Multi-cult in matters of faith
Numerous religious groups profit from a climate of alleged religious tolerance
April 24, 2001
Non-denominational churches in Altstaetten are striving to appeal to young people. Warnings about this from sect critic Elsbeth Bates and from Joachim Mueller, commissioner for new religious movements, provoked letters from enraged readers. Urs Noser, deacon of the Altstaetten Evangelical Church congregation believes that proselytization is occurring in all areas of life. He said that what is happening in the "Genesis" youth meetings is not any more threatening than in politics, where proselytization is also taking place. In the meantime the Evangelical Church congregation and Genesis have been working together. Sect specialist Hugo Stamm has something to say about the background of these developments.
Hugo Stamm, are we past the era of information work about cults?
Hugo Stamm: Yes, a counter-movement is in process. After the Solar Temple tragedy, the attacks by the Aum sect and the campaign against Scientology, many groups have struck back hard. Besides that a certain oversaturation in the public has led to an attitude of indifference. Most of the groups now have more room to move. They have adapted themselves and lessened their vulnerability to attack, at the same time maintaining the mental pressure on their members. This climate of alleged religious tolerance will end up leading to acceptance of extremist concepts of salvation. A sort of protected area has arisen, a large part of which is due to the field of sects no longer being covered in the state security report.
Since we're past the end of the millennium, isn't the doomsday scenario one less thing we have to worry about?
Stamm: The alarm has been called off only in the public's awareness; within most groups doomsday fever is smoldering as much as it ever has been. There are about a thousand assimilative sects, cults and special communities which have doomsday concepts. With the exception of Uriella, though, they don't name exact dates. Christian fundamentalists as well as those who practice esoteric beliefs speak of delicate phases, but outwardly act in a reserved fashion.
You've been performing information work since 1974. What have you achieved?
Stamm I need a large portion of my work hours for counseling. On the individual side you can occasionally detect success, and on the public side things have been looking good for some time. The sensitization was significantly detectable in the mid-90s. In the past couple of years that has given way to a certain indifference. Nevertheless the state of public information is basically better than before. Today people's families recognize sooner the possibility that someone is about to leave the family for some group. Unfortunately the people in politics have clearly backslid.
What did you hope would happen in politics?
Stamm: I am against any form of ban, but had hoped that politicians could have given a clear signal and mustered enough courage to promote informational work. Yet they have neither warned people about assimilative groups nor have they supported public information campaigns or counselling centers.
Those who distribute information in this manner get bothered a lot. What price do you pay for your involvement?
Stamm: Much work, ongoing charges, lawsuits, complaints at the press council, repressions, hostilities. It is a question of energy and what you become used to. Groups have tried everything to shut me up and stop me but I'm not of a mind to give in to that pressure. Public sensitization continues to be necessary, especially now in this phase of "multi-cult" tolerance for extremist concepts of salvation.
In your judgment have the totalitarian groups changed in the course of time?
Stamm: Today I see more that all members themselves become victims of consciousness control, but it seems somewhat milder. I see no change in the risk of indoctrination to the victims. There is still no excuse for the system, the perpetrators, the gurus, sect leaders and founders.
Sect critics are currently being accused of persecuting certain belief communities with the same fanaticism which they publicly despise within these same communities. How do you respond to that accusation?
Stamm: When a person operates in an area of extremism there absolutely is some risk of operating blindly. For many years I personally have made it a point to keep a technical, professional distance from the theme, which does not mean that I do not speak in plain language during my presentations. I could not do this work in a professional manner if I were emotionally involved in it. Outside of that I have survived all charges and law suits unscathed, which proves that my work is supported by factual criteria.
What are people who enter totalitarian groups looking for?
Stamm: Mainly they seek security, safety, societal connections and a recipe against mortal fear. Totalitarian groups ostentatiously give reassurance against any problems which supposedly exist in this and following lives. People who are confused see that as a life preserver.
What do assimilative groups do with these people?
Stamm: The main thing is to get them to shed their own individuality and critical understanding, and to subjugate their own interests to the collective needs. The goal is uniform thinking, total servitude and uncritical acceptance of the leaders.
How should one react when relatives or friends all of a sudden find themselves doing business with totalitarian groups?
Stamm: The most important thing is to keep the peace and not subject them to moral pressure. Otherwise those people will feel as though they are being forced to defend the group. They assume the arguments thereby increasing their auto-suggestion. There is nothing else to do except to quickly provide them with information about the group and develop a strategy with the help of experts. Experience has demonstrated that by the time one notices anything it is too late. After several weeks or months the control of consciousness is usually so far advanced that nothing can be done in the short-term. Information work is so important for that reason.
Information: infoSekta, Informations- und Beratungsstelle für Sekten und Kultfragen, Zürich, www.infosekta.ch and also Evangelische Informationsstelle Kirchen-Sekten-Religionen, Greifensee, www.relinfo.ch
VPM adherents active on all fronts
January 15, 2001
page 14, Tages-Anzeiger
The VPM lets on that it's neutral. But its members establish political swat teams without identifying themselves.
by Hugo Stamm
The VPM uses every opportunity to stress that it is a professional psychological association which has nothing to do with politics. However if you check out the numerous campaigns and operations of the VPM adherents, the proclamations of political abstinence or neutrality appear to be a stealth tactic. The psycho-sect itself hardly appears in public, to that end its members constantly found new associations and initiative groups which pursue political goals. Through these new organizations VPM adherents have developed a not inconsiderable political influence - as a rule they do not identify themselves as VPM adherents, and they are able to win conservative politicians and experts to support their goals. The ideological alignment by far corresponds to the conservation to rightwing radical ideas of the VPM, but those who describe these political groups as branches of the VPM are faced with legal measures.
Who are these organizations which are founded or dominated by VPM adherents?
The "Hippokratische Gesellschaft Schweiz" was founded two years ago by VPM people and has 140 doctors, the majority of which are not active in the VPM. The president and vice-president are VPM adherents. The society vehemently fights the decision of the city council to permit suicide assistance in Altersheimen. The VPM doctors do not hesitate to compare the new regulation to the euthanasia program in the Third Reich.
The organization "Eine Schweiz für unsere Kinder" in which mainly the VPM adherents set the tone, is strongly involved with the "Eidgenössischen Komitee gegen den sektoriellen EU-Beitritt". The two movements are fighting the bilateral agreements with the EU. At the public gathering in "Alibisriederhaus" in Zurich, for example, VPM representatives provided security guards and blocked entrance for a Tages-Anzeiger reporter. Without the VPM adherents, the referendum against the bilateral agreements could hardly have ever happened. They are also found at the extreme front lines against the new Constitution and are pushing against the revision of the military law.
"Zeit-Fragen": the camouflage character of this group is particularly demonstrated in the weekly magazine "Zeit-Fragen". The VPM disputes that this is their magazine. However alignment, themes and authors show that one can confidently describe it as a mouthpiece of the VPM. The editorial staff consists of VPM adherents. VPM president Florian Ricklin wrote in the magazine last year an open letter to Bundespresident Adolf Ogi saying that he was committing state treason with his European politics.
