5. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 5.1. Regarding Scientology 5.2 Regarding "Sects" in general
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5. Conclusions and Recommendations
5.1. Regarding Scientology
Scientology has been embroiled in controversy in Switzerland and many other countries for years. Numerous processes and investigations have shown that the group exhibits a not easily understood hybrid character. Some of its activities exhibit significant financial components, comparable to that of a commercial business. This can lead to indebtedness of its adherents under the pretext that the services sold would significantly improve their situation. The authorities and consumer protection organizations have to devote their attention to these aspects; a priori they do not fall into the area of responsibility of the state security organ.
Scientology is founded on fundamentals unimpeachably defined by L. R. Hubbard, and which are still applied today. These fundamentals exhibit characteristics which are, to the observer, ideologically reminiscent of a totalitarian system. However it is not enforced by means of state control, but by implication of an internal agreement (in which it can be disputed how voluntarily this takes place). There may be a de facto psychological exigency for the members of the organization.
Furthermore, the concept of "constitutional hostility" as developed by our German neighbors is foreign to Switzerland. That fact alone that the principles upon which Scientology is based do not agree with those with which we feel associated is not sufficient to justify an investigative surveillance by the state security organ.
Branches of Scientology conduct intelligence-like activities. When one studies the documents containing the branches' principles and methods of operation, particularly those yielded by investigations in other countries, it turns out that they are closely connected to the original ideological precepts of the movement. These have hardly had to be revised since the Scientologists are convinced that their opponents are always in the wrong. Their view is based on a conspiracy theory which leads to them to overestimate their own importance and imagine that they are playing a role which is significant worldwide. If need be these activities can lead up to an attempt to infiltrate state positions or to at least to obtain information originating from those positions. These activities do not necessarily consist of infiltrating the state itself or taking over power, but primarily serve to protect the movement from real or presumed danger. This limits the risk to the state itself. However, four problem areas arise:
- It is not acceptable for a private group (be it religious or otherwise) to conduct its own investigative intelligence activities, no matter what the circumstances. This is particularly applicable when these activities are not restricted to investigation of its own members, critics, or opposing groups, but include intrusion into the structure of the government. There is no evidence of any actual infiltration in Switzerland.
- These operations appear to have primarily only a counter-offensive character which serves to deter actual or presumed danger. They are not restricted to that which directly concerns the movement. It is therefore clear that these activities could also be extended into other areas if the need were to arise, if the world management should decide it for one or another reason.
- Activities of this sort could lead to the movement gaining access to information which would affect the security of the nation. The mere existence of such an intelligence effort presents a certain potential of risk, even if it is not directed primarily at the state.
- This problem area is accentuated by the circumstance that Scientologists in sensitive positions could justify their loyalty to Scientology by passing on sensitive information (including personal data).
In opposition to preventative surveillance by the police: no actual evidence exists of Scientology attempting to intrude into the Swiss state structure. In favor of surveillance: the existence of intelligence activities, from which even state secrets are not safe.
The work group feels that surveillance is to be avoided. It is also of the opinion that the situation will have to be re-evaluated after a certain period of time based on publicly accessible information.
General preventive measures which could be taken in the future should not be taken as a prejudice that sects are potentially regarded as a security risk. Each case must be judged individually. General measures against Scientology are indicated because of their hybrid character and their management of an intelligence service.
In view of the dynamic situation the KSK should attentively follow the situation and give special consideration to the findings of other European countries. If need be, it will be recommended that official measures be introduced at a later time.
5.2. Regarding "Sects" in general
Numerous more or less significant religious minorities exist in Switzerland. The overwhelming majority of these groups present no danger either to their members or to the state. Any mixing of individual, possibly problematic groups with countless other non-problematic groups is to be carefully avoided.
