discussion, I hope that people begin to understand that we are not interested in punishing ubf leaders, nor do we want to use them as scapegoats. What we want is to enact real reconciliation rooted in the gospel that actually deals with the sin, rather than a cheap kind of BandAid solution that says “let’s just put everything behind us and forget about it.” The latter isn’t reconciliation at all, nor is it the gospel.

    • Joe Schafer

      What we are talking about here is the community dimensions of the gospel. It may sound strange and unfamiliar to those who are accustomed to thinking of sin as a purely individual matter and to applying the gospel only to the sins of an individual. Although that is the predominant view of sin and gospel in evangelicalism today, that falls far short of the holistic gospel portrayed in Scripture. Authors of the OT and NT did not think of sin in such purely individual terms. They had a strong grasp of the community dimensions of sin, and until we understand that, a lot of the Bible won’t make sense.

    • This “way” concept is something I am reading and pondering as I write my second affirming theology book. Vindication and atonement were two ways I see presented in the of covenants (yes there were multiple covenants). Both have value but Jesus’ way is neither. In a sense He was the final atonement who gives hope in final vindication. But Hus gospel message lies in the ministry and message of reconciliation.

      Until ubf missionaries realize this gospel of reconciliation built on repentance and forgiveness, they will continually offer up a scapegoat as their atonement. I am really praying that you Joe will not be the next scapegoat.

      There are many things in this life that benefit from moving beyond vindication and atonement for sin. No one will understand my affirming LGBT theology properly unless the grasp the concept of the gospel as reconciliation. I will learn how to have Messianic love before I figure out all the hermeneutical perspectives. That is why I’m any situation I think the way forward, Jesus’ way, is the way of carrying the cross of reconciliation.

    • Mark Mederich

      “A tribalistic group will heap shame and punishment upon any member who is thought to be disloyal. When it does, it is merely channeling and redirecting shame and punishment that the group deserves.”
      time to grow up people & take thee just due like a man/woman; or be considered forever chicken-hearted & dumping on others who shall get tired/pump the dump back on top thee own head..HALLELUJAH!

    • Mark Mederich



  7. “Authors of the OT and NT did not think of sin in purely individual terms. They had a strong grasp of the community dimensions of sin, and until we understand that, a lot of the Bible won’t make sense.” – See more at:

    A problem in the UBF hierarchy is that some/many/most of those who have been in UBF the longest no longer regard ANY dissenter as part of the UBF community. This is because of the deeply entrenched tribalism and sectarianism. Therefore, for 50 years the UBF hierarchy has virtually thrown any and all dissenters under the bus, just as Driscoll did with his dissenters at Mars Hill. They have spread slander and gossip about anyone who DARES to speak up against the old guard. Sadly, it’s still happening to this very day!

    Has the time now come that this can no longer be? Time will tell.

  8. “Through this discussion, I hope that people begin to understand that we are not interested in punishing ubf leaders, nor do we want to use them as scapegoats. What we want is to enact real reconciliation rooted in the gospel…” – See more at:

    Precisely, I’m not interested in crucifying anyone in the organization or destroying it. I/we want relationships built on honesty rather than being confronted by defensive postures and suspicion about one’s motives. Aren’t we just asking for what’s normal and healthy?? If the community wants to move forward in a healthy way, then the past and the resulting fallout has to be addressed; it’s really quite simple. The concept of the life testimony is a quintessential facet of the ministry in which one’s past is dissected and shown to be wanting, then there is the explanation of how Christ set’s one free from this. Why is this so difficult to extrapolate to a communal level? Why are people being demonized for actually trying to promote a gospel-centered community? If I truly love my community and cherish the relationships that have been built over the years then wouldn’t I want them to flourish and testify to the power of the gospel all the more?? That’s what I see being attempted through this letter and I hope that people recognize this.

    • Mark Mederich

      “nor do we want to use them as scapegoats.”


  9. Joe Schafer

    “Why is this so difficult to extrapolate to a communal level? Why are people being demonized for actually trying to promote a gospel-centered community? – See more at:

    One thing I have noticed is this. When we call out these big problems in the community, the people in the community cannot digest it, because they look around and see the individuals around them, those individuals don’t appear to be evil, but actually look kind and loving and sacrificial and sincere, and in many cases they are. And it seems paradoxical. If a community is made up of individuals who at the individual level are sincerely pursuing God, then how can it be that, together as a group, they engage in groupish behavior and make collective decisions that can be very unholy and rather tragic?

    That is why we need to make room in our theology to allow for corporate sin.

    Sin doesn’t just reside in the heart of each individual person. It also lives and thrives in the spaces between people, in their complex interrelationships, in the way their societies are ordered. The NT sometimes calls this “principalities and powers.” We may earnestly pursue holiness at an individual level and yet be very blind to what is happening at the community level. Communities are not just the sum total of the individuals within them. Communities are much more than that. Jesus came to redeem communities, not just isolated individuals, and as that has happens, the individuals within the communities experience healing and redemption.

    • Joe Schafer

      And that is why the person-centered models of discipleship, raising of individual disciples one at a time, training them one at a time, trying to make them individually holy, is not a sufficient way to carry out the world mission mandate. The Apostle Paul knew this, and that’s why he focused his efforts on planting churches and helping them to be healthy, to get their relationships with one another straight. Healthy church is the crucible in which disciples are forged.

    • +1. The community is not just the sum total of the individuals. This explains the psychological phenomenon of the bystander effect, I think. People who are otherwise morally upright will freeze rather than act to help someone who is being harmed if the group of people around them does nothing as well. I remember when I was trying to explain to a ubf leader how I felt that the organization was not acting right on some fronts. They replied that we can’t make generalizations about the ministry because it is made up of individuals. So we must address specific behavior instead of these perceived communal ethics or behaviors. I couldn’t articulate it then, but the primitive concept of aether came to mind, like the community is bathed or floating in this field that influences how it thinks and behaves; similar to how the Higgs field gives mass or inertia to particles. And I never made the connection between the Christian community and the principalities and powers because I always associated these with the godless world ‘out there’. But of course these things operate in our own hearts and might significantly influence our communal ethic. This is why the gospel has to be applied to a community. Thanks for that insight.

    • Yes, this is what I really have been wanting to discuss. I see a lot of Scripture addresses classes or tribes of people. I understand that tribalism is harmful, but simply put, the Hebrew thought fabric seems to have recognized classes of people and the sin that exists in the spaces between and amongst those classes. Our modern, Western Evangelical reduction of the gospel to the realm of personal moral holiness is just not what any of the bible authors had in mind.

      So for example, most Evangelicals would have their mind blown by Jesus’ own claims. Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you.” (Matthew 21:31 ESV).

      Jesus claimed these people were prostitutes and they were going into the kingdom of God. Jesus made no claim that they stopped being prostitutes. Nor did Jesus claim that prostitution was allowed or condoned. He just claimed they were in the kingdom of God and He loved them, welcoming them, apparently based simply on their heart to act with compassion.

      Most Christians in America cannot fathom this thought fabric. I admit that I am just beginning to understand it.

      One thing that helped me immensely is to let go of my notions of vindication (removal of guilt over sin) and to let go of my ways of atonement (find someone to blame for sin). I had to surrender to the grace of God as being reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 7:1-16 showed me some important principles in the way of reconciliation, namely that godly grief *precedes* repentance, and that repentance produces amazing earnestness and eager desire to make things right.

      So until we see any eagerness from the ubf people and leaders, we will not see any communal healing.

    • I fully agree as what you both described has been my experience as well. When raising issues, there was such unwillingness and blow back to even consider them because it was not believable that certain individuals would do such things or that individuals in other areas or from years past have any effect on what is going on today. The idea of corporate sin or responsibility is beyond comprehension. Of course then the “problem” gets directed back to the individual raising the issue. He must have a problem–and then the accusations start to flow and soon there’s a myriad of guesses of what evil is inside that caused this individual to become impatient, ungrateful, ungodly and so on. So even when I left, I was exhorted to focus on my own relationship with Jesus and my own repentance and holiness, not thinking about anyone else. Which goes against all that I believe Jesus taught us about loving God, loving each other, and being children of God.

      So it’s just the model of the disciple, but the whole structure is built on the individual and is deeply rooted in how one is taught to relate to God. He or she relates by their own “decisions of faith,” by their personal shepherd, by their sacrifice, by their leader.

      Last summer, during the planning of our LA summer conference, we had long and heated discussions in the planning committee as to the structure. It was obvious things were not so well as we would like to project. It was suggested that we start to have discussions and listen to each other. It was time to stop the normal business of conferences and start to be a community. After weeks of going no where, a conference was planned by the director title Preach the Word based on 2 Timothy 4. At that point I refused to go to the conference. I had no interest in telling people to preach when we were not even willing to listen to each other and start to be an open and caring community. The director changed the title and passages to Love One Another from John 13, but the emphasis was focusing on your personal love for God. Supposedly, when you do that then relationships with others will magically be fixed. I still refused to go. I made it clear that I had no desire to go to a conference to focus on just my personal relationship with God. I do that every day. If I go to a remote place with the church, I want to do something with the church, and it was a ripe time to do so. People needed (and still need) to be heard. Sadly, the program was kept as is and the conference was held.

      At that conference someone shared her life testimony. She is a long time member and has a family. In her testimony she exposed past abuse. I was glad for this because I thought it would be a bridge for the church to see and acknowledge that the practices are hurting people and it needs to be confronted. Again, the issue was relegated to simply being an individual issue, a miscommunication Americans and a Korean missionary, and we couldn’t talk about it further.

