1. Introduction

According to their latest accounts the services of the so-called Scientology Church (SC) are offered in 2,475 churches, missions and organizations in 107 countries around the world, mainly in the USA, Canada and Europe. These are the result of a remarkable worldwide boom of the teachings of the former science fiction author L. Ron Hubbard, which are based on his textbook work "Dianetics" (first appeared 1950), and which allegedly "rings in a new era of hope for humanity" (What is Scientology, p.130.)

Since a multitude of the so-called "new age religions" came into being during the 1970's in Germany, SC was at first also included in this category (Mildenberger, 1979.) From 1970 to 1974, emanating from the USA, the first SC settlements were established in Germany: in Munich (1970), Heilbronn (1973), Hamburg (1973) and Frankfurt (1974). In Germany SC had, according to its own accounts, a membership of 30,000 people. Presently the estimate of SC as a "new age religion" has been reduced in favor of other methodologies. Since the middle of the 1980's the SC has been observed in professional literature to be an organization which is extensively engaged in penetrating the leader's circle of commercialism under the guise of religion.

According to the former Scientologist Norbert Potthoff, the object of Operation "Clear Germany" is to bring Germany completely under the control of Scientology. Germany has been rated as a "key position for world-wide success. From there one has to figure on further expansion, whereby one concentrates in particular on the economy and the social areas, schools and police" (Potthoff, 1993, p.109.) New expansion opportunities, which opened with the fall of the wall in 1989 into middle and east Europe, made Germany, according to another high-ranking former SC functionary, an importance staging area for access towards the east (Young, 1995). The topic of a commercial, ideological and politically motivated, strategically planned infiltration of decisively relevant key positions in politics, society and commerce weave themselves, as we shall see further below (Ch. 2) as a red thread through the recent critical literature about SC. This altered perception has come about as a result of not only developments in the SC organization itself, but also from political, public and national interests about the theories and practices of SC.

Public figures have repeatedly expressed themselves critically about SC. An outcome of the Conference of Ministers of the Interior was the statement that the SC organization "currently represents, to the responsible defense and criminal investigations officials of the interior, an organization which, under the cover of a religious society, joins elements of commercial criminality and of psychological terrorism against its members with commercial practices and a sectarian outer wrapper. The brunt of their activities seems to lie in the area of commercial criminality." According to the view of the North-Rhein-Westphalian government "the 'Scientology Church' is, in truth, a commercial enterprise, which has wrapped itself in a philosophical cloak, yet pursues tangibly commercial goals as a first resort; the primary goal of the association is the achievement of as much profit as possible. It behaves as an ideologically established, centrally controlled organization which relies upon principle of command and obedience, and whose ideas of humanity and legality are forged exclusively from the thoughts of Hubbard."

The Bavarian provincial government announced an incisive measure in October, 1995. A 12-point edict announced that the sale of books, etc. would be regarded as business, recruitment on the street would be prohibited and the SC organization would be painstakingly audited for tax purposes. Furthermore the contents of the work and labor protection and health care decisions would be inspected as well as would the correct deductions for social security contributions. Bavaria saw legal measures, tighter labor laws and observation under the constitutional protection clause as further plausible measures to be taken against SC.

The concurrently propagated thesis of a profit-oriented enterprise which exploited and misused its customers centered, with good reason, on the moral and ethical standards of SC. Nevertheless the theory left the question of constitutional enmity open, because it did not regard SC as a political organization. In accordance with the decision of the Federal Court of the Constitution in the decision of SRP (1952) and KPD (1956) and in view of the research on extremism in Germany, the potential constitutional enmity of an organization may be scrutinized if it behaves as an organization which pursues political objectives.

SC does not understand itself to be a political organization, but lays a very narrow political notion to waste with this self-understanding. "Scientology is non-political", reads a pamphlet. Yet in the same text it is affirmed "that Scientology has the goal to free this planet from insanity, war and crime, and to create a better world which is ruled by reason and peace" (ibid.). It is hard to imagine a more public political objective than this. SC pursues "expressis verbis" political objectives without taking part in political competition in the conventional ways. A reason for that may be inferred from the following: SC is driven, based on its financing, by the market laws which are guided by the supply and demand structure of the new religions and psycho-cults. A direct and definable change in the "political market" could endanger the source of income for the psycho-market and also threaten the existence of SC.

