The “Süddeutsche Zeitung,” a prestigious nationwide newspaper with the largest print run in Germany, reported in its 8/24/2002 printed edition about the accusations against Bonn UBF under the headline:
“Bible friends allegedly abused children – public prosecution office in Bonn investigates the leader of the ‘University Bible Fellowship.’“
It is a pity that Bonn UBF has in this way become such a disgrace to all true “Bible friends.” (Due to a lack of a suitable word in the German language, the word “fellowship” in “University Bible Fellowship” is translated as “friendship,” therefore UBF in Germany is often called simply the “Bible friends.”)
According to the report, UBF became the target of the Bonn public prosecution office. The report states that under the office number 50 JS 1263/ 2001, charges had been pending against the leader of the Bonn UBF chapter, Peter Chang, since October of last year on various accounts of bodily harm and physical abuse. The spokeswoman of the criminal prosecution service, Monika Ziegenberg, told the newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung that the accused is under suspicion of having abused children and that further investigations are considering the question whether the education and care of children was neglected in Bonn UBF under Chang’s leadership. The public prosecution office is reportedly “strongly determined” to shed more light on the hidden practices of Bonn UBF.
According to the article, the cult commissioner of the Protestant Church in Rhineland, Andrew Schäfer, has also suspected for a long time that UBF members are massively pressured and manipulated.
The newspaper also reports that the Bonn youth office has confirmed that the presumed neglect of basic childcare by Bonn UBF members is known to them. The insufficient care and neglect of newborns and children there has already been the subject of investigations and interventions.
The Bonn commissioner of the synod reported that numerous relatives of UBF members consulted him and reported “changes of personality” in those people.
Also, the particularly self-glorifying and authoritarian appearance of the Bonn UBF leader, Peter Chang, is mentioned, and some examples of his arbitrary way of ruling over the members are mentioned, and these are also documented in some testimonies on the Info Pages, particularly the beatings of little children and adults.
According to the article, alarming reports have also come from workers at Bonn daycare centers. The principal of a kindergarten is quoted as saying that children from UBF families told of “very horrible things,” e.g. that they would be “beaten with objects” for disobedience. She is quoted as saying that the details given by the Bonn UBF children “cannot be made up by children.” She also said that those children would come to school “unkempt and smelling strongly,” and that even in winter they would come to school wearing short pants and no socks on their feet.
The newspaper could not get an interview with Peter Chang, and his lawyer also had no comment on the charges.
In the same issue of the newspaper, an additional background article on UBF was published, under the title:
“Unto surrender – The ‘University Bible Fellowship’ allegedly turned men into robots.”
In this article, some more interesting observations are made by residents of the Pfarrer-Martini Street in Bonn, where Bonn UBF not only owned the center building but also other houses where UBF members lived in “common life.” They noticed that the UBF members went rushing through the streets “like robots,” and were “always in a hurry.” They also wondered why the children of these families “almost never came outside to play” and why they were obviously left alone a lot. But according to the report, the oddest sight was the stocky Korean man who “walked around like a little Buddha” and “even let others carry his umbrella.” Whenever he showed up, all the others would stand in a “posture of total submission” and even little children “stood at attention still and silent for minutes.”
Reportedly, the Bonn public prosecution office is not surprised by what they hear any more; they now know about Peter Chang, “the little Buddha,” very well. Chang is said to have built a totalitarian regime in Bonn, marked by extreme despotism, in which approximately 50 to 100 people are involved (this estimate may be a little bit high, though). It was also mentioned that Chang called himself “God” according to a published testimony. This, however, seemed to have happened only once in a meeting of a circle of insiders. Toward newcomers to Bonn UBF, Peter Chang’s behavior is more restrained (he looks like a nice man at first glance), so these newcomers could easily dismiss the newspaper reports as exaggerated.
