Bonn: Investigation of “University Bible Fellowship”

The evangelical news agency “idea” reported about this investigation in its Press Service No. 101 of 09/04/2002.

According to the report, the investigation by the Bonn Public Prosecutor’s Department is targeting the leader of the “University Bible Fellowship” (UBF) in Bonn, the Korean Peter Chang who is under suspicion of having done bodily harm. Some accusations against Chang are listed, such as his method of breaking the will of children of members by beatings with a stick and blows to the head with his knuckles, and also his demand that the UBF members, for whom he claims to be the “servant of God,” love him more than their marriage partners. It is assumed that there are few charges against Chang since he threatens any member who criticizes his leadership, that he will arrange for a divorce from the critic’s partner [Chang arranged for many German members to marry Korean women who are dependent on him]. The warning about UBF by the Conference of College Rectors is also mentioned. According to this warning, UBF members prefer to recruit particularly unstable persons such as students during university examination periods. The members are expected to be fully devoted to the group, which could lead to neglect of their studies and other social contacts, as well as a readiness to transfer property, submit to the compulsory giving of monthly offerings, or accept an arranged marriage partner previously unknown to them. According to the report, such questionable practices have not only been reported by former members of Bonn UBF but were also known in a similar form in other UBF groups.

Because of this, other Christian organizations have already disassociated from UBF. As their public speaker Ute Dumke from the central office stated, the Student Mission in Germany (SMD) refuses any cooperation with UBF groups. According to her, sharing the common goal to lead people to believe in Jesus Christ is made impossible by UBF authoritarian group structures. The SMD also does not want to share common activities with local UBF reform movements which support a democratic reform within UBF because this could be misunderstood as an endorsement of the UBF ministry as a whole. According to the report, the ministry of “Campus Crusade for Christ” with its head office in Gießen does not have any common events with the UBF either. The German Evangelical Alliance (EAD) does not count the UBF as one of its associated organizations [although this impression is still given on the homepage of Cologne UBF in the year 2003]. Some UBF groups cooperate with local evangelical associations though, for example in Dortmund [where the UBF chapter had joined the reform movement]. In the opinion of Reinhard Hempelmann, the head of the Protestant Center investigating religious movements and cults, the understanding of faith in the UBF tends to be cultic. He says that the demand for absolute obedience to human authorities in UBF can hardly be justified with the Bible and does not correspond to the understanding of Christian liberty after the Reformation.

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