    • Joe Schafer

      Like Brian, I have been thinking for some time and reading a lot about the community dimensions of the gospel.

      At this point, I think it is fair to say that the common understanding of the gospel in ubf is very individualistic.

      But the community itself is very collectivistic, owing to the nature of the Korean culture. Korea may be the most collectivistic nation on earth.

      What do you get if you insert a hyper-individualized Western understanding of the gospel into a hyper-collectivized group of Eastern people?

      Something like what we see here.

    • Good points about “collective” sin, “bystander effect”, community effects that create sinful behavior etc. I would agree with all of that. Of course, there is still serious individual sin at the bottom, individual level, in different peculiarity. The article authoritarianism in the church distinguishes it “sin of the sheep” and “sin of the shepherds.” But when these two types of sinners come together in an ecosystem, they amplify each others’ sin instead of helping each other. A new, corporate culture is created that is sinful in itself and needs to be exposed.

      Regarding tribalism, it would be worthwhile to make a collection of Bible passages that speak about the problem. For example, the passages where Jesus consciously engages with Samaritan, Galilean and other people who belonged to the “wrong tribe”. 1Cor 1 also comes into mind: “Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul?” James 3:17 says wisdom from heaven is “impartial.” Being impartial is the opposite of following tribalism.

    • Joe Schafer

      Chris, here is an excellent book by a Christian social psychologist that is all about tribalism and the gospel. It is well worth reading.

    • Mark Mederich

      “make collective decisions that can be very unholy and rather tragic?”

  10. I’m leaving Chicago and flying off to Manila for my yearly sojourn. This is a most exciting time. God is in the air. I’m sure I’ll be overwhelmed with lots to catch up after 24 hours plus when I arrive in the Philippines. Or maybe when I’m in transit in Hong Kong. Blessing and peace to all.

  11. Some thoughts on the 2 questions that were asked to you, Joe.

    “1. Do you still regard yourself a member of UBF and an International Advisory Member?”

    >> This is the singlemost, utmost concern of ubf Korean missionaries, and has been passed on as the first question to non-Koreans. What they care about most is being “in”. This means being on the “inside”, part of the elite group. It means “Are you loyal to the ubf authority? Do you submit to the ubf authority?”

    >> I find it hilarious that the echelon calls themselves the “IAM” (internation advisory members). I know the GD does not often act like the GoD the position was in the past, but who is to say a new GD cannot act like a God? So we have the case where the great IAM is choosing the GoD…

    “2. If so, would you like to participate in voting for the next General Director?”

    >> This sounds like political maneuvering to me. The President is reform-minded, I know. Is he trying to gain reform-minded votes to vote in a reform-minded GD? That is what it sounds like.

    I really appreciate your first response Joe: “For approximately two years now, the only messages I have received from your organization were requests to attend various meetings and reminders to submit annual chapter reports.”

    I noticed that too. The only time ubf Koreans contacted me was if they needed me to do something. My shepherd ONLY talked to me in commands. Even his questions were articulated as commands. He could never ask “When are you available to meet?” It was always phrase as a command: “Tell me when you can meet.”

    No relationship can survive that and be healthy, no matter what culture. The Korean Airlines proved that.

    • The “in” vs “out” of ubf dichotomy is a false way of thinking and have nothing to do with the gospel Jesus preached. That is why I began using the term “at”.

      I was at ubf ministry for 24 years. Now I am not.

      The kingdom of God is not about being in a certain group of people bound by a common ideology and separated from the world. That is a cult.

      The kingdom of God is made up those people who act with compassion and love toward their fellow human beings. That is the church, both visible and invisible.

    • Yes, those two questions are very interesting and somewhat strange coming from the President of UBF. Is Joe’s membership based on his own regard for the positions? At one point, I was asked, “Do you still believe in our core values?” I was surprised by this because whether I “believe” in UBF’s core values or not does not take away or minimize what has been done to people and the need to confront past and present practices and teachings.

      I’m very glad and thankful that Joe made this a public letter and promised that the response (if received) would also be made public. All of my discussions happened behind closed doors. I could not get it beyond the realm of private discussions. So many are afraid or guilty to talk about issues, especially those that question leadership and the “servant of God.” Others have been in the dark and when confronted feel overwhelmed by the issues. It’s not easy to confront them and talk about them, I understand that. But I lost trust in the organization when leaders continued to keep things private and unanswered. As I mentioned somewhere else, the email response I received from Sarah Barry began with a disclaimer to not publish her response in any way. Then salutations followed. I was confused at first why such a disclaimer had to be given, especially since she had called me and asked me what “we” (in Chicago) could do. I also cc’d the GD, but he did not respond. As others mentioned, my intention was also not about vindication or casting blame or retribution. I was looking for actions that showed a genuine concern for the people, but I couldn’t find it.

    • Mark Mederich

      not to playdown importance, but it’s possible the 1st question is rhetorical, just housekeeping duty to check whether need to bother including (especially since result is predetermined)

    • Mark Mederich

      “Do you still believe in our core values?”
      loyalty/support/entitlement of upper echelon..


  12. It’s interesting that article talked about the dangers of tribalism.

    One thing I thought of was the former influence of Buddhism.

    I was shocked when watching a documentary called “Nefarious,” that mothers and fathers in Cambodia (this was actually filmed) were giving their daughters into trafficking (ie prostitution) to make the family money.

    The film narrator explained a twisted side of Buddhist teaching — they taught that a mother and father ought to be always honored and served, because they gave life, and they gave clothes, and did everything to give life to the child as it grew up.

    That actually was the only explanation why the girls felt it was their duty to continue to make money for their families in this way. In this case, the Buddhist teaching of honoring parents became a cover for shameless abuse of one’s own family members. The girls were told they could be set free of it but they didn’t want to disappoint their mothers!

    To me, the continual decision to look aside, to ignore, to cover up, so often sounds like devotion, thankfulness and faithfulness, but it is actually completely unhealthy and destructive when cases of abuse exist.

  13. Joe Schafer

    In response to a comment on Roger Olson’s article, Olson wrote:

    “When confronted with the charge of tribalism most people simply brush it off. If you’re inside the group you’re disloyal; if you’re outside the group you’re not worthy of being taken seriously.”

    I suspect this is what Augustine’s first question was all about.

    He asked, “Do you consider yourself a member of UBF?”

    * If I had said “Yes,” the tribe would understand that I should be shamed.

    * If I had said “No,” the tribe would understand that I no longer exist.

    As I sit here in that no man’s land between “in” and “out,” dangling and twisting in the wind, my friends in ubf (are they friends?) don’t know how to treat me.

    This article has more than 600 page views in the first 24 hours. Hundreds of you have read it, and hundreds more have heard about it. But only a handful of website regulars have commented. Everyone else is silent.

    Tribalism is one of the most powerful forces on earth. But true friendship is stronger.

  14. forestsfailyou

    I’ll actually see Augustine this weekend. I’ll have to ask him about this letter.

  15. forestsfailyou

    I feel that you may have gotten actual response if you left out the stuff about Samuel Lee. Not that it isnt true, but it seems like you went out of your way to address them when it seems quiet far from the concerns of voting for one guy who may have extreme beliefs like you mention later. At least put it at the end so you make sure it isn’t thrown away before it’s finished. I feel that this would have been much stronger if that was left out, or perhaps sent as a different letter in a more appropriate context.

    On the topic, it is highly concerning that people are preselected and then voted. My roommate said this is how China picks leaders.

    • Joe Schafer

      I felt that I needed to be very specific on those things, so that ubf leaders couldn’t weasel out or be evasive this time. If they confirm or deny, we will then know exactly what they are saying. Those behaviors listed sound very extreme, but I assure you, they were known to everyone and were the standard operating procedures when Lee ran the shop. All of the systematic abuses in ubf are the residuals of Lee’s behavior. If leaders refuse to answer, then their silence will speak volumes. It will be a tacit admission that those things did happen (if they didn’t happen, any sane organization would shout “Hell no!”), and it would demonstrate that they are doing nothing about it. Silence on their part would be the most damning response of all.

    • Joe Schafer

      Today they face exactly the same choice that they all faced in 1976, 1998, and 2000. Ignoring my letter means that once again they stand by Lee, covering up his abuses and showing contempt for God’s kindness, forbearance and patience (Ro 2:4).

    • Mark Mederich

      “If they confirm or deny, we will then know exactly what they are saying” HALLELUJAH, NOTHING LIKE MAKING PEOPLE FACE THE MUSIC & SHOW CLEAR POSITION SO CAN AVOID DECEPTION

    • Mark Mederich

      the time to walk on eggs to tenderize the addressed was decades ago; now whatever it takes is good, otherwise all the harmed/still recovering are tramples on again; honestly all concern/resources at this time can only be for survival/recovery of affected (especially young): they need peace/joy/life/school/job/etc (religion & the world-including some education-have messed them up enough due to decades of chicken weakness/inaction of all us people involved in religion & world which now must be immediately held to account no matter what); i’m not worried about the perpetrators who have enjoyed all such benefits all these years & must finally change or lose..time to muster up..this is life happening live-the battle is blazing around us & must be fought-it doesn’t stop for us to get ready…bills have to be paid/plans have to be made/etc

  16. Admin Note: Joe’s recent articles bumped our average visits from about 250 per day to nearly 1,300 per day. We are approaching 17,000 comments. Thank you for reading and sharing. It means the world to us that so many people are reading here.

    I want to remind our silent readers that you can comment here anonymously if you want. We will respect your privacy and will not reveal who you are.

