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Purity culture was a twisted mess of ungrace-producing, fear-based teaching on love and relationships. It was destined to produce damaged individuals and marriages. Naturally, UBF twisted it further by adding its own brand of legalism, hyper-control and, of course, disregard for ethics

Young author, Joshua Harris, became the posterboy of purity culture with his book "I Kissed Dating Goodbye". I remember his book being passed around in UBF because it seemed to be validation for UBF's no-dating policy (no-dating-and-marry-the-one-that-God's-Servant-chooses-for-you-sight-unseen-obey-obey-obey policy). Of course, the courtship models that came out of the purity movement bore no resemblance to UBF's marriage=mission program, which produced so much impurity in the forms of abuse and control.

As he matured, Harris began to rethink his prescriptions against dating. He heard from people whose lives had been damaged by the movement and teachings that his book had helped launch. In recent years, he pretty much disavowed "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" and pulled it from circulation. He went on an apology tour of sorts. Then, his own courtship-initiated marriage dissolved, as well as his seemingly well-grounded faith; if repentance means turning your life around, a thorough repentance it has been.

An article in the aftermath of Harris' "deconstruction" begins:

"As we culturally deconstruct the dreadfully misguided marketing effort of purity culture, it’s important to recognize that isn't the truth of Christianity. As happens too often, fallible humans completely garbled the message."

16th-May-2019 05:20 pm - Trained Cynicism Toward Ethics
This is a followup to the "Adoptions of Convenience..." post. There has been ample testimony about Samuel Lee's disregard for ethical behavior over years and decades. What's really bothersome is that part of Lee's legacy is teaching disregard for ethics from the pulpit and also training people to disregard ethics as part of so-called "discipleship". For example, the following paraphrased account of a UBF-arranged international marriage is from another friend:

     At a certain point in my life, I was frustrated with the UBF life. My
     parents thought I was getting ready to split, so they used the common
     tactic of offering a marriage. And I--with no real social skills, no 
     prospects and a feeling of crushing loneliness--said yes when they 
     proposed 18-year old ________ ____ from _____. She had previously been
     arranged in her early teens to marry another guy, who rejected the 
     whole idea and left UBF soon after going to college.

     I agreed to sponsor her as my "fiancee" so she could get a visa. I met 
     her for the first time at the airport in ____ after she flew over from
     _____. I'd never spoken to her or even written to her before. As we 
     were told to, we went to get legally married in Court to get the 
     immigration process started for her; she was 18 years old. Immigration 
     law dictated that we live together for at least 2 years and provide 
     proof of this after 2 years; this was to prevent sham marriages for
     immigration purposes. My parents and UBF leaders had us live separately
     for those 2 years instead. She lived in ________. We did as we were told
     and lied to the Immigration Service that we'd been living together. We 
     never actually even touched each other until the "official" wedding 2 
     years later.

     We weren't the only couple who were told to flout immigration law like

This account of a UBF marriage process is messed up in a lot of ways, but notice the UBF leadership involving the marriage candidates in the execution of what amounts to immigration fraud. What the hell is this? This is training. "Obey, even if you must lie and break the law." "See? God blessed you when you obeyed by faith."

Again, in a reputable church, you will probably hear that scrupulously ethical behavior is part of the Church's witness to a watching world, that ethical behavior that exceeds the world's standards of ethics is God's will. But in UBF--as modeled by UBF's founders--ethics are seen as an obstacle to the fulfillment of God's will, i.e., "mission".

P.S. UBF marriage defenders have stated that "marriage by faith" helps people maintain "purity". What is pure about the above account?
First, all true. A few extra not listed and which were going on when I was a member many years ago during Lee's UBF:

1. Lee's theology and biblical interpretations are very thin. They basically consist of two repeated themes only which are shoehorned into every message and Bible study. Those themes were: 1) increasing UBF numbers (through invitations to Bible study and worship service, called "fishing"), and 2) the Great Commission of Matthew 28: 19,20. One consequence of this practice was that Sunday messages and Bible studies were the same year after year, in UBF chapters all over the world.