The public prosecution office is reportedly investigating Chang because of the suspicion that bodily harm is being done to Bonn UBF members and children. It is also reported that in the meantime, he has moved the UBF center to the commercial district in the western part of town, into an expansive villa located on the street “An der Ziegelei 6”. The newspaper states that even though the rooms behind the lowered blinds were obviously well lit in the center, the Bonn UBf members would not open the door for reporters.
According to the article, the police, the Bonn youth office as well as schools and day care centers are already alarmed by what they have observed about Bonn UBF children. The kindergarten teachers repeatedly found that the children from UBF families came to school dirty. One kindergarten principal remembers that “some came to school still wearing their pajamas,” that many of them showed abnormal behaviors and that they reported being beaten on the hands and soles of their feet and being subjected to other “very creative punishment methods” such as being made to “stand at attention with arms extended.” Also, “everything that is fun had been forbidden” to them. The kindergarten also claimed that they never received the phone number of the childrens’ parents, but always got Peter Chang’s phone number.
The article mentions the recently published book “Im Labyrinth der Seelenfänger” (“In the Maze of the Soul Catchers”), in which Andrew Schäfer, the cult commissioner of the Evangelical Church in Rhineland, published an alarming dossier on the “evangelical-fundamentalist organization” UBF. Schäfer sees the Bonn UBF as, in fact, representative of all of UBF, though he remarks that Peter Chang is a special case, a “hardliner.” The cult commissioner discovered only recently that the children are primarily the ones who suffer most from this system.
The newspaper quotes the cult commissioner as saying that a membership in UBF “requires one to direct nearly all aspects of one’s life to conform to the needs of UBF in the long run.” It is explained that the commitment in terms of time given to UBF increases more and more, so that in the end UBF members do not have enough time for the education and care of their own children. It is added that this control over the lives of UBF members is particularly extreme under the rigorous dictatorship of the Bonn UBF leader, Peter Chang. According to Andrew Schäfer it can be noticed again and again that Bonn UBF members obey the authority of Chang “seemingly blindly.”
The article also mentions some of the staggering reports about Bonn UBF on the Info Pages.
On 10/7/2002 the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” publishes a follow-up article with the title:
“Bible friends go into hiding”
In the article it is reported that after the negative headlines about presumed maltreatments and neglect of children in Bonn UBF some weeks ago, the UBF followers now have completely “taken cover.” While dropouts criticize UBF on the Internet more rarely now, the active members apparently try to keep a good outward appearance and to not stand out negatively in the public any more. Particularly, Bonn kindergarten educators are not given reasons for complaints any more.
Presumably, Peter Chang, who is under suspicion of having abused children, now wants to break his silence towards the investigating public prosecution office in Bonn. According to the spokeswoman of the criminal prosecution service, Monika Ziegenberg, another witness got in touch with them, who as a former UBF member allegedly made incriminating observations and experiences while dealing with the group.
The cult commissioner of the Protestant Church in Rhineland, Andrew Schäfer, had publicly warned of UBF in the last time. He has the suspicion that UBF members are heavily forced to practice a multitude of supposed religious duties, so that in the end they could not even care for their children in an adequate way any more. However, because of the special personality cult around Peter Chang in Bonn, the situation there seems to be particularly extreme. A UBF dropout once more reported to the Bonn General-Anzeiger newspaper that Chang demands of parents in UBF to break the will of their children. UBF members were told to “repent” for caring too much for their children.
A UBF dropout pointed out that even in Chang’s native country, Korea, corporal punishment has been banned since long. According to insiders, however the psychological abuse is often even worse than the physical abuse. In mental regard, the “super-apostle” Peter Chang had “severely abused” even the adults. Within UBF, a dispute about Peter Chang seems to have arisen, but the so called “reformers” are probably still falling behind compared with the “loyalists.” The article says it also has become known that the center of UBF in Germany will soon be relocated from the region of Cologne-Bonn to the city of Heidelberg.
Unfortunately, in all three articles UBF is called a “Bible fundamentalist organization”. Please read the remarks concerning this on the Info Pages.