Pointed discussion in Loerrach about "Scientology" reveals different positions

Ends in indignation

Loerrach, Germany
November 8, 2001
Badische Zeitung

from our staff member Birgit Degenhardt

Loerrach The spectators in a pointed discussion on the topic of "Scientology: Church or Business Enterprise?" were very indignant, and by the end of the discussion, angered, in the "Brauereigaststaette Lasser" hall on Tuesday. Meeting publicly for the first time in Loerrach were, surprisingly, only about thirty members representing both sides: Juerg Stettler, the public relations representative for Scientology Switzerland, and Hans-Juergen Schmidt, evangelical minister and director of the Beuggen Evangelical Conference.

A world without war, crime or insanity was the goal of Scientology, and man was basically good, said Stettler. He said Scientologists believed in reincarnation, and that the only thing that was true for Scientologists was what they observed. The reason Scientology called itself a church was simply the translation from the American, where the first "Church of Scientology" was founded in 1954. "As every other religion was in the beginning, Scientology is attacked," said Stettler in warding off the designation of "cult."

Hans-Juergen Schmidt described the "Scientology Church" as "false labelling." He said he was very concerned about this issue because since the 11th of September, people had an "increased need for religious reassurance" and now, of all times, false labelling was unnecessary. Schmidt included in that number the countless "non-denominational Christian communities" which all claimed to be the "true church." He said a "church" was a religion that followed Christ, not an "organization for profit."

He said the foundation of the evangelical church was its own institution critics, and that there was no "central guru." He introduced the thesis that Scientology was a "non-religious personality reform program that engulfed itself with a veil of religiosity" to gain tax advantages. In dispute were the origin of the word "church," the membership figures of Scientology, and court judgments both for and against Scientology. The two positions stood out in contrast by their extreme opposing views: Juerg Stettler with his claims that nothing was ever "skimmed" from Scientologists, that everything in Scientology was "pure idealism" and that Scientology was not operating as a commercial business.

The audience, which included former Scientologists, used words like "all lies," "Mafia" and "brainwashing" in their responses. Even religious scholar Christoph Peter Baumann, who moderated the discussion for the religiously unaffiliated "Inforel" association from Basel, was not able to calm things down. He said a "gentleman's agreement" had been reached in Basel whereby Scientology did not "harass anyone" who demanded their address be removed from the organization's mailing list.

Bauman argued that people who thought differently should also be allowed freedom of opinion. The two fronts appeared to have solidified long ago: while Scientologist Stettler described evangelical minister Schmidt as a "representative of Germany's largest cult," Schmidt provocatively asked whether his statements had ever been the subject of charges by Scientology.

Showdown on the topic of "Scientology"

Loerrach, Germany
October 31, 2001
Badische Zeitung

Loerrach (BZ). A two-sided discussion on the topic of "Scientology: Church or Business Undertaking?" will be held with Juerg Stettler, Public Relations Officer of Scientology in Switzerland, and evangelical Minister Hans-Juergen Schmidt, director of the evangelical discussion and encounter group. The discussion, moderated by Christoph Peter Baumann, religious academic and director of the Inforel information and counselling center in Basel, will take place on Tuesday, November 6 at 7:30 p.m. in the Lasser Restaurant.

Letter to the Editor

Expulsion for spies

Passau, Germany
December 29, 2000
Passauer Neue Presse

regarding the article, "No to literature from Scientology in the library" and the ensuing letter to the editor of 9 or 12 December:

"Indisputable fact is that the religious status of Scientology is officially acknowledged in important democratic states like the USA, Australia, South Africa and Sweden. The assertions presented by Mrs. Gerken sound downright adventurous. What she failed to mention in her letter to the editor is that she, according her own statements, is on the payroll of Constitutional Security and is paid to tell stories.
Finally, she was expelled from the Church because she did not hold to the goals and the religious profession of the Scientology Church."

Frank Busch

Letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editorial staff. The editors reserve the right to publish letters to the editor in abbreviated form.

Comment from Christer Lindström

Scientology is NOT approved by the swedish state as a religion, as the swedish state cannot approve or disapprove to anyone or any organisation stating that they believe in something.

The state can only verify that they have received such information from ANY entity that wishes to state themself as "religious". Therefore, the statement "officially approved" is incorrect. Scientology has not applied for anything. It has only used the right to register as a religious entity. It has nothing to do with tax-exempt status or other issues weighed in other countries decision-making of "official approval".