"Komitee für eine demokratische Volksschule": For years the VPM has been fighting bitterly against school reforms. It used to do that under its own name; today VPM members appear as private citizens and found initiatives under innocent-sounding names. [...]
"Jugend ohne Drogen" ["Youth without Drugs"] This initiative would not be in existence without VPM people.
Editorial from Joe Cisar
For comparison, the following political propositions are regarded as Scientology-oriented:
- 106th Congress
- In this most recent product of its public relations department, "Scientology" is fading more into the background as its true intentions become known. Everyone knows it is just another Scientology bill, therefore the decreased support from previous years' Scientology bills.
Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives with respect to violations in Western Europe of provisions of the Helsinki Final Act and other international agreements relating... (Introduced in the House)
- Expressing the sense of the Senate with respect to government discrimination in Germany based on religion or belief. (Introduced in the Senate)[S.RES.230.IS]
- Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives with respect to government discrimination in Germany based on religion or belief. (Introduced in the House)[H.RES.388.IH]
- 105th Congress
- Expressing the sense of the Congress with respect to government discrimination in Germany based on religion or belief, particularly against United States citizens. (Introduced in the House)[H.CON.RES.325.IH]
- Expressing the sense of the Congress with respect to the discrimination by the German Government against members of minority religious groups, particularly the continued and increasing... (Introduced in the House)[H.CON.RES.22.IH]
supporters: 101 (This was after Goldie Hawn and some other Hollywood people wrote a letter naively supporting Scientology thinking they were supporting freedom of religion. Even movie stars can be fooled.]
The primary meaning of "religion" or "belief" in the above political proposals is "Scientology." Scientology also has dozens or hundreds of front groups whose purpose is to change laws. Laws are changed for the purpose of clearing any obstruction from Scientology's path to influence and power.
Renewed race-based provocation
January 14, 2001
Sect adherent Hans Ulrich Hertel uses racist statements to blame Jews for the Holocaust.
by Hugo Stamm
Hans Ulrich Hertel, priest of the esoteric sect of the Universal Church or "Brotherhood of Humanity," has been distributing racist statements on the internet which exceed even earlier statements of his guru, Peter Leach Lewis. "It is the money under the Zionist-Jewish Power which rules and suppresses humanity, politics and world rights," wrote Hertel on the home page of the "Weltfundament der Natur-Wissenschaft," which is a branch of the Universal Church.
This Power was said to be responsible "for all inconceivable Holocausts" of the 20th century. Such selfish interests were said to be a cancer in the body of humanity. Hertel wrote further that this evil ulcer should be shut down for all time. It had no right to existence since it was ruining the planet. He said people should not hand the world over to these anti-Christian bastard interests.
Those are only small excerpts from Hertel's pages and pages of racist and anti-Semitic elaborations. The Universal Church priest was convicted and fined two years ago for violating the anti-racism law. At that time he had "only" repeated his guru's racist statements in an interview, which the court took as extenuating circumstances [the repetition of statements]. Now, however, the 71-year-old natural scientist is spreading his own anti-Semitic statements.
In another proclamation Hertel attacked homosexuals because he claims they behave deviantly. As is shown by current events, homosexual behavior allegedly mock every form of morals, ethics and purity. He also said that properly lived homosexuality "was a privileged condition of a person in the final phases of his earthly development."
Joint fight against Federal Assemblyman Samuel Schmid
VPM Psycho-sect helps Blocher
January 7, 2001
by Sandro Brotz
Bern - Christoph Blocher is in bed with the VPM psychosect. His campaign for an independent and neutral Switzerland (Auns) concerning the referendum on military law is hitched up to the same wagon as the VPM is pulling. Is this for the convenience of gathering signatures?
The "Au premier" restaurant in Zurich's main train station is made-to-order for discrete meetings. In a conference room on the second floor, Auns operations manager Hans Fehr calls together a coordination session for the double-referendum against the revision to the military law. The goal: to determine the strategy for the collection of signatures in the fight against armed foreign intervention by Swiss soldiers. With him at the table: Erika Voegeli, vice president of the VPM, the "Verein zur Foerderung der Psychologischen Menschenkenntnis." Additionally she is chief editor of the VPM "Zeit-Fragen" newsletter. According to court decision, her association may be described as "totalitarian" and a "psychosect."
The VPM and the SVP in joint struggle against the Federal Assembly! "I did not consciously realize that," says Fehr today. Peculiar, first the SVP National Assemblyman [as opposed to a Federal Assemblyman, who is from a different house of the Swiss legislature] dismissed any contact to the VPM, but finally conceded and asserted, "The woman did not have an invitation to the meeting." Really?
"People mutually help each other," said VPM-woman Voegeli and verified for the "SonntagsBlick newspaper that the meeting with Fehr had occurred. Voegeli appeared at the meeting in the "Au premier" in the name of the "Eidgenoessisches Komitee fuer eine direkt-demokratische, neutrale and souveraene Schweiz." The committee is a smoke-screen for a wide collection of obscure groups, including members of the Dozwil Michaels Sect and representatives of a leftwing militant splinter group in Olten.
There is strong reaction to journalists from the committee's telephone number: "I won't tell you what my name is," "We don't answer questions over the phone," and "Someone will call you back" - which never happens. No surprise: the committee's trail leads to a villa at 53 Susenberg Street in the well-to-do Zuerichberg Quarter. The media is never well-received there, as that is the headquarters of the highly controversial VPM.
Blocher's Auns battle group appears, in spite of about 40,000 members, to have come to the aid of the psychosect. It gathers signatures on its own surveys. "German mothers are also used who pretend that their sons have been sent to the Balkans for military duty," an SVP member is aware. The double referendum is also much advertised in the VPM organ "Zeit-Fragen." On page after page the "Zeit-Fragen" fights, along with SVP National Assemblyman Ulrich Schlueer's "Schweizerzeit," against the opening of the Swiss security politic. The sectarian weekly paper attacks the bilateral agreements, is heavily involved with the "Jugend ohne Drogen" [/"Youth Without Drugs"] campaign and takes shots at the new Federal Constitution.
Now the VPM has found a new target - and is marching in tempo with SVP National Assemblyman Christoph Blocher's Auns. "I don't have to keep my distance there," rails Auns operations manager Fehr. As far as VPM-woman Voegeli is concerned, the closeness to Auns is "entirely normal and [is] my private business."
The unholy alliance is using the military law revision to torpedo one of the central and most volatile projects of Ex-VBS chief Adolf Ogi. Yet according to the SonntagsBlick's information the collection of signatures is slowing down drastically - despite covert help from the VPM. "It's going well," Hans Fehr assured us. However neither does he want to name figures even through he was asked more than once.
The department of the new VBS chairman and SVP Federal Assemblyman Samuel Schmid is little surprised at the pact between Auns and the VPM psychosect. Press chief Oswald Sigg said to "SonntagsBlick", "The Auns was never choosey when it came to looking for connections. That shows in which extreme corner the opponents of the new military low are to be found."
Sect fights cell phones
Members of the Universal Church view cellular phones as lethal weapons.
