As a college student, you generally recognize immediately that something is not right about the UBF group. Still, it may be difficult to see the issues facing the group since there is a lot of “holy paint” and Christian-sounding talk.
Public reaction helps identify what’s wrong with UBF. The leaders have dismissed all of these reports the past 60 years. I’m preserving the excellent list compiled by other former members. These may be old events, but the problems surfaced here plague the group today.
If you feel that something isn’t quite right about the UBF shepherd or missionary who approached you, you are not alone. Thousands of students, family, and friends have felt the same way for decades.
BOOKS AND OTHER PUBLICATIONS THAT DISCUSS UBF
In the book, Another Gospel — A comprehensive survey of cults, alternative religions and the New Age Movement (Zondervan, 1989), Ruth A. Tucker classifies UBF as an “authoritarian and isolationist fundamentalist fringe movement.”
In the book, Churches That Abuse (Zondervan, 1992), Christian sociologist Ron Enroth devotes a chapter (chapter 5 – “Manipulation and Control: Abusive Churches Use Fear, Guilt and Threats”) to describe the spiritual abuse of an American college student in the Chicago headquarters of UBF.
In the book, Cult-Proofing Your Kids, (Zondervan, 1993) Christian author Paul R. Martin classifies UBF as an “aberrant Christian group” whose practices and beliefs deviate from the standards of evangelical Protestant Christianity. UBF is also described in the book as a “very authoritarian” “fringe church.” Specific cultic practices reported about the UBF in the book include the use of mind control and enforced leader-arranged marriages.
Joachim Keden, pastor and former cult expert of the Protestant Church in the Rhineland (Germany), classified UBF as a cult-like group. Pastor Keden described UBF’s cultic practices and teachings in an article included in the book Sogenannte Jugendsekten und die okkulte Welle (So-Called Youth Cults and the Occult Wave) published by Aussaat Verlag, Neukirchen-Vluyn 1989, p. 132-146. The translated text of this article can be read at https://rsqubf.info/documents/external/keden1989.en/.
Andrew Schäfer, the current cult commissioner of the Protestant Church in Rhineland describes UBF as a cult-like group. Mr. Schäfer also devotes an entire chapter to describe UBF in his recently published book, Im Labyrinth der Seelenfänger (In the Maze of the Soul Catchers).
In August 1991, in its monthly publication, the Documentation Service of the German Protestant Centre for Religious and Ideological Issues (EZW) published a 4-page report titled “Erfahrungen mit der University Bible Fellowship (UBF): Persönlicher Bericht einer Mutter” (“Experiences with the University Bible Fellowship (UBF): Personal Report by a Mother”). The report is basically the personal memoranda of the mother of a UBF recruit who first accompanied her daughter into UBF and then helped her daughter to leave the group. The translated text of this report can be read at https://rsqubf.info/documents/external/mdezw1991.en/.
UBF is described as a cult on pp. 97-111 of the book Sekten – Die neuen Heilsbringer (Cults – the New Bringers of Salvation), A Handbook, by Heide-Marie Cammans, Düsseldorf, Germany 1998. The translated text of this report can be read at https://rsqubf.info/documents/external/cammans1998en/
ARTICLES IN UNIVERSITY NEWSPAPERS THAT CONCERN UBF
In February 1991, The Silhouette, the student newspaper of McMaster University (Ontario), published a brief story headlined “Cult Banned” about the 1991 banning of UBF from another Canadian university, the University of Manitoba for cult-like activities. The text of this report can be read at https://rsqubf.info/documents/external/silhouette.html.
In October 1990, The Manitoban, the student newspaper of the University of Manitoba, published a series of articles about the banning of UBF from that university for cult-like activities. The text of these articles can be read at the following links: 1, 2, 3, 4.
In December 1993, the UIC News, a weekly publication of the University of Illinois at Chicago, published an article headlined “UIC worries about cult recruitment; three cases this fall.” The article dealt mainly with UBF’s activities on the UIC campus. The text of this article can be read at https://rsqubf.info/documents/external/uicnews1993.html.