    God bless and have a ubfriendly day!

    • Joe Schafer

      Brian, is there a nifty clock widget that we can put on the website that counts the days it is taking to get a response from the President of UBF (regarding my letter) and the Ethics Committee (regarding your letter)?

    • A time tracking plugin? Yep. I’ll find one.

  17. big bear

    Thanks Joe for the nice open letter to the President of University Bible Fellowship. I was once President of the local chapter for about 6 years…my duty was to be a name on a paper and a student. I was told I was just fulfilling the University of Cincinnati requirement to be a student ministry and that being President meant nothing. I don’t take to much stock in UBF titles they slap them on anyone who can benefit them. A true President would respond swiftly to such an open letter and would explain in detail with love where they truly stand on the issues. I believe that UBF does not respond to open letters because they have nothing to say to such things. It would be nice to hear a response and pray that the sun may come up on UBF and liberation will come. Those who live in darkness do not want their deeds to be exposed. As once director of NKU chapter, and being in UBF 28 years, I believe this open letter needs to be addressed and for true transparency to come to all. Many of us out here need an answer especially those who remain in UBF. It is time to stop dancing with the devil and living on a fence.

    • Mark Mederich


      What if we figured out and did good/right things now? What if we had already done them years, even decades ago? On the other hand, what if we don’t do them for more decades?
      For example, I grew up Catholic. Why did we feel like priests were on a pedestal? What if we noticed/realized then that a child somewhere had been molested? Probably we could have exposed the problem and helped avoid countless other children being molested. Probably countless donations would not have later been lost in lawsuits.

      My dad was a plumber so I learned about water heaters and such growing up. The gas company these days has a zero tolerance policy for leaks. If you report a leak, or a periodic inspection detects one, the line will be shut off until repaired (by you if inside your house or the gas company if outside your house). But it wasn’t always so. Over the years I had occasionally heard in the news about a house somewhere that blew up from an unrepaired leak.

      What about UBF “works”/glory-seeking mentality (& to be fair, some other denominations health/wealth mentality)? If reform efforts had been accepted, how many troubles/travesties could have been avoided? Is it not the “perfect social/emotional storm” when sincere young people, who are searching for meaning & purpose in life, encounter the extremes of religion? Some are drowned in a sea of anxiety or despair. Others float awhile but lose confidence & direction, thereby succumbing to worldly problems. Lucky few overcome to search & be set free by the Holy Spirit of Life.

      Decades ago probably was not too early. Decades more is certainly unjustifiable, if not intolerable. NOW is here behooving us to make the most of it.
      Can we afford socially/emotionally/intellectually/physically/spiritually, not to?

    • Yes the time is indeed *now*.

      (Mark, we plan to publish your article this week…yes I know that is ironic.)

    • Mark Mederich

      Brian, it’s ok, I’m at a point in life that once i get time i feel compelled to speak/act asap no matter what (i guess it’s decades lost being chicken followed by imminent determination:)

      i’ve been carrying on a similar battle recently for right/truth/health with universities-especailly nu-no holds barred & battles starting to cross paths/co-contribute which means God is working for good in both realms (of course yesterday the nu campus police fortress forbid me to email admin there anymore-i can email crim invest-so i’ve joined your club of legal risk:) & HIS TRUTH IS MARCHING ON! GLORY/GLORY/HALLELUJAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      (by the way: Chicago for Chuy to be mayor::))

  18. Joe Schafer

    News update… I received a message indicating that the President and HQ staff are taking my questions seriously and that a substantive response will be coming as soon as possible, hopefully within a week.

    I take this as a sign that they are making a good faith effort.

    Thank you, everyone. Thank you, Jesus.

  19. Joe Schafer

    As a followup: We know for a fact that people in HQ have eyes on this website on a daily basis.

    You now have a brief, critical window of opportunity to make a real difference.

    If anyone out there has positive, constructive suggestions on how the President of UBF could or should respond, please make your ideas known here and now.

    As Brian just mentioned: Silent readers who wish to speak up now are encouraged to do so. Anonymous comments are fine. Your identity will not be compromised.

  20. Joe Schafer

    Prayers for HQ staff and words of encouragement for them are also welcome. It is not easy to do the right thing. Lord, give them wisdom now and help them to do what the gospel requires.

  21. I’ll say this, I’m thankful for and have never negated the good things that UBF has done (and continues to do) for my family. UBF people are some of the most generous people that I have ever met in my life and I know that many of the elders and leaders are compassionate people at the core. So I want to publicly say that I am grateful for the efforts of many UBF members. Additionally, I have been deeply blessed to be able to hone some legitimate ministry skills. For years, people have given ear to my, at times, cringe-worthy and long-winded testimonies. I deeply love UBF people for this.

    With that said, my heart is still torn as to whether or not to sever ties with the ministry. The first reason being is that no one has ever apologized for subjecting me and other young would-be disciples to high-pressure environment. And more than that, when I tried to raise this issue, I was constantly and strongly rebuffed. When I started attending service at the Chicago center around 2003 or so, there was so much pressure to perform; the gospel message was essentially squeezed out of the equation of discipleship due to the fact that fishing, teaching the Bible and attending meetings were the measuring stick of one’s faithfulness to Jesus. I am thankful that this has changed as of late, but can someone please explain why the environment was the way it was before this change and perhaps offer an apology?

    Also, as an adult with two children, hearing the constant mantra that UBF is a ministry that focuses on raising disciples among college students seems less and less realistic and edifying. Sure, many married people can and do carry this out, but not everyone can express their faith in this way. To be honest, I can participate in this, but many other parts of my life would suffer such as being able to sufficiently invest in my children and develop as a professional. I would ask that instead of constantly pushing evangelism, perhaps the church could do an extended study on the trinity so as to foster healthy, egalitarian relationships between the existing members? I would greatly appreciate any feedback on this. Thank you.

    • Joe Schafer

      An apology at this time would be helpful. Not the kind of apology that Toledo gave, in which they pretended to be able to diagnose their own failure, and which the primary offenders refused to sign. And after which they acted as though the problem had been solved.

      The only kind of apology that I can imagine that would work right now would be something that admits past wrongs, acknowledges persistent problems, and sets into motion a process and long-term commitment to reflective listening and true dialogue, happening prominently at UBF events and conferences.

  22. I left ubf long time ago, so I don’t know what to say, but I still love ubf ,and ubfriends whether in or out. What I have in mind is that Christianity is not a religion but relationship with Jesus, so in Christ we are free and we are all brothers and sisters, why not we open our mind and talk to each other in spirit and truth so that we can understand each other and serve God with whatever gifts God has given to each of us. Membership means dialogue between organization and members, membership meeting means time for open communication between members and time for asking and answering questions between leaders and members,too.

    • Hi Abepark, and welcome. Yes I agree with your statement very much.

      Admin note: If you want to upload a different user picture (avatar), just click on the “Howdy abepark” link and click “Edit My Profile”. Anyone logged in can do this. If not, then you get our system-generated, random, goofy image.

    • Joe Schafer

      Brian, are you telling me that abepark’s head doesn’t actually look like a marshmallow? Or maybe the Michelin man?

  23. Gajanan Nial
    Gajanan Nial

    Organizational positions like president and GD in ubf are namesake and there are few key players like John Jun and David Kim who enjoy absolute control over and immunity from their silent followers. In India John Angam has been the President ever since ubf was registered here, but JL and most notably his superior David Kim decide everything for India UBF. I remember in one occasion David Kim was conducting baptism ceremony in India and among other confessions he demanded from those being baptized, “Will you absolutely submit to Jimmy Lee’s authority and obey him in all matters?”. One participant objected to such pressure tactics and refused to give in.

    I wrote letter to Sarah Barry (supposedly Founder and Ex-GD), personally met Abraham Kim (outgoing GD) and demanded from James H Kim through this blog (regret demanding his resignation), but none had the courage to confront and expose ubf’s dark past or abusive leaders like John Jun, David Kim and the likes.

    Against all hopes, I am praying that Augustine Sohn will act and do what is right for the first time in the history of ubf presidents, not by the power vested upon him by ubf “members”, but as a real man of God.

    The last thing I want to hear is about Sohn’s resignation.

    • Mark Mederich

      sooner or later somebody gonna be found to not be chicken & do the necessary job

      the other side of the rainbo is if ubf can right the could be an example to other historically troubled denoms to leave man’s wrong ways behind & increase in God’s right ways to the glory of God & the physical/spiritual/etc health of people (especially young)

    • A propos John Jun, does anybody remember

      “To double the work of God by 2010”
      ― John Jun after the death of Samuel Lee and the expulsion of the Reform UBF wing

      Of course, “the work of God” is just a paraphrase for “UBF” or “whatever UBF is doing” in UBF language.

      Now it’s time to look back. How did these redoubling effort work out? If not, what does it tell us?

      “Fanaticism consists of redoubling your efforts when you have forgotten your aim.” ― George Santayana

  24. I agree with this: “If leaders refuse to answer, then their silence will speak volumes. It will be a tacit admission that those things did happen (if they didn’t happen, any sane organization would shout “Hell no!”)…” – See more at:

    SL did stuff that was unacceptable, if not cruel and hurtful. I also know how countless people (including myself) have defended him, and likely still continue to do so: “He loves you. He knows you better than you know yourself. He shows you tough love. He wants to help you love God and to obtain God’s blessing. etc.” There may be an element of truth to all of this, but it can never be a justification for wrongdoing, violating personal boundaries, or outright abuse.