Mobile communication is said to be product of a conspiracy.
January 5, 2001
by Hugo Stamm
Adherents of the Universal Church (UC) have not only made headlines for anti-Semitic and racist statements, their fight against cellular phone antennae and electro-smog have made just a fanatical of an impression. (The "Tages-Anzeiger" has reported on that several times.) "The cell phone heats up your brain," they wrote in a leaflet, as reported by the "Beobachter." It was said that the cellular phone altered the brain's electrical currents and led to a premature death. Campaign in disguise?
There is nothing discernible on the leaflet which indicates that members of the controversial esoteric sect are behind the operation. The document is signed by the "World Foundation for Natural Science" and the "Radiation-free Switzerland" (VS) organization. But both are branches or co-organizations of the UK. The president of the World Foundation is UK member Hans-Ulrich Hertel, who has also been convicted in court for making anti-Semitic statements. And the initiator of "Radiation-Free Switzerland" is Kurt Sieber, also a member of the UK.
Various regional groups have already been founded. The UK branches also try to gain influence in group initiatives which voice their objections against cellular phone antennae in valid ways.
The UK fight against cell-phones has an ideological background. In the most recent VS newsletter it was claimed that the cellular phone's success is a strategy of the Zion and our state government, which is said to belong to the Zionists. This is another version of the anti-Semitic world conspiracy which was used by the Nazis to justify the Holocaust and the Second World War.
This ineradicable historical lie which has been spread for years by rightwing extremists claims that Free Masons, secret lodges and, primarily, influential Jews, Zionists at that, are forming a secret world government. This covert force is said to have humanity in a stranglehold and is seizing domination worldwide, goes the story. The world conspiracy fantasies are experienced not only by rightwing extremists of a new order, but also by new pagan groups and radical esoterics.
The UK adherents go on to claim that the secret world government is using mobile telephones to strongly reduce the world's population in that the signals are said to make men infertile. The idea behind that is glaringly clear to the UK adherents: a decimated population is all the more easy to manipulate.
The peculiar world of sects
Revealing insight from theologian Georg Otto Schmid
December 9, 2000
"Sects: threat or challenge?" - a series of three events took place in our region recently under this title, organized by the Glarus Evangelical reformed congregation.
ag. - Prof. Georg Schmid gave an introduction to the theme on the first evening. The theologian Georg Otto Schmid, staff of the state church information center "Churches - sects - religions" spoke in the following two events about Christian sects as well as about psycho-sects and miscellaneous esoteric groups. In the narrow sense Christian sects, as Georg Otto Schmid outlined, are groups that are convinced that only they possess the truth. As long as Christian sects refused any sort of ecumenical cooperation, then there was no way of overcoming false assumptions. Typical of those groups were those who married only within their own congregation. The thought that a marriage partner who did not belong to the group was condemned to damnation was inconceivable, said Schmid. He also said that most Christian sects had the goal of reinstating the original, true Christianity. But there were also groups which wanted to create a new Christianity for a new era and supported that with revelations from new prophets, like Uriella with her Fiat Lux order, for instance.
It was said that the New Apostolic Church (NAK) used a strongly hierarchical system. At its head was a single original apostle who, as carrier of the Holy Spirit, was the sole possessor of the authority to teach and who had worldwide power of decision. The Holy Spirit - as Schmid detailed - allegedly only had effect within the NAK, while the other churches could not count on having the Holy Spirit. Criticism of the Apostles within their own ranks was strictly prohibited and interpreted as a sign of the end of the world. The NAK adapted to all political systems but itself supported totalitarian regimes (e.g., the Nazis). The NAK was said not to be involved in missionary activity in Europe, but were gaining stronger influence in the Third World.
The Jehovah's Witnesses, who are also active in Glarnerland, see the world as soon coming to an end. Therefore the JWs proselytize often - even children are brought along. The JWs also use a strongly hierarchical system. Their managing corporation resides in America, claims to have a direct connection to Jesus Christ and distributes the Truth. No criticism of management may be practiced inside the congregation. A disciplinary commission disapproves strongly of violations of regulations and, in extreme cases, can also have someone excluded from the community. The JWs are known for their strict rules such as refusing blood transfusions, not celebrating birthdays, Christmas, national holidays or participating in organized sports.
The International Community of Christ (ICC), as detailed by the theologian, has a stated goal of organizing an original model of Christianity. Every member of the ICC gets a personal spiritual leader who in turn receives spiritual counselling from a superior, etc. The threads of this pyramid-like, hierarchical system come together for the American Kip McKean and his wife. All routine thoughts and all things, even clothing, have to be discussed with the spiritual leader. By this method and using the circumstance that the members live in communities separated by gender in separate bedrooms, the ICC obtains total control over its members. Because of great missionary zeal - every member has to recruit two people a day - and because of clever strategies, the ICC is rapidly growing.
During the discussion Georg Schmid was confronted with things which included criticism from members of the NAK and JWs who were present. He was told that people did not have to contribute ten percent of their income to the respective groups; everything was voluntary. The specialist acknowledged the accusations and replied by coming to the third event with written evidence. It showed that, on the average, JW members donated 17 to 29 percent of their income. In addition, Schmid referred to the tax declarations of the NAK original apostle living in Switzerland, who reported 302,4000 franks sheer profit in 1995.
Scientology, Universal Church
The third evening of presentation was devoted to psycho-sects and esoteric fringe groups. Georg Schmid shed some light on the Scientology Organization (SO). Its stated goal was to improve people. In order to sound out strengths and weaknesses, recruitment candidates are given a written test with 200 questions. During evaluation of the test, the participant is frequently talked unto a communication course, which can cost a total of 1,000 franks.
Upon completion the Purification Program is recommended to the neophyte as preparation for auditing. In auditing people are confronted with their own bad experiences which they have to describe until no emotion registers during the narration on a special device called the e-meter. They are put on the "clearing" steps, which can cost 20,000 franks to obtain. The highest step ever attained by Scientologists today is OT VIII, which can cost a half million franks. A separate world of Dianetics is constructed in the courses into whose vacuum people fall as time progresses. In light of the negative press the number of Scientologists in Switzerland has decreased in the past ten years from 5,000 to probably under 1,000. But the number was said to be rapidly growing in eastern Europe.
The Universal Church (UC), which has been under discussion in recent years as a result of accusations of making racist statements, was said to be an example of an esoteric sect. The UC has a concept of development. It is said that through reincarnation a life being could progress from mineral to plant to animal to human. The goal is said to be sort of a superhuman like Jesus or Buddha. However all people are not equally far in their development. The categorization into "lower and higher" people opens the door to racism. At the peak of the hierarchically organized UC is Peter William Leach-Lewis, who thinks of himself as the true Pope over an order of new, true Franciscans. Every year the members have to contract themselves to unconditional obedience of the Leach-Lewis teachings.
Georg Schmid described four ways people get out of sects.
Leaving: it happened not infrequently that members leave sects for reason of their own. For example, from 80 to 90 percent of Jehovah's Witnesses who come from a Jehovah's Witnesses family leave the sect.