Christer Lindström

Exposed - What goes on under cover of faith?

RTL programming highlights for Tuesday, 4-4-2000

16:00, Hans Meiser

Cologne, Germany
April 1, 2000
ots, http://www3.newsaktuell.de

Three weeks ago, Scientology was acknowledged in Sweden as a "religious category." How the German organization stands will be shown by the Federal Constitutional Security's 1999 report, due to be presented 4-4-2000 by Interior Minister Otto Schily. In "Exposed - What goes on under cover of faith?", Scientology is also the theme of a live broadcast that same day by Hans Meiser. Guests will include Dr. Norbert Bluem, who took steps against Scientology and condemned it as "criminal" and "money-laundering" while he was in office as Federal Labor Minister, Tanya Neujahr, former Scientology Sea Org member, who will report on how she left the organization, Juerg Stettler, President and press speaker of SC Switzerland, and Sabine Weber, Vice President of "Scientology Kirche Deutschland e.V.".


Worthwhile or Wolf in Sheep's clothing

["Wert-voll oder Wolf im Schafspelz?" is a pun in German ... trans.]

Values seminar by RCDS in the Robert-Schuman building with Podium discussion on Scientology

Trier, Germany
January 31, 2000
Trierischer Volksfreund

by our staff member
Karsten Steil

[picture] Feisty and pugnacious in the service of the Lord: Hans Neusius in a lively discussion with Barbara Lieser of the "Scientology Church."
Photo: Karsten Steil

Trier. Church or religious business? How worthwhile is Scientology? Christian Democrat students discussed the matter with sect commissioner Hans Neusius and Scientologists.

The came, saw and heeded. The Ring of Christian Democrat Students (RCDS) invited Barbara Lieser, presiding President of Scientology Church Frankfurt and Hans Neusius, sect commissioner of the Trier diocese to the podium of the Catholic Academy for a verbal duel.

Energetic and with noticeable desire for a verbal frontal attack, Neusius put the professionalism of the Hubbard adherents in question at his latest meeting. In doing so, the diocesan commissioner made constant reference to the writings of Ron Hubbard, the founder of Dianetics. That is what Scientologists call the actual "teachings of belief" of the former science fiction author.

Hardly had the moderator, Juergen von Wnuk-Lipinski, opened the discussion than Neusius charged in full speed ahead: "Scientology is not a church nor a religion," stated the weltanschauungs expert. Neusius continued to say that such terms were used by members of the Scientology church only as camouflage gear. "Therefore this, for me, is not an interreligious discussion."

"For me, Scientology is a religion like many others," Barbara Lieser did not match the excitement of her opponent. Her defensive, charming and stylish appearance did not generally seem to fit entirely in with the known scenario of the Hubbard community.

"The goal of our endeavors is the complete utilization of the spiritual potential of each individual," the woman from Frankfurt summarized her philosophy. From her side, Lieser denounced mistakes of church teachings such as original sin, then taught more about "clearing" and the way "to complete spiritual freedom." Even "acknowledgments" were not spared from Neusius. He criticized what, from his view, was Ron Hubbard's "technical-biological image of people." "As far as I am concerned, that is only a revised edition of neo-Darwinistic ideology."

Besides wine, the promoters treated the Scientologist to a book on the theme of freedom and human rights when it was over. "The Academy is demonstrating anew the ability to discuss sensitive topics," von Wnuk-Lipinski praised the courage of the promoters.

The meeting was part of a three-day symposium of the RCDS, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and the Department of New Media under the direction of Katharina Zey-Wortmann at the Catholic Academy on the theme of basic values, for which more than 40 students from across the Republic traveled to the Mosel.

Contact seen as "crime"

Scientologist receives dubious letter /
Called "psycho-terrorism" by Constitutional Security

Bremen, Germany
July 26, 1999
Weser Kurier

Bremen Geli von Allwoerden is not afraid. When the woman from Bremen thinks about the letter which she received from two Scientology members not long ago, though, she gets uneasy. That is because the former member of the organization and her spouse, Thomas Kling, from the viewpoint of the Scientologists, committed a "high crime" when they made contact with our newspaper last May. According to Hamburg Constitutional Security, former members such as these are threatened with psycho-terrorism and libel from the side of the Scientologists.

