In the Sect Hot Pot

St. Galler, Switzerland
January 15, 2001
St. Galler Tagblatt AG

regarding "Support for people leaving sects" of January 3, 2001

This article ideally fits into anti-sect hysteria. So there is supposed to be a giant problem with this minority religion and there six places for ex-members is enough for all of Germany and Switzerland. Interestingly no numbers were mentioned in the article as to how many people have actually made inquiries. From that I conclude that this center exists more to create work for unemployed welfare academics. Inge Mamay already propagated that sort of center back in the '80s and found practically no interest. Unfortunately the article did not check to see if a need actually existed. In Switzerland there are about 500,000 members of minority religions which are decried in this article as sects, and not even one percent of them work for these groups. The others perhaps see see themselves at Sunday services being handled, regardless of whether it is a non-denominational church, the Jehovah's Witnesses, Scientology, Mormons or whatever the groups are all called, by being thrown into the sect hot pot.

I believe that the media also has a responsibility to deal with this theme less one-sided and to not forward on this sort of report uncritically.

Rainer Fend
Sonnenrainweg 13, 9008 St.Gallen

Fend has a Scientology page at:

Tolerance for minority religions

Letters to the Editor

In response to:
"Government treats sects with kid gloves" and
Commentary " ... and the government looks the other way"
16 December edition

Lucerne, Switzerland
December 22, 2000
Neue Luzerner Zeitung

According to article 15/2 of our federal constitution "each person has the right to freely choose their own religion and their weltanschauung conviction and to profess alone or in the company of others." The same constitution guarantees in article 8/2 an extensive and clear protection against discrimination. The word "discrimination" is defined in the Duden dictionary as follows: "1. to harm someone's outlook or reputation by (irrelevant) expressions or assertions in public; to disparage someone or something. 2. (through various dealings) disadvantage, demote; (by nourishing advantages) make despicable." "The Scientology Church and other sects do not threaten the internal security," runs the findings of the Federal Office for Police in their "Sect Report."

Since that is the case, what right do government agencies or media people have to spread mistrust of minority religions? If one can take the executive findings as being unbiased, then one would have to conclude that everything is all right with minority religions in Switzerland. Naturally this does not mean that all citizens will now be exhilarated about this religious multiplicity. Oh no, we haven't gotten that far with religious tolerance on our country! But this time the "intolerant citizens" are not the problem. According to a survey which I have recently conducted in the Lucerne vicinity, the great majority of people support religious tolerance.

When complaints about minority religions arise, that is mostly the result of an already existing attitude of prejudice against its members. On the basis of this attitude alone then, even the most normal activities (information, respectable conversation or the sole presence) can be perceived subjectively as "aggressive methods of advertising."

The real problem with minority religions is in the ranks of those who try to harm the reputation of such minorities with irrelevant assertions in public, namely, what we understand to be discrimination. And that in fact is counter-constitutional treatment. The time is coming for at least the holders of public office and media people to become aware of that and so cooperate in creating a climate of mutual understanding and genuine tolerance.

Hansruedi Schurtenberger,
Public Relations Officer, Dianetics & Scientology

A wonderful, simple, black-white spiritual world appears before us if we can lend credence to the words of Juerg auf der Maur. He talks of legitimate, "official state churches" on one hand in his commentary and of suspect "sect gurus" on the other. Nothing in between - God does not recognize gray ... The one appears to be blessed by the church and the other "affected by sects." Anyone who seeks spiritual fulfillment outside the church "suffers under the consequences" of this choice. While sects "recruit" with undertones of repression and aggressiveness, the author sees only positive things in "missionaries." He makes it appear as though "psychic dependency," "self mission" and financial debacles" threaten non-believers without exception or resistance.

Is everybody except adherents of the Torah, the Bible, the Koran and perhaps even Buddhism suicide cults or organizations in disguise seeking power and money? The author continues and names in his closing argument impending "complete disorientation and financial fiasco" and prophetically writes on the wall which does not even exist for some of his fellow human beings.

We read correctly, "While the official state churches are plagued by the departure of their members, sects and cult-like organizations - for whatever reason - are enjoying as much favoritism as they always have." Mr. auf der Maur asks a loaded question and then answers it himself - "for whatever reason." His comment shows a theosophical lack of awareness in the best case but is more like latent religious intolerance.

One should really be able to expect that professional journalists support what they say with a minimum of careful research before they make a statement about such a delicate theme as the church crisis. The commentary provided though offers only counterproductive smearing and indifference - two of the main reasons for the crisis. As long as legitimate spiritual alternatives are derided in favor of "established teachings," then nothing can change in the long term.

And last but not least people should never forget that even the Jewish faith as well as the entire Christian religion was once categorized by "official" political and spiritual power holders as dangerous sects. Rhetorical glass houses were never an appropriate ground for healthy belief, all the less wise for an attempt to defend these with verbal stones.

Dan Felber, San Antonio, Texas, USA

Drug Politic

VPM will be there

Bern, Switzerland
September 25, 2000
Berner Zeitung

The group association for abstinence-oriented drug politic has nothing against having sects as members.

On the occasion of the founding of the group association for abstinence-oriented drug politic (DaD) in March of this year, Bern Police Director and FDP National Council member Kurt Wasserfallen, in his function as president of the association, has not yet ruled out accepting sects or the controversial Association for the Promotion of Human Psychological Knowledge (VPM). One did not intend to "rule anybody out based on other activity," said DaD spokesman Gerd Josef Weisensee on Saturday when asked by the sda news agency. The VPM had sent observers to the delegate assembly. Weisensee can also conceive of Narconon's membership, which is associated with the controversial Scientology Church, as well as the Le Patriarche organization. He said that everybody could cooperate in the matter. The condition was, he continued, that nobody recruit for their own view on life.


Won't accept sects

Only sect members

Bern, Switzerland
September 26, 2000
Berner Zeitung

The group association of abstinence-oriented drug politic (DaD) will tolerate individual members of sects or of other controversial organizations in its ranks, but no sects will be accepted into the DaD association. DaD spokesman Gerd Josef Weisensee is being more precise as to the statement he made in yesterday's edition of the Berner Zeitung.