    But what is more troubling today is that some/many leaders may think and firmly believe that, “We don’t do such extreme stuff that Lee did. We’re not like that. That’s things of the past. We talk and discuss more among ourselves.” But at heart, it is the subtle, implicit and even explicit thought that “I am God’s servant. I’m the leader. You should clear things with me (your life testimony, the message you will share, whether or not you can date, who you can date, when you can marry), etc. What I say should be followed by the minions.”

    They think they’re not like Lee, but at the core and at the heart, the authoritarian culture (“keep spiritual order”) is simply killing ubf.

    It’s like when several leaders say that they have free and open communication in their ubf chapter when their own members feel that they really can’t speak up without experiencing some repercussion, usually some form of shaming.

  25. In terms of what a reasonable response would be:

    First, I tend to follow Forest’s thinking, it is difficult to be accountable for a single man’s actions. However, that truth (as Joe and other stated) has been used to cover up continued abuses (or non-use) of authority as written by God and described by Jesus. A statement acknowledging past sins and a commitment of no-tolerance for abuse, along with a system created for addressing abuses is a must have for any responsible and repentant organization.

    We acknowledge the sacrifice and faith of people who married by faith, for instance, or who sacrificed a great deal, yet it is not an official requirement and bias against people who do not will not be tolerated. Something like that.

    Second, establishing a public record of a committment to resolving issues with specific benchmarks is needed. We all know people mess up, but what do you do about it? That’s what’s importnat. Write it. Make it obvious. I was called to staff conferences but never received anything but more Bible study. There are no regulations or policies made available, because they don’t exist. This allows too many oversights to occur without accountability. Define a goal and the measure by which you will have (or won’t have) achieved it.

  26. big bear

    I suggest they simply admit their mistakes, acknowledge that they are a part of the body of Christ, ask for forgiveness for those who they have hurt in the name of raising disciples, make it public for all to see, find a way to have open and honest dialogue with those who left UBF, and come up with way that people can be open to live the life that God has called them in His love. I would suggest give leadership to the native people and get involved with other ministries and support families and children. I would suggest have a local church for those who graduate from college and want to raise families in a healthy way. Most of all, live in love not rules, programs, and wall charts…love people, students, and the body of Christ.

  27. I once heard a UBF leader say that whenever he was near Dr. Samuel Lee he was scared to get burned. I have a feeling that is how UBF leaders feel about you (you know who you are). I have heard that many leaders have reached out personally, and in confidence, but have been severely burned by your constant deconstruction of their comments and painting their encounters in a negative light. You guys are relentless and while I do believe that you do want the best for UBF and all those in it, I can also understand their difficulty to find meaningful discourse especially in a public forum. That being said, I do not wish to defend them, but just state an observation to perhaps guide a more effective way of discourse with UBF leadership.
    I believe that a public statement is necessary and beneficial. I hope it is not just to get you guys off their backs, but one that is geared toward healing and building a healthier church organization, one that can humbly and effectively respond to issues in the church in the right way.
    I believe many in our church would be very encouraged to see these issues being addressed seriously and openly. May God help us.

    • “I believe many in our church would be very encouraged to see these issues being addressed seriously and openly. May God help us.” – See more at:

      Amen and amen. Thanks for sharing.

    • Joe Schafer

      Yes, thank you for speaking up.

      I will react to your statement: “I have heard that many leaders have reached out personally, and in confidence, but have been severely burned by your constant deconstruction of their comments and painting their encounters in a negative light. – See more at:

      I have a great deal of experience with UBF leaders going back 30+ years. With very few exceptions, they have a very low tolerance for any sort of challenge to their authority. Even in the carefully controlled setting of a senior staff meeting, if you raise a very reasonable question, they will still feel as though they are getting burned. They already felt burned by the report I wrote back in 2010. And back in 2010, when this website got started and there were no harsh words being written against UBF at all (go back to the articles and see for yourself; everything is here) they wouldn’t participate then either. Even though some of them personally gave their word that they would.

      I understand what you are saying and no doubt they feel as though they are getting burned by us. My advice to them is simple: It’s time to grow up.

      Seriously. We are talking about patterns of abuse going back decades, with many lives being severely damaged by this organization. Yes, facing the critics and ex-members is going to be very uncomfortable. But leadership is the job that they signed up for. If they can’t handle it, they need to step aside.

    • Mark Mederich


    • Mark Mederich

      also not sure the tough characters we’re dealin with are that easily burned..

    • Joe, I agree with what you are saying. I guess what I am suggesting is that while I believe you feel a public forum has been the only way to put pressure on UBF, because of the history of other failed attempts, I am hoping that the message UBF leadership receives is that now we can move on to real and meaningful dialogue that does not have to get to this point. We should have done so a long time ago. Thank God that there is always hope in Him and He doesn’t say it’s too late… even though we say so.

  28. Joe Schafer

    I have two pieces of advice to the leaders right now.

    First, look at this memo that I wrote seven years ago about the creation of an External Advisory Committee (EAC). It was debated by the elders and then rejected. Something like this must be put into place if there is to be meaningful long term progress.

    Second, don’t just issue a statement of apology to all the critics and ex-members “out there.” At the same time, issue a strongly worded statement to all the chapter directors and staff and everyone who considers themselves members (whatever that means) of the organization. Tell them that they should stop acting as though critics of UBF are enemies to be ignored or silenced. Jesus commands you not to fight or defeat or silence or avoid them but to love them. The most basic act of love is to listen carefully to them, dialogue with them, and take their words to heart. Explicitly declare that UBFriends is not a hate-ubf website. (If we hated you, we wouldn’t be talking to you as we are right now.) Sooner or later, people in UBF will realize that the editors of UBFriends were and are some of the best friends they could ever have. Heed the teaching of Jesus and the apostolic teaching found in the Didache, where Christians were urged to love their enemies out of existence, i.e. keep loving their enemies until they had no more enemies. From the Didache:

    What you may learn from these words is to bless them that curse you, to pray for your enemies, and to fast for your persecutors. For where is the merit in loving only those who return your love? Even the heathens do as much as that. But if you love those who hate you, you will have nobody to be your enemy.

    Dear UBF members: think of how you honor and praise and love the “in” people in your fellowship who are loyal to your tribe. Then go to the “out” people, the ex-members and critics, and treat them as if they are “in.” That is what Jesus did. That is the gospel.

  29. I echo Joe’s thoughts and would call attention to the “roadmap for peace” that Tass Saada outlined in his book (a book sanctioned by Sarah Barry). I would call ubf leader’s attention to that book.

    Summary of the Saada Roadmap for Peace

    1. We must understand that the house of Ishmael has a divine purpose too.
    >>Is there some kind of divine purpose for ubfriends and former leaders?

    2. We must understand that the real bone of contention is not land; it is rejection.
    >>We are not looking for vindication (being proven right) or atonement (blame a scapegoat) but for reconciliation. We want to be accepted.

    3. We need to stop pigeonholing Yasooa (Yeshua, Jesus) as merely the “Christian” voice in the debate. He is the Living Word for all sides.
    >>Could it be that Jesus is our (former member) Lord too? Do we not serve one Lord? I would contend that we need to stop trying to fit Jesus into our UBF or ex-UBF box.

    4. Finally, we need to begin feeling each other’s pain.
    >>Both UBF and ex-UBF need to feel each other’s pain and see each other as human beings for whom Jesus died and people who Jesus loves.

  30. jespinola

    To the GD and chapter directors:
    I once was a dedicated member of UBF. I served in Columbia UBF and later GMU UBF. I gave 14 years of my life to serving God’s flock and being part of a ministry that I thought loved young people and had a noble desire to obey the “disciple-making” command.
    I left UBF over 4 years ago because I felt UBF let me down in big ways. No longer a student, I was a wife, a mom and a nurse. I juggled many hats and still gave my best in serving the Lord the only way I was told how- in feeding sheep and being as active in the ministry as I could. I felt let down by missionaries who gossiped and judged me as being “less spiritual” for a variety of reasons. I confess I didn’t attend morning prayer meetings often because I was sleep deprived as a mom. I also couldn’t attend some fellowship meetings because I had to care for my three young ones. When I asked my missionary coworkers if we could delay GBS even 30 mins so I can make sure my newborn was settled down for the night, I was met with sharp refusal even though we often would delay GBS if a student was participating. I was told by my missionary coworker that it wasn’t my place to offer ideas on improving the ministry. I felt UBF expected much out of me, but supported and respected me little in return.
    To reiterate David W.’s concerns, I ask that UBF be mindful and respectful of adults who are in different life phases- whether newly married or raising a family, for instance. Do not place burdens on us, whether implied or implicit- to participate in every GBS, prayer meeting or even SWS. Do not expect us to make certain sacrifices for the sake of mission, and if we do not, judge us harshly. I realize you cannot control the gossip or rumor mill of critical people, but if UBF is serious about being a church for all people, it has to accept people as they are and make room for other acts of service and devotion.

    • This is one of the biggest points that must be made the most, and discussed most often:

      “When I asked my missionary coworkers if we could delay GBS even 30 mins so I can make sure my newborn was settled down for the night, I was met with sharp refusal even though we often would delay GBS if a student was participating. I was told by my missionary coworker that it wasn’t my place to offer ideas on improving the ministry.”

      In all this godfather-like power mongering currently going on at ubf, what happens to the families? Will ubf realize the horrible un-Christ-like theology of being anti-family that they espouse so highly? Will they ever drop the “mission-above-and-at-the-expense-of-family” attitudes that reek of evil?

      To be family-centered is not a sin at all–it is the will of God to uphold the family and the sanctity of marriage. The disrespect for families must end.