Monday, July 26, 1999

"All nonsense," Gisela Hackenjos, Scientology press spokesperson, denied the accusations. She said the woman from Bremen and her partner should finally let the past go and leave the "Scientology Church" alone. She said the "high crime report" which Geli von Allwoerden received from the Scientologists through the mail was an "internal matter of the Scientology Church." She stated that these kind of reports are written on people who have "soiled" the writings and technology of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. "High crime reports" were alleged to have no effect on subject people like the pair from Bremen. Hackenjos stated, "The von Allwoerden woman can throw it into the trash can."

Security Checks with the "E-Meter"

Geli von Allwoerden was an active member of the Bremen Scientologists for twelve years. When she dared depart the organization four years ago with her partner Thomas Kling, her friends from the sect kept in touch with her. Her acquaintances had to pay a high price for their friendship with the apostates, reported Geli von Allwoerden. The men and women from the Bremen "Scientology Mission" continued to be required to undergo so-called "security checks" at the Villa on Osterdeich. The interrogations were carried out with the "E-meter," a form of lie detector. Presumably the organization was worried that the two former members were cooperating with German Constitutional Security.

"At some point in time we got tired of this surveillance by the thought police," said Thomas Kling. In early summer of this year, Geli von Allwoerden did something unthinkable for a former member: she marched directly to the "Ethics Officer" in the Bremen "Mission" on Osterdeich and told the perplexed woman that she finally wanted to be left alone, and to stop interrogating her friends.

Overtaxed "Scientology Secret Service"

Just the opposite happened. Resigned, the couple finally turned to our newspaper and thereby committed, in the eyes of the Scientology teachings, a "high crime." According to a policy by L. Ron Hubbard which is still in force today, people who publicly turn against Scientology are declared to be "suppressive persons." In the 1960s, Ron L. [sic] Hubbard wrote about such people that they could be "lied to, sued, tricked or destroyed." The sect press spokesperson, irritated, countered with, "This policy has not been in effect for 20 years."

Other ideas are expressed by the Hamburg Scientology Commissioner, Ursula Caberta. In contrast to the Scientologists' methods in the USA, German critics do not have to fear physical violence. However, whispering campaigns and harassment continue to be used to cause former members or journalists to be silent. For this purpose, the Scientology organization utilizes its private secret service, "OSA" (Office of Special Affairs). In view of the many former members in northern Germany, however, Ursula Caberta is convinced that the OSA has been overtaxed in their work.

According to information provided by the Hamburg Scientology specialist, the Villa on Osterdeich has recently been put up for sale. The Hamburg Scientologists are also said to be having massive problems. Presumably they will shortly be served with a notice to vacate.

Rose Gerdts-Schiffler

ZDF Presse announcement

ZDF scheduled program / Wednesday, July 28, 1999 10:15 p.m.
The Scientology Network and the Real Estate Market
Film by Jens Monath

Mainz (ots) -

"Scientology is broke - dwindling membership and empty cash tills," was only one of the many headlines from the past month which describe the alleged demise of Scientology. Scientology is said to be on the retreat; its power and image in Germany is over, say many sect experts. Is that the truth?

Research done by ZDF writer Jens Monath comes to a completely different conclusion: Scientologists are in high positions of power in German business and have constructed a network of reciprocal agreement which, to outsiders, is only vaguely discernible. On top of that are the statements by insiders which lead one to believe that the Scientologists have possibly been able to infiltrate whole market segments. For instance, over one third of all management training is in Scientology hands, according to a well-known church sect commissioner, and he strongly warns of making light of the danger from sects: "We are slipping into the American way of dealing with things. What Scientology is implementing here is an insidious fascism. I believe that the battle has long been lost; the Scientologists are established and they have achieved their goals."

ZDF writer Jens Monath investigated the danger from Scientology in an actual example from the real estate market for more than a year. The story described in the documentation had begun as far back as 1991. At that time a management trainer introduced himself to a large real estate company and urged that all top management personnel be trained by him. The company bosses turned him down because the man seemed unsympathetic to them.

