Scandal over Advertisement for Scientology

Advertisement in "Behörden-Spiegel" busies the Bundestag [German Federal Assembly]

Bonn Express
March 6, 1998
by Irmela Keppler

exp Bonn - With an easy smile an elderly gentleman touts a free book. It is the biography of an author "who is far ahead of his time." By itself this would not be anything unusual, if it were not for the fact that it dealt with Lafayette Ronald Hubbard, the founder of the Scientology sect!

Even more shocking: the large print advertisement has appeared in the February edition of the "Behörden-Spiegels", a monthly magazine out of Bonn for the civil service, which has a nationwide circulation of over 100,000 and is read by ministries, governments, councils and municipalities, including the city of Bonn.

Enraged readers bombarded the editors with calls of protest. Konrad Hoffken from a federal bureau said, "it is more than painful that a magazine for the employees of the civil service should serve as a forum for a sect." And Heinz Ossenkamp, head union representative of the German Civil Service Union said, "I take it that the advertisement was posted out of carelessness."

The speaker for sect politics of the SPD [Social Democrat] party, Renate Rennebach, member of the Enquete Commission's "Sects and Psycho-groups" found herself motivated to [raise an] official note of protest. "Incredible that something like this can still happen," said the parliamentary representative, who had just returned from a Scientology fact-finding mission in the USA.

Editor in chief Uwe Proll of "Behörden-Spiegel" conceded, "We feel we were misled. It was not known to us at the time the advertisement was put to press that it dealt with a secret advertisement for Scientology." The advertisement could not be stopped after that on legal grounds.

In the next edition the readers will be given an appropriate explanation. Moreover an interview with the chairperson of the Enquete Commission of the Bundestag has been planned. "In other regards", said Proll, "we have come to terms with Scientology numerous times in critical articles."

The convention for federal and state interior secretaries had at the convention's close in June, 1997, been assigned to preliminarily observe the controversial Scientology organization for a year, using all means at the disposal of the intelligence agencies to investigate their entanglements in state and commerce as well as their influence upon democracy in Germany.

After a year, according to a speaker of the Federal Officer for Constitutional Protection in Cologne, a definitive assessment of the constitutional congruity of Scientology could be delivered. For victims and ex-members of the sect the Cologne office has a confidential hotline established at 0221 / 792 6060. It is manned round the clock.