Expulsion: those who incite unrest are often expelled by management. Expulsion is the simplest way for management to rid itself of internal criticism.
Exit counseling: in this a sect members voluntarily enter a critical discussion by which argument brings on doubt. In these cases about two-thirds of the attempts are successful.
The best prevention against sects, at last, was to see to it that people did not become lonely. Lonely people were said to be easier to induce into sects than people who lived in an intact social system.
It was said that further prevention measures could be taken in the area of education, in which children receive a good philosophical education so that they have a foundation to build on in the event of crisis. It was further said to be sensible to exercise social competence and ability to bear conflict in education.
Uriella suffers for Mankind
Uriella is suffering hellish torture
She says it is a sacrifice for humanity
November 27, 2000
by Hugo Stamm
Zurich - After her prediction about the end of the world fell through, Erika Bertschinger alias Uriella has seen fit to change her theme for the time being. The 71-year-old "Mouthpiece of God" is worried about something completely different, according to the latest news in the media about her. Uriella is plagued by unbearable headaches. With mere mortals, one would suggest they could be migraine headaches, but Uriella, as she says, is suffering from the sinful humanity. All the world's pain appears to her to be stewing inside of her head.
In any case that is what it says in "Der reinste Urquell" ["The pure Source"] magazine from Fiat Lux, Uriella's group. "No one can know what it feels like to work despite shooting, maddening pains," is what Jesus is said to have announced. More yet, "Uriella has reached a point where her psychic powers are no longer adequate to let her handle all these pain attacks." But she is fulfilling her mission with her last gasps.
The agony was described as the fires of hell emanating from the millions of people who believe in Uriella. (But Fiat Lux has only 750 members.) The spirit of the earth is also twisted with her agony, which according to Jesus are the throes of child labor.
Why doesn't Jesus help her? "The agony must stay with Uriella because she is the mother of the earth, the Eve," is how Jesus supposedly put it. This said to be part of keeping the law. In doing this she is supposed to suffer even more than Jesus, who pains had been limited by time.
It seems that Uriella is beginning to curse her self-appointed mission of salvation. "Her pains have taken such a vehement turn that she has repeatedly called upon me on her knees in recent days to liberate her from her mission," is what Jesus has revealed, according to Fiat Lux scripture.
In response to inquiry, Uriella confirmed she had pains, which she described as the worst possible evil and as horrible fire, stabbing and ripping, and that she does not yet have them under control. But, she said, this has nothing to do with an illness. She said sometimes unknown thousands of patients have their astral bodies visit Uriella all at one time. She said another weight she could hardly bear was the human shortcomings of her Fiat Lux adherents.
Besides this the metamorphosis she yearns for - thoughts of the end of the world are still creeping in through the back door - is still waiting. All of this has brought her to feeling "completely overwhelmed" for decades, said Uriella.
Faith in obscure cancer therapy
A woman died an agonizing death from cancer. She believed in the rare methods of "New Medicine."
November 23, 2000
by Hugo Stamm
Zurich. - In their despair, cancer patients continue to try out the controversial "New Medicine" therapists. And over and over cancer patients die in a humanly undignified manner. Typical of this is the tragic example of a 45-year-old nurse who discovered a little lump in her breast in May 1997. The doctor wanted to find out if the cyst was malevolent by surgery. After several hours the woman woke up in intensive care - without her left breast. The surgeons did not only have to amputate the breast, but also removed an affected lymph gland. Because of fear of losing her hair, the nurse refused chemotherapy as well as radiation. She did not want to take medicines, either.
She got a prescription from a doctor specializing in natural medicine for Iscador to treat her cancer, but she stopped taking it after a short time. Iscador was poison, she told her mother. Today her mother knows that she should have listened closer. Because her daughter had made contact with practitioners of "New Medicine" and had put her faith in them. A couple of months later the nurse showed her mother a small lump under her left shoulder. Nothing dangerous, the daughter reassured her mother. Only some congestion, her therapist had said. The doctors advised her to immediately get a check up, but the daughter said she did not need any medical help, she was using the methods of "New Medicine." The mother got stubborn when her daughter withdrew to concentrate on her healing, as she said. But even though she was not familiar with "New Medicine," she accepted the decision of her daughter and hoped for an early recovery.
Her daughter constantly assured her over the telephone that she was on the way to recovery. Five months later came a muffled cry for help. The mother immediately drove to her - and was scared to death when she saw her daughter sleeping on the sofa. "In order to keep from crying out, I had to leave the building again," she said. "A skeleton covered with skin was lying there, an old woman of 90 years. The fattest thing on her was her arm. She had unspeakable pain. As I washed her I saw that her left side from her breast to her back was a single, searing, infected stinking wound with deep gashes." She cried without stopping.
The daughter refused to be brought to the hospital because she was afraid she would be given medication against her will. Doing that would have weakened the self-healing powers of the defender of "New Medicine." The mother took over caring for her daughter. When the pain became unbearable after a few days and the daughter was crying without stop, the patient was brought to the emergency room of the hospital. After three days she died. To the very end she believed the promises of the "New Medicine" and the day before her death was still speaking about rapid recovery.
Arlette Buechel from Herisau, "New Medicine's" representative in Switzerland, refused any responsibility. She verified that the cancer patient had sought out her practice and had spoken with her repeatedly over the telephone. "I knew she had no chance of survival. If the breast has been amputated, there is nothing we can do," she stated. But she did not advise going into the hospital to die a human death. That is because doctors are criminals as far as representatives of "New Medicine" are concerned.
Shock is supposed to affect cancer
"New Medicine" was "discovered" by controversial German "miracle worker" Geerd Hamer. Hamer claims to have resolved illnesses like cancer through shock-like conflicts. He says the patients have only to remove the psychic causes to recover rapidly. Doctors, however, would have killed the cancer patients with chemotherapy and radiation, claims Hamer. As far as adherents of the "New Medicine," pain is a symptom of the healing process. Hamer has had his doctor's permit revoked. Besides that he has been convicted and sent to prison twice. (sta.)
Hemp Growers reap record harvest
200 tons of Marijuana harvested in Switzerland -
Enough for 100 million joints
September 3, 2000
by Pascal Scharrer
Bern - All over the country, local radio stations are advertising "Open Field Day." The latest Swiss agricultural miracle can be viewed today, Sunday, at the Cannabioland Plantation at Litzistorf in Freiburg, right as the harvest begins. The hemp people have invested 60,000 franks just for radio spots - they're going to have to have something to show for their money.
The operation in Ueechtland is typical of a rapidly growing market. Hemp growers expanded their fields by a good ten percent this year, which means the fields are not being used to produce bird food or raw materials for cosmetic products. This fall, the 200 hectares of arable land, estimates François Reusser, President of the "Schweizer Hanfkoordination" (SHK) [Swiss Hemp Coordination], will, for the first time, yield more than 200 tons of marijuana - the entire lot is estimated to bring in 600 million franks and would be enough for 100 million joints.