At the same time a Scientologist managed to infiltrate the real estate operation as an independent subcontractor and gain a sympathetic ear from the boss - naturally no mention of Scientology was made. It was not until the wife of the head of the company quietly went to see a known Scientology critic that the attempted infiltration by the Scientologists came to light. When it was exposed, not only the business consultant left practically overnight, but also all the staff which had been newly hired by him and who were also Scientologists. That was when the entire extent of the attempted infiltration first became visible. Ever since this failed attempt by the sect to take over the business, the real estate operation has never been quite the same.

The highlight of the campaign against the real estate operation so far is an anonymous leaflet from January, 1999. In it, one of the two proprietors is called a sect leader. This accusation is still being spread by the media. The counter-argument is hardly given a mention; the facts appear too clear and the story is too good. Even if the story is not at all the way it is presented, but primarily shows how cleverly Scientology goes about doing away with opponents and forcing them out of the market.

In his documentation, Jens Monath, the ZDF writer, manages to get an insight into the strategy of the Scientologists who proceed with utmost ruthlessness against their opponents. He uncovers Scientologists, and not just in the real estate market. He describes the network which has already been in place for a long time. And he reports how he himself became an object of slander and gossip. "In an open letter on the internet sentiment is raised against me, as I have only seen from Scientology. I am imputed with untruths and attempts at deception. The whole thing leads up to a conclusion that by all appearances I have been bought. All according to the model which Scientology uses against opponents: throw garbage at him, make every possible accusation, perhaps something will stick."

Furet vs. Nolte

The new yearbook of extremism and democracy

Potsdam, Germany
April 24, 1999
"Die Welt"

by Juergen Angelow

The tenth yearbook of "Extremism & Democracy" continues to dedicate itself to relevant problem areas of research into totalitarianism: fundamentalist and extremist budding political movements along with the associated challenges for democratically based society and state presence in the twentieth century.

It works like a balance statement and analysis, yet closes out, with the turn of the century, an era marked by various totalitarian forms of domination and their downfalls. Although actual varieties of extremist politics continue to pose a danger, it can be said that a Hitler or a Stalin, together with their ideologies, no longer have the fascination they once did, since the culture shock from the mass terrorism of their respective systems continues to have an enduring effect.

As usual, this yearbook can be divided up under four headings: Analyses, Forum, Data/Documents/Dossiers, along with Literature, i.e. discussion. In the first part of the book, however, various basic problems are analyzed wherein the publishers discuss new forms of political extremism, thereby confirming transformations in the traditional concepts of "leftwing and rightwing."

Their contribution corresponds contextually with the next one by Frank Deckers, who has the changes in the meanings of both terms pass before him in review. After that Volker Kronenberg gives historical hindsight of the almost gone "tragic" 20th century, in which he compares the meanings and importances of the "totalitarian eras" by Francois Furet and Ernst Nolte with each other. The essay by the American political scientist, Juan J. Linz makes the attempt to categorize democratic societies according to the degree of their consolidation in order to be able to assess the stabilization of democracies newly formed since the 1970's, which is extraordinarily relevant, not least of all, with the background of the changes in eastern Europe.

Under the next heading of "forum", a representative of the Constitutional Security agency, a political scientist, a representative from the federal assembly and a representative of the "Scientology Church" discuss the issue of whether Scientology could be a new form of extremism and which measures could be applied in their case. Since this issue has been controversially discussed for a long time, it is not surprising that the opinions in this discussion also vary widely - including controversial assessments of how the problem should be approached politically.

Data/Documents/Dossiers contains contributions and themes which are quite different from each other. An analysis of the 1997 elections by Eckhard Jesse is joined by Uwe Backe's contribution on organizations categorized as "leftwing" or "rightwing extremist," for which a high potential for violence is cautioned. Uta Stolle applies herself to going over the "Stasi" legacy and interviews, for this purpose, the director of the agency named after him, former Rostock Pastor Joachim Gauck. Political extremism in its rightwing variants is pursued by Stefan Mayer, credit to the "Deutschen Volksunion" (DVU), an authoritarian "one man" party founded in 1971, and whose surprising election results in Sachsen in the past year justifiably alarmed the public. While Bettina Blank described the protest and the many forms of action against Castor Transporte in the scope of resistance against the utilization of nuclear energy (such as the manipulation of the protest by the violence prone leftwing), Tobias Winschik reconstructed the life route of the prominent German leftwing terrorist, Till Meyer. Reinhard Rupprecht made a case for the Constitutional Security officials as an instrument of pro-active democracy, and also the means adapted by the constitutional state to repress changing threat situations without neglecting democratic applications and convictions as well as socially related values. The views given in the analyses and the subsequent contextual contributions in the Forum and Data/Documents/Dossiers leave behind the impression of a collection of various opinions, disparate themes and methodical approaches to the above named, very comprehensive problem.

