The world's most comprehensive study on Scientology has been completed in Munich, Germany. The following articles relate what is currently known about this event.
A German study looks at whether Scientology is a crime organization and ought to be banned.
for years Scientology has been under heavy criticism, especially in Germany, where politicians have asked that the organization be banned. The cult seems to have always been able to slip its head out of the noose at the last minute, however, with the help of the American government and many Hollywood stars. Not even German Homeland Security has managed to prove criminal wrongdoing on the cult's part. The problem, Mr. Stamm writes, is that Scientology has hermetically sealed itself off from the outside world and keeps one step ahead of the authorities.
The Bavarian government, despite some negative feedback, pursued the topic and report will be appearing in November, as reported by the latest issue of Focus magazine. Reputable lawyers, psychologists and forensic psychiatrists have investigated Scientology these last four years, and their work is covered by a 680 page report.
The result, Mr. Stamm wrote, citing the study's authors, of the quarter million euro study is that Scientology's internal structure and several areas of operation are in contradiction to central principles of the legal system. The authors recommended that politicians consider banning the organization. They also regard it as possible that the formation of a criminal organization has occurred with respect to Scientology. State Interior Minister Gunther Beckstein was not displeased with this news, as Scientology has successfully outmaneuvered the legal system in Bavaria in the past.
Scientology's dealings with its staff was a pointed issue of the study, which said that heavy pressure was used to obtain results, and that sometimes people were required to give up speaking with members of their family. Minor errors were said to be regarded as high crimes. The cult's courses were also taken into consideration, and some of the promises made about them were said to fulfill the conditions for fraud. Some practices were also regarded as a violation of medical malpractice laws.
Mr. Stamm reported that the authors had to base their work on Scientology documents, testimony from experts and 26 former Scientologists. The angry Scientologists warned that former members cannot be believed. But the study's author said that efforts to engage active members in the study were blocked by Scientology itself.
The Bavarian Interior Minister has indicated he would be interested in the legal section of the study, which he hopes will open up new opportunities in dealing with Scientology.
A Piece of Work without Substance
The Scientologists have already strongly criticized the study. In one of their press releases, a spokeswoman called the study "pseudoscientific piece of work without substance or relevance," although she has not yet read it. She said the Bavarian government was making a "last desperate effort to get an irritated people to accept assertions that have been refuted decades ago by embellishing them as science." She said the federal government and the highest administration court have already verified that Scientologists are law-abiding citizens who act in accordance with the Constitution.
According to an October 13, 2002 ddp press release from Munich, Germany:
Study: Scientology possibly a "criminal association"
Munich (ddp). According to an academic study, the controversial Scientology organization has the potential to be a "criminal association." The "Focus" news magazine printed a preview on Sunday of an upcoming article, in which it reported that this is the conclusion come to by an academic investigation as commissioned by the Bavarian State government. The study was reported to have said that numerous activities, plus the internal structure, of Scientology were in conflict with principles central to our legal system. The 680-page report is entitle "Gesundheitliche und rechtliche Risiken bei Scientology" ("Risks of health and law in Scientology").
Many of the courses offered by the organization were regarded as "criminal, illicit practices of medicine." In addition, parts of Scientology were said to fulfill the conditions required for findings of fraud. Based on the form of illicit activity, the research scientists recognized indications for the implementation of an association ban."
The FOCUS article of October 14, 2002 by Thomas Roell and Walter Schuette is entitled
The article states that the government of the Free State of Bavaria paid 250,000 Euro-dollars for the "most comprehensive scientific research to date" on the controversial Scientology psychocult. The 680 page study was four years in the making and is the result of efforts by psychologist Heinrich Kuefner, forensic psychiatrist Norbert Nedopil and legal scholar Heinz Schoech.
The study's legal findings are particularly stimulating. Several of the psychocult's areas of operations and its internal structure are said to be "in conflict to central principles of our legal system." The author were particularly critical of cult members being subject to constant demands of improvements in performance, including cutting off contact to close relatives and having relatively minor infractions regarded as crimes. Many of the cult courses were regarded as illicit practice of medicine, with some texts fulfilling preliminary conditions for fraud. For these reasons the authors saw that conditions of a criminal association were potentially met, and that there was sufficient evidence present to warrant consideration of an association ban.
On studying the effects of Scientology and Dianetics methods, the researchers ran into a brick wall. Scientology had refused to let active members of its organization be interviewed, so the researchers had to make do with former members. The researchers were aware that those who had left would have an overwhelmingly negative opinion of the methods being studied, but there was no alternative available.
The Interior Ministry of the Free State of Bavaria expressed its satisfaction with the findings of the researchers. In particular, they were interested as to the potentially criminal aspects of the organization. It was said that legal alternatives would be carefully weighed, and that these deliberations would set the tone for future dealings with Scientology.