Each hectare, as big as one and a half soccer fields, brings in at least one ton of resinous blossoms, which are painstakingly separated from the plants by hand, then dried. In the approximately 170 Swiss hemp shops, which also offer hemp clothing and hemp cosmetics, the dream-material will be offered for sale in 5- to 15-gram scented bags for at least 3 franks apiece - presumably as an aid to sleep, a beneficial herb for tea or health-enhancing material to be inhaled.
Arable land for hemp is less than one percent of farm land
But most of the estimated 500,000 hash customers here at home think of marijuana in a different way: they smoke the weed. Cannabioland produces several tons of marijuana yearly, and the Enetbrugg Communal Gardens in Ossingen in Zurich is one of the largest hemp cultivation firms in Europe, employing 45 workers. According to the state attorney's office, the operation turned over at least 6.8 million franks from 1995 to 1998. In addition to that are countless small to medium size operations. They undergo the costly processing to bring in, according to Federal Police estimates, another 1.5 to 10 tons of "Made in Switzerland" hashish which are sold under the table to customers.
Nevertheless the total land used for hemp is extremely small, even if one includes the 34 hectares of land used for the state-subsidized hemp industry. The total of 234 hectares is less than one percent of open Swiss farm land - yet the fields yield a lucrative profit. Hash dealers pay a minimum of 500 franks per kilo of blossoms - that means a half million franks per hectare.
It is not surprising that farmers show little interest in industrial hemp. Farmers who rake in 1,500 franks in hemp subsidies per hectare are minutely scrutinized by the state. They may only plant seeds which contain less than 0.3 percent of the active ingredient in marijuana, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This hemp cannot be smoked, but is used for oil, clothing and cosmetics. Each hectare of industrial hemp then yields 4,000 franks for the farmer, and use of this type of field is not growing. The Federal Police say, "Most of the hemp fields are used to produce the illegal narcotic" - because this form of cultivation is much more profitable.
The cultivation of THC-rich hemp in Switzerland is still permitted. It is just that the plant may not be used to make the narcotic. And since the Federal Court determined that any hemp products which contain more than 0.3 percent THC count as narcotics, the police have been dealing more and more repressively with hemp dealers. In July alone, the Bern State Police carried out seven raids on hemp shops. In St. Gallen, shop customers and vendors were charged, and in Wallfahrtsort Einsiedeln, 16 police confiscated two and one half tons of marijuana with a street value of several million franks.
Misunderstandings about the lax Swiss agencies widespread in other countries
In Wetzikon in Zurich, resistance has mounted against the actions taken by police: in mid-July, 30 officers apprehended seven people in a large-scale raid. One of those taken into custody opened up his hemp shop again after being released, but was apprehended once again two weeks later. Because of that, there were protests in front of the Hinwil district offices, and the demonstrators demanded the immediate release of the inmate - in vain. Another incarcerated hemp dealer has been on a hunger strike for the last four days.
The market leaders at Cannabioland have also been hit by the government. At the end of June, the Sense District Court convicted the two leaders of the enterprise to 24 and 30 months incarceration, respectively. Besides that they have to pay almost 1.5 million franks - their estimated profits from hemp sales.
The hard line taken by investigators is no accident. The first state attorney of Aargau Canton, Erich Kuhn, said, "We are under mounting pressure." At international meetings he is always addressed by his foreign professional colleagues about the lax attitude of Swiss agencies to the hemp industry. Zurich State Attorney Ulrich Weder verified that "Misunderstandings about the lax attitude taken by Swiss agencies on the current situation are widespread in German justice and police agencies."
That is because Switzerland is rated as the country with the greatest marijuana production. Ueli Locher, Vice Director of the Federal Health Office, "Swiss hemp is being exported more and more." Or foreigners pick up their wares on site. One Zurich hemp shop owner said, "Foreign customers stand in line on Saturdays - each one buys 200 grams at a time." Clout per person - 800 franks.
Friends of Hemp building up steam at the Federal Assembly
Revision of the Narcotics Law (BetmG) is delayed -
The Friends of Hemp take the offensive
The Chairman of the Swiss Hemp Coordination (SHK) is currently reviewing the launch of a people's initiative. President François Reusser said, "We demand exemption from prosecution for cultivation, consumption and dealing in a strictly controlled environment." SHK members will decide how to proceed on September 22. The idea of the people's initiative is in coordination with the delay of the revision of the Narcotics Law.
Although the revision has been decided upon and a significant majority of the cantons and political parties demand exemption from prosecution for consumption, purchase, ownership and cultivation of cannabis for persons from age 16 up, the Federal Assembly did not decide how to proceed, as it had announced it would, in June. As a result, the proposal will not like be ready by the end of the year, as planned.
Spirit, money and illusion
August 8, 2000
Brueckenbauer Nr. 32
Sect specialist Hugo Stamm reports on the abyss of esoteric teachings in his new book. A "Brueckenbauer" interview.
Even when Hugo Stamm takes a walk down the beach in a distant land, it is guaranteed that several Swiss people will recognize him and greet him as a "sect expert" from the homeland. The seemingly ascetic journalist does not enjoy this form of popularity. But the untiring fighter goes on: with a new book on the esoteric scene.
"Brueckenbauer": What is the basic formula of esoteric belief?
Hugo Stamm: The deciding formula surely sounds like this: "The lower world follows the upper world." Whatever happens in the astral, mystic and extrasensory areas also is allegedly reflected with us here on earth. The structures on a large scale reflect what happens on a small scale. In any case, the important thing is that there is a second, spiritual world behind things. For esoterics that is really the central world - our everyday life, our ties to the material world, to "crude material" are only a vehicle by which we are able to have extrasensorial experiences, to develop a higher awareness, to be enlightened and finally, to enter the universal world.
What is the difference between esoterica and traditional religion?
Classic religions like Christianity, Islam and Buddhism have clear sources, founder figures and a clearly delineated teaching of salvation, while modern, western esoterica concern the hidden truth, the cosmic mystery and fathoming universal law. Therefore esoteric beliefs see themselves as a type of universal religion which unite the basic truths of all religions within themselves.
What is new with the esoterica of today?
The beginnings of esoterica go back to the ancient Egyptian mystic, Hermes Trismegistos. Today's various type of esoterica take basic traditional ideas - for example the idea of reincarnation - and adapt them to western needs so that they often lose their original meaning. The cycle of re-birth is no longer regarded, as it is in Hinduism, as a fate which one must bear, but as a chance to develop ourselves better spiritually in order to come back to life with better Kharma, which in this sense is a record of sins. Why do a third of Catholics believe in reincarnation, although that contradicts Christian teachings of salvation? I see in that a modern tendency to adapt content of belief to one's own needs. In reality egotistical and material claims are often behind so-called spiritual motives: one pretends to want to develop oneself spiritually, but in reality the esoteric courses are mostly about satisfying personal needs. For instance, an esoteric might take Tantra meditation in order to resolve sexual tensions. Others swear by "positive thinking" as it is presented in the best-seller by Joseph Murphy, namely that one must only visualize his wishes in spirit for them to become reality. Yet genuine mysticism is a way in [as opposed to out] - free from considerations of purpose and temporal restrictions.
In reading your book, one question comes up repeatedly: is Hugo Stamm not being strict with people because they do not meet his own ethical standards?
