Warning, new and spectacular reports which overturn the course of history should be scrutinized more carefully than those that do not. Since we are human, we sometimes make mistakes.
Federal Labor Court: No wages for ex-Scientologist
November 1, 2002
The AFP reported information to the following effect:
The Erfurt Federal Labor Court dismissed the claim of a former Scientology volunteer staff member for backpay. Because he had had other options with which to influence the destiny of the organization, a labor relationship did not exist, according to the decision that has just been released. The question of whether Scientology was a religion was not addressed, in contrast to a 1995 judgment. (case number: 5 AZB 19/01)
The federal labor court is the first and only court at the highest federal level in Germany to decide that Scientology could not use the status of "religion." It was for this reason that it permitted the wages complaint of s staff member back in 1995. The court said the church used religion only as a pretext "to pursue business interests." In the new decision, the labor court said, based only on association law, that this matter was not under its jurisdiction.
The AFP reported that the complainant had worked in Scientology from 1984 to 1997, and that his career ranged from a simple street missionary to a department head of the organization. He earned the money he needed to live by augmenting his 75-100 euro/mo Scientology pay with a real job. After a difference of opinion with Scientology management in 1997, he left and demanded back pay and damages for a total of 335,000 euro.
The labor court decided that the "Scientology Kirche Deutschland e.V." could at least invoke the association law, even if it could not use freedom of religion. According to the court, the complainant could not be categorized as a regular employee. He did his work for free, besides which he had a voting right in the membership body and even influenced the destiny of the association by having a management position. While doing all this he pursued his own goals as a member of the organization. It did the complainant no good to say that he had been exploited. The court explained that it was not the court's job "to solve all cases of real or imagined exploitation."
The above is the actual news report. We may have an inside glimpse of how a cult operates, however, from the following disinformation. Problem One. History did not follow the script. Problem Two. The script was released by a critic, not the cult (no reflection on the critic concerned). Question for critics: What is the 1989 income tax treaty between the United States and Germany and why should a foreign power be required to follow an IRS ruling?
Subject: Major Victory for Scientology
In Major Victory for Scientology, German Federal Tax Court Compels German Tax Office to Accept Scientology Organizations as Tax-Exempt
Scientology Press Release, October 25, 2002
In a precedent-setting decision, the German Federal Tax Court in Cologne has ruled that two Church of Scientology corporations headquartered in Los Angeles are exempt from tax in Germany. Ruling that these organizations qualify under the 1989 income tax treaty between United States and Germany, the court overturned the German federal tax office's May 1996 denial of their exemption applications.
The Court found in favor of Scientology Missions International (SMI) and the International Hubbard Ecclesiastical League of Pastors (IHELP), both of which had filed a 1996 lawsuit against the Bundesamt Fuer Finanzen (Federal Finance Office) in Cologne.
The Court held that SMI and IHELP are eligible for relief under the Treaty because in 1993 the U.S. Internal Revenue Service had recognized them as tax-exempt, religious and charitable organizations. The Court specifically ruled that, under the Treaty, it was inappropriate for the Federal Finance Office to ignore or seek to contradict the IRS exemption rulings.
In its adverse administrative ruling, the Federal Finance Office refused even to consider, much less give any weight to, the fact that SMI and IHELP are tax exempt in the United States. They also refused to attach any importance to the extensive and exhaustive administrative proceedings they and other Church organizations went through to secure Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recognition as tax exempt.
Instead, the Finance Office relied exclusively on a negative March 1995 conclusion about Scientology by the Federal Labor Court in Germany. Just last week, however, the Federal Labor Court essentially nullified its 1995 decision when it ruled in a similar case that staff in churches of Scientology in Germany "seek idealistic purposes and spiritual perfection through the teachings of Scientology" and are not therefore in an employee-employer relationship with the Church.
Rev. Heber Jentzsch, President of the Church of Scientology International, says the ruling has major significance:
"For the first time, the German government has been compelled to consider and follow how other governments regard Scientology. This decision is an important step in the Church's ongoing effort to be treated the same as other religions in Germany, as Germany's own constitution and international treaties require. The impact of this decision from a senior German tax court will have profound impact throughout Europe."
SMI is the mother church for all Scientology missions, which are generally smaller and minister fewer services and courses than larger churches of Scientology. IHELP was created to provide Scientology ministers who minister outside organized churches with the ecclesiastical guidance they need. SMI and IHELP support their religious programs through tithes or license fees they receive from missions and Scientology ministers, respectively. SMI's case concerns Scientology missions in Bremen, Nuremburg and Goeppingen, which until today's ruling have been required to pay 30% of the license fees to the German Tax Office.
Church of Scientology International, as the mother church of the Scientology religion, requests that SMI oversees Scientology missions worldwide to ensure that they adhere to all ecclesiastical policies.
Scientology has been officially recognized as a religion in many countries including the United States, Sweden, Portugal, South Africa and Australia. Hundreds of administrative and judicial decisions worldwide, including many in Germany, have found Scientology to be a religious community.