All of them, those in power, and those who want the power, would pamper us, if we agreed to overlook their crookedness by wilfully restricting our activities.
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Scientology: religious persecution in Germany?
The German Federal Government maintains that Scientology is an organization which has primarily economical interests. This idea has been reinforced by a ruling of the Federal Labour court (which is not connected to the government in any way). After having reviewed several Scientology books, the judges concluded that Scientology is not a religion, but a commercial enterprise.
Furthermore, the German government maintains that Scientology tries to distribute its ideas as widely as possible, ideally leading to a society where humans live together according to Scientology rules. A closer look at Hubbard's writings shows that this is not desirable since Scientology is structured in a totalitarian, anti-democratic fashion. Attempts to establish itself in a leading position in society have taken place in Rhodesia (1966, described by Russell Miller in chapter 15 of "Bare-Faced Messiah"), Corfu (1968, described by Major John Forte in his book The Commodore and the Colonels), and Morocco (1972, described by Russell Miller in chapter 18 of "Bare-Faced Messiah"). More recently, similar attempts were discovered during a raid on the Scientology headquarters in Greece (and Scientology was consequently closed). Possibly, the same has happened in Colombia.
The following FAQ is trying to answer a few commonly asked questions about scientology in Germany, and to correct some common misconceptions by readers or some blatant inaccuracies by scientology.
There are three notable American court cases involving Scientology that illustrate why Germany's concerns about this organization are justified. In the early 1980s, American courts convicted 11 top Scientologists for plotting to plant spies in federal agencies, break into government offices and bug at least one IRS meeting. In 1994, in a case involving Lawrence Wollersheim, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a California court's finding of substantial evidence that Scientology practices took place in a coercive environment and rejected Scientology's claims that the practices were protected under religious freedom guaranties. In September 1997, the Illinois Supreme Court found there was evidence enough to allege that Scientology had driven the Cult Awareness Network into bankruptcy by filing 21 lawsuits in a 17-month period. The court stated that "such a sustained onslaught of litigation can hardly be deemed 'ordinary', if [the Network] can prove that the actions were brought without probable cause and with malice."
In addition, a New York Times article on March 9, 1997, outlined "an extraordinary campaign orchestrated by Scientology against the [IRS] and people who work there. Among the findings were these: Scientology's lawyers hired private investigators to dig into the private lives of IRS officials and to conduct surveillance operations to uncover potential vulnerabilities." A related New York Times article on December 1, 1997, added that earlier IRS refusals to grant tax exemption "had been upheld by every court." (On December 30, 1997, a Wall Street Journal article outlined details of the $12.5 million tax settlement between the IRS and Scientology, including the Scientology agreement to drop thousands of lawsuits against the IRS.)
On December 1, 1997, a New York Times article described Scientology records seized in an FBI raid on church offices that prove "that Scientology had come to Clearwater with a written plan to take control of the city. Government and community organizations were infiltrated by Scientology members. Plans were undertaken to discredit and silence critics. A fake hit-and-run accident was staged in 1976 to try to ruin the political career of the mayor. A Scientologist infiltrated the local newspaper and reported on the paper's plans to her handlers." A related Times article also on Dec. 1, 1997, reported on a criminal investigation into Scientology's role in a member's death in Clearwater, Florida. In November 1998, the responsible State Attorney charged Scientology's Flag Service Organization with abuse or neglect of a disabled adult and practicing medicine without a license.
In the same year Journalist Constanze Elsner received numerous anonymous telephone calls at night after a critical radio show on Scientology she had produced was aired. The male voices told her she would be killed the next day. The Munich Post Office later found out that the calls came from the office telephone of Hermann Brendel, spokesperson of the GO. His office was also used as the "Press Information Center" of the Scientology Church in Munich.
Official German responses to Scientology
The German government has for quite some time maintained that the chief purpose of Scientology is not religious, but economical in nature. According to the Government, Scientology disguises itself as a religion if this might be advantageous. For example, in the remainder of Yugoslavia Scientology has claimed to be a non-religious organization. In Greece, Scientology (KEFE) claimed to be a philosophical, not a religious organization. And when Scientology as founded in South America in 1955, one of its goals was "... to lend and borrow money" (this slip has since then been corrected).
The German government maintains that Scientology is dangerous for its members and possibly dangerous for society. Members are spending huge efforts and large amounts of money; high debts (> 50,000 US$) are not uncommon. Wages are low, often below welfare levels.
Germans can be the most convenient of scapegoats, and it's not too hard to figure out why.
Today's Germany may be a modern, liberal democracy but half a century after World War II, millions of people around the world still have trouble thinking about the country without dredging up images of Adolf Hitler and jackbooted SS killers.
So even though most of today's Germans weren't even alive during those brutal years, if some little understood group claiming to be a religious organization complains about being singled out for persecution, there is often a presumption of guilt. The words "Nazi" and "Holocaust" somehow don't seem all that out of place.
All these presumptions and prejudices are being debated here these days because of an increasingly bitter dispute between German authorities and the Church of Scientology, the controversial group whose spiritual headquarters is in Clearwater. Just this past week, Chancellor Helmut Kohl announced the creation of a federal office to monitor Scientology's activities in Germany and keep church members out of key public jobs.
Kohl and other officials are convinced that the Church of Scientology isn't a church at all and has nothing to do with religion.
There is growing awareness, even among cult apologists, in that with the millennium less than five years away the situation will become more volatile. This time we have the support of the Germans who are most aware of where the road to totalitarianism leads and in many former occupied countries particularly France, there is vigorous opposition to groups which undermine the democratic system.