Threatening Letters from overseas
From: "Focus 6/99, S. 38"
approx. February 8, 1999
With the help of US attorneys, Scientology has taken action against the defensive measures of German companies
The answer from the powerful US business headquarters sounded servile: requiring statements from employees that they are not Scientologists (SC) contradicted business politics, wrote Stanley Witkow, Manager of the world business General Electric (GE) on October 29, 1998 to William Walsh, the Washington attorney. For this reason he had told CompuNet, a German subsidiary "to not make such a statement a condition of employment."
US attorney Walsh, lobbyist for the controversial SC organization, can be pleased with himself. He only had to make a reference to practices which were allegedly "obviously illegal and in violation of international human rights conventions," and GE gave in. Scientology's recent campaign against "religious discrimination" in German companies is having an effect.
"Target groups of the Scientology move are subsidiaries of US businesses and and companies with commercial interests in the USA," said the journalist Thomas Kruchem, who has investigated the dispute between the organization and state and economy in his book "Staatsfeind Scientology?" (Koehler & Amelang). An internet page - which has since been removed - by Gerhard Waterkamp, a German emigrant to the USA, listed about 150 German firms under "Alliance for Liberty and Rights of Minorities." They all are allegedly "pursuing the business politics necessary to systematically discriminate against minorities." According to information obtained from German Constitutional Protection agents, attorney's letters have been sent to as many as 800 companies.
In their campaign Scientology points out that in the USA - unlike Germany - they are recognized as a church. The organization has received support from the tightening up of the procedure of the US administration against "religious discrimination": the "International Religious Freedom Act" passed by Congress in October 1998, threatens drastic sanctions in some cases against violations of freedom of religion. In his latest speech on the state of the nation, President Bill Clinton demanded that employees receive yet stronger protection from discrimination no matter what kind. The signal from the USA is clear: lawsuits and boycotts threaten businesses who are conspicuously disagreeable.
The success of the campaign has been verified by Kruchem's latest research: at the end of 1998, IBM Vice President Carl Belding communicated, in writing, to the organization that the German IBM subsidiary "Service Concepts for Information Systems, Inc (SerCon) would "harmonize their contract with other IBM corporations in Germany, in that the passages concerning their clients would be removed." RE/MAX, an international real estate firm is going to "immediately alter the language in its contracts." The Ford company had already given in to Scientology two years ago. In a letter of October 23, 1996 the company chief wrote the "dear Reverend Jentzsch" - the President of Scientology International - that Ford Germany had again, per board decision, just done away with their protection from the organization.
Companies who were asked for their opinion by Focus magazine cautiously stated that they would not use security statements against Scientology. However, Harald Lindlar, spokesman for the General Electric subsidiary CompuNet, thought that openly Scientology applicants would have poorer chances at his company than others.
Opponents of the organization are following the offensive with concern. For Ursula Caberta, chief of the Work Group on Scientology of the Hamburg administration, the results show "what power Scientology has in the USA." On the other hand, the activity is documentation that the measures taken in Germany have been effective against the organization.
Only a few companies have remained steadfast. For instance, the Bertelsmann Company, which belongs to BMG Entertainment, has not been influenced by the attorney's letters, "when we do business in a country, we respect the culture of that country and obey the laws." One does not act as though the laws of the USA apply worldwide.
Sending Scientology a "Clear Signal"
January 14, 2000
Leutenbach mayor asks employees for a "security declaration."
Leutenbach - Scientology will not be permitted to gain a position in Rems-Murr Community council building in Leutenbach. The mayor has required employees to sign a statement to that effect.
by Dirk Herrmann
Some observers see Scientology's importance as being on the decline. Not so Leutenbach mayor Juergen Kiesl, who has been in office for six months. In a letter to the 120 employees, the chief "very cordially" asked them to sign an enclosed "security statement." Kiesl referred to Constitutional Security and "Aktion Buildungsinformation," who say that Scientology operates "with methods contemptuous of people."
The Leutenbach community, according to Kiesl's requirement, "should not implicitly give the impression that it tolerates the machinations of Scientology by standing aside." The mayor does not see himself as a lone voice in his wishes to send out a "clear signal." "Mayor Sprengel" from Backnang already talked about such a procedure a year ago. Communities in Rems-Murr county which have already implemented the initiative include Korb and Aspach.
While the Baden-Wuerttemberg Community Assembly classifies such an action against Scientology "more of an exception" as one spokesperson stated, Kiesl mentioned his former employer, the city of Stuttgart, where he worked in the city's ordinance office. New employees had to sign a declaration there.
In Leutenbach the whole thing is supposed to happen voluntarily - even though Kiesl's predecessor, Horst Gebhard, failed to collect the signatures "with duress," as he was criticized by the personnel council at the time. Now, according to Kiesl, there is "really no reason not to sign the security statement." It is stated that anyone who, nevertheless, does not want to pick up a pen has "no consequences to fear in the work place," - even though it will be noted who does not sign.
A Danger to our Society: then and now
Security clause campaign against Scientology at the town hall:
Questions to Mayor Juergen Kiesl
January 13, 2000
Question to the mayor: Isn't this campaign like using sledgehammers to kill flies? There continues to be sentiment, even among Constitutional Security agents, that the "expansion" of Scientology is stopped, or even that the organization is on the downfall.
In his answer, Kiesl included his experiences from his time in office for public order in the Stuttgart council building. Three years ago, Scientology was advertising rather aggressively in the state's capitol city. At that time, the city reacted with a similar "security clause" campaign for its employees, in which at least educational personnel and newly installed city hall employees had to sign the declaration.
Kiesl's response included: "I personally am convinced that it has an active totalitarian structure now as it did before, and that it presents a danger for our society in that it makes an entrance as a religious denomination, but in reality uses religion as protective camouflage. Like a wolf in sheep's clothing. People who go along with that cannot differentiate between [the needs of city] office and their organization's urge for expansion. It has also been determined in the highest courts that Scientology does not have to do with a church or religious congregation.
Moreover, Kiesl mentioned, the initiative was not his; the personnel council had come to him. "I would not have brought it up on my own because that might have caused discontent among the staff, but I am fully behind it and support it. The personnel council, I and Primary Coordinator Wolfgang Schmidt are completely agreed. We do not intend to have anybody here who is using Scientology ideology or who advertises their humanly despicable practices."
What does Kiesl really expect to come of this? He assumes that everyone will sign, and that it is also practically certain that nobody employed in the Leutenbach council building is with Scientology. Once again Kiesl indicated that the campaign was being held on a volunteer basis. "But naturally those who do not sign will be noticed, then if anything here happens along Scientology lines we will remember that."
What if - against all expectation - somebody "admits" or signs the declaration and it comes out afterwards that he was or is "in." "Simple membership will be difficult to take sanctions against. But primary, official membership, read that as active operations for the organization, requires permission. And the Leutenbach community has not permitted such activity. In a case like that, we would require such activity to be brought to an end." And how does it look for new applicants? "There the situation is clear-cut. They have to sign the declaration," said Kiesl.