January 25, 2000
In reply to "Scientology strange tax morals," TA of January 5
1. There is no "therapy seminar" which costs several hundred franks per hour. The price for one seminar hour is approximately 13 franks, as recently confirmed by a Swiss court. In contrast to that, auditing is a private consultation, each hour of which costs about four hours wages.
In none of the 27 years of its existence with its 130 staff has Scientology Church Zurich ever gotten money amounting to over 10 million franks for taxable or declared contributions for religious services or books, etc. The income is regularly far below that.
-- The "Tages-Anzeiger" lets its article stand as is.
October 8, 1999
Scientologists without School Permit, TA of Oct. 1
[This is a letter to the editor in response to 991001a.htm.]
At first I could not even believe this report, and felt like I had been transplanted into a dictatorial land. Can it be that thought control has made its appearance here and only certain groups of people are entitled to human rights? Just 80 years ago there were employment bans on members of certain groups and I thought that was only history. The director of the school was not actually accused of anything, her only crime is that she is a member of Scientology and this is her private belief.
Since the Lucerne government supported its decision on prejudice, had not looked into the situation for itself, and has hoisted itself on its own petard, then one can now conclude that this decision will have to be rescinded again, unless the thought police arrive to sort out the proper and acceptable citizens of the population from the people with new ideas and "wrong" beliefs.
Gianni Marra, Regensdorf
Keeping sects in line of July 3, 1999
July 17, 1999
The decision of the Federal Court was also of interest to us. Namely, the court made it clear that non-annoying address of persons on the street is right and that it must be possible for a religious denomination to spread its faith on public land. Finally this puts an end to the years-long controversy. Scientology will continue to pass out information about itself even in Basel, whereby out members will carry placards so that every passerby has the right to know with whom he is dealing, and, of course to also be able to refuse contact.
I think that the decision will contribute towards establishing tolerance towards minorities and that the passing polemic discussion on minority religions will become somewhat more factual, even if the report on minority religions by the GPK brings somewhat more polemics into the discussion.
141 Badener Str
When I read in this article that procedures will be taken against sectarians I understand that on one hand, but on the other hand I feel somehow afraid. I do not belong to any sect; I am a plain Christian woman with a steadfast Biblical conviction. But who is not to say that in a couple of years everything will not be seen as sects? At the moment the talk is all about the Solar Temple and other extremists. Between the lines, though, it unmistakably reads that in principle any particular denomination will be taken as sectarian, insofar as it puts other denominations in question. - How can I hold onto our Christian inheritance in the future without being persecuted as a sectarian? Is the central branch of our Christian faith to be the claim of Jesus, "Nobody goes to the Father except through me"?
Café Panorama, 9428 Walzenhausen
Giving spiritual healing free reign on the open market
July 17, 1999
Superstitions, sects: Bern must act, TA of 3 July
I have been following the discussion on the theme of sects for a long time and am mildly surprised that the Business Review Commission of the National Assembly (GPK) has joined in with the general hysteria.
Instead of trying to integrate these groups into society or to promote dialog, radical measures are being demanded which will further alienate these groups. The question remains of in whose interests this would lie.
The report has an abundance of generalizations and prejudices, and one gets the impression that all minority religions are being thrown into one pot. I am confident that the Federal Assembly will differentiate better and not embark upon a campaign which has been advocated by several extremist groups.
It is really a positive aspect that many religious groups of this type are found which spread very different ideas in Switzerland. If individual members of individual groups step over the line, then the current laws are adequate.
It is also interesting that the representatives of the state churches rally behind the Business Review Commission. Perhaps they hope that the Federal Assembly will help them to keep the competition at bay with warning campaigns? They recognize that they, too, were once a "sect" who were fought by the establishment at the time.
Even if I do not agree with all the ideas and activities of these groups, I am glad that there are many groups of this type which will bring more spirituality into our everyday life, whether they are called Evangelicals, Mormons, Scientologists or Jehovah's Witnesses.
Religiousness must continue to be discussed more in our society. But if it turns out that intervention by the state is demanded, that is aiming toward a totalitarian state which would prescribe for us citizens what we have to believe and do in our private lives.
Fritz Bruegger, Muri AG
The GPK of the National Assembly demand from the Federal Assembly that the citizens be protected from sects. Nothing is said of how that is supposed to happen. Certainly there are dangerous sects which, for example, advocate collective suicide.
