Support for people leaving sects

St. Gallen, Switzerland
January 3, 2000
St. Galler Tagblatt

An institution which helps former sect victims to find their way back into normal life came into existence in the German city of Leibenstadt. There has also been strong interest in Switzerland for that institution.

When one day sect members would like to depart their congregation because they feel they have been exploited, they often have nobody to help them. Their entire social system exists within the realm of the sect. By leaving their congregation they are also losing their social environment.

On the brink of oblivion

German social science scholar Inge Mamay describes the problem which people leaving sects have, "Most of those who have fallen into the hands of a totalitarian group with a religious background have lost all relationship to the outside world, no place to live, no job, no social security or retirement." Those are the people she wants to help, for which reason she founded the "Odenwaelder Wohnhof" in Leibenstadt. From the beginning experts in the area of the topic of sects have formed the backbone of the institution. For instance, journalist Hugo Stamm from Switzerland is a member of their committee.

Assuring finances

Up to six people can live at the Wohnhof and obtain therapeutic support for their return back to normal life. Mamay has been soliciting for financial support for the project since 1997. In Switzerland back then "Infosekta," the information center for issues of sects, brought attention to the project and solicited for contributions for it. At the end of last year the situation has eased a little bit: the "Wohnhof" was acknowledged by not only the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, but also by the Federal Republic as a model institution. In addition a software corporation's foundation has pledged to fund a major portion of the operating expenses. Anita Bruner, spokeswoman of the "Schweizerischen Arbeitsgemeinschaft gegen destruktive Kulte" (SADK) in Degersheim, is also happy about this new financial support for the project. So far nothing comparable has happened in Switzerland. Neither would it make much sense to build a similar institution here. She says she is in contact with Inge Mamay and lets Swiss people know about her alternative. She says it's good for people leaving sects to be able to get away from their old environment for a while.


March on Psychiatry prohibited

Embrach, Switzerland
December 14, 2000
Tages-Anzeiger Zurich

Embrach. - The municipal council has not granted approval for the Swiss Citizen's Commission on Human Rights (CCHR Switzerland) - an organization founded by the Scientology Church - to hold an anti-psychiatry rally. According to municipal president Albert Berbier, leaflets distributed by CCHR Switzerland contain false and libelous statements about consumption of medication, drug abuse and medical treatment in the Hard clinic. Fifty to a hundred sympathizers were to have taken part in a "silent march for the victims of psychiatry." The Scientologists plan on gathering in Embrach on Saturday despite the decision.


Despite warnings in Lausanne,
Scientologists still causing a nuisance

Scientologists thoroughly getting on the nerves of Lausanne residents

Lausanne, Switzerland
June 16, 2000

by Hugo Remund

Lausanne - Scientologists in Lausanne have been making a nuisance: the city is demanding that members of the controversial organization no longer bother pedestrians in the city's center. The organization arranged unlicensed concerts for three days and accosted people on the much frequented steps of Riponne Place. Police management finally got fed up: on Friday morning they ordered the organization to shut down their operation. If they resist, they face charges. Nevertheless, the nuisances are continuing, as the city has stated.

Hotel Kreuz

Conference called off

Berne, Switzerland
April 27, 2000
Berner Zeitung

A conference of "extremists" in the Hotel Kreuz has been called off. The hotel manager has put off the rightwing NPS party.

"I like a happy medium," said hotel manager Franz Schuepbach. He does not want to give a platform to "either rightwing or leftwing extremists" in his spaces. True to his motto, the chief of the Hotel Kreuz has put off members of the Swiss National Party (NPS). The members of the rightwing party, which was founded on April 16, had wanted to hold a conference in the Hotel Kreuz. According to Schuepbach, about "once or twice a year we do not make our spaces available to somebody." Those who are not invited include the Scientology sect. But with about 2,400 meeting per year, it is impossible to check out whether or not "serious" institutions stand behind all the acronyms. hpr

The state should get more strongly involved with the problems of sects

Bern, Switzerland
November 7, 1999

Bern - The state should actively pursue a sect politic. That was stated by participants of a conference on sect problems in Bern. Although sects hardly presented a danger for the state, they could exert coercion on individual members. The state, as protector of tolerance, would have to acknowledge the basic right of freedoms of belief and conscience, said SP National Assemblyman Alexander Tschaeppaet. But it would also have to intervene when coercion was applied.