  31. Mark Mederich

    i see only one valid response: immediate repentance to God/apology to man/efforts to correct ways by highest offenders, then corresponding resolve down the line (like mid-level recompense: “despite being pressured to follow bad example, i am sorry for extreme expectations & resolve to seek balance in the Lord together..

  32. Mark Mederich

    Hymn lyric “A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing”
    (& that fortress is much mightier than nu’s tiny police bldg:)

  33. jespinola

    Here’s a suggestion: If you’re truly serious about being transparent and open to dialogue, why not initiate the discussion about spiritual abuse and wrongs yourself? Why not seek the lost and hurt among you? Ask your “members” frankly if they feel supported and accepted as they are. Ask them if they feel UBF makes unreasonable, implicit demands on their family, vocation and other aspects of life. Ask them if they feel their participation in UBF alienates them from other non-UBF people. Be willing to ask, listen and respond without being defensive.

  34. Mark Mederich

    one final remark: i think we mustneeds put God before man (do right to honor God rather than delay to honor man) & show concern for young who deserve good influence/help more than old who have influence/help..

  35. As a committed and faithful 2nd gen ubf member before now ex-ubf but still have loving relationship with my family and friends in ubf, I thought about linking this article on my facebook. but I decided to wait the official response. I rather wanted to link the more beautiful story of true repentance and restoration according to the gospel we have received.

    I pray that UBF love the Lord and His word more than themselves.
    I pray that UBF HQ may show the real repentance as Daniel and Nehemiah had repented for their forefathers’ sin and their own.

    I believe God will be more pleased with those act of worship than many bible studies and SWS.

    This is my confession.
    I repent that I didn’t say to my leader “No, that’s not right. It’s wrong to treat your brothers and sisters in that manner” “It’s not biblical” because I was afraid.
    I repent that I didn’t use God given ‘power’ to speak up to make a difference and to correct the unbiblical tradition among us because I loved myself than the body of Christ.
    I repent that I didn’t ask to my leader ‘what happened to them who had been hurt and left our church?” because I was afraid but I didn’t fear the word of God. I still see I love my world than the kingdom of God.

    I repent that I ignored Jesus’ command to bring peace between people because I wanted to keep My peace.
    Even though I didn’t use my God-given power, I blamed other ‘powerful’ people saying they should do something.
    Lord forgive me. my hands are not clean.
    I didn’t want to lose my reputation and recognition from the people but abandoned Jesus’ name while I kept saying I am doing this for Jesus.

    To HQ
    Although I am not an ‘official’ member of ubf anymore, I and my family who have devoted our whole life to ubf have right to hear the official answer with full explanation including biblical background to Joe’s letter.
    I will share your response with your members that I know, including young disciples. I have grown up in Korea ubf chapter so your response will be heard to Korean UBF members and Korean ex-ubf as well. I believe anti-christian Korean media will catch up this story pretty fast.
    I believe there will be pains and price you should pay for being silent for many many years. But Have faith in God! I believe there will be more unity and revival in ubf through sincere and humble act of repentance before God. This is a God given chance to receive the new momentum to pursue your movement and vision for next years to come.

  36. “This is my confession.
    I repent that I didn’t say to my leader “No, that’s not right. It’s wrong to treat your brothers and sisters in that manner” “It’s not biblical” because I was afraid.
    I repent that I didn’t use God given ‘power’ to speak up to make a difference and to correct the unbiblical tradition among us because I loved myself more than the body of Christ.
    I repent that I didn’t ask my leader ‘what happened to them who had been hurt and left our church?” because I was afraid but I didn’t fear the word of God.” – See more at:

    Thanks so much, vmi, for sharing this! It is also my confession for many years because I too did not speak up, but thought or felt or made to feel that it was not my place to speak up.

    Probably and likely there are countless more in ubf who are made to feel that they should simply “trust God” and “trust your leaders.”

    Yes we should trust God and our leaders, BUT NOT when there is some clear violation of biblical values and principles, most of which have to do with controlling and manipulating others and shaming others “in the name of shepherding.” The ENDS CANNOT and CAN NEVER JUSTIFY THE MEANS.

    I hope and pray that–like vmi–there may be more and more brave and courageous young men and women who will use their God given right to speak up loudly and clearly, for Jesus the Messiah came to proclaim (openly declare) justice to the nations (Isa 42:1; Mt 12:18).

    Satan hates justice, equality, fairness, honesty, transparency, reconciliation and unity, while he loves secrecy, cowardice, timidity, discord, mistrust, division, disunity, blaming, condemning, slander, gossip, etc.

    You, young lions and young lionesses, are the hope for our future. You are the light of the world. You are the salt of the earth.

    • Thanks vmi for these words. They are important. You understand this one thing: When we reveal the sins and wrongdoings of the founder and top leader so painfully, then it is not to “bash” him, which is the term and complaint I heard most often. No, it is to “bash” (if you loke the word) the whole of UBF, including ourselves, for tolerating this abuse of people and misuse of the Bible, taking part in it to a smaller or larger extend, and not speaking up earlier. It’s also to reveal the nature of the UBF system clearer. You cannot understand UBF if you look at it *now*, but only if you look at its roots, at its history and founding phase in the last century.

      Your mentioning of the acknowledgment of the “sins of the forefathers” e.g. Nehemia and Daniel (and btw also Jeremiah in Jer 14:20) is an important point, I wished everybody understood this. Without understanding this principle, the whole gospel does not make sense. Why should I be punished for the sin of Adam? Romans 5:12 says “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” We can see this principle also in the small world of UBF. Samuel Lee and Sarah Barry were not like Satan, they were more like Adam or Eve, deceived by Satan telling them they could become like God. The UBF leaders started to behave like gods over other people, they also took pride in their organization, and this sin of pride and usurpation of God’s authority was passed on to all members. Therefore it’s so fundamental that the organization as a whole acknowledges this issue and repents, clearly naming and acknowledging the sins of the forefathers (founders), *and* also everyone’s own sin, since we all consciously and not consciously took part in it.

    • “Yes we should trust God and our leaders, BUT NOT when there is some clear violation of biblical values and principles,”

      Right Ben. I would go even one step further.

      In a healthy church, where communication and action is open and transparent, this would not even be an issue, you rarely NEED to trust your leaders. For example, in UBF there was no financial transparency in the time of Samuel Lee. Any ordinary church has such transparency. So you can just look into the books, you don’t need to trust. One point the German reform chapter leaders complained about in the year 2001 was that they always sent money and reports to the headquarters in Cologne, but they never got any reports and accounts in return. Abraham Lee literally told them “just trust me.” Another example from UBF is when members where married off to other members from foreign countries. You could only trust the leaders that they picked the right partner. In any healthy church, that would not be the way to marry. You would have the chance to choose a partner on your own, and trust only God in this matter. Currently, members don’t know how their general director is “elected” and which principles he believes in, again they need to just “trust.” The realm of things in which you needed to “trust” your leaders in UBF was gigantic, a sign of unhealthyness.

      And I don’t even want to start speaking about the other issue here, the term “leader.” When you read Mt 23, you understand that the whole concept of “church leaders” and “leadership” is flawed and inadequate for NT churches. NT elders/shepehrds are something completely different from OT leaders like Mose. UBF tries to emulate that OT concept of leadership. During the reform, Samuel Lee was always explicitly equated with Mose or David (or sometimes Saul, by people who did not like how Sameul Lee behaved, but tought one needed to obey him anyway). In my German Bible, the term leader (Leiter) appears only in these two negative verses:

      Is 9: “Denn die *Leiter* dieses Volks sind Verführer, und die sich leiten lassen, sind verloren.” (Those who guide this people mislead them, and those who are guided are led astray.)

      Rom 2: “Du maßt dir an, ein *Leiter* der Blinden zu sein, ein Licht derer, die in Finsternis sind?” (You are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark?)

      My German Bible is spot on about this.

  37. What I honestly want to hear from the ubf leaders:

    “We were wrong. We need help.”

  38. Joe Schafer

    One hundred and fifty years ago, Abraham Lincoln was sworn in for a second term. In his inaugural address, he lamented the division and destruction of war. He observed that “both sides read the same Bible, and pray to the same God,” but the “prayers of both could not be answered.” One side must prevail.

    But in his closing sentence called on northerners to proceed “with malice toward none; with charity for all; [and] with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right.” They needed win the war and then forget about vengeance.

    Some people are still holding out hope for a compromise solution that tries to please both sides, the hardliners who want to uphold the Samuel Lee UBF heritage and the reform-minded people who want the wrongdoings of the past to be acknowledged. They will want to “split the difference” or “thread the needle.”

    Often it is possible to reach a compromise. But on this issue, there isn’t any middle ground. An admission of wrongdoing has to come. This really is the defining moment.

  39. Mark Mederich

    unintended wrongdoing>restorative redirection
    deluded wrongdoing>facilitated redirection
    intentional wrongdoing>obligatory redirection

    only issue is what kind of wrongdoing is it?

    • Joe Schafer

      All three, mixed up together. People will have to search their hearts and decide for themselves.

    • Mark Mederich

      God, the revealer of mysteries, shall show us all the way.. HALLELUJAH!

  40. While we wait a few more decades for a response to Joe’s letter… Here is some comic relief:

    This is not the same ubf… But maybe SLee’s boxing training is a good way to settle the General Director gridlock?