(laughs) It may be that sometimes I come on rather strong. It's partly a question of temperament: I can't sit still when the cart's turned the wrong way. I have no objections to mild forms of esoterica. But I see my mission as pointing out the sore points. Up to now critical discussion of the supermarket of esoterica has been inadequate. Somebody has to warn people about false extrasensory concepts. They are, in no way, harmless and they make a stronger impression upon our consciousness than many believe.
What about esoterica worries you?
Those who get involved with the "hard" forms of esoterica can have the rug pulled out from beneath them. This goes especially for teachings which are difficult to make compatible with a healthy human mind. A Swiss man, for example, Renee Egli, wrote in his books about the "LOLA Principle" of managing existence, "You will be as God," and "Death does not exist." And he had tremendous success with that. Those who take these theories at face value, however, have to count on mental confusion or megalomaniacal fantasies. That is because these assertions stand in crass contradiction to one's own experiences and to everyday reality. I know of guru adherents who gave up their jobs because they heard that you only have to give your bank account enough love for it to grow. Believers in esoterica do not relate to adherents and the typical sect: they seek spiritual freedom and take all possible courses - from breathing therapy to UFOlogy. Yet many of them end up dependent upon teachings of salvation and upon "knowing" elitist leaders. In that manner they gradually develop an addiction-and-escape mentality: one gets more and more involved in a pseudomagic dream world - and shies back from the demands of "hard" reality.
Why don't you write anything about astrology - outside of the doubtfulness of computer horoscopes?
That is a justifiable question. However I regard astrology as more of a harmless discipline on the fringes of esoterica. I get more involved primarily with penetrating forms of esoterica.
Why do you also criticize the Green Party in your book?
I've watched for a long time how many Greens take leave of politics. I do understand their disappointment with the mechanisms of the political system - but what gets me is their uncritical reference to mystical teachings. In doing so they betray their own basic ideas - this goes especially for the German Greens who come dangerously close to the new paganism which been burdensome to the legal system.
Why are so many women inclined toward esoterica.
There are the women who have shown a fine sense for things which have gone wrong in our society. Automated technology makes them even more uncomfortable - including medical devices - and they were the first to look for alternatives. I think that is a positive thing - however many women put too great of a hope upon esoteric belief and and its sometimes authoritarian visions. On the other hand, I believe that there are certain extrasensory phenomena. But we should be careful with quick definitions.
Interview by Carl J. Wiget
Hugo Stamm, born 1948 in Schaffhausen, is a journalist and an expert is issues of sects. In recent years he has gotten more involved with problematic events in the esoteric scene. He deals with that in his new book.
Hugo Stamm studied philosophy at the University of Zurich. He has been an editor at the Swiss "Tages-Anzeiger" newspaper since 1975. He has written several books, works on Scientology and the VPM among them.
Book tip: Hugo Stamm: "Achtung Esoterik. Zwischen Spiritualität und Verführung", Verlag Pendo, 2000.
Esoterica is an aggregate of extrasensory teachings of salvation, ideas, phenomenon and rituals. Hugo Stamm describes general tendencies and offshoots of the esoteric scene. - "At Ex Libris for Fr.29.80."
Do lie detectors tell the truth?
Should lie detectors be admitted in court?
"Yes" believes a Swiss criminal court
thereby breaking new legal ground
April 27, 2000
by Chris Winteler
It was clear for the mother of two small children that her husband with whom she was separated had sexually molested their four-year-old daughter and seven-year-old son. Her ex-husband, however, disputes any sexual intention. The defending attorney as well as Adrian Kennel, Swiss deputy attorney's office, believed the father: "In reading the files I got a feeling that all was not right." For that reason, he suggested to the accused man that he take a test on the lie detector, also known as a polygraph.
In doing that, the Swiss attorney's office is breaking new legal ground: it is the first time in Switzerland that a lie detector test has been used in a criminal court case by an official representing the accused. A highly controversial procedure: opponents of polygraphs decry leaving justice up to a machine. Hansruedi Mueller, First State Attorney of Zurich Canton said, "I have no confidence at all in polygraphs." He doubts their reliability and will not admit the test before a court as a means of evidence.
Supporters rate the polygraph not at all as a substitute for a judge, but simply as a scientific means of assistance. Weighing of the evidence is the judges' business; they alone have the power of handing down an opinion. Neither does the Swiss Federal Court say "no" as a matter of principle any more: the lie detector test is not automatically inadmissible, the court judged on September 23, 1998. Use of the device in prohibited only by the investigating authorities. On the initiative of the accused, an opinion may be submitted to the court.
Father would be vindicated
The accused father took the test. Alois Spiller, Swiss Court President, vindicated him in the beginning of April. Spiller mentioned, however, that the test results were not the deciding factor in the exoneration; it was "the weak evidence as a whole." He also expressed doubt that a machine can show whether an accused person is telling the truth. "But when both the defense and the prosecution want the polygraph test, then I do not have anything against it." Deputy State Attorney Kennel is convinced that the judge very probably was influenced by the "extraordinary test results." If nothing else, then because very few accused people take the test.
Daphna Tavor, Basel psychologist, who is the only expert in Switzerland who conducts research on polygraphs, said, "If someone passes this test, he is, in all probability, innocent." Nevertheless, she added, "No psychological procedure is 100 percent certain." Scientific research, however, has shown a success rate of 95 percent. Tavor objects to the use of the term "lie detector" because it is misleading, because the polygraph does not expose lies, but measures several body reactions at once. Experts call her method of operation "psycho-physiological test tactility investigation."
Against human dignity
The accused person has nothing to lose with this method because it serves only to clear him. The psychologist will only submit an opinion if the test result is positive. Stefan Trechsel, professor of criminal law in Zurich says that it is an unreliable process, "The mere possibility of being submitted to a lie detector puts everyone who has been accused under pressure." He who contests his guilt but does not want to take the test will have to count on the judge presuming that he has something to hide. In addition, he said this system is in opposition to human dignity, "Human self control will be undermined," he said. The right of every accused person to remain silent will be affected. Hansruedi Mueller verified that, "If someone refuses the test, he incriminates himself. He also believes that practiced liars or people who are convinced they are telling the truth could influence the test in their own favor.
Can a bald-faced liar pass the test? "No," said Daphne Tavor, "even the best actor cannot fool the polygraph." That, she said, was because it was impossible for a person "to be able to control his nervous system under this enormously stressful situation." And the experts, she said, can differentiate between intentional and unintentional reactions.
Members of the "Michael's Association" sect campaign for the National Assembly and build a clinic
Sects push into politics
September 28, 1999
by Hugo Stamm
Zurich. - Members of various sects have been pushing into politics recently. Two adherents of "Michael's Association" are listed as candidates on the "Swiss citizen roster" for the National Assembly, as reported by the SDA news agency on Monday.
In the Dozwil, TG Community Council, the adherents of sect founder Paul Kuhn, who understands himself to be the apostle Paul incarnate, already hold the majority. The head of the Council and two Council assemblymen from "Michael's Association" sit on a committee of five.