In the name of the National Assembly's Business Review Commission, Tschaeppaet called for the Federal Assembly to create an information and counselling center for sect issues.

Bern must finally handle sects

Bern, Switzerland
July 3, 1999

The Federal Assembly is supposed to protect the people from sects. This is required by the National Assembly's Business Review Commission.

by Hugo Stamm, Bern

For over ten years the Federal Assembly has refused to become active in the realm of sects and form a suitable politic. Therefore the Business Review Commission of the National Assembly (GPK) dealt with the theme for two years and wrote a report which was presented in Bern by National Assemblymen Fulvio Pelli and Alexander Tschaeppaet. "The GPK requires that the Federal Assembly formulate a sect politic and establish a counseling and information center," said Tschaepaet, President of the GPK.

Consumer Protection Required

The Commission is now requesting that the Federal Assembly take concrete measures. The GPK demands a sort of consumer protection in the areas of "movements which produce an income" ["vereinnahmenden Bewegungen"], information campaigns, research projects and the coordination of cantonal legislation. Besides that the state government should insure that loopholes in the legislation are closed up.

Tschaeppaet pointed out that several European countries and the European Parliament already have such measures formulated or enacted. Yet in Switzerland, of all places, which has an above-average share of sect problems, not one federal agency is assigned explicitly to the phenomenon. The work is left up to the cantons, private institutions, the state churches and a portion of the press, it said in the report. The opinion of the Federal Assembly that no need for action exists was not acceptable to the GPK, said Tschaeppaet at the media conference. The government must set an example and help break the ice in regards to the problem in order to contribute to the information and the work in prevention. Society has become susceptible to sects because the social network has been disrupted, giving many people a sense of crisis, explained the GPK. Because of this the phenomenon could no longer be regarded as strictly a private matter. Therefore, it was said, the federal government also has to get involved.

Federal Assembly should break the Taboo

Bern, Switzerland
July 1, 1999
BernerZeitung (BZ)

The Federal Assembly must finally recognize "that the sect phenomenon is no private matter." The Business Review Commission of the National Assembly there demands a national sect politic.

In contrast to Switzerland, other nations have broken the taboo on the theme of sects and have long made it a public matter. Now the National Assembly's Business Review Commission (GPK) is also requiring that of the state government: taking a clear position becomes all the more necessary as the turn of the millennium "the end of time" approaches. The Commission has been studying the problem extensively for a number of months. In its report it comes to the conclusion that a Swiss sect politic is urgently needed. "Religion is no longer a strictly private affair," commented GPK President Alexander Tschaeppaet (SP, BE) yesterday before the media.

Viewed statistically, Switzerland appears to be behind only Great Britain and Holland in being affected by the multiplicity of religious movements. At the hearings, the Commission presented the estimates of the experts as between 200 and 800 categories. It is said that Switzerland imports practically every movement. It also has its own categories like Uriella and Methernita, but hardly exports any mysticism. The GPK did not rely on any definition of sect, but pointed out characteristics like psychic manipulation, dependency upon the group and totalitarian structure.

From the GPK's perspective, sect politics should also include the creation of a nationwide, non-denominational information and counseling center. The Federal Assembly should also launch an information campaign and support interdisciplinary research. The GPK sees as a central mission of the Federal Assembly the coordination of work between Swiss federal and cantonal centers. Also the federal government should see to it that the law is better implemented and that the cantons are uniform in their practice (see interview).