2. Studying theological literature on one's own was discouraged and even disallowed unless it suited Lee's own purposes. All personal testimonies which were to be shared publicly at meetings were generally supposed to closely follow, even copy Lee's own message manuscripts. Any departure from these by a member were forced to be corrected by that member until they matched Lee's own manuscript themes. Any personal or individual touches in a member's testimony were mostly self-disparagement by the member or in praise of UBF leaders.

3. Fellowship leaders who carried out the duty of Sunday message delivery were called "pastors" by all members, and even wore ministerial robes during Sunday worship service, even though non of them were ordained ministers. This was to create a false impression of being a church, which UBF is not.

4. Lee had the last word in choice of music and how the orchestra was conducted, even though he had absolutely no background in orchestral music and little knowledge of classical music although he would often brag about it as though he did.

5. Members in UBF tended not to criticize or admit the many unethical, not to mention un-Christian behaviors that were (and probably still are going on) much less tried to change them, even though many of the members were fully aware of them. If they did, they received "discipline" of one form or another to keep quiet, or in fact just left UBF as many did and hopefully will continue to do so.

6. Those who left UBF after having become aware of the unethical, un-Christian practices were unfairly and even scandalously criticized without basis. Ironically, UBF lost most of its really good people (much better than me) years ago in this way!

Is it sad that UBF became a cult, but it did. I hope anyone reading this who is a current member of UBF can have the courage and independent faith to look around with eyes open, do some honest self-examination, and get out, and find an authentic church somewhere by God's grace. You will notice a very positive difference in your Christian life if you do.
23rd-Dec-2018 01:06 pm - Post-Samuel Lee UBF
Any information on the post-Samuel Lee UBF? I heard there is no new, vibrant young leadership, and that the older founding members are fading into the background.
It's that time of year again, so below is something from a 2015 Joe S open letter to the President of UBF. These observations from a former defender of UBF jibe with the testimonies that have been spoken and written about the abusive and totalitarian behavior of UBF's co-founder. It's reported that these inconvenient details were missing from the glossy and completely revisionist history videos produced for the recent UBF international conference in Kentucky.

The excerpt is below:

When I first became involved in UBF more than 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.
10th-Aug-2018 11:45 pm - Why I Left an Evangelical Cult

In a TEDx talk, Dawn Smith speaks about growing up in an abusive "evangelical" cult and what it took to leave the only environment she'd ever known.

Favorite quote: “Even the hardest day of freedom, was better than the best day in a cult.” To this day, leaving the cult has been the best life decision I've made.

There is a current practice that amounts to adoptions of convenience (in other words, fake adoptions) in certain UBF chapters. And UBF leaders are apparently not too bothered by this and may even be encouraging it.

The following paraphrased conversation was heard by a friend around December 2017:

    Senior UBF member 1:

       Second generation missionary AA came to Chicago this summer and 
       shared a gracious testimony. AA said that Missionary KK and HH 
       had legally adopted her and brought her from Korea. We were so 

    UBF member:

       Yeah, Missionary KK and HH legally adopted AA when she was of 
       college age to help her come to the United States for college 
       study. AA's parents (both UBF members) are still alive and 
       well in Korea.

    (Note: "UBF member" is just mentioning this as common knowledge in
           the UBF chapter that KK and HH run. "UBF member" is NOT
           reporting this in order to report possible malfeasance.)
    Senior UBF member  1:

       Wait a minute. AA's parents are still alive in Korea?

    UBF member:

       Yeah. AA's parents agreed to the adoption so AA could come to
       study in the US. AA was having trouble getting into college in
       Korea. Missionary KK and HH have helped more than one UBF child 
       by adopting them for this purpose (schooling in the US). Some 
       have been younger than college age.

    Senior UBF member 1:

       (showing a surprisingly vital BS detector in spite of decades 
       spent in UBF) That's not a real adoption. That seems like a fake
       adoption (implying that this is all strange and unethical).

    Senior UBF member 2:

       (to Senior UBF member 1) That's just your opinion.

    (Crosstalk ensues, in which Senior UBF member 2 repeats, "That's 
     just your opinion.")