The problems of a scientific approach to SC begin with very basic questions. If one were to attempt to define "Scientology", then one would be able to differentiate ideological, organizational and political planes. On the ideological level SC sees itself as a religious community which is organized as a church but which prefers to be politically indifferent. Political intentions are, as we shall see below, scattered throughout a large number of writings. SC, as an "applied religious philosophy", claims "effective solutions for the most pressing problems of society such as drug abuse, criminality, deficiencies in school and education, and the decline of moral values" (What is Scientology, p. XI). Numerous credible critics have, for good reason, been giving quite a different assessment for the past twenty years in the increasingly intense and knowledgeable debate about SC. They talk about "psychosects"; they talk of SC as a "commercial enterprise" which exploits its followers and suborns parts of the institution for political purposes, of "billions in sales with a cult of power and money" (Augstein, 1995). According to Renate Hartwig, one of the most persistent critics, SC is a "terror which is politically patient, not pursued by justice, and which is made to sound innocuous by public figures, actors and the media (Hartwig, 1994, p. 15). Norbert J. Potthoff, a reflective, argumentative former Scientologist, has presented this in a different context.

According to him, since the death of the founder, L. Ron Hubbard (1986), a fundamental change in the SC has occurred "from a loosely led group of idealists and lay people to a stringently and authoritatively led political sect." The Hubbard follower Miscavige pursues a "totalitarian political concept", which Potthoff, in the historic light of the great totalitarian movements of this century, puts as "After Bolshevism (proletarians of all countries unite!) and National Socialism (predominance of the Aryan race), we experience, in Hubbardism, a new political movement of the elite (we call them Ubermenschen), in which only the law of the strong holds true" (Potthoff, 1993, p.44). In a different place Potthoff has expressly brought the political objectives of SC to light:

"Scientology has constructed a world-wide network in the past thirty years. It extends throughout Australia, Asia, South America, Central America, North America and Europe, and this network is systematically constructed in aspiration to political power. Scientology experienced a change around 1980. Hubbard was disempowered and the new management has since then concerned itself with using the totalitarian system, as provided by Scientology, to gain political power. David Miscavige, in the leadership role, dreams of world domination. The goal which people on this plane have in sight is comparable with the goals of those such as Hitler, Hussein or Stalin. They are simply obsessed with the idea of having power over people and their lives. In this case money plays only a secondary, intermediate role." (Potthoff, 1994a, p. 5).

Items addressed by this opinion center upon the connection and pursuit of the newer, initially rudimentarily developed discussion about the political characteristics of the SC, upon problems of the effects of the SC idealogy on parts of society and upon the political goals of the SC, insofar as they disregard parts of the Constitution in the sense of a "pro-active democracy" or direct themselves against or undermine it. Left to be explained is whether parts of the "liberal democratic fundamentals", as designated by the Federal Constitutional Court, are impaired, destroyed, or put out of commission by the activities of the SC.

One such method of consideration presumes in advance that SC is to be considered an organization with long-term political objectives. The following item will not be discussed from a viewpoint of constitutional legality, but from a perspective primarily of political science, which includes a liberal measure of constitutionally legal considerations. From a perspective of political science the tradition of the newer research of political extremism would be relevant in order to gain adequate research methodology for the topic. A social scientific statement differentiates itself from the predominantly legal, medical-psychoanalytical, mentally historical and journalistic methods of access, in that more structure is found in the political and social framework, that primary texts are not to be taken individually, but as part of a more substantial political and social context, and not through recourse to social scientific research and discussion contexts.

In the more recent research on extremism, organizational- and partisan-sociological estimates prevail which address the clarification of political positioning and from which questions of constitutional enmity arise from the following interconnecting aspects which have been methodically thought out: the development of the programmatic self-understanding, of the formation the will of the inner organization and its political goals, membership to a "political family", the democratic understanding of the inner organization i.e. the formation of hierarchical planes, strategies and codes of conduct compared to the social and political environment, members' and electorates' sociology as well as national potential with other political or social currents. Positionings in public politics and means of operation also belong to this.

The presented opinion will build a template of a theoretically extremist test-organization using these methodical steps, in which the peculiarities of SC will certainly be addressed. The 'conventional' extremist organizations standard stereo-typical formation principles - circular theory, traditional association, political sect, terrorist groups, congregational movements, cadre parties (Backes, 1989, p. 266ff) do not suffice to properly characterize SC. Add to that the fact that as little is known about the adherents, sympathizers and those expressing an interest in the organization as is known about the dynamics of the turnover of personnel. The political goals have already been covered and scattered throughout a number of writings, and the history of the SC has still not yet been written.

Reviewing the methodical standards and conventions of research on extremism, there is a lack of a critical layer of SC, which would be able to demonstrate the development dynamics of SC through the course of time, and a deficiency of finer knowledge of the socio-demographic structure of the followers. Nevertheless an organization whose declared goal it is to create a "cleared planet", and which wants to take this challenge "with determination and devotion to aggressiveness" (What is Scientology, p. 360), can and must be understood as a political organization. This necessitates a conventional methodical procedure which can be better adapted to the subject of SC, a procedure which has even to take into account that the current discussion has overwhelmingly been put in the context of the new age religions, psycho-sects and fundamentalist salvation doctrine, but has not been examined under the premises of a theoretically extremist methodology.