The second part of the book includes literary reports, reviews, short essays and an annotated bibliography. In summary, one could grant this yearbook a wide spectrum of interpretations, views and standards.

Uwe Backes, Eckard Jesse (Hgg.):

Jahrbuch Extremismus und Demokratie 1998.
[Yearbook of Extremism and Democracy 1998]

Nomos, Baden-Baden 1998. 494 pages, 98 Marks

Juergen Angelow is a historian at the Potsdam University.

Political discussion in Kiel about new Scientology activities

Wienholtz says not a case for surveillance

From: "Die Welt"
February 5, 1999

by Diethart Goos

Kiel - The Scientology Church has once again rocked the boat. A spokesperson for the controversial organization announced that its activity in Schleswig-Holstein would be increased. This threat immediately set off the alarm for the political parties. Interior Minister Ekkehard Wienholtz warned against taking compulsive action, and sees no more reason now than he did before for calling in Constitutional Security on Scientology.

In a meeting with "Die Welt" yesterday, SPD politician Wienholtz expressed his opinion, which has already repeatedly led to debate in the Kiel State Assembly. Schleswig-Holstein is the only German state in which Constitutional Security is not engaged in surveillance of the sect. There are several reasons for that, in the Interior Minister's view. Among them is the legal situation. The Schleswig- Holstein State Constitutional Security can only track organizations whose activities are directed against state security and liberal democratic basic order in aggressive form.

The Interior Minister believes that that is not the case with Scientology. This organization needs to be looked after by commercial regulation, the state attorney's office and tax office, but not state security. Wienholtz believes that the Interior Ministers Conference only confirmed his point in their presentation of the findings by the Constitutional Security authorities on Scientology. "What I saw in front of me only strengthened me in my conviction that state security is not the right means to use against the sect."

The Schleswig-Holstein Interior Minister has no doubts: "The Scientology Church is a dangerous organization which despises people. That makes it all the more necessary that the state attorney's office and other state institutions involve themselves with the sect." Moreover, he does not figure that Scientology will actually increase its activity in Schleswig-Holstein. Its announcement, he believes, is more of a sign that the sect is obviously struggling with considerable problems, and is fleeing forward.

In the last week of February, the Kiel State Assembly had again taken up the topic of Scientology. The opposition party, the CDU, had moved to strike the so-called aggression clause from the constitutional security law of the state in order to be able to use its service upon the sect. Wienholtz, however, reported to "Die Welt" that the SPD party would reject this move for the reasons he had described. To that, the Youth Union [Junge Union], as an offshoot organization of the CDU, demanded that Interior Minister Wienholtz, "the driving spirit in matters of Scientology," immediately have the organization put under surveillance by state security in order to avert any danger for Schleswig-Holstein. It further stated that all legal means would have to be used to prevent "the Scientology organization, which presents itself as a church, from attaining power in state and society."

Church distances self from Scientology critic Hartwig

Bamberg, March 31, 1998 (KNA) The Archbishop Ordinariat of Bamberg warned against cooperation with the Scientology critic, Renate Hartwig. The reason, according to the latest official newsletter from the archbishop's office, results from initial contacts with the author which have increasingly developed into polemics and misunderstanding, as well as defamation of the church's sect appointees. Hartwig is said to not restrain herself from using personal insult. The Author and her association, "Robin Direkt", are most known for the book "Scientology - I accuse you", which first appeared in the Catholic Pattloch publishing company in Augsburg.

Has Religious Freedom Ended for Scientology?

German-American Rights Meeting in Mainz

Summary of the podium discussion of May 14, 1997 by legal clerk Ingo Mayer

A high-powered podium discussion took place at the German-American Rights Meeting in Mainz which dedicated itself to this theme on May 14, 1997. Participants included Prof. John T. Cross, University of Louisville School of Law (USA), Ignatz Bubis, Chairman of the Central Jewish Council in Germany, Prof. Dr. Friedhelm Hufen, Johnannes-Gutenberg University of Mainz, Public Law, Hans Neusius, Commissioner for Sect Issues in Bistum Trier, and Barbara Lieser, Scientology Church Frankfurt, e.V. A representative of the Rheinland-Pfalz state administration had refused to share a table with the representative from Scientology. The moderation of the podium discussion was undertaken, as it has been in past years, by Heiner Baab LL.M., Attorney at Law (New York) and RA Dr. Roland Kortsik LL.M.