In September 1999, the Ilmenau University News, a publication of the Ilmenau Technical University in Germany, published a brief titled “HRK Warns of Cult.” The brief reported that the chairman of the Conference of College Rectors (HRK) in Germany sent a written warning to all German colleges to beware of the cult-like group UBF, appealing to the colleges to refuse any support or recognition to UBF and to apply their authority where necessary to restrict UBF’s campus activities. The translated text of this brief can be read at https://rsqubf.info/documents/external/hrk1999en/.
In December 2001, the Johns Hopkins News-Letter, a weekly student newspaper of the Johns Hopkins University, published an article headlined “Cult-like Evangelist Group Targeted Recent JHU Undergrads.” The article dealt solely with UBF’s aberrant teachings and practices. This article can be read at https://rsqubf.info/documents/external/jhu2001en/.
In May 2002, the Syracuse Daily Orange, the student newspaper of Syracuse University, published an article headlined “For Christ’s Sake: Cult-like Groups Pose Potential Threat To College Students.” The article names UBF alongside the International Church of Christ, the Unification Church and Lyndon LaRouche as a cult-like group that targets college students for recruitment. The text of this article can be read at https://rsqubf.info/documents/external/syracuse-do2002.html.
In Spring 2003, the Daily 49er, a student newspaper of Cal State Long Beach University, published an article headlined “Religious groups face negative views.” The article names UBF specifically among other “Christian groups” against whom students complained for seemingly overzealous recruiting. The text of this article can be read at http://www.csulb.edu/~d49er/archives/2003/spring/news/v10n110-rel.shtml.
In June 2007, the Diamondback Online, the independent daily student newspaper of the U. of Maryland, published an article headlined “Fellowship or Foe.” The article dealt with the Washington D.C. chapter of UBF and was unique in that it contained warnings about UBF from a current member of that UBF chapter. This article can currently be read at http://media.www.diamondbackonline.com/media/storage/paper873/news/2007/06/28/News/Fellowship.Or.Foe-2919217.shtml. The link to the story comments is here.
* Also of note: UBF has been been forbidden in the past to do street recruiting of new members within the Chicago campuses of Loyola University and DePaul University after UBF recruiters were arrested on these campuses in the late 1990s for the undue harassment of students.
ARTICLES IN NEWSPAPERS & JOURNALS THAT CONCERN UBF
In September 1986, UBF was banned from the campus of the University of Winnipeg in Canada for cult-like activities. The banning of UBF became front page news in the Winnipeg Free Press, the newspaper with the largest circulation in the city of Winnipeg and one of the largest and most respected newspapers in Western Canada. The text of the two Winnipeg Free Press articles published on October 25, 1986 can be read on-line: lead article, followup article.
In April 1990, the Winnipeg Sun, a daily newspaper serving the City of Winnipeg, published an article about UBF headlined “Cult personality draws people to Fellowship – Ex-Cult Member Still Feels Fear.” The article focuses on the spiritual abuse of a young woman by the Winnipeg UBF which then progressed to sexual abuse. The article also details how this victim of abuse was convinced to go to the Chicago headquarters of UBF where she was then subjected to intimidation by UBF’s leaders including Samuel Lee and Sarah Barry. The text of this article can be read at https://rsqubf.info/documents/external/winnipegsun.html
In June 2000, the Guardian Unlimited, an on-line British daily newspaper published an article headlined “Cult Following” in which UBF is mentioned alongside the Unification Church and the International Church of Christ as a cult-like group that targets college students for recruitment. The text of this article can be read at https://rsqubf.info/documents/external/guardian.html.
From 1985 to 1987, the Bonner General-Anzeiger, a daily newspaper that serves the city of Bonn, Germany, published a series of articles about cult recruitment at the University of Bonn. The translated headlines of these articles are: “Cults: Not Recognizable For Everyone” (8/28/85), “Information About Student Cults — Loss of Mental Autonomy” (12/16/86), “Loss Of Emotional And Spiritual Self-Determination Threatens The Newly Recruited Members Of Youth Cults” (12/18/86), “Trends Among Youth Offer Opportunities For Cults — Cult Expert Informs Regional School Committee” (3/12/87), and “It Often Starts With An Invitation To Tea — University Bible Fellowship Recruits Particularly Vulnerable Students.” In all these articles, UBF is prominently mentioned as a cult-like group which targets college students and teenagers. The translated text of this series of articles can be read at https://rsqubf.info/documents/external/ga198508enhtm/.