These adoptions of convenience for immigration purposes have been going on for years in this UBF chapter run by KK and HH, who have strong ties to Chang (Bonn) and Kim (Ukraine). KK and HH have been leaders in good standing in UBF for decades. It's certain that UBF HQ in Chicago has been aware of this practice; they even invited AA to give a testimony at a Chicago UBF meeting, knowing that AA is one of these "adoptees". And AA blithely mentioned the "adoption" in the testimony because to AA, KK and HH were so "sacrificial" in adopting her, as members of that chapter seem to be in the habit of repeating. Of course, there's no mention of the adoption tax credit.

As the conversation above indicates, there's a difference of opinion among UBF leaders whether this practice of fake adoptions is unethical or "sacrificial". Got that? Fake adoptions for the sake of immigration can be seen as "sacrificial" in UBF. In what mainline church or denomination can you find people making excuses for blatantly unethical behavior like this? Remember that international marriages in UBF have always been arranged with the ulterior motive of easing the immigration of UBF Koreans into "mission fields". (*) Why not extend that to adoptions of convenience? It's consistent with the historical standards of ethics in UBF.

In a reputable church, you will probably hear that scrupulously ethical behavior is part of the Church's witness to a watching world, that ethical behavior that exceeds the world's standards of ethics is God's will. But in UBF--as modeled by UBF's founders--ethics are seen as an obstacle to the fulfillment of God's will, i.e., "mission".

(*) And it is reported that immigration laws regarding foreign spouse sponsorships have often been ignored in UBF.
4th-May-2018 07:05 pm - You're not so smart

The Podcast "You Are Not So Smart", particularly the episode I linked to, is a great resource for those trying to understand why UBF members defend their cult (tribe) at all costs, defying all the evidence and explanations we dropouts have published over the years showing how and why it's clearly a cult and their leaders are abusing and fooling them. And now we're seeing similar stubborn rejection of facts and fact-based, rational decision-making in the world at large, which is entering a new age of nationalism and hate induced by tribalism. Staying part of their tribe seems to be more important to people than the pursuit of truth. Hard for me to learn that maybe all the effort we made to discuss and argue and explain and reveal critical information was in vain, because that's not what makes people change their view. 

On this Victims of Communism Day 2018, let me point something out to people--especially Christians--who are "praying for peace in Korea".  There already is peace in Korea, and there has been peace for decades since the war ended at the cost of so many American lives. Despite sabre rattling, threats, propaganda, arms build-ups and a carefully guarded border, there has been a lasting peace. No, what these sincerely-praying Christians want when they pray for "peace" is not peace, but unification. They have the same mindset as Christians who look at criticism of massively abusive "evangelical" cults and feel sadness at the "lack of unity in the body in Christ". Not so much sadness about the victims of the cults, but sorrow about the lack of unity.

There can be no "peace" (unification) with a regime like North Korea. Unification with North Korea, like unity between a massively abusive evangelical cult and its vicitms, requires monstrous compromises. Sadly, too many Christians think these monstrous compromises are worth it. I don't know what the outcome of the current process in Korea will be, but the only just outcome is this: rescue and consequences.
A 2013 article in Christianity Today lays the groundwork:

"Journalism websites are abuzz today with news that IAC/InterActiveCorp sold the once-iconic Newsweek title to IBT Media, publisher of the website International Business Times. Most media coverage focuses on the history of the magazine ...
But few sites are noting that IBT has significant ties to David Jang, the Korean pastor hailed by some of his followers as a messianic figure, a 'Second Coming Christ.'"

Skip to 2018, in which Newsweek HQ is raided by the NYC district attorney after months of investigation into financial irregularities, including cash laundering. Financial irregularities with a Korean cult involved? You don't say.

A recent article reveals that the ones currently in charge of the rapidly-sinking ship called Newsweek are current members of the cult.
It's been said before: Korea has a cult problem. It's not that other countries/cultures don't give birth to cults. But Korea seems to do cults like nobody else. Korean cults combine religious talk with deception, intimidation, utter disregard for ethics, a keen interest in busine$$ and political power. See "South Korea: A cult history". The Cult of the Kims in North Korea hasn't hung on for this long just because they have the guns. Part of what keeps them in power is the culture--not communist culture, but Korean culture.