The goal of the meeting was the comparison of religious freedom in the USA and Germany with special regard to Scientology. The occasion for this was an open letter from 34 famous US artists to Chancellor Helmut Kohl, which was published on January 9, 1997 in the International Herald Tribune and re-printed on January 18, 1997 in the Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung [newspaper]. The artists asserted that the Federal Republic of Germany was treating Scientologists as the Jews were during the Third Reich [under the Nazis]. American artists who are members of Scientology, such as the jazz musician Chick Corea, as well as actors Tom Cruise and John Travolta have been boycotted in Germany at the behest of politicians, and they will no longer be engaged at official events. In Bavaria, applicants for civil service must state whether they are members of Scientology. The treatment of Scientologists in Germany has also been brought up by the US government, in US Congress and by the Human Rights Commission of the United Nations.

This podium discussion was the first meeting between a representative of Scientology and a representative of the Jews in Germany after the controversial letter. Interest in the event exploded with over 1,200 audience at the largest lecture hall at the University of Mainz. The news establishment was represented by five television stations, PHOENIX, SAT 1, SWF, ZDF and the American Associated Press TV, as well as by German radio.

The opening report by Prof. John T. Cross is printed above http://radbruch.jura.Uni-Mainz.DE/DARM/scientol.html. In order to promote understanding for each other, he believed it important to speak to each other and to listen to each other; the podium discussion is a medium suited for those activities. He described the relationship between the German administration and the Scientology Church as a "strange relationship." The large responsiveness towards the theme in the USA results from the situation in Germany in which state positions and politicians are turning against Scientology regardless of social dispute. In all the criticism, it is not the general membership to a group which should be remedied, but the individual reproachable conduct of each of its members.

Mrs. Lieser then explained to the audience what Scientology, in general, is. Scientology (from scire and logos = "know" and "study") states that it is a direct progression of Buddhism and strives for realization, which can be achieved through wisdom and redemption. In order to achieve this state of realization, one must be "audited" (in the sense of being listened to in spiritual counseling) and so gain the path of correct realization, whereby one learns something about oneself and progresses through various stages of salvation, which will result in more wisdom and understanding. She saw the reason for the attacks against Scientology as the lack of separation between church and state, in which the old churches are defending their monopoly against newly developing religious communities. As proof, besides the state's collection of church taxes, she referred to the fact that over 600 members of the federal and state assemblies have studied theology, including federal Labor Minister Norbert Blum. By describing personal experiences, she tried to get the audience on her side, the side of the persecuted victim - but she did not pull that off. Although she stood "at the whipping post" for the audience, she presented everything as factually and emotionless as possible.