From August-October 2002, the Bonner General-Anzeiger published another series of articles, this time dealing solely with allegations of cultic activities and abuses in the Bonn chapter of UBF. The translated headlines of these articles are: “He Has A Position Of Totalitarian Power” (8/23/02), “Children Thankful For Beatings” (8/30/02), ” ‘Be Unobtrusive And Don’t Draw Negative Attention Anymore’ ” (10/8/02). The translated text of this series of articles can be read at https://rsqubf.info/documents/external/ga200208en/.
On August 24 and October 7, 2002, the Süddeutsche Zeitung, a respected national newspaper with the largest circulation in Germany, also published articles about allegations of cultic activities in the Bonn chapter of UBF. The translated headlines of these articles are: ” ‘Bible Friends’ Allegedly Abused Children — Public Prosecutor’s Office In Bonn Investigates The Leader Of The ‘University Bible Fellowship’ ” (8/24/02), “Unto Surrender — The ‘University Bible Fellowship’ Allegedly Turned Members Into Automatons” (8/24/02), and ” ‘Bible Friends’ Go Into Hiding” (10/7/02). Summaries of these articles can be read at https://rsqubf.info/documents/external/sz200208en/.
In September 2002, in its Press Service No. 101 of 09/04/2002, the German evangelical news agency IDEA (www.idea.de) published a report titled “Bonn: Investigation of ‘University Bible Fellowship.’ ” The report covered the public investigation into allegations of cultic abuse in the Bonn chapter of UBF. The report also covered the negative view of the UBF among mainstream evangelical organizations and churches in Germany. A summary of this report can be read at https://rsqubf.info/documents/external/idea200209en/.
In July 2003, the Daily Herald, a daily newspaper serving the Chicago suburbs, published an article about a controversial decision by Wheaton College to allow UBF to hold a regional conference on their campus. The article was headlined “Cult worries surround Bible group.” The text of this article can be read at https://rsqubf.info/documents/external/dailyherald.html.
In April 2007, fazjob.net, a publication of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, a daily newspaper serving Frankfurt, Germany, published an article about UBF. The currently untranslated text of this article can be read at https://rsqubf.info/documents/external/fazjob.html.
TELEVISION NEWS REPORTS ABOUT UBF
On February 27, 1994, the CBS television news affiliate in Chicago broadcast an investigative report about UBF during its prime time news broadcast. This report focused on allegations of cult-like activities in the Chicago headquarters of UBF.
On May 5, 1997, the NBC television news affiliate in Chicago also broadcast an investigative report about UBF during its prime time news broadcast. This report focused on allegations of cult-like activities in the Triton University chapter of UBF in the Chicago suburbs. The transcript of this broadcast report can be read at https://rsqubf.info/documents/external/nbc5triton1997en/.
On February 21, 2005, the CBS television news affiliate in Columbus, Ohio (WBNS) broadcast an investigative report during its primetime news broadcast about the then 3-year old Columbus UBF chapter. This report was prompted by the efforts of the concerned mother of a Columbus UBF recruit. The story and video of the broadcast are available at rickross.com.
On April 28, 2005, the Fox television news affiliate in Toledo, Ohio (WUPW) broadcast an investigative report during its primetime news broadcast about the Toledo UBF chapter. A synopsis of the story is available at the Internet Archive.
WHAT CULT WATCHDOG GROUPS & CULT RECOVERY GROUPS HAVE SAID ABOUT UBF
The Wellspring Retreat & Resource Center (wellspringretreat.org), a Christian residential treatment facility for recovering cult victims, reports that it has treated former members of UBF who showed signs of having been psychologically damaged by their time in the group. The survivor story of one of those former UBF members can be read at http://mysite.verizon.net/vzep458t/ubfinfo/wellspring2003.en.htm.
The American Family Foundation (www.csj.org) in its publication Cult Observer has characterized UBF as a cultic group.
The Apologetics Index, a comprehensive counter-cult web site, has a section dedicated to UBF.
The Rick A. Ross Institute, For the Study of Destructive Cults, Controversial Groups and Movements has a section dedicated to UBF.