  41. Mark Mederich



    Greetings to everyone!
    Sigma Alpha Epsilon has experienced major changes in the past 90 days. The Fraternity has been plagued with an increase in hazing over the past decade that has led to pledges “dying” to be SAEs. The media has labeled us as the “nation’s deadliest fraternity.” Our insurance premiums have skyrocketed and, as a result, we are paying Lloyd’s of London the highest insurance rates in the Greek-letter world. Universities have been denying us the opportunity to colonize on their campus, and we have had to close 12 chapters over the past 18 months for hazing or hazing-related situations.
    SAE was founded on a basic premise: to improve the intellectual faculties of its members and to surround each member with friends whose care and duty it shall be to make him happy. For decades, members have learned and recited “The True Gentleman,” a magnificent piece of work written by John Walter Wayland. Nowhere in our Ritual or our creed have we been able to find a single phrase that implies that members joining our beloved Fraternity should be subjected to bullying, hazing, degradation or humiliation.
    We were founded by eight young men who believed deeply in the honor of mankind, on supporting one another and giving back to others. Their first new member, or 9th member, of our organization was Newton Nash Clements. They met him, invited him to join SAE and initiated him at their next meeting the following week. Some of our greatest SAEs went through a similar process, including William C. Levere. Pledges and pledge programs were not a part of the Fraternity until sometime after World War I and were not a part of our laws until the 1940s.
    Our Fraternity could not withstand another major hazing incident, let alone another death. We needed to act swiftly in order to protect the future of SAE and assure today’s collegiate members have an opportunity to see their sons and grandsons join our Fraternity. The Supreme Council decided to change the laws and eliminate pledgeship from Sigma Alpha Epsilon. On March 9, 2014, all pledge programs ceased, and all the pledges were immediately initiated into SAE. We launched what is now known as the True Gentleman Experience.
    We have never had an issue recruiting our members. Unfortunately, due to hazing, we have not been able to retain many of these potentially great members. We have lost far too many members who simply would not tolerate hazing. The True Gentleman Experience involves recruitment year-round. It involves getting to know potential members, inviting them to the chapter and events and participating in formal IFC recruitment.
    Once a bid is extended, new members will participate in a chapter retreat, be introduced to “The True Gentleman,” participate in the Carson Starkey Member Certification Program, complete our Scope of Association Agreement and, within 96 hours, be initiated into SAE. Then they will participate in educational programing that will take place over the course of their undergraduate membership.
    We have had more positive media coverage in the past 90 days than we have had in the 158 years of our existence. Many alumni, undergraduate brothers, parents and administrators have applauded this bold move. Our critics have been concerned that brotherhood should be earned. I challenge us all to consider their argument. If Sigma Alpha Epsilon is all about a six-, eight- or ten-week pledge program, then we have lost our way as an organization. Brotherhood is built not only over a four-year undergraduate experience but over a lifetime. Hearing the Ritual is very different than living it and making it a part of our existence and life.
    Having served our Fraternity at all levels since my graduation in 1985 and having been a member of the Supreme Council for the past eight years, I can tell you wholeheartedly how proud I am of our organization, of our leadership once again in the Greek-letter world and of the great work our chapters have done since March 9. While change is never easy, it is inevitable in order to survive. In an era where hazing, bullying, forced alcohol consumption and abuse is no longer tolerated by anyone, SAE must change so that we can survive another 158 years. Brothers, our brightest days are still ahead.
    Phi Alpha,

    Bradley M. Cohen
    Eminent Supreme Archon
    (Arizona ’85)

  42. Mark Mederich

    MIT Students’ Deaths Prompt Soul-Searching And Lighter Workloads

    The Huffington Post | By Alexandra Svokos

    Posted: 03/19/2015 1:21 pm EDT Updated: 03/19/2015 1:59 pm EDT




    Some instructors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are pushing back due dates on assignments, canceling classes and making certain tests optional after two student suicides in recent weeks, student newspaper the Tech reports.

    Matthew Nehring, a freshman, died on campus on Feb. 28. Christina E. Tournant, also a freshman, died at home on Mar. 5 while on voluntary medical leave.

    In response, MIT chancellor Cynthia Barnhart last week “asked professors to lighten the load for students,” the Boston Globe reported. (Barnhart and Dean of Student Life Chris Colombo did not respond to The Huffington Post’s requests for comment.)

    Electrical engineering professor George Verghese canceled a lecture and made homework optional for a week. In an email to students (see full email below), he asked them to join him at the Harvard Art Museums, which are near campus and free for MIT students.

    “We’re surrounded here by all these museums, and there’s no reason I had to have that next lecture,” Verghese told HuffPost. He explained that when he was a student, visiting museums was a great comfort. About a dozen students went to the Harvard Art Museums, and others have come to his office to talk.

    “My wife tells me that the students will probably remember that trip long after they’ve forgotten what I taught them,” Verghese said.

    “The pace of life at MIT is fast and challenges can mount, amplifying feelings of despair,” professor Peter Fisher wrote in an email sent to students in the Physics Department. “Getting help from Mental Health will also make a big difference. There is no shame in this — in fact, it is a sign of courage and strength.”

    Visits to the school’s mental health services have doubled in the last 15 years, the Globe reports, and now MIT is planning a new community initiative called “We All Struggle Together” to emphasize that it’s “socially acceptable to acknowledge imperfections and to seek assistance.”

    Student suicides in recent years have prompted a number of Ivy League and other elite universities to put an increased focus on mental health on campus.

    Following deaths at Stanford, Columbia and Yale universities, students on those campuses called for improved mental health resources and reforms to voluntary leave policies. Students also raised concerns over workloads. Similar discussions have taken place at Cornell University and the University of Pennsylvania.

    UPenn started a stress and mental health task force following two suicides last year. In its final report released last month, the task force cited “destructive perfectionism” as a major source of student stress. The report called for increased communication about mental health resources and training for the community on mental health, according to the Daily Pennsylvanian.

    Verghese said that similar pressures are at work at MIT.

    “The competition here is not at all related to dragging everybody else down,” he told HuffPost. “The competition here seems to be competition with one’s self. People have high standards, and they work very hard, and they want to excel.”

    “I’m not trying to make a connection between workload and these particular events,” he added. “I’m just trying to talk about stress that students feel and the prevalence of it.”

    Tragedies foster dialogue about pressure and encourage self-reflection, but not all student suicides at elite schools are caused by schoolwork. As Barnhart told the Globe, “Understanding and somehow controlling stress doesn’t solve the suicide problem.”

    “Everyone needs to be a little self-reflective, taking care of their mental health, and worrying about if those around them are also taking care of themselves,” Verghese said.

    Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

  43. Mark Mederich

    “Why fraternities need to be abolished
    By Andrew Lohse

    It’s becoming difficult to keep track of all the disturbing fraternity stories in the news.

    Between a Penn State fraternity’s secret Facebook page for sharing photos of nude, passed out women and images of hazing, allegations of drug dealing and sexual assault in a North Carolina State frat, a group of University of Michigan frat brothers destroying a ski resort in a drunken rage, the revelation of a University of Wisconsin-Madison frat’s degrading hazing, the publication of University of Maryland frat brothers’ pro-rape emails, and the now-infamous racist video of Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) members calling for the lynching of African-Americans, it would be an understatement to say that Greek life has had a bad few weeks.

    RELATED: Five fraternity suspensions in two weeks

    These stories aren’t easy reads. They show in stark terms how fraternities are antithetical to the educational mission of their host institutions – because who has time to learn anything when you’re starved and forced to sleep in the attic, like those UW-Madison pledges? Together these revelations paint a picture of endemic fraternity misbehavior that most people would more likely associate with a biker gang than the supposed future leaders of America.

    “We don’t have the right to be surprised anymore. These incidents aren’t outliers or cases of individual impropriety, but data points in a clear historical pattern.”
    But we don’t have the right to be surprised anymore. These incidents aren’t outliers or cases of individual impropriety, but data points in a clear historical pattern showing the fraternity system to be a structurally flawed vestige of the 19th century. Simply put, fraternities need to be abolished.

    The idea that Greek organizations can self-reform or self-regulate – especially on an issue as crucial as campus sexual assault – is as ludicrous as arguing that Goldman Sachs should run the SEC. After all, a much-cited 2007 study showed that fraternity members are 300% more likely to commit rape than non-affiliated students. This study wasn’t an outlier, but the third of its kind confirming the same data.

    Expanding sororities to counterbalance the power of frats is no solution, either. Numerous studies have shown that sorority membership is a clear risk factor for sexual assault, especially an assault involving drug or alcohol coercion – a Harvard School of Public Health study indicates that even just living in a sorority house made a woman three times more likely to be raped.

    How can we expect higher education to be a ladder of opportunity for all students if neither universities nor the federal government can ensure basic safety by eradicating the hostile environment that is privileged, perpetuated, and protected by these organizations?

    As a former member of Dartmouth College’s SAE – a house notorious for its foul hazing – I’ve witnessed how the hyper-masculine groupthink that supposedly builds a fraternity “brotherhood” is the same cult psychology that teaches young men to do things they’d never do on their own.

    These organizations’ flaws are systemic, and the symptoms can’t be comfortably reduced to questions of individual behavior. No frat bro exists in a vacuum. Not to mention how these organizations use secrecy to evade scrutiny, the “philanthropy defense” to get themselves excused, and Washington, D.C. lobbying to suppress any reforms.

    “The idea that frats can self-regulate is as ludicrous as arguing that Goldman Sachs should run the SEC.”

    Fraternities are big business. They own and operate more than $3 billion worth of real estate and take in more than $150 million of tax-free revenue each year. They’re represented by sophisticated trade organizations and a political action committee, FratPAC, that in 2013 succeeded in killing a piece of desperately-needed anti-hazing legislation in Congress.