Following that presentation, Prof Hufen familiarized the audience with the legal aspects. Before one can discuss the encroachment of religious freedom in regard to Scientology, one must first be initiated in the pertinent area of Basic Law ["Grundgesetz", GG]. In Germany no institution approves religious communities. Religious communities are acknowledged by power of Article 4 GG, only certain religious communities have special status as corporate entities with public rights. He mollified Prof. Cross by telling him that everything was in order with the legal situation in Germany, because in no other country has human rights and foreign cultures been discussed as much as in Germany. This has gone so far as to put one's own culture permanently at issue. He referred to the misunderstanding of the USA about Germany on this controversial theme as originating from its diverse traditions, and that it could also be traced to the fact that in the Basic Law of the Federal Republic, there is no clear separation of church and state, as is customary in the USA. Religious freedom in the USA is literally understood much more strongly that it is with us. In the definition of the concepts the difference is, nevertheless, slight. The difference arises from the diverse traditions. In contrast to the USA, there is, in Germany, Basic Law notwithstanding, a separation between church and state although there are also connections between the both of them, in which are shown, particularly in the Preamble and in the Education Article of Basic Law, the responsibility before God in the state constitution of Rheinland-Pfals and the understanding of natural law which has the stamp of Christianity. Along with that there are many more advantages and privileges for religious communities in the German legal tradition than is the case in America. That does not only go for the tax laws, but also for the competition law, social law, advertising law and termination of employment in the labor law. In other words, it pays to be a religious community according to German law. This is the only real point about which the entire discussion proceeds. Nobody has put an individual's freedom of religion at issue in this forum; this is about certain public privileges. In the Federal Republic, religious communities are not "approved," however the state associates extensive liberties, which are only afforded to religious communities, with these privileges. In the "Ragpicker ["Lumpensammler"] decision (BVerfGE 24,236,246) by the Federal Constitutional Court, it was made clear that a church is not a church solely on its own say-so, but can only be one if its activities relate to religious purposes and if its concept of self is visible from without. A reference to a fringe divine presence is not good enough. In order to be viewed as a religious community, the bulk of the community must have a relationship to a divine being or a transcendental entity, i.e., a line to the non-material world. According to Scientology, Scientology is the teaching of understanding, or of an understanding of understanding, a teaching which is directed towards the inner effectiveness or the inner person. In essence it is a mental technology of material nature. This does not only form the historic starting point, but also the center of gravity. Now it comes to money. Religion and money are not completely exclusive of each other. While religious communities need a financial means, it is to be noted that finances may not serve as the central point. The Federal Labor Court has therefore subsequently determined in 1995 that Scientology deals with the marketing of goods and services (books, courses, etc.), and that the commercial aspect is not a mere coincidence. If commerce is the goal of the center of activity, then this is a case of freedom of trade, of ownership, of commercial regulation and of commercial enterprise, and as such it is, of course, protected by the Constitution; however it should please stop asserting that this has something to do with religion. In that, Scientology is tied to legal regulation the same as any other, and must report its staff to social security insurance. Since the judgment of the Federal Labor Court has never been appealed, one would be forced to get the impression that Scientology does not want to have their issue resolved.

He thought that the boycott against artists who belong to Scientology is irrelevant. Scientology would not be a case for state security; what is being questioned is the offensive contextual dispute. In his presentation, which was repeatedly interrupted by applause, he demonstrated his stage talent and expressed his opinion pointedly and ably - it was a pleasure to listen to him.

Ignatz Bubis, who was visibly affected by previous speaker's presentation, gave free reign to his anger about Mrs. Lieser's assertion. On January 30, 1933, Hitler achieved the takeover of power, and on February 1, the first concentration camp was established. He proclaimed the letter in the Herald Tribune, whose contents Mrs. Lieser had edged away from during the course of the meeting at the insistence of the auditorium, an insult to every individual victim of the Nazi regime. He determinedly interrupted Mrs. Lieser as she compared the discrimination of the Scientologists in Germany "with the beginning" of the Nazi regime with the words, "where are your books being burned? Where are your members hidden away in the concentration camps?"

Hans Neusius smilingly raised the "Scientology Bible" (Hubbard's "Dianetics") and supported Mrs. Lieser's position in an ironic manner. He recommended that the audience read the book before addling their brains with their first auditing session. He repudiated the contents as if they were part of regular theology. He had detailed quotes at hand from insider letters about how the psycho-business of Scientology intended to operate "under the camouflage of religion, how it manages brainwashing [judgment control] on paying members, and the obscure views followed by head Scientologist L. Ron Hubbard. His conclusion was that "Scientology is a call to battle for changing people, but not a religion."

All in all it was an extremely thorough and rewarding podium discussion, which was continued by the members of the audience over a glass of wine long after the discussion in the auditorium ended.


The Fight about Scientology

What concern of the state is religion?

Counterfeiters amongst us

by Robert Leicht

August 23, 1996
"Die Zeit, Nr. 35"

Everybody should be happy in his own fashion, announced Old Fritz. Despite this half-generous, half-cynical dictum the Prussian king still saw to it that religions and the faithful did not come to odds with the public order in his state. And how do we keep it today? The Basic Law protects belief, denomination and conscience. Based on this law, may anyone do and have done what he wants insofar as his efforts are realized in the frame of a self-named church? Just as long he calls himself a "religion" which contradicts worldly probabilities in a preferred manner?

The fight over Scientology has shown how insecure our society has become - not just in the phenomenon of religion but also in this particular "religion." When an official in the U.S. State Department exercises criticism with regards to the German dealings with Scientology, that produces an especially disunited feeling: an inappropriate meddling in our internal affairs, but in fact perhaps it is not so unjustified, or is it?