A culture that leads to a proliferation of "powerful" cults is also part of why you had a cult puppet elected President and then impeached in South Korea recently. It turned out a cult leader's daughter was vetting the President's speeches and even policy documents, and the extent of this influence was under-reported in the West and also boldly lied about by the presidential thrall. It's so reminiscent of "message training". From "The Irrational Downfall of Park Geun-hye":

Although Park's relationship with the Choi family briefly became an issue during her two presidential runs, she dismissed them as baseless rumors, claiming that neither Choi Tae-min nor Choi Soon-sil was involved in her works as a politician.
As it turned out, Choi Soon-sil owned Park Geun-hye just as much as her father did. Peddling the presidential influence, Choi extorted tens of millions of dollars from Korea's largest corporations. When they found a small and profitable company, Choi's cronies would straight-up steal it, threatening the owner of the company with the company's destruction and personal harm. More importantly, Choi effectively controlled the presidential power. Every day, Choi would receive a huge stack of policy briefs from the presidential residence to discuss with her inner circle--an illustrious group that included Choi's gigolo (no, really) and a K-pop music video director (I'm serious.) Choi would receive ultra-confidential information detailing secret meetings between South and North Korean military authorities. Choi would receive in advance the budget proposal of more than $150 million for the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, and distributed them to her friends' projects. Choi went around saying North Korea would collapse by 2017 according to the spirits that spoke to her, and the Park Geun-hye administration may have set its North Korea policy based on this claim.
For years, Park's aides complained about the mysterious off-line person to whom the president would send her draft speeches--when the drafts returned, the professionally written speeches were turned into gibberish. We now know that one of Choi Soon-sil's favorite activities was to give comments on the presidential speeches. Even the famous Dresden speech, in which Park Geun-hye outlined her administration's North Korea policy, had a number of markups from Choi Soon-sil. The aides who dug too deep into the relationship between Park and Choi were dismissed and replaced with those close to Choi, to a point that Choi's personal trainer became a presidential aide. No, really. I wish I were joking.

Read the whole thing, because as is always the case with cults, it gets worse.
28th-Nov-2016 08:49 am - "Where's the Omelet?"
Another cult leader is recently dead. George Will had this to say:

"With the end of Fidel Castro's nasty life Friday, we can hope, if not reasonably expect, to have seen the last of charismatic totalitarians worshiped by political pilgrims from open societies. ... During the 1930s, there were many apologists for Joseph Stalin's brutalities, which he committed in the name of building a workers' paradise fit for an improved humanity. The apologists complacently said, 'You can't make an omelet without breaking eggs.' To which George Orwell acidly replied: 'Where's the omelet?'"

The "eggs and omelets" argument made by apologists for marxist totalitarianism is, of course, the same "ends justify the means" mentality of cults and their apologists. "We're sorry some people got 'hurt', but God used us to 'pioneer all nations'". LOL.

Yet, in spite of the numerous well-documented crimes of these absolute dictators, both political and religious, there are always the useful idiots who just can't call an absolute dictator ... an absolute dictator.

BTW, here's my petition to UBF, and the only petition suitable for an organization that consistently exiles its most conscientious members (like Castro's Cuba): GFY.
The author at https://libertyforcaptives.com/2012/11/01/against-all-reason-why-i-failed-to-leave-my-cult details why he failed for so long to leave his cult. Anyone looking from the outside in would have seen an obvious cult. But this well-educated, intelligent person could not acknowledge the obvious cult signs. It's a familiar story. The passages that struck me most are the following:

People who remain in cults, as I did, experience doubts just like non cult-members do. The difference is that cult members put up walls against the unbearable logic of these doubts. Against all reason they persist in their commitment. They have so totally invested in the system—which they believe meets their three cosmic needs of assurance of salvation (security), love, and significance—that they will ignore such doubts or explain them away in order to remain consistent with their previous commitment.