    Believe it or not, we don’t need fraternities to raise money for philanthropic causes. Corporations, religious organizations, non-profits, and student service groups easily produce a greater social good without the obvious human cost inherent to exclusionary, sex-segregated clubs built around binge drinking and hazing. Unlike fraternities, neither the Salvation Army nor the United Way have ever beaten one of their volunteers to death or left them to die of alcohol poisoning with their hands zip-tied after an initiation.

    The “philanthropy defense” is a diversion. It always has been. The best available data puts Greeks’ collective charitable giving at about $7 million a year – a statistical anomaly compared to the more than $300 billion donated in America in sum total. Why do frat apologists believe that a small amount – or any amount – of philanthropy can wipe away the stain of repeated hazing deaths? Why do they argue that a few bake sales outweigh the rigorous research and high-profile documentaries like “The Hunting Ground” that show fraternities to be drivers of rape culture on campus?

    “These organizations’ flaws are systemic, and the symptoms can’t be comfortably reduced to questions of individual behavior. No frat bro exists in a vacuum.”
    To be clear, fraternities aren’t the only sketchy organization to use philanthropy to cover for other activities. Hell’s Angels donates toys to underprivileged children every year – but the Department of Justice still considers them an organized crime syndicate. Apparently, they just don’t have good lobbyists. Why do we excuse some systems of organized crime, but censure others? It’s not just white privilege, but something else ingrained in American life – classism, sexism, elitism, and the fact that a different set of rules exist for the rich, their progeny, and their secret clubs.

    Fraternities are out of excuses. It’s finally time for Congress to repeal Title IX’s fraternity and sorority exemption – a loophole that has protected Greek organizations for decades, despite the fact that their codified discrimination clearly undermines the legislation’s aim to ensure gender equity in education. University presidents owe it to the next generation of students to abolish fraternities and replace them with a 21st century system that isn’t hostile to minorities, women, and its own members – not to mention the very idea of learning.”

    Andrew Lohse is a former member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon at Dartmouth College and the author of “Confessions of an Ivy league Frat Boy.”

  44. Mark Mederich

    America’s demise hinges on privilege: hoarders of privilege (religio/politico/educatio/etcetero:) will bring it to a fiery end, unless change agents bring redistributive justice for the sorry hoarders but decades business as usual has ended(best learn to work, for we are learning to lead..:)

    ‘We Finally Know the Truth About Where That Fraternity Learned a Racist Song
    By Liz Dwyer |
    4 hours ago

    The mystery of where members of the University of Oklahoma chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon learned the racist song that appeared in a video that went viral earlier this month—and resulted in the chapter and two students being booted off campus—has been solved. On Friday, OU’s president announced that after interviewing more than 160 students, school officials had determined that the chant is “widely known and informally shared” by members of SAE nationally, reported USA Today. OU’s investigation determined that students were taught the chant while participating in a leadership cruise four years ago that was sponsored by the national fraternity.

    Although the national office of Sigma Alpha Epsilon had previously stated that “the national fraternity does not teach such a racist, hateful chant, and this chant is not part of any education or training,” on Friday SAE executive director Blaine Ayers confirmed OU’s findings. Ayers said that so far there is no evidence that the offensive chant, “You can hang ’em from a tree…there will never be a [n-word] in SAE,” is being sung by each of the fraternity’s 237 chapters. However, “We remain committed to identifying and rooting out racist behavior from SAE, and we are actively investigating all of our local organizations to determine whether there are issues in any other location,” Ayers said.’

    • Mark Mederich

      funny how nu & sae hq in Evanston as well as ubf northside Chicago share not only geography but turning point: right has come which will benefit many while continued wrong will fleece the few:(

  45. Gajanan Nial
    Gajanan Nial

    (Note: I wanted to post this comment at the article “Are UBF Leaders Cult Leaders”. But for whatever strange reason, it is not accepting my comment there! So here it goes.)

    Did you see Announcement of Voting Result for General Director of UBF?

    So white smokes have arisen over ubf’s pristine chapel; the illuminated College of Cardinals has finally chosen ATK as the Bishop of UBF for one more term. The link says he was elected but who was the opponent, how many votes he secured and why the electors chose him for a second term are top secrets …. Shhhhh!!!

    What a way to choose the spiritual leader (or cult leader?) of a spiritual organization! Shouldn’t his achievements of the last term be shared with the world, especially to the subjects of the empire from the official site?

    Should democracy be exercised in choosing spiritual leaders? When Jesus finally declared himself as the King of the Jews in no ambiguous words, he had zero votes in his favor (Jn 18:37).

    The King decides in the kingdom of God, but for the kingdoms and empires of this world, we need networking and voting, of course.

    Is ubf a cult? Well, nothing less than a secret society!

    • Hi Gajanan, I saw your comment from the other article in our spam queue (due to the link I think) and approved it. The comment should be showing there now too.

    • Mark Mederich

      “Should democracy be exercised in choosing spiritual leaders?”
      I don’t know, but hopefully they represent Godly values/willingness to do right no matter what, like Jesus did/determination to bring God’s right ways to earth:)

      leader chosen reveals more about choosers than chosen, especially since figurehead (coverup for backroom deals/business as usual/public voice of what want hear,not what truth needs be revealed to world:)…! SCOOBYDOOBYDOOYAH

  46. Mark Mederich

    ‘Doug Fierberg named a “Top 100 Trial Lawyers” for 2014 by the National Trial Lawyers.’

    “Greek chapters are going to expect campuses are going to have a zero tolerance for [members’ misbehavior],” Kruger said. “Schools will be acting quickly because they have a liability and repetitional risk, and they’ll be acting fairly severely.”

    “It’s some most challenging leadership decisions a generation of college presidents has faced,” said Peter Lake, director of the Center for Higher Education Law and Policy at Stetson University College of Law.’

    Douglas Fierberg, an attorney who has sued fraternities on behalf of hazing and sexual assault victims”

    “So the question is, how can they be effectively regulated?” Fierberg said during a recent HuffPost Live discussion. They insist on self-management, he added, which has proved to be dangerous and fundamentally flawed. … They should have to prove that they are in fact safe, not the other way around. There should be no assumption they are safe.”


  47. Mark Mederich

    ‘One of the ways that men are drawn away from their role as the head of their families is through this witchcraft and wizardry called “Spiritual Fathers” — this dogma is destroying whole households because it bewitches a man who is the head of his family to surrender his headship to another man, and thus empowers that man (“the pastor”) to rule over his family.’

    • Mark Mederich

      “Men (I say & women)must function in their God-given role as the head of their families and guard their hearts against idolatry and false shepherds who would damage and destroy their family. For the family is the model of the true body of Christ.”

  48. Mark Mederich


    Do you recognize that you’re doubting yourself more than you ever have before?

    Victims of narcissistic abuse often appear uncertain of themselves, constantly seeking clarification that they haven’t made a mistake or misheard something.

    This reactive adaptation to narcissistic abuse is because the narcissist is ALWAYS finger pointing and shifting blame to YOU for ALL of the ups & downs both in the relationship AND in the narcissist’s personal psyche.
    Because this relationship has NON EXISTENT boundaries, you will find YOURSELF constantly PUT UPON and FORCED to accept responsibility for things you didn’t do or say. This borrowed humiliation and shame is exactly what the narcissist intends for the victim to take from the narcissist. Their own unfelt core of shame.”

  49. Mark Mederich

    “It’s crazy-making and a narcissist purposefully causes this confusion. They know that a divided and conquered mind is their most vulnerable and susceptible target who won’t be able to identify that their confusion is caused by an abusive technique called ‘gaslighting’.

    Gaslighting is a technique of psychological abuse used by narcissists to instill confusion and anxiety in their target to the point where they no longer trust their own memory, perception or judgment. With gas lighting, the target initially notices that something happens that is odd, but they don’t believe it. The target attempts to fight the manipulation, but are confused further by being called names or told that they’re: ‘Just Too sensitive’, ‘Crazy’, ‘Imagining things’ or the narcissist flat out DENIES ever saying anything hurtful. Gradually, the target learns not to trust their own perceptions and begins doubting themselves. Broken and unable to trust themselves, they isolate further. The target now doubts everything about themselves: their thoughts and opinions, their ideas and ideals. They become dependent on the narcissist for their reality.

    For it is in your CONFUSION and acceptance of responsibility that belongs to the narcissist, that a narcissist is able to successfully CONTROL YOU and USE YOU as a scapegoat for their problems.”

    • Mark Mederich

      “Every minute of every hour of every day of every year, a Narcissist, who has a DSM classifiable personality DISORDER (ie: not playing with a full deck) is PROJECTING their disorder onto those around them. If you don’t think that having a crazy person constantly blaming you for being “crazy” will make you crazy…

      This disorder isn’t a relationship gone wrong. This disorder isn’t kid stuff. It’s MALEVOLENT. It’s a transference of malevolence and MENTAL DISORDER from the person who has it to the person who DOESN’T.”

  50. “Gaslighting is a technique of psychological abuse…”

    Yes, Mark, all former and current members of ubf need to know about gaslighting. That is a key manipulation technique embedded in KOPAHN theology.

    More info can be found here, along with the movie that the term came from:

    What is Gaslighting?

    • This is a quote from the article I linked to and this is exactly what the “training” at ubf does to most people:

      “The intention is to, in a systematic way, target the victim’s mental equilibrium, self confidence, and self esteem so that they are no longer able to function in an independent way. Gaslighting involves the abuser to frequently and systematically withhold factual information from the victim, and replacing it with false information. Because of it’s subtly, this cunning Machiavellian behaviour is a deeply insidious set of manipulations that is difficult for anybody to work out, and with time it finally undermines the mental stability of the victim.”