As the first step the status of the debate about SC will be presented contextually and critically so as to be able to relate the points of this opinion to the status of the discussion (Ch. 2). At that point autobiographical material of former Scientologists will be analytically examined, as will the debate about psycho-cults, religious sects and modern fundamentalism, the current findings of the political and commercial influence of SC as well as evidence of the jeopardizing of a democratic constitutional state, and what this could contribute to our side of the debate. One of the most important deficiencies is to be addressed here: the new German history before 1933 has precisely shown that various categories of people, the reformers of life, the rural communes and the German youth movement, which would be designated as "sects" today, freely pursued political objectives and took over functions which finally led to the precursors and pavers of National Socialism.

After the analytical preparation comes a theoretically laid-out chapter about the concepts of fundamentalism, extremism and totalitarianism (chapter 3). It serves the purpose of a standard conceptual measure in contrast to the unpolitical concepts of the "sect." These concepts appear as the standard theoretical framework in which SC is located. Chapter 4 shows that SC deals as a totalitarian organization, which has many references to political extremism. This is true especially for the sole claim to knowledge of salvation and the hermeticism of the SC philosophy. This consideration will be gone over in the ensuing chapters. Friend-enemy thought and force readiness (chapter 5), the leader-follower relationship and the forming of the will of the inner organization (chapter 6), the function of the specific SC vocabulary (chapter 7), children by right have been named an "important instrument of indoctrination" (Children, 1994, p. 21) and the critique of democracy by the SC (chapter 8) explain the relationships to political extremism. It is also to be seen that SC can not be classified in the current traditional context of organized left or right extremism. Much more can be said in favor of it conducting itself as a political extremism of a new type. A summarizing closing chapter (chapter 9) will balance the results and refer back to the questions addressed by this opinion. The self-presentation of the SC, biographical writings of SC former members, primary material such as government documents, judicial decisions and analytical contributions will be reviewed.

At this point, of course, the limitation of this opinion will be addressed. The ideological principles of SC, above all Hubbard's "Dianetics," will only be reviewed insofar as it is of significance for the items addressed by this opinion. Literature for the practical completion of courses, for the practice of technique and group dynamics, for example, are left out, although the critique from a learned medical and psycho-therapeutic view of the SC is not without meaning for our discussion. The practice of "auditing" in the SC courses, it appears, makes patients servile and dependent. Something along these lines was mentioned by Professor H. Kind, Director of the Psychiatric Poly-clinic in the Zurich University Hospital in a recently published document which regarded dianetic "auditing" as an "inhuman practice." The SC psycho-techniques, according to him, pose "a considerable risk" for the patients, because their control over reality is weakened and their dependency and willingness to be indoctrinated are strengthened. "The claim of Dianetics", continues Kind, "to heal all neuroses, psychosomatic illness and also functional psychoses completely contradicts that which is known through serious research into the effectiveness of psychotherapy (Kind, 1994, p. 24). "The goal of Dianetics is not the autonomy of the patient", says Kind, "but subjugation to the system" (Kind, 1994a, p. 9).

Besides the not insignificant medical and psychotherapeutical planes, a few more aspects could be reviewed with or without results. The membership and sympathizer plane is accessed on the basis of poorly presented empirical data in the form of published autobiographical sketches of former SC functionaries; direct interrogation of SC functionaries would not be undertaken on pragmatic grounds, most of all because of the limited time frame. Further reference points which for our specific purpose are of some significance remain widely uncovered, but will likewise not be taken into consideration out of pragmatic grounds. These include the international construction of SC, the internal differences of the inner international organization, the financing, re-investment and use of profit and the on-going, long-lasting international dispute over the legal structure of the SC.

Public accounts make it clear that the organization continues to be rigidly tied to the "psycho-market." In 1993 in the USA, after a lengthy legal battle, SC was recognized by the tax officials as existing for the common good. As a result of this SC had to let its books be inspected. According to them SC logged in a sum of 400 million dollars income, and about 300 million dollars from the sale of books and courses (Gralla, 1994, p. 92). The supply and demand structure of the "psycho-market", in which SC in also involved in Germany, can play no role in the course of this opinion, although the financial effectiveness and also the power of SC does not, in the final analysis, depend upon its success or misfortune in this market segment.


return to title page

NOT an official translation:
Direct questions to cisar.org