The Federal Assembly has until the end of September 2000 to take a position on the recommendation of the GPK. It will probably require the entire time allocated: in the hearings the departments interested gave very different reactions. According to Tschaeppaet, the Department of the Interior expressed agreement with the aims and conclusions. The EDA and the EJPD also agreed to the publication of the report. The VBS, in contrast, maintained that the recommended measures were "irrelevant, inefficient, unnecessary and expensive." sda/kab

Buchs to remain firm on Scientology ban

Buchs, Switzerland
June 22, 1999
Tagblatt Lokales

(sda) In spite of reactions from Scientology, the Buchs Community Council is sticking to its fundamental decision from the end of May: Scientology may not use public land for unfair and deceptive recruitment of pedestrians. According to a release issued on Monday, the Community Council supports a Basel criminal code. Scientology filed an objection to this standard with the Federal Court. The objection, which is still pending, does not have the effect of delaying the enforcement of the code, said the press release.

Buchs is taking restrictive measures against the Scientology Church along with the cities of Wil and Lausanne. Since March 1998, Lausanne has banned any public activity by Scientology in the city. The city based their decision on the activity of the organization being "overboard" in the several weeks prior. However, Lausanne had to ease up on this prohibition. Since the end of June 1998, Scientology may recruit twice a month on St. Francois Place.

Buchs prohibits Scientology activity

Buchs, Switzerland
June 9, 1999
Tagblatt Lokales

(sda) Pedestrians may no longer be accosted in public space in Buchs by Scientology members. The District Council based its decision upon a Basel City criminal ordinance. Upon publication of the District Council's decision on Tuesday, the telephone rang in District Council Secretary's Mario Duesel's office. It was a suggestion from the Scientology camp that the decision should be corrected. The Council has no reason to review its decision at the present time, however. Scientology will have to resort to putting its request in writing, said Duesel. Other communities have had the same problem as Buchs. Fifteen months ago the city of Wil turned down an application by the Scientology Church. Scientology had wanted to operate an information stand in Wil.


First Basel, now Buchs

Buchs, Switzerland
June 9, 1999

Buchs SG. - Pedestrians in Buchs may no longer be confronted by Scientology members on public ground. The District Council based its decision on a criminal code of the Basel City Canton. The new Basel criminal code has been in force since last November. An open objection by Scientology before the federal court cannot serve as a delaying tactic, according to court decision.

District Council Secretary Mario Duesel said that he received a suggestion from the Scientology camp to correct the decision after the District Council's decision was published on Tuesday. He said that the District does not have any reason at the present time to review the decision. Scientology was advised to put its request in writing. (SDA)

As posted, the Clinton administration continues to aggressively promote Scientology, even mentioning Scientology in the State Department's summary report at

On a particular response from Peter Widmer, of Waldegg, Switzerland, I wrote back and asked if he minded if I translate and post his response. He answered (in English):

Oh sure, and with my name. I'm a Swiss and we respect free speech, but also the American HRW says the same [as what I did]:

... then he added, in German:

L. Ron Hubbard in HCOPL 17 March 1965

"The reason why democracy [...] is collapsing is that it also protects the rights of its members who are trying to destroy it."

An essential principle of this is that democracy can only function if each individual not only claims his rights, but also fulfills his obligations. Therefore it is neither a contradiction nor a betrayal of democracy if individuals or groups who only claim rights for themselves without wanting to get involved in any obligation (or even want to get rid of democracy altogether) are excluded from participating in political, legislative or executive committees. As far as I can judge (perhaps you know better), Scientology does not have any real separation of power; the enactment of laws (policies, etc.), putting them into effect, review and the punishment of offenses are all handled by one person (or by those closely connected to him).

Peter Widmer

In spite of everything, it is troubling to see how the US continues to go the bother of complaining about human rights violations in other countries while the US itself only partially fulfills the points outlined in the Human Rights Convention. Because of this, its complaint of "human rights violations" appears to other countries as a diversionary tactic to distract attention from its own internal problems.