That is not good enough for extremist sect specialists like Hugo Stamm. Several years ago, when he was co-responsible in Zurich for the publication of the book, "Paradise can wait," he showed where he sees sects. Not there in the usual place, where something has been taken away or added to the Bible. Everything which calls itself a non-denominational church is where Hugo Stamm sees them, also their teachings are based on the Bible, and even more precisely than those of the state churches.
Ursula Laercher, Zurich
Hugo Stamm wants to prescribe for us what we should believe and what we should not, in that he aims so imprecisely against "sects." He even pretends that the term is difficult to define, but uses it anyway. Are these sects providers of New Age healing methods or charismatic Christian fringe groups with conservative social values and group dynamics? The true source of curing the souls of one sect is also that of another sect. That is how imprecisely he talks about the GPK report.
Stamm's article appeared to me as an attempt to launch a campaign of instigation against a very unclearly defined internal enemy. For that he used the entire journalist box of tricks from personal attacks with names of known officials (who only have different opinions) through the very worst - and atypical - extremist case of the Solar Temple and appealing to the protective instinct for children. These argumentations are dangerous, authoritarian and undemocratic, the cheapest form of popular journalist and is reminiscent of religious McCarthyism.
As a free thinker and an atheist I have a certain understanding for Hugo Stamm. Could I use such a law to protect my grandchildren from converting to Catholicism? The line between state churches and non-denominational church are unclear and varies according to the mode in trend and society. In Switzerland Mormons are alienated, however in the USA they have long been part of the political establishment.
Behind Hugo Stamm's fears I detect a certain competitive pressure from the state churches in this free market of spiritual salvation and find the situation completely comparable with the pressure from the former monopolists in the de-regulated markets such as, for example, Swisscom.
The right to free choice of the form in which one experiences faith is part of the basis of our democracy, to freedom of opinion.
Mark Furner, Winterthur
In the TA of July 12, Heinrich Frei from Zurich reported his view about sects and world religions. I see, however, no connection to the German defense forces, which he insulted as "multiple-murdering Soldateska." Frei is apparently not aware that the Western Allies credited their enemy with bravery and integrity. There were no war crime tribunals against the defensive forces.
Arthur Hollinger, Samstagern
I am very happy about the refusal by the Federal Assembly to take any action against sects, because that would mean that yet more money would be thrown out the window and still more laws would be made. And mostly because a sect information and counselling center would have the effect of public discrimination against every imaginable group. Article 8, point 2 in the Federal Constitution reads that nobody may be discriminated against, not because of origin, race, gender, age, language, social position, manner of living, religion, philosophical or political conviction or because of physical, mental or psychic handicaps.
This information center would certainly not be "very objective and helpful" and would only instigate people more against each other or even put them into a panic. All these opinions about this theme are simply relative, that means everybody must have the right, and one will always find a way to accuse or discriminate against someone. Where does all that lead?
The solution is certainly more tolerance and understanding, definitely not subsidized counselling center which distribute their pre-written opinions.
Yvonne Kuendig, Zufikon
Letter to the Editor
Sheep Grazing in the Dark
Red Carpet for the Charlatans
TA of June 28
July 15, 1999
Hugo Stamm has done a great service in exposing the machinations of sects. Thanks to his involvement the danger from these sects can no longer be brushed aside in Switzerland.
Since he has been looking more at the esoteric fields, the motivation for his action is becoming increasingly clear. Sectarianism appears as though it is being projected on a giant screen. Through his writing and behavior one continues to see that he is fighting externally what his internal problem must be.
And now the spirit and nature healers are next in line. Now he wants to protect the poor people from these charlatans. Once again, any sort of self-determinism is to be denied the people. I am convinced that much less room will be provided for the so-called charlatans when the spiritual healers and nature healers can finally work in freedom, in the light, in acceptance, and not continue to be forced into illegality. The black sheep feel at ease in illegality, in darkness.
We the people are absolutely capable of being able to tell the dark from the light sheep, but only in the daylight and not in the night. For that I would like to express a gigantic compliment for Verena Diener because she empowers people and no longer wants to be forced into the shackles of school medicine. We have the choice.
Teresa Eisenring, Koesnacht
Letter to the Editor
July 10, 1999
On "Protecting children from sects," TA of July 3
The demand of the Business Review Commission of the National Assembly for the federal government to protect the populace from sects sounds like a call for cartel protection.
The largest and most dangerous sect among us for centuries has been Christianity: this religion has murdered the most people and has suppressed everybody who could place it in question.
Hugo Stamm wrote about harm which sect adherents could suffer, "The GPK mentioned the spiritual discouragement and alienation from family." Christianity and Islam pose the classic example for spiritual discouragement and alienation from life. They are the ones responsible for a family only being capable of functioning under a castrating patriarchy. This sort of thing has absolutely nothing more to do with a real family.