As Cialdini alludes, it is not always the act of hard-thinking that discourages cult members from thinking critically about their group, but rather the consequences of such thinking. To admit that one’s group is a cult carries serious consequences: it means that you have been deceived, that you have judged others wrongly, that you have treated disagreeing family members disgracefully, and that you have misunderstood the character of God.

A former UBF member also explained this as the "sunk costs" problem.

17th-May-2016 09:25 am - Little Stream
(Posting this poem for a friend)

Little Stream
(alternate titles: “Weapons of Righteousness”,  “Yet Another Conference”)

Little stream

I’m thirsty

So bright

So clear

So refreshing, I’ll follow you

Little stream

I’m thirsty

Still bright

Less clear

I’m refreshed when I drink more

Little stream

I’m thirsty

Less bright

Not clear

All other streams are left behind

Little stream

I’m thirsty

Not bright

Not clear

Where have you led me?

Little stream

I’m thirsty

Not bright

Not clear

So refreshed, so thirsty.

5th-Jan-2016 04:59 pm - PragerU: Forgiveness
Cult defenders will try to convince you that forgiveness is a simple concept, and they will probably try to couch their definition of forgiveness in Christianese. Their motives for pushing a naive, simplistic view of forgiveness are any of the following: excuse abusive behavior, erase history, do damage control, exert more control.

In reality, human forgiveness is a very complex concept. Here is a video that expresses the complexity of forgiveness.

Folie à deux - French for "a madness shared by two", shared psychosis, or "the theatric of two"

This syndrome is most commonly diagnosed when the two or more individuals concerned live in proximity and may be socially or physically isolated and have little interaction with other people.

Folie imposée is where a dominant person (known as the 'primary', 'inducer' or 'principal') initially forms a delusional belief during a psychotic episode and imposes it on another person or persons (known as the 'secondary', 'acceptor' or 'associate') with the assumption that the secondary person might not have become deluded if left to his or her own devices

UBF chapters created the perfect environment for this to happen.  On top of this, my shepard used to have paranoid dilutions about the chapter director and the other members, of which he tried to convince me.  Our 1:1's turned more into conditioning sessions to turn me into a more adherent disciple of his, not of Jesus.
See article at http://www.680news.com/2014/10/21/evangelist-ernest-angley-encouraged-vasectomies-abortion-among-followers-newspaper-reports/.

It was "for mission," of course. Angley only "suggested" vasectomies, of course. Using followers to support a private business ("business mission" anyone?) is just "tentmaking!"
"There's something missing from our lives; something that has been stolen..."

That's from a trailer from an upcoming film adaptation of "The Giver":

What's missing from your lives, members of cults and totalist groups? Here's a clue from the same trailer:

"When people have the freedom to choose, they choose wrong." (To me, that's UBF in a nutshell.)

You should see this film.

19th-Jun-2014 10:54 am - Not Overbearing, but "Complex"
Some years ago, there was this "student leader" who had been at Wheaton College and other places, who made the news because of the abuse he dished out to young Christian recruits in the name of "mission training". His name was Feroze Golwalla. Here are some article links that still exist and some excerpts from those articles that describe some of the abuses he dished out:
"Andreson says that Golwalla hit her, ordered her to screw a twisted clothes hanger into her face, and convinced her to lick a filthy bathroom floor. Wolfe describes Golwalla as beating and sexually assaulting his male followers. Both Andreson and Wolfe say Golwalla ordered them to assault other group members in the name of spiritual purification."

"He had some very good reasons for what he did — not good reasons, but convincing reasons," says Andrew, another former member of Tariq’s group. "He’d say, ‘Well, if we were going to Canada or Mexico or something, maybe we’d get by with a little bit of prayer, a little bit of discipline or training, but this is Pakistan. We’ve got to have Olympic training.’ That was how we justified what was happening."

"Benjamin Wolfe was beaten so badly that blood poured from his ears when his eardrums were ruptured from Golwalla's open-handed smacks, his brother said."