The "Human Rights Offices" of Scientology are a whole different story. As is known, Scientology and the cult apologists are best represented by diverse ngo's in international organizations such as OSCE. My suggestion to the administration representatives of the OSCE would be to scrutinize all accredited ngo's so as to prevent one interest being represented multiple times and to exclude obvious human rights violators, wolves in sheep's clothing (cover organizations under the guise of a religion). Otherwise a situation could come about whereby the human rights advocates were supporting a "democratic" majority of the mafia of destructive cults and their apologists which would actually prevent human rights from being put into place. As the first real proposal I would recommend a review of the following organizations (mentioned in the Scientology booklet 'Wiederherstellung und Schutz der Religionsfreiheit' ["Restoration and Protection of Religious Freedom"] (Perhaps several of these have the "honor" of cooperating, without their knowledge, with Scientology.)


Europäisches Menschenrechtsbüro der Scientology Kirche
(Church of Scientology - European Human Rights and Public Affairs Office)

in cooperation with:

Ad Hoc Komitee zur Untersuchung von Diskriminierung gegen religiöse und ethnische Minderheiten in Deutschland
[Ad Hoc Committee for the investigation into discrimination against religious and ethnic minorities in Germany]

Rat für Menschenrechte und Religionsfreiheit
[Council for Human Rights and Religious Freedom]

Greek Helsinki Monitor

Internationales Institut für soziale, kulturelle und religiöse Verständigung
[International Institute for social, cultural and religious understanding]

International Council of Community Churches (Human Rights Office)

Lift Every Voice, Inc.

Religious Freedom Foundation

The Tolerance Foundation

Unity-and-Diversity World Council"

Peter Widmer

Auditing for Sale

From: "Focus Nr. 35"
August 24, 1998

Former members challenge the psycho-cult with competitive prices for courses

Raidar Tavarez relinquishes his protection from atomic radiation.

After 14 years on the "Bridge," which is what the controversial Scientology organization calls its path to salvation, the 32 year old man had had enough of the growing social pressure and increasingly expensive courses. Tavarez left the sect, thereby giving up his chance to attain the highest grade of enlightenment of promised invulnerability.

Nevertheless, Tavarez cannot do without the obscure teachings of sect founder L. Ron Hubbard. He says they "surpass all other known therapies." Along with other ex-Scientologists, he now tries to to experience "pure Hubbard."

Whether it be a circle of friends, as are those of Tavarez' group, or a legally registered association by the name of "Freie Zone" [Free Zone] which is organized with its headquarters in Bavaria - an ever-growing number of former members are becoming a serious threat to the self-named Scientology "Church." The one-time Scientologists have one thing in common: they reject the cult as "totalitarian," yet retain Hubbard because they see something "worthwhile in his philosophy and in his techniques." That is how Silvia S., an ex-Scientologists explains it. She runs a "counseling center" in Walchwil on Zuger Lake. It is a gathering point for numerous Hubbard adherents from southwest Germany.

The former members offer the Hubbard teachings at "dumping prices." Adherents of the Free Zone offer an "auditing session" - a mixture of discussion therapy and interrogation on an e-meter - for 100 marks. Scientology charges nearly 600 marks per hour for this. Up to a half a million marks must be invested if a person wants to reach the highest grade of the controversial psycho-group. Ursula Caberta, the Scientology Commissioner of the Hamburg Senate, sees this competitive offering as "the lesser of two evils," which could alleviate the shock of leaving the sect business. This opinion is shared by Thomas Gandow, the Sect Commissioner of the Evangelical Church in Berlin Brandenburg. He believes the Free Zone is "okay" as a transitory point on the way back to a normal life. However, Gandow warns, "Anybody who believes that he would get the positive side of Hubbard there is mistaken. His teachings are not the way to therapy."

The apostates do not just wait for people to leave the sect, but make an active effort to weaken the psycho-cult. In the early 1990's, Silvia S. and Ruedi M. launched a letter-writing campaign to Scientologists known to them in Germany and Switzerland to win them over to their side.

The sect and the former members do not only compete when it comes to gaining adherents. Bernd L., a Free Zone organizer, who does not want his full name published because of fear of persecution by the Scientology organization, has another poker in the fire for Scientology. Members of the Free Zone have obtained the rights to a book entitled "Scientologie." It appeared in 1934, and was written by Anastasius Nordenholz, a German Argentinian. Therefore, the people from the Free Zone possess the copyright for the germanization of the sect name. "It is completely conceivable," says Tavarez, who has published a book ("Versklavte Seelen", [Enslaved Souls]) about his experiences in the Hubbard cult, "that the Free Zone may soon be designated as the Church of Reformed Scientologie."

