Common justifications by UBF
There are many defenses propagated by UBF members used to justify their teachings, called UBFism. These defenses are easily refuted. Here are some of the common lies taught to new students.
"UBF is a mainline, evangelical church."
A common promotion tactic by UBF leaders is to use the claim that UBF is a mainline, evangelical church. The reality is that UBF has zero connections to any of the 7 Protestant mainline churches. Neither does the group have any connection to the Catholic Church or any history with the Orthodox Church. UBF and its new religion are on the fringes of Christianity at best. UBF teachings live in the intersection of Buddhism, Confucianism, and Christianity. Chang Woo (Samuel) Lee and Sarah Barry, the two co-founders, originally had ties to the Presbyterian Church. When UBF was founded in 1961 however, and then incorporated in America in 1975, the founders severed all ties to the Presbyterian church. Some of their early material, such as the UBF Daily Bread, was plagiarized from the Navigators to give the group a more Christian look and feel.
"There are only one or two disgruntled former UBF members."
A common defense given by UBF leaders is that UBF is a good church, and there are only one or two disgruntled former members. The reality is that there have been five major exoduses of members since UBF was founded in 1961. The movements to reform, change, and improve UBF have been widespread, lead by Koreans, Americans, Germans, and recruits from many nations. The exodus of members, called a crisis event by some and a reform event by others, happened 1976, 1989, 2000, 2011, and 2016. In one sense, the UBF chapters are in a continual state of re-orienting and re-building because the UBF shepherding system collapses regularly.
The public websites made by former UBF members are numerous, exposing well over 150 people’s testimonies about all kinds of abuses. Dozens of news media reports and religious watchdog organizations have documented the unaddressed problems at UBF for decades, in many countries including America, Canada, Mexico, Russia, Germany, and Korea. A good overview of UBF is at wiki.ubfriends.org
"The abortion stories in UBF are just lies."
Former members have confirmed several abortion stories by in-person meetings. It is true that one of the two co-founders, Chang Woo (Samuel) Lee, requested a Korean missionary candidate couple to have an abortion “for the glory of God” if they wanted to be devoted missionaries to America. This happened in Korea in the 1970’s.
In the 1980’s, in Chicago USA, a few Korean missionaries, including Chang Woo (Samuel) Lee, pressured an American woman to have an abortion. These events are examples of extreme undue religious influence. Although the extreme nature of this influence has been dampened, that same influence exists in most UBF chapters as of 2017.
"If you leave UBF, you will go to hell or face tragedy."
UBF Shepherds and Missionaries are highly protective and territorial about their recruits. Stories abound about the bad things that will happen to you if you leave the group. Ironically, the one who warned about tragedy the most was the co-founder, Samuel (Chang Woo) Lee, who died from a fire in 2002.
The reality is that leaving is a traumatic experience for most members. Your life does temporarily become chaotic as you deal with unbinding your life from the UBF lifestyle. There is, however, no tragedy from God waiting for you. The reality is that hundreds of former members testify that, in the long run, your life tends to improve after leaving.