Cult commissioner: Scientology using front groups
As reported by ddp-nrw on August 7, 2002 from Duesseldorf, Germany
According to expert opinion, Scientology continues to be active in Nordrhein-Westfalen, but operates mainly through front groups. After its internationally orchestrated negative publicity campaign against the Federal Republic of Germany in the 1990s, the organization has had a change of strategy and is conducting its business from the sidelines, reported the cult commissioner of the Evangelical Church in Rheinland, Andrew Schaefer, in an interview with the ddp news agency in Duesseldorf.
The organization had already been using a "shunting system" in public to gain new members and become socially acceptable, the cult commissioner continued. He said that lately the organization, for example, has been boosting its sub-organization KVPM (the German equivalent of CCHR) as a self-help group in opposition to use of Ritalian.
The cult commissioner's impression is that these self-help groups are then used to further the real objectives of the Scientology organization. He said there are plenty of other sub-divisions of Scientology that do this sort of thing, like NARCONON and CRIMINON for alleged drug therapy and social re-integration programs.
Schaefer stressed that it was not easy to make an estimate of how strong Scientology was, and he warned about overstating it. At the same time people had to be aware of the possibility of running into Scientologists in business or in politics. He said that there were several companies in the greater Cologne and Duesseldorf vicinities that used mild pressure on their employees to take Scientology courses. He said members of the Duesseldorf State Assembly regularly received mail from Scientology, and that there was a danger that the organization could gain influence over the long term.
Schaefer said precise figures on the number of Scientologists in Nordrhein-Westfalen were not available, but that the German Homeland Security thought there were about 400 practicing Scientologists, with 6,000 nationwide. The cult commissioner was somewhat skeptical of their numbers. He also stated that people who were experiencing a trying situation in their personal or professional life were most susceptible to enticements from Scientology, and that this especially applied to people who were not yet settled down yet.
Schaefer said that if you suspect someone of being a Scientologist, it was better to turn to a trained professional for help. He emphasized that it was better to clear up suspicion than it was to sow mistrust.
German Scientology News