The end of time in Dozwil
With that, adherents of a community in Dozwil have the legend which quasi-announced the end of the world in 1988: for Mother's Day, Paul Kuhn had prophesied the arrival of a space ship which was to take away the children of right-thinking sect adherents. Kuhn's medium at the time allegedly received the divine message that the end of time was near and that the children should not be exposed to the apocalyptic horrors.
Hanspeter Tschannen, one of the two Dozwil National Assembly candidates, wrote about his candidacy in the VPM aligned "Zeit-Fragen." In it he railed against the new federal Constitution, which he said was "an existential threat for Switzerland."
Members of "Michael's Association" are also involved in a new project for an alternative healing clinic in Guettingen, TG. Michael's Association is also financially involved in it. It is initially conceived that it will have 30 beds. Homeopathy, natural healing processes and traditional medical methods will be used. A private school is planned for the upper floor, as is a general-purpose extension of the clinic.
The march into politics is also being attempted by Uriella's adherents, who are campaigning for Community Council in Ibach, in the southern Black Forest. (TA of Aug. 7) This test has also been successfully passed by the adherents of another group of new revelationists. In Hettstadt, near Wuerzburg, a member of Universal Life (UL) has been in the Community Parliament since 1990. UL also maintains a center in Zurich.
The Bellasi Case
September 26, 1999
Who is behind the ad campaign for UNA chief Peter Regli
secret agents unite with sect friends
by Beat Kraushaar, Martin Meier and Marianne Kaegi
The Habsburg by Windisch, Inc: At the sole seat of the Austrian family ruler-line, a meeting took place on 26 August. A man, who gave his name as Meierhofer promised "SonntagsBlick" highly sensitive information.
"Behind the Bellasi case is Major Ruedi Moser, ex-staff chief of Colonel Albert Bachman's resistance movement which was disbanded in the early 1980s."
"Meierhofer" is, in reality, Kurt R.*. Apparently he was on a secret mission: he was supposed to lead the reporters on a false track in order to divert attention from the untenable circumstances in the secret service.
On September 4 at 10 p.m., R. revealed his true face to SonntagsBlick: he offered a meeting with secret service chief Peter Regli and announced that leading members of the military "from colonels on up" were supporting Regli.
That is what the military has done this week: as co-signers of a wide spread advertisement campaign. In it, 145 "personalities" accused the media and politicians of destabilizing Switzerland with the Bellasi case. They told of "mental arrogance" and "manipulation of opinion." The media were said not to an organ of the state. They were said not to be democratically legitimized. "A dangerous statement," said a high VBS man. "Finally, not even our Federal Assembly is elected by the people."
"SonntagsBlick" has learned who has been distributing such ominous statements: behind the advertisement campaign are secret service people and sympathizers of the VPM psycho-association ["Vereins zur Foerderung der psychologischen Menschenkenntnis" / Association for the Advancement of Psychological Human Understanding]. The office running the ad campaign is that of Max Knecht, former greater council president of Aargau Canton. Three of the first eight signers alone, SVP National Assembly member Alexander Baumann, former Standing Assembly member Markus Kuending (CVP) and the philosopher from Geneva, Jeane Hersche, have been associated with the VPM for years. Barely two weeks ago, Markus Kuending appeared as speaker at the VPM Congress "Courage for Ethics."
As if that were not enough:
Twelve more of the former and current National Assemblymen, in addition to two former Standing Councilmen in the advertisement, are entangled with the VPM. Over 20 more of the signers are members of diverse citizens associations along with VPM members.
But there is still more behind the advertisement: research by the "SonntagsBlick" has shown that of the 145 signers, about a dozen work for the secret service itself!
A sinister pact between secret agents and VPM sympathizers in battle against explaining the Bellasi Affair - politicians who held back at first are now demanding a full explanation. FPD Standing Council member Hans-Rudolf Merz said, "If a dubious group such as the VPM really does have their finger in the advertisement campaign, I am definitely in favor of employing a PUK."
Tomorrow SP National Assemblyman Boris Banga will demand a statement about the participation of three-star generals in the manifest against media, Parliament and the Federal Assembly. Banga stated, "If the VPM is meddling in the background, then the case is all the more serious."
The head of the VBS is unsettled over the uncontrolled goings-on in the department. The ad campaign is the straw that broke the camel's back. VBS speaker Oswald Sigg said, "At the business management session next week, Federal Assemblyman Adolf Ogi will have something to say about the ad campaign in the presence of the General Chief of Staff, the corps commanders and the defense chiefs."
* Name known to the editorial staff
VPM sect up to its old tricks again
After a long, latent phase , the VPM psycho-sect has again become active.
For years the VPM, which arose in 1986 from the Zurich School of the teachings of psychiatrist Friedrich Liebling, was making national headlines. The VPM is absolutely convinced that the left is trying to destabilize Switzerland and precipitate a collapse. And with its totalitarian positions on area schools, drug politics and AIDS, as well as infiltration attempts of existing institutions, it has been the source of countless conflicts. In the early 1990's VPM critics were hit with over a hundred lawsuits from the psycho-sect and its primarily academic members.
In the last few years, the VPM has been altering its tactics: With successful lobby work and infiltration tactics, it has managed to gain a foothold in civil and religious circles. A clear index of that is that VPM sympathizers have dominated the advertisement campaign in the Bellasi case (see article).
For a Charter of United Religions
July 30, 1999
Church and state belong separated. Therefore religions must obligate themselves to mutual tolerance, says Zurich psychiatrist Emanuel Hurwitz.
by Emanuel Hurwitz
A new era of change for the people has begun. Presumably we are right at the start of it. The vacuum effect of the wealth of the highly developed industrial nations upon the poor of this world cannot be overlooked. Currents of migration have come about which are headed towards a cultural and ethnic blend of the population - in the First World, in Europe, also in Switzerland. And even if the motto "Switzerland for the Swiss" currently appears to win support, it is still a sentimental call to nostalgia for those who close their eyes to reality. The fact is that in the long term we will have to live with increasingly larger numbers of immigrants whether that suits us or not.
Those European states who are stamped with Occidental Christian culture will have to get along not only with the familiar Jewish minority, but also with other, less well-known religious groups like Moslems, Hindus, Sikhs, and Buddhists. The question of how such different religions can get along with one another is coming up ever more urgently.
The era of Christian nations is past. It has consistently been demonstrated in the past that an alliance of religions with state power is disastrous. Measures from persecution of non-believers to actual drives for eradication have always bee the consequence. How credible would, for example, Christianity be today if Constantine had not made it state religion of the Roman Empire. It would not have had to struggle with internal conflict, inflict grandeur and power on a creed which sees itself as a religion of the weak and powerless, and it would not be troubled with guilt of countless victims of persecution - heretics, witches and Jews. It would not perhaps have become a world religion of the masses, so many Christians today would have less trouble identifying with a creed whose faithful, in their eyes, have always been lost.
And how much would be standing today in the state of Israel, if the disastrous mix-up of state power and religion there had not led to an overwhelming influence of the religious parties and thereby corruption and legal uncertainty.