The expectation of a Christian state protecting the people from sects is just about as naive as expecting a violent criminal to castrate himself.
Brigitte Maurer, Seengen
Scientology under Scrutiny
Controversial Sect Specialist
From: "Tagesanzeiger Zurich"
February 4, 1997
Zurich, Switzerland. - The State Security Commission is examining whether Scientology must be placed under surveillance. Of all people, Jean-Francois Mayer, who himself operates in the sect environment, was entrusted with this sensitive assignment. The problem: in an internal memo the commercial sect [Scientology] classified the historian [Mayer] as a "supporter." (sta.)
State Security and the Friend of the Sects
From: "Tagesanzeiger Zurich"
February 4, 1997
A controversial sect specialist authors report on Scientology
The story sounds like a a script for a spy movie. Jean-Francois Mayer, sect specialist, wrote a report for State Security on the commercial sect of Scientology. However, the state security agents do not know that the man himself operates in the sect environment.
by HUGO STAMM
The investigative State Security Commission is examining whether Scientology endangers the inner security of Switzerland so that it must be placed on the list of organization under surveillance. For this reason they gave Jean-Francois Mayer, the historian from Freiburg, the assignment of writing a report about Scientology.
Since Mayer had written various brochures and books as a sect specialist and had worked at the defense center for six years, he was the ideal expert for the State Security Commission. As a federal officer who wrote secret reports on the international security situation, and who advised the federal assembly in questions of security politics, he enjoyed the confidence of the EMD. Just one thing: State Security did not know Mayer's past in detail, and neither, apparently, did the EMD.
Jean-Francois Mayer is an iridescent figure. The 39 year old historian from Freiburg appeared in the spotlight of world publicity in the wake of the Solar Temple massacre. He was the only expert who had had contact with the doomsday sect and who had known Luc Jouret, the sect's leader. The press was knocking his door down, the more so since he had been consulted as an expert advisor by the investigation officials. The media was startled to learn that the Solar Temple followers had sent Jean-Francois Mayer a farewell or confessor letter. Did the sect specialist enjoy the special trust of every cult which had urged its adherents to their deaths?
In the Service of the Sects
The question would not have been out of place, since Mayer had put himself in the service of various sects and questionable organizations on more than one occasion. What Mayer himself described as "participating observation" turned out to be full-blown contact with totalitarian movements that put their adherents under consciousness control. Mayer's political past also arouses suspicion. As a student he moved among right extremist groups, and wrote for "brown" [neo-nazi] newsletters.
Mayer has had an eventful past, as shown by a couple of facts:
-- The historian had written, in the early 1980's, an article for the Scientology newspaper "Ethique et Liberte" about a sect report from the Netherlands. Mayer was also mentioned in a positive sense in the Scientology newspaper.
-- Mayer figured as a potential supporter on a list written by French Scientologists. The list contained people contacted by Scientology whom they could count on to defend them in the event of an attack on the commercial sect. Scientology categorized Mayer as an ally. The historian stated that he would not know how he came to be on the (secret) list. He said he was neither a member nor a sympathizer. He said he was occasionally contacted by Scientologists from the public relations department, but he did not maintain a relationship with them. He had always turned down financial offers from such groups, he said.
-- In 1992, Mayer was listed as a recommended author in a brochure by Scientology.
-- In his book, "La Mafia des sectes," Bruno Fouchereau, journalist and author, accused Jean-Francois Mayer of being an ex-Scientologist, which he vehemently disputed.
-- In the 1980's the historian repeatedly accepted invitations by the right radical and highly sectarian Moon sect (Unification Church) congress, in the USA among other places. He had his travel and food paid for him, however, he had never accepted honoraria from the Moonies, Mayer said.
-- In 1991, Mayer was on a list of witnesses for the Moonies in a legal proceeding against a [female] sect critic. However, the Freiburg native did not appear in the proceeding.
-- In 1988 he made a presentation to a Moon seminar in Berne about ecological questions, which was also published in the Moon newspaper "Forum." Since he has been working for the center for security questions, he has not accepted any invitations from the Moonies, the sect specialist told the "TA" ["TagesAnzeiger"].
-- In 1985, Mayer took part in an introduction seminar "Divine Principles" of the Moon sect in Germany which admitted only members or trustworthy persons. Mayer stated he had done that for research purposes.