"You beat people for training. Do you remember a big traffic jam in January of 1973 due to a severe snowstorm? Shepherds Nam-Kyun Lee, Isaac Koh, Jonah Kim, and Matthew Sohn were late for the leader meeting on that day. You ordered them to hit each other 10 times. Some of them fainted and some were hospitalized because of their wounded ears. According to the testimony of Moses Kim, you locked Dong-Jin Park in your house and made him sit naked in ice water for five hours. You ordered missionary candidate Ki-Hwang Yoo to be your personal driver. When he didn’t obey you, you expelled him to Jejoo Island. You also ordered shepherd Nam-Kyun Lee to give Ki-Hwang Yoo only one meal per day at Jejoo Island and beat him 100 times everyday. He finally got pneumonia due to ill nutrition and horror. You made shepherd Man-Suk Chang take his two toenails out. You beat National Medical Center doctor, Hyung-Sik Sunwoo, at Chongno chapter before his brothers and sisters. You ordered shepherd Man-Suk Chang to beat Ki-Cho Kim at the CNF Mission Report in September of 1975. He got bruises in his face and ears. After this, he left..."

Oops! That last excerpt was from a letter to another "mission-minded" abuser, written to him by young, intellectual Korean recruits.

How would the victims of Feroze Golwalla feel if you went up to them and told them that Golwalla wasn't overbearing, not overbearing at all? And that he was just "complex". And that he "had his reasons".

If you happened upon a supposed Christian ministry, ministry leader or web site that tells you that a monster like Feroze Golwalla wasn't overbearing, that he was a "complex" individual with strong beliefs that motivated him to do "sometimes" abusive things, what would you do? I know what I would do.
8th-Jan-2014 12:46 pm - Dennis Rodman and Cult Apologism
Dennis Rodman (of all people) is now a North Korea apologist. His path to North Korea apologist is similar to the path taken by many cult apologists (also applies to UBF apologists):

1) He wants to keep an "open mind" toward a known cult leader/cult system.

2) He believes there are always "two sides to every story" (See point 1). The cult leader/system that wants to attract apologists also always insists that there are "two sides to every story".

3) He meets the cult leaders and finds that they are friendly and "cool". They seem nothing like the villains they are portrayed to be. They give him a strictly-controlled "guided tour" filled with flowers, clean houses, strange but good food, and the always-smiling faces.

4) He strikes up a friendship with the cult leaders. When confronted with negative facts about the cult, he brings up this friendship over and over. He's not hanging out with the cult leaders to either endorse or judge them. They are just his "friends". He says this over and over.

5) Former cult members/victims try to contact him to tell him that he is being used and that he has been manipulated by the cult leaders. He states emphatically that he is a friend of the cult leaders (See point 4), implicitly rejecting the harrowing testimonies of any who are not the friends of his new "friends". The more he is pressed to research the dark side of the cult that he has glossed over, the more he "doubles down".

6) His indoctrination now complete, he now advances to active apologism. "The cult isn't so bad. You guys are too negative. Look at all the positive stuff they're doing."
10th-Oct-2013 11:41 am - The Power of the Powerless
The following are some excerpts from "The Power of the Powerless" by Vaclav Havel. Emphases are mine. The purpose here is to highlight the shared experiences of people who have lived in totalitarian and "post-totalitarian" systems, including cults and cult-like groups.

"In 1974, when I was employed in a brewery, my immediate superior was a certain S, a person well versed in the art of making beer. He was proud of his profession and he wanted our brewery to brew good beer. He spent almost all his time at work, continually thinking up improvements, and he frequently made the rest of us feel uncomfortable because he assumed that we loved brewing as much as he did. In the midst of the slovenly indifference to work that socialism encourages, a more constructive worker would be difficult to imagine.

"The brewery itself was managed by people who understood their work less and were less fond of it, but who were politically more influential. They were bringing the brewery to ruin and not only did they fail to react to any of S's suggestions, but they actually became increasingly hostile toward him and tried in every way to thwart his efforts to do a good job. Eventually the situation became so bad that S felt compelled to write a lengthy letter to the manager's superior, in which he attempted to analyze the brewery's difficulties. He explained why it was the worst in the district and pointed to those responsible.

