UBFism is an authoritarianism-based new religion invented by Chang-Woo (Samuel) Lee and Sarah Barry in 1961. It is practiced exclusively by University Bible Fellowship. The religion has not been comprehensively documented or examined objectively except for here on this new Wiki. The religion has been passed on by oral tradition until now. This new religion is a sort of hyper evangelicalism mixed with Buddhist and Confucian values, and bound by an ideology of sacrifice. UBFism is a shepherding system, where each member, called a sheep, has an appointed lifelong moral supervisor, called a shepherd. This shepherd has control over the student's life and seeks to approve both large and small decisions by the student. I have identified nine components of this religious system.
- UBF Doctrine -- "hyper evangelical Christianized Confucianism"
- UBF often appears to be a right-wing Evangelical Christian missionary sending organization from Korea, if you look at it from the outside only. This is simply a layer of holy paint covering a highly addictive and highly damaging new religion. Under the evangelical holy paint, you will discover extreme hyper-devotion to UBFism and its leaders which exceeds reason. You will also discover a corrupted Confucian value system. Confucius had much wisdom for the world, but UBF has combined these Eastern religious values with extreme Old Testament based Christian ideas to create a toxic religion that has a sweet, addictive taste.
- UBF Dogma -- "kingdom of priests and holy nation" (KOPAHN)
- Dogma is a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true. UBF declares several principles as being unchangeable. Obedience training often ensues after a sheep or shepherd questions these dogmatic statements. I summarize the UBF dogma as "KOPAHN". They believe the whole of the Bible is contained in this idea that God is forming a new kingdom and a new nation, and that UBF is the sole agent of this new kingdom. They often parade world flags at their conferences. They claim their special UBF shepherd training is the best world-class training anyone can receive.
- UBF Insider Language -- "sheep-talk"
- Any visitor to UBF quickly notices an odd language. Words like "shepherd", "sheep" and "Abraham of Faith" end up being incorporated into young student's vocabulary. In recent years, UBF leaders have tried to adopt more typical Christian words like "pastor" and "elders". But even these new words cannot change the "sheep-talk" which is deeply embedded in most members' minds. UBF also likes to invent new acronyms, like "SBC" or "HNW" or "CME". This odd vocabulary creates a feeling of being "on the inside" and giving one the sense that he or she has access to privileged information. To understand UBF people, you need to understand their insider language.
- UBF Lifestyle -- "worldly monasticism"
- UBF people have committed atrocious sins, such as pressuring young women to get abortions for the glory of God. On the surface however, most UBF people look spotless. They are squeaky clean and live a monk-like lifestyle. Some longtime leaders have a very rich life, but their riches are typically hidden so they can create a facade of a poor, sacrificial life. UBF teaches something called "self-supporting ministry". They encourage members to live in two worlds--to give up much time, money and possessions like a monk and at the same time, get a good-paying job and excel in their worldly endeavors. All this is kept in check by loyalty. If you are loyal to UBFism and its leaders, and if you present a "humble" appearance, you can earn much honor and respect in UBF circles.
- UBF Persuasion -- "anointed sacrificialism"
- How does UBF persuade young adults to join their cause? Why are some students persuaded to devote their lives to UBFism for 5 or 10 or even 20 years? The root of such persuasion is in what I call anointed sacrificialism. They persuade people to feel "anointed" by God--specially appointed for the purpose of being campus shepherds. UBFism often appeals to students who are at a low point in their lives. UBFism gives them a purpose, and that purpose appears noble and pure at first. In the end, students almost always find out that the noble UBF purpose is nothing more than preserving the UBF system. In the end, UBF people care little for actually sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. They care far more about persuading people to join them and live the UBF lifestyle.
- UBF Shepherd Training Model -- "hamster wheel"
- The training model in UBF is passed on verbally, for the most part. There are some actual training documents, but these are few and far between. The documentation that does exist confirms the idea of a hamster wheel training model. In other words, the UBF training has no end point. Once you reach a certain level, you just start all over again, being re-birthed again and again. Because of this, most UBF members have a difficult time maturing into adulthood. They may be 60 years old, but have the social interaction skills of a teenager. They often have a frozen, age-regressed self stuck in time--the time they first began UBFism in their college years.
- UBF Spiritual Heritage -- "Lee-ism"
- Chang Woo Lee died in 2002, but leaves an undeniable mark on UBFism. Some call this mark "lee-UBF" or "Lee-ism". The spiritual heritage left by Lee has become a new religion at the heart of UBF. Sometimes there is a two-headed nature of UBF chapters, where some chapters stick closely to Lee's 8 or 12 slogans (sometimes the 12 slogans are combined to 8 slogans). Other chapters will stray from Lee's slogans but are still steeped in the other parts of UBFism. These slogans are often abused and new definitions are made up on the fly because concrete definitions, as of 2016, are still not documented and explained.
- UBF Strategy -- "Three Kingdoms"
- Anyone brave enough to interact with UBF will need to understand the UBF strategy. This took me a long time to figure out. The closest strategy I can find is in the Chinese folklore tale of the Three Kingdoms. I often heard senior UBF Koreans speak highly of this folklore. I once heard Chang Woo Lee share his admiration of these stories. The strategies in Three Kingdoms is remarkably similar to what I personally experienced in my interactions at UBF.
- UBF Value System -- "Barry-ism"
- The other co-founder of UBF, Sarah Barry, leaves an unmistakable mark on UBF as well. She is often the other side of the two-headed nature of UBF. In 2011, UBF Korea seemed to take steps to write Barry out of their history, claiming in their celebration material that Chang Woo Lee is the sole founder of UBF. Still Sarah's influence and persuasion is massive in UBF circles. I spent many hours interacting with Sarah Barry. If there is anything Christian at UBF, I attribute it to her influence. Her values however are deeply flawed and deserve critical analysis.