-- The historian also took part in meetings and a ritual of the Sun Temple. Besides that he had an audience with cult leader Luc Jouret. "Only for research purposes," said the sect specialist.
-- For years, Mayer wrote as a correspondent for the "Mouvements Religieux" Bulletin of the controversial AEIMR organization, which opens sect fissures and attacks self-help groups. Mayer had published an article as late as 1993, when he had already been working for the EMD for a long time. In the book, "La Mafia des Sectes," Bruno Fouchereau asserts that Neo-nazis are also involved with AEIMR.
-- In the magazine, "Secrets et societe," which is published by a right extremist French publisher, a text by Mayer appeared in June, 1993. The magazine is a platform for sects and works together with right radical movements. He had send the paper to the editors for informational purposes, and had not figured that it would be published, said Mayers. Various sources claim that he has written more for that publication before, which he contests.
-- Until his placement in EMD, Mayer was secretary of the scientific committee of Cesnur, a right Catholic organization which has a benevolent attitude towards sects, and which is closely connected to Opus Dei and others. He discontinued that due to a lack of time, although he would have gladly kept with it. In August, 1996, Mayer made a presentation about the Solar Templists to the congress of controversial organizations in Montreal.
-- In the mid 1980's Mayer reviewed a book about the Moon sect for the bulletin of the right radical organization, Grece (Groupement de Recherche et d'etudes pour la Civilisation Europpienne). Today the historian says that a friend had asked him to do it.
-- In his book, "Une Secte au Cour de la Republique," Serge Faubert wrote that the historian from Freiburg had also been a correspondent for the right radical magazine "Politica Hermetica" in the early 1990's.
Right Radical Past
Even as a 16 year old middle school student, Mayer was fascinated by radical systems of belief. He became a member of Opus Dei, then left and turned transiently to evangelical and Christian fundamentalist groups. As a [college] student he frequented groups which are categorized as part of the Neo-nazi scene. He also wrote articles for right extremist newsletters.
Mayer wanted to probe the phenomenon of sects with his research. He was not interested in finding out whether a cult was good or bad. His interest rested upon a mixture of sympathy and critical removal, wrote Mayer in a work for the national funds. He described the method of work as a "participating observation." To the question of his political past in right extremist groups, he responded laconically with the phrase, "Yeah, so?"
Report not yet delivered
Urs von Daeniken, Chief of the Federal Police and provisional chairman of the consulting state security organization, is not at all familiar with Mayer's contact to the sensitive movements, as he told the "TA." The chief official had spoken with Mayer about it, he said, but he did not want to share details of the conversation. The historian has not yet delivered the report.
Naive State Security Agent
by HUGO STAMM
After the group insanity of the Soler Templists the federal authorities recognized that they must take preventive actions in this area. The decision to look beyond the opaque facade of Scientology is doubtlessly correct. Just one thing: it takes more than a penlight to illuminate the dark labyrinth of the psycho-sect. The consulting state security organization is proceeding similarly dilletantishly as the federal police once did by spying on ten thousand innocent citizens. The complex organization cannot be understood with a report by one sect specialist.
The choice of Jean-Francois Mayer as an expert is just as naive. Either the state security commission, which is represented by Federal Attorney Carla Del Ponte and the Chief of the Federal Police, has no idea whom they have chosen for this important work, or the commission has decided, quite intentionally, to remove the troublesome sect problem by exercising an alibi.
Mayer certainly has a wide base of theoretical knowledge, however, he is also a scientist who is inexperienced in the ways of the world who, fascinated, observes cults, and lets himself be manipulated by them. He has still not understood that these organizations use all means to get sect specialists on their side. A person who want to remain credible and independent has to keep himself a set distance apart.
On technical grounds, Mayer is hardly in the position to compose an opinion for state security. For the past five years, he has only worked on the fringes of the phenomenon. Besides that he is lacking an important segment for the judgment of Scientology, because he hardly has any contact with high-ranking former members. They are the most important witnesses because they know the system and the goals of the organization from the inside out.
Whether or not Mayer keeps his distance from sects and special religious groups a little more than he used to, he remains a well-wishing observer who still makes presentations to organizations which are friendly to sects. He is, of course, permitted to do that. He is also permitted to be fascinated with cults which seem strange to us. It is just that in this case, he is completely unsuited to work up a fundamental report for state security. Therefore, the question arises of what kind of state security would pick this man for an "expert."
EMD also has to ask if Mayer would be the right man to pick for sensitive assignments. The historian from Freiburg continues to tackle security questions, he has access to secret documents, and he has to advise the federal assembly.