Because of certain individual or collective episodes, a portion of the public has been sensitized to these issues and has the feeling that the authorities would remain inactive. Also, the propagation of the small groups which have been present in Switzerland for about thirty years (connected with a growing diversity of background, since they are no longer all bound by Christian traditions) necessarily leads to the possibility of individual differences which are difficult to predict. Although the state, in principle, cannot intervene in religious situations, neither can it stand by completely devoid of interest; it wants to assume responsibility for its people.
In most cases the controversy about the groups which qualify as "sects" should be carried out in the form of a debate on a ideal plane, and not involve intervention by the state; the exception would be if the order of the state were in danger or if crimes were being committed - cases in which prevalent law would automatically be applied regardless of whether shades of religion were involved or not. Although the media, churches and private citizens complement each other and exchange the necessary information on questionable issues, sometimes it is difficult to obtain relevant and objective information about suspect organizations. Therefore, it would be useful if neutral information on the developments in religious areas were available to both the public and the authorities. An observation center could be entrusted with this mission at an institution of higher learning . This should be publicly funded and should cooperate with the appropriate authorities.
The work group is of the opinion that the state has sufficient opportunity, on the basis of existing legal ordinances, to counteract generally harmful activities by sects. It does not have to do with a particular article of a certain law, but with applying the various existing private, public, or criminal standards according to the situation. In particular, the possibility of the cantons using the commerce police and criminal law may not be underestimated. At the same time it should be pointed out that governmental measures are only of limited use and that each individual is responsible for his own actions.
The measures should not be taken as normative for their own sake, but by the will which the state has at its disposal so that it can stay informed and is in the position to counteract unforeseen developments, even in unfamiliar areas. This involves a global analysis of the situation which takes religious dimensions and their influence on society into account (and not just their relationship to the controversial "sects").
This analysis is better off left alone in Switzerland for the time being. It is pedantic in nature, and should be conducted and expounded upon by by the university sector.
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- 225. The Constitution situation differs from country to country; this study has concentrated on the Swiss situation. return
- 226. We are referring here to facts which occurred in other countries and which we have already mentioned above. return
- 227. Despite the utopian presentation of a complete control of society. return
- 228. It appears that the GO came into possession of documents about terrorism during their "Snow White" operation (probably more of a coincidence than an interest to this theme; this shows, however, that a risk exists. return
- 229. For the theme of an observation center at a university see the deliberations of Roland J. Campiche (Professor at the University of Lausanne and "Direktor der Antenne der Romandie des Instituts für Sozialethik der Vereinigung protestantischer Kirchen der Schweiz"), Quand les sectes affolent: Ordre du Temple Solaire, médias et fin de millénaire, Genf, Labor et Fides, 1995, pp. 121. A solution which appears more sensible than that of a "Federal Office of Religious Issues) which has already been discussed (and dismissed) in Parliament; an observation center is easier to bring about, and state control of religion is avoided; see Motion Zisyadis of 14.12.1993 (93.3606), Amtl. Bull. NR 1995 2137 and Interpellation Burgener of 20.3.1998 (98.3136). return
- 230. For foreign models, see Romuald Szramkiewicz, "Le conseiller pour les affaires religieuses auprès du Ministère des Affaires Etrangères", in Revue des Sciences morales et politiques, 149/3, 1994, pp. 259-271. return
- 231. An account is found in the Federal Council's answer to the Petitpierre simple inquiry concerning "membership in religious sects and personal freedom" or - in consideration of the cantonal situations in "Audit sur les dérives sectaires," published in Geneva return
- 232. "Members of sects and adherents of the occult are indeed religious deviants, but as a rule are not criminal. Sectarianism and occultism must probably be taken primarily as a phenomenon driven by a need of the soul and a search for orientation, even if they express themselves in conflict with religiously motivated culture. Accordingly, we only seldom encounter criminal subcultures in sects or the occult, although demarcation, exclusion and even aggressiveness toward outsiders are among the constitutional elements of such categories," states Günther Kaiser in his "Religion und Kriminalität. Zur kriminologischen Vielstrahligkeit und Relevanz", in Plädoyer, 2/1996, pp. 37-43 (p. 42) return