"His voice might have been heard. The manager, who was politically powerful but otherwise ignorant of beer, a man who loathed workers and was given to intrigue, might have been replaced and conditions in the brewery might have been improved on the basis of S's suggestions. Had this happened, it would have been a perfect example of small-scale work in action. Unfortunately, the precise opposite occurred: the manager of the brewery, who was a member of the Communist Party's district committee, had friends in higher places and he saw to it that the situation was resolved in his favor. S's analysis was described as a "defamatory document" and S himself was labeled a "political saboteur." He was thrown out of the brewery and shifted to another one where he was given a job requiring no skill. Here the notion of small-scale work had come up against the wall of the post-totalitarian system. By speaking the truth, S had stepped out of line, broken the rules, cast himself out, and he ended up as a sub-citizen, stigmatized as an enemy. He could now say anything he wanted, but he could never, as a matter of principle, expect to be heard. He had become the "dissident" of the Eastern Bohemian Brewery.

"I think this is a model case which, from another point of view, illustrates what I have already said in the preceding section: you do not become a "dissident" just because you decide one day to take up this most unusual career. You are thrown into it by your personal sense of responsibility, combined with a complex set of external circumstances. You are cast out of the existing structures and placed in a position of conflict with them. It begins as an attempt to do your work well, and ends with being branded an enemy of society. This is why our situation is not comparable to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, when the Czech nation, in the worst period of Bachs absolutism, had only one real "dissident," Karel Havlíček , who was imprisoned in Brixen. Today, if we are not to be snobbish about it, we must admit that "dissidents" can be found on every street corner."
Apparently, Sun Myung Moon died in August of last year. Finally. At the age of 92. In the US, Moon and "the Moonies" of the Unification Church (UC) were mostly seen as a running joke. But, actually, it isn't that funny. For most of his unfortunately long life, Moon led a church that probably abused millions of followers. Some of these UC abuses had unsurprising counterparts in UBF.

I want to highlight past posts on the UC and similarities to UBF.

I also want to not so much ask, but lament, "Why do they get away with it?" Why was Moon allowed to die filthy rich, in relative comfort, leaving these ill-gained filthy riches to his children?

I'll be adding more to this post.
(This is related to a previous post.)

Jerry Sandusky was found guilty yesterday on 45 counts. And no one was surprised. Yet, if I may play devil's advocate for a moment, where was the video- or audio-taped evidence of him sexually abusing those 10 boys over a 15 year span? All the prosecution had was the word of witnesses, those who had been directly abused by Sandusky and those who claimed to have witnessed abuse by Sandusky. The defense brought witnesses who vouched for Sandusky's character and testified how he was a "hero" in the community, how he had helped hundreds (if not thousands) of vulnerable and underprivileged boys. Those who loved and admired Sandusky over the years would probably greatly outnumber those who accused him of these heinous crimes. Yet, Sandusky was found guilty on 45 of 51 counts. Why? Because the testimony of multiple abusees and witnesses is the clear evidence of his crimes. This standard of evidence isn't just a biblical thing (Deut. 19:15-19). Any rational system of justice has to operate on this standard: The charges are believable and serious (sexual abuse), there are multiple witnesses (8 of the 10 abusees testified against Sandusky), the witnesses are credible, there is no evidence of a conspiracy against the accused. The system depends on the jury being rational enough to know that these many victims/witnesses would not just make up these stories when it is painful for them to come forward with their accounts of abuse.

In past arguments with UBF defenders about the many abuses of Samuel Lee, I've run into this exasperating argument that there is no video or audio of Lee's abusing people, and also arguments like "I wasn't there, so I don't know" or "Well, he helped thousands, didn't he?" And this is in spite of witnesses to his abuses that go back as far as 1976. In an abusive system, a rational system of justice doesn't exist. In an abusive system, a rational standard of evidence based on the testimony of two or more witnesses is tossed aside, and abusive leaders are allowed to lead and abuse for years with no consequences.
I just came across a March 15 story at mysuburbanlife.com that is related to a post from January 29. Some familiar themes in there: Neighbors not too fond of UBF, UBF playing fast and loose with local laws & ordinances, UBF not able to shake its cult or cult-like reputation, and more.
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