Surely, taken from the viewpoint of the visibly obvious findings of the natural sciences, all religious congregations take on a certain out-of-this-worldliness. Who would want to push those limits? Of course that is not the question at all. Anybody may think or believe what he wants to. Also anyone may publicly belong to his religion - or to his religious weltanschauung. However, as soon as the individual, driven by his convictions, operates in public space then rules apply. The first one goes: if, in a democratically authored state, the protection of religions arises from the principles of human dignity and freedom, then there may be no religious practice permitted which violates the dignity and welfare of an uninterested party. When violations of this type against Basic Law take place, the state will have to put in a word or two.

In the fight over the Scientology sect, differences between the American and the German constitutional cultures have been emphasized. In fact, some of the differences in the United States have historical grounds. There the state is not permitted to make any sort of law concerning religious or church matters. The European states, in contrast, have just gradually freed themselves from the painful consequences of the investiture disputes of the Middle Ages, from the discussion of the precedence of Church and State. From country to country one still recognizes traces of church-state laws and other remnants of these conflicts. In Germany, they range from state collection of church taxes to the theological faculty at state high schools, from bias-protection in church operations to the dispute over church asylum

But in one point the trans-Atlantic difference is much less than presented: in all western nations, the nation has won the dispute over investiture. It is the state which preserves and protects religious freedom and is regarded as an important contribution to the public welfare; but nowhere does the state, at the summons of religion and philosophy, lose control of liberal order. And nowhere may (so-called) churches seduce the freedom of their members or even let freedom be influenced. This is why religious freedom reigns - where freedom is at stake, however, religion stops being purely a private matter.

When the Scientology sect, under the pretext of religion and church, economically exploits its members, psychically subjugates them and employs brainwashing tactics, when the public peace is at risk in that it terrorizes its critics, when it tries to infiltrate business, society and state along lines of its all-powerful fantasies - then the nation and its citizens have the Basic Law to protect - including that of the victim - decisively and without a bad conscience.

Religious freedom also comes under the proviso of Constitutional order of of the law of the land. All religious congregations manage and administer their affairs on the own - nevertheless their affairs must be within the limited of applicable law. And the proscription of Article 9 of Basic Law also, of course, applies to religious congregations: "Associations whose purpose or whose activities run counter to the law or against Constitutional order or against the idea of general understanding ('Gedanken der Völkerverständigung') are prohibited."

It goes without saying that legal Constitutional limitations apply to the opposition, be it Scientology or Moslem fundamentalism. The liberal Constitutional state does not tolerate extremists in civil service - that also includes recent extremists. The watchword is tolerance, but not ignorance.

Where the Scientology sect only chases after the attainment of money, the usual commercial and tax laws apply - the same as cloister breweries. When the sect exploits its members with alleged training feeds up to the point of losing the shirts off their backs, then this simply amounts to an illicit business, which - when it comes to court -is as devastating as any usury. That which must first be done with the established churches in detailed decisions on the tax law, also goes for sects and everybody else in general: the exit must be as free and unhindered as the entrance was. easy in, easy out - how else would it be?

Nobody needs to get worked up about the propaganda of the Scientologists and several of their American intercessors and agents. The principles at stake are as clear as the legal situation. Where is the recognizable insecurity coming from, then?

A strongly individualistic and materialistic society is apparently baffled by the phenomenon of so many people who feel an ineradicable or perhaps only a natural necessity to seek out their freedom - or even to lose it - by joining "real," established religions, non-denominational churches, sects, esoteric circles, philosophic movements, ideologies or authoritative, or sometimes badly managed associations. The secularization process has apparently only been successful in breaking down traditional ties. The need to be a member of a group, however, is still there. The Christian churches have not been able to come up with what is needed, from their point of view, to preserve their profile in the dialectics between faith and reason, and between obedience and emancipation. Because of this we have, in the meantime, a completely unmanageable market of alternatives. Also because of this is the apparently unavoidable loss of ability to differentiate between quacks, counterfeiters and serious offers.

Can we gain back an intelligent relationship between freedom and commitment? The boundaries of empty, possessive individualism continue to grow more clear in any case. In the meantime, all the state can do is to prevent charlatans and exploiters from carrying out their humans-as-the-enemy business.