FOCUS 35/1998

Association for ex-members
The "Freie Zone" was founded by Bill Robertson, a high-ranking Scientologist, who left the cult in 1982. Adherents of the Free Zone retain the teachings of Hubbard, but reject Scientology as an organization. The members mainly communicate through the internet.

Basel Law against Sect Recruitment

From: "Basler Zeitung"
July 10, 1998

by Valentin Kressler

Geneva wants to take measures

Basel. BaZ/SDA. Except for Basel, Switzerland has had no activity regarding Scientology for some time. In the middle of November, 1997, the sect made headlines in Germany, when they were put under surveillance by German intelligence. The USA, where Scienology is recognized as a church, talked about "government discrimination." However, the House of Representatives recommended against Clinton's meddling in German politics.

Tired of sect agitation, Geneva entered into discussion in which it was made clear that Scientology is not their primary concern. Since the events with the Sun Temple sect, the [Geneva] canton has appreciably increased its fight against the growth of sects. This has included working out a disciplinary standard of law. The administration will open talks this summer on the matter.

The Geneva canton administration would like to create a legal basis for cases which includes seeking help for dependents of sect victims. This is what Gerard Ramseyer, board member of the canton Justice and Police department, told journalists on Wednesday of this week. Experts are disputing how criminal procedure could be applied in this area. The one side contends that the administration of justice must be left up to the judges within the realm of existing law. The other sides recommends the introduction of an new penal code.

According to the present proposal for applicable criminal code, fines or confinement would be given to those who systematically and repeatedly exploit third parties by putting them under physical or psychological pressure in order to weaken their judgment or to place them in a position of dependency.

Geneva und Sects

From: German yahoo news
Wednesday, July 8, 1998, 15:00

Criminal procedures for the fight against sects to be reviewed in Geneva

In case it is decided that changes are needed, the presentation of a *civil initiative on the confederation level will be taken into consideration.

Geneva (AP) In the Canton of Geneva the proposal of special criminal measures for the fight against sect activity will be reviewed. This proposal by a commission of experts, which was presented on Wednesday, is now supposed to go before a general hearing and in any case will be submitted before the confederation assembly as a civil initiative.

A work group under the executive committee of the Geneva University professor, Francois Bellanger was put in motion by the drama involving the Sun Temple sect in 1996. Techniques which are often used by religious groups to subjugate their adherents or to place them in a condition of dependency are often not sufficiently taken into consideration by the law. For Bellanger there are two possibilities. Either the scope of existing law needs to be expanded, or special legislative measures need to be created. These legal measures could, in the estimation of the group of experts, be proposed on the national level. Punitive measures would be undertaken upon those who, psychically or physically, repeatedly and systematically put people under pressure so as to weaken their judgment or to put them in a condition of dependency. Opinions are to be gathered from other cantons, churches, and the Confederation assembly this summer with regard to broadening the scope of existing law. In the event that a change in criminal procedure would come to a vote, the Canton of Geneva will possibly also propose the introduction of a civil initiative on the national level.

Notes: *** civil initiative = Canton initiative. A Canton has the right to present an initiative to the Confederation parliament.

Canton: one of the states of the Swiss confederation.

Proposed Crackdown on Sects

From: html

June 9, 1998 (19:27)

The Geneva City Council decides on measures against sects

GENEVA - The Kanton of Geneva wants to better control the activities of sects. The State Council has presented a whole series of measures for this purpose. Proposed laws include one against the misuse of the term "church." Sect victims are to receive better support.

According to the wishes of the Administration, the Geneva Greater Council ("Genfer Grosse Rate") will decide upon a standing initiative for the (Swiss) Federal Council ("eidgenössischen Räte") In that initiative, religious communities would be obligated to register as businesses.