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  • Writer's pictureEric Navas

Bonn UBF: To be like a dumb sheep

Sectarian at the University

"To be like a dumb sheep"

When the new semester begins, the human catchers come: Sectarian communities like the "University Bible Fellowship" or the "International Church of Christ" want to proselytize German universities. Most of them have their freshers in mind.

11.04.2007, by HENDRIK STEINKUHL

The trap lures with great promises: with lots of attention, with volleyball and stimulating talks with like-minded people. Experts speak of "Love Bombing". The trap is called sect. Once it is snapped, you find yourself in a strict system that has its own rules and vocabulary that you need to learn. For volleyball and stimulating discussions, suddenly there is no time left.

Thomas K. (name changed) studied Religious Studies in the third semester when he fell into the trap. Two Koreans spoke to him in his Bonn dorm: Whether he would like to study the Bible with others? He had. "At that time, I tried everything possible," says K. today, 20 years later. For the next ten years he lived for the "University Bible Fellowship" (UBF), a Christian-fundamentalist sect. "That was ten years on the other side of the earth."

The UBF was founded in 1961 in South Korea and began to spread its teaching at German universities. Even today, it advertises primarily on campus - although it was banned by the German University Rectors' Conference eight years ago. Recently, the UBF also advertised more intensively among high school students. It is typical for a sect that it always binds new members in the same way. The UBF does this with the so-called shepherd-sheep principle: the shepherd goes to university and convinces a student (the sheep) of studying the Bible together. The shepherd is now the teacher, role model and confessor for the new member. Once a week, both students study the bible according to the shepherd's instructions, and the sheep regularly has to give up the "sogam" in front of his shepherd: "The individual here expresses what the bible text means to him, and makes a confession of what he did not owe to God, "it says in Heide-Marie Cammans' manual" sects - the new savior? "After a few months, the Bible study from the sheep itself is to make a shepherd who in turn missionary of the university. Dropouts describe the principle in such a way: "You must be like a dumb sheep and follow blindly." Especially at the beginning of the winter semester, the sect sends her shepherds to proselytize the often disoriented high school graduates.

To be an easy victim

"Anyone who has just escaped the educational cheese-bell school can sometimes be an easy victim," says Rev. Andrew Schäfer. Regardless of how the individual copes with it: The beginning of the study represents a potential life crisis. Schäfer is a cult representative of the Protestant Church in the Rhineland. Since the UBF is active in the Cologne-Bonn area in particular, he knows her particularly well. Above all, he considers the sect to be dangerous because it addresses the needs of the individual during missionary work. "The Jehovah's Witnesses have the same punched phrases everywhere, the UBF is much more skilful."

Dropout K. describes it like this: "The UBF people have an eloquent answer to everything. If you argue with them, you are always on the losing end as a weekend Christian. "When K. was initially reluctant to attend the service, his shepherd quoted from the Bible," Those who study God's Word must also attend worship . "K. says," Because I also studied religious studies, I let myself be convinced. "


For the first service he took his parents with him. If something was wrong with the UBF, they would tell him, he thought. But his parents could not see anything wrong with what they had just seen, Thomas K. rejected his last concerns. The fact that parents calm down when they know their fledged child in a community where Bible texts are read is not uncommon; What the spiritual community still demands of their child - that is what many parents no longer ask. In Cammans' sect manual, a mother describes her reaction when her son, without even mentioning the name of the main organization, spoke for the first time of the UBF: "He reported on this' international student church 'and that it belongs to the Evangelical Alliance. And here's the point where I start to be almost ashamed! Because 'international' fit into our open-minded worldview anyway, and in the 'Evangelical Alliance' I thought calmly of 'harmless' and 'well cared for', more 'evangelical' than having an 'alliance' in my ear. "

Shepherd, Bible student and fiancé in prayer

In fact, the UBF is anything but harmless: the sect permeates the lives of its members, encouraging them to donate money and to marry partners whom the local Head of Mission selects for them. Even Thomas K. was to marry a woman from the sect after ten years, but was suddenly found to be no longer worthy. Instead he should go to Uganda as a missionary. When K. heard about it, he got out. The sect was still trying to bring him back: "Once my shepherd, my Bible student and my fiancée stood at the front door and began to pray that I should find the right way back. That was very violent! "Today K. works as a lawyer in Bonn. "The study of the religious sciences seemed to me increasingly meaningless." For organized religiosity, no matter in what form, he can no longer be enthusiastic today.

Christoph Rohde, political scientist from Munich, still suffers from being a member of a sect. "I ruined my academic career as a supreme sectarian and only in 2003 realized what disaster I was getting." Rohde had been a member of the sect "Boston Movement" since 1992, which today appears as the "International Church of Christ". Like the UBF, "Boston Movement" is also reckoned among the sects that shape word fundamentalism, meaning that their members are more intellectual than emotional through rigorous Bible study. While the contents are complex, dropouts refer to the hierarchies and processes as simple and clearly structured. "The Boston Movement was especially appealing to scientists who sometimes look for a simple cause and effect principle in all walks of life." says Christoph Rohde. For the UBF apparently similar applies: Most members of his former sect were natural scientists, says Thomas K.

Today he advises dropouts

Rohde was also recruited at the beginning of his studies: In Munich on the platform, a man asked him if he did not even want to join the Bible study. After an apprenticeship as an industrial clerk, Rohde went to Munich to study, but found no one there, with whom he could talk about religion and world view. Rohde was a Catholic and says that the superficial faith of many Christians had seriously disappointed him as a young man and made him search for something deeper. Rohde fell for the "Love Bombing" in, he joined the sect, studied her apprenticeship, somehow managed his MA, but let the graduation grind. He made the worldview of "Boston Movement" his own and today, in shame, talks about how he tried to convert homosexuals with words from the Bible. In 2003 Rohde got out. A member's newsletter had previously uncovered the financial secrets of the American sect leadership and made Boston Movement collapse. In addition to his work as a scientist, Rohde trained as a pastor. Today he advises sect-dropouts.

Andrew Schäfer, pastor and sect commissioner:

"A first stop can be the student pastor"

How do you recognize sectarians on campus?

Since there are many groups, who represent very different life forms, this is not easy. Basically, however, all seminar offers that promise to be able to handle all problems and answer all questions are dubious.

Who should you contact if you are a cult member and want to get out?

A first port of call may be the student pastor. Then there are many, especially ecclesiastical sect consultations, such as the Protestant Central Office for Weltanschauungsfragen in Berlin (Telephone: 030/283950) or our Section sectarian and ideological questions in Dusseldorf (0211/3610252). Consulting is our main focus, also outside of the Rhineland.

How can parents recognize that their child is in a sect?

The child spends more and more time in a group that is difficult to get a picture of. It breaks old relationships and friendships and keeps certain rules rigid.

How should parents react?

First: do not panic. Then they should get information and seek advice from cult experts. It is important not to break the contact with the child. Parents should be interested in looking for and listening to the conversation, not talking about the group in disparage, even questioning themselves. You should ask the child for his motivation, do not blame him and wait until he develops his first doubts.


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