Tolerance and its limits
We will not escape fundamental questions about the peaceful coexistence of religions. We need a Charter of United Religions. Just as the nations today peer out from their own boundaries to get a glimpse of the larger whole of our global coexistence, so must the large religions decide to lay aside their blinders which they use to see only what they recognize and nothing else. If they do not do that, the changing movements of the people will force them into it. And they will have to get involved not only with the existence, but also the coexistence of other religions, that means with the question of how adherents of differing beliefs can live together without coming into conflict with each other because of diverging opinions. Not only do old questions of tolerance towards people who believe differently continue to be posed, but also the question of the bounds of such tolerance, that is to say, if a religion generally collides with human rights or with the basic values of a liberal democratic society.
Such a charter could be initialized either with individual states or with the UNO, but the best would be by the large religions themselves. In doing that they would commonly perceive the basic values of religious tolerance and have to rely upon their own values. Those who identified with the charter would have to promise to honor the offer of respect from the others and to forego any holier-than-thou arrogance and conversion fervor.
Then the mission of the state would only be to watch over the the connection of religions with constitutionally guaranteed rights. Democracy and Constitutionality would then not at all be put out of action by fundamentalistic tendencies. Nevertheless, state privileges for individual religions should be avoided. The separation of church and state should come from the complexity of the various religions themselves. Naturally very real questions would result from this. The issue of religious instruction in the schools would have to be taken into consideration. Right now there is already a problem in certain schools in Zurich Canton about there not being enough students of a certain religion to offer classes. It would probably be better to essentially leave the religious instruction up to the religious communities as a private matter. That is already the case today to some degree.
For private religious instruction
The building of houses of worship would also not be a state mission any more. The state would simply have the mission of supporting such construction in that it would provide land and money in all cases.
The most difficult and delicate point of this vision are presumably issues of status and limits. What can be regarded as religion, what could this status not have entitlement to? How could genuine religious movements be separated from splinter groups, sects and meaningless rifts? How can one put a stop to psycho-sects and pseudo-religions which try to terrorize their members with totalitarian methods? A purely quantitative calculation - according to the number of members - might be unjust under the circumstances because brand new religious ideas - Christian history shows this - often begin with only a small minority. Acknowledgment by the already existing, recognized religions brings the danger of politicizing of the charter with it. However, it should be possible, analogous to the United Nations, for acknowledged religions to define how much room there is for new ideas so that no denomination would have to feel left out.
Emanuel Hurwitz is a psychiatrist, psychotherapist and publisher in Zurich. He has authored several books on the theme of anti-Semiticism and on the relations between Christians and Jews, for example "Juden und Christen," 1991, Nagel and Kimche.
Red Carpet for Charlatans
June 28, 1999
When spirit and nature healers may carry on a practice without a license, Zurich will turn into a Mecca for Charlatans. Therefore there needs to be provisions in the new health care law.
by Hugo Stamm
If everything goes the way the Green party Health Director Verena Diener wants it, all healers and those who practice the laying on of hands may soon open up a practice in Zurich Canton and treat patients with all methods imaginable. They would not have to fulfill any requirements and would need no education. In any case that is how the proposal for the new health law provides for it. With her liberalization idea, Diener is making it too simple. With the captious buzzwords "free market" and "self-responsibility" she opens up every gate of potential abuse and sneaks out the back door of responsibility.
Admittedly it is difficult to pick the charlatans out of the vast army of spiritual healers and nature practitioners on the legal path. However it is negligent to unconditionally level the field for all players. Either Diener has underestimated the problem or she has capitulated because she is afraid of being caught in the devil's kitchen. Many people have their fingers in this pie; there are countless representatives around the trough of health care: health insurance, doctors, institutions and schools, associations, esoteric and alternative groups, spiritual healers and healing practitioners of every kind.
The government representative must spot the problem because Zurich is the ideal location for healing practitioners. Besides that a healer must often deal in matters of life and death. Countless alternative therapists and healers - even those regarded as professionals in alternative circles - promise in their mystical delusions cures for fatal illnesses such as cancer, AIDS and multiple sclerosis. Understandably seriously ill patients, in their confusion, swarm to them. Often they refuse medical assistance because they believe that school medicine and alternative healing methods are incompatible.
10,000 healers and people who practice laying on of hands
It is especially important today to protect patients from charlatans because the number of unprofessional healers has rapidly sprouted up in the last few years. The unprecedented wave of esoterica has made the alternative healing methods popular and had promoted ill humor for school medicine. Today about 10,000 spiritual healers and healing practitioners vie for the patients' favor. Many have made their hobby into a profession and treat patients without formal education on the subject.
The market has long been saturated. This induces various healers to lure customers with exaggerated promises. For the lay person - which means most patients - it is practically impossible to differentiate the natural healing practitioners from the charlatans because their methods of treatment extensively evade empirical review and are matters of faith. Many patients just make do with that. The methods which unprofessional healers use are adventurous. A couple of examples:
In a few days one can receive training as a Reiki specialist and administer therapy to patients with hands from which curative energy allegedly flows. An invitation for dabblers in cures to decorate their wall with a certificate.
The adherents of "New Medicine" believe that serious illnesses such as cancer and AIDS can be cleared up with shocking experiences and apply cures using psychological measures. Patients are not supposed to take any pain-relieving medication because this allegedly has an influence upon the powers of self-healing. Fatal cases from the "New Medicine" environment, where cancer patients frequently die after weeks of hellish pain, have been documented in court. Geerd Hamer, the "discover" of "New Medicine," has been sentenced to several months in prison. His large following is none the smaller for it.
Many healers claim that, thanks to their clairvoyance, they are able to see through the patients and recognize the illness. They consider their diagnosis to be infallible.
Various remote healers have advertised for patients with newspaper insert campaigns. Individuals invest over a million franks per year. For treatment expenses of a couple of hundred franks they must "heal" thousands of patients in order to make up their costs. The stuff of impossibility. Quite apart from the fact that the method of treatment is extremely controversial and is an open invitation to abuse.
Aside from doctors using methods of natural healing and homeopaths with a professional education, very few therapists or healers have sufficient medical or anatomical knowledge needed to be able to advise patients, much less be able to treat them.
Policies or Laws are Necessary
There are two primary alternatives of fighting abuse:
Either the government publishes policies which the healers have to fulfill in order to be permitted to treat patients in their own practice. This would mean that the officials would inspect and verify the appropriate courses of instruction. A roundabout and difficult path.
Or the government works out a sort of consumer protection law in the area of alternative healing methods. That would give a patients a device by which they could protect themselves from charlatans and be able to proceed legally if need be. Besides that the healers could be obligated to state for the patients their methods of healing, their effectiveness, as well as the costs in terms of finance, time and personal consequence. A written contract on the diagnosis, therapy and chances of cure would also be worth considering. The patients or their next of kind would have the opportunity of demanding recompensation. Reversing the burden of proof would also make sense. The healer would then have to prove that he had not neglected to provide help and that his treatment at least had not made things worse. Such preventive measures would frighten off charlatans.
If Diener should retain [her stance] on her legislative