    • And the three stages of gaslighting mention line up nicely with the six stage “discipleship training” program used by ubf missionaries and shepherds.

  51. Mark Mederich

    ‘Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse used by narcissists in order to instill in their victim’s an extreme sense of anxiety and confusion to the point where they no longer trust their own memory, perception or judgment. The techniques used in “Gaslighting” by the narcissist are similar to those used in brainwashing, interrogation, and torture that have been used in psychological warfare by intelligence operative, law enforcement and other forces for decades.’


    • Mark Mederich

      “When they are exposed to it (GASLIGHTING-SUBVERSIVE MENTAL MANIPULATION)for long enough, they begin to lose their sense of their own self. Unable to trust their own judgments, they start to question the reality of everything in their life. They begin to find themselves second-guessing themselves, and this makes them become very insecure around their decision making, even around the smallest of choices. The victim becomes depressed and withdrawn, they become totally dependent on the abuser for their sense of reality. In effect the gaslighting turns the victim’s reality on its head.”

    • Mark Mederich

      “With a combination of seduction, deception, isolation, bullying and rejection, reluctantly Paula starts to accept that she is losing her mind, and she becomes totally dependent on him for her sense of reality”


    • Mark Mederich

      “His main objective was to gain entry into the house in London where he could continue his search for Alice’s jewels. It was his rummaging in the attic for the jewels that Paula had heard, and it was he that had caused the flickering of the lights (from the attic) when he reduced the flow of gas to the downstairs lights. She had become an impediment to his search, so he needed her certified insane and institutionalized so that he could be free to find his treasure. He came very near to realizing his goal, but by some chance encounter Paula meets Inspector Brian Cameron of Scotland Yard (acted by Joseph Cotten), who was an avid admirer of her Aunt Alice. He tells her that she is not going out of her mind, but that she is beings slowly and systematically been driven out of your mind by her husband. Together with Paula, and with the support of the old housekeeper (who had suspected the master of causing these events), he opens the “cold case”. The drama reaches its final conclusion when he arrests Gregory just as he has found his treasure of the long lost jewels.”
      THE GIG IS UP, HALLELUJAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Mark Mederich

      “In America the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is
      considered the bible of psychiatrists and mental health professionals. It is useful in
      that it specifies nine diagnostic criteria for identifying Narcissistic Personality
      Disorder (NPD). The diagnosis of NPD is based upon the presence of five of these
      nine features:
      1. He or she has a grandiose sense of self-importance (exaggerates
      accomplishments and demands to be considered superior without real
      evidence of achievement).
      2. He or she lives in a fantasy world of exceptional success, power, beauty,
      genius or “perfect” love.
      3. They think of themselves as “special” or privileged, and that they can only be
      understood by other special or high-status people.
      4. They demand excessive amounts of praise or admiration from others.
      5. They feel entitled to automatic deference, compliance, or favourable treatment
      from others.
      6. They are exploitative towards others and take advantage of them.
      7. They lack empathy and do not recognize or identify with others’ feelings.
      8. They are frequently envious of others and think others are envious of them.
      9. They “have an attitude” (coupled with rage whenever contradicted, or criticized) and frequently act in haughty or arrogant ways.

      In order to be fully alive and fully human, we are each called to live through our true
      authentic self, rather than through the façade of a perverse false self where other
      people’s expectations of us can become of overriding importance, thus compromising our fragile Ego. Unfortunately, the narcissist is unable to live authentically through
      their True Self. Unable to cope with the painful harsh world of their childhood, and in
      order to stay safe, they installed a defensive armor around their damaged inner True
      Self; this self is referred to as a False Self. The False Self is quite a tyrannical and
      grandiose self that can bat off huge amounts of pain, giving the narcissist immunity
      from further feelings of depression, abandonment, and shame. Their grandiosity also
      gets them the attention necessary to feed their obsessional need for the adoration of
      their False Self. Sam Vaknin describes it well when he says, “the False Self is a
      cloak, protecting and rendering the narcissist invisible and omnipotent at the same
      time”. Actually the narcissist’s attachment to their grandiose false self accounts for
      the first three attributes in the DSM’s checklist for NPD shown above (i.e their sense
      of self-importance, exaggerated accomplishments, superiority, powerfulness, genius,
      and specialness). Unfortunately, this inflated sense of self leaves someone with NPD
      excessively aggressive, arrogant and controlling, and insistently seeing themselves as
      being better than everyone else. However, the corollary to all this (and where the
      narcissist shows their aggression) is that everyone else is, at the very least,
      devastatingly devalued by the narcissist (Brownstone).”

  52. Mark Mederich

    perhaps remedy for gasliting is igniting:)
    refuse believe lies that noone walked in the attic/used lite up there: totally belief self, noone else, unless absolutely proven over time..
    or even boomero-gaslite: duck the lie & insist they were in attic, letting issue circle around to ‘clock’ their own head>making em wonder wasn’t I in the attic?-ensuing confusion will quite psyche effect liar into rubber room..:) HALLELUJAH-RESTORATIVE JUSTICE SHALL SETUP FREE!!!!!!!!!

  53. Mark Mederich

    “•How certain personalities seem particularly attractive to the narcissist. Narcissists are like hungry bears who have an appetite for “empaths” (those self-sacrificing, naive and trusting individuals that are full of love and compassion for mankind).” (email from Dublin author about to release her book:)

    • Mark Mederich

      “•Narcissism by proxy (flying monkeys). Narcissists use others to perpetrate abuse on their victim in order to further their agenda, of course you will never know that you are being used as narcissistic supply.”

    • I can dig it, no worries. Don’t want to keep you from posting : )

  54. With all due respect, Mark, can I ask you to show some restraint?

    Dropping 10 quotes in a row without any discussion or response is a bit, well, concerning.

    Especially the booyah’s and dooyah’s.

    • Yea we could probably use a few less dooyah’s :) But thanks Mark for keeping the comments going when everyone stopped commenting! I love your passion Mark!

    • Mark Mederich

      sorry matt c, I work a lot so my occasional sporadic blitzkrieg is partly situational, but being half german, it’s also the only way overdue things ever really get done (hopefully for the better; think of if hitler had done something good instead of bad..what progress that would’ve been:); anyway I can lay off..

      but for those’s hard to stop:)-reaction to systemic hallelujah resistance, coupled w/that cartoon song that aughta add joy to these here heavy matters until His truth marches on & His grace restores damaged souls (a church we went once years ago in between ubf stints had some issues to & the way a member expressed it was parking his beater in front with big sign: “NAME OF CHURCH butchers souls”:) I thought of parking my old van in front of church/university/etc but need it to go to work so yer all safe, but it sure lightens my heart thinken yeah let’s find a way to stop butcherin souls in religio/education/politico/etcetero:) & maybe even find a way to enlighten souls:)
      well gotta go to work long hrs again, so yer all safe from me further commentin:)

    • Mark, people love you as the Ned Flanders of UBFriends but sometimes if feels like you go over the top. ;)

  55. Joe, did you ever receive any response to this letter? It’s been almost 2 months, so the ubf standard 6 month reply is still about 4 months away. Still I wonder if you got anything at all now that the GD has been chosen/elected.

    Some more random thoughts….

    Last week I got email from another second gen at ubf telling me to shut up and go away. This person pretended to care about me, but clearly cares way more about their own glory and the glory of ubf.

    The Wikipedia entry for ubf was vandalized again recently (unless that was you forests? :) But a Wikiadmin fixed it quickly.

    Also any update on Stephen Lutz and why in the world he would agree to attend the ubf staff conference? It seems absurd that the ubf glorymongers still in authority want to move on in glory and continue to seek to legitimize their flawed ministry without addressing the massive amount of abuse that has happened.

    I had an amazing time at Washington D.C. last week! Didn’t have time to visit you and Sharon, but met some really good new friends. They were appalled at what I put up with at ubf. The toxic culture at ubf is just so blatantly obvious when you begin sharing with Christians.

    • Joe Schafer

      On Monday I received a long letter from Augustine Sohn. He began by saying it was a private response to me and that I shouldn’t share it with anyone.

      So there is not going to be a public response to my open letter.

      At some point I will respond to Augustine and will post that response publicly. But I won’t make it a priority. If UBF leaders are not going to take the long history of abuse seriously (and at this point it’s clear to me that they are not) then there is nothing more that I can do.

    • Thanks Joe, that is helpful to know. Sad, but helpful.

    • forestsfailyou

      not me this time :-)

  56. Come on, Joe, “Have faith.”

    on a serious note, thanks for sharing.

  57. On another note, since Joe mentioned the fact that UBF refuses to acknowledge the abusive practices and clear cases of abuse from the past,

    I would like to be thankful. Thank you, UBF, for teaching me to bear the cross of your sins, not as a Christian or a gospel servant, but for someone who was a poster child for this ministry without conscience. I am thankful to suffer for that wrongdoing.

    Recently my director at work received a letter making me complicit with other shepherds in the abusive UBF system. The person clearly didn’t know me but wanted to warn my school where I work about me. I also received very harsh emails directly talking about the false prophets of UBF. I told them that actually, I agree, at this point.

    • Probably (more like definitely!) I’m a little dense, but MattC I don’t quite understand what exactly happened…

  58. Mark Mederich

    we shall overcome!!!
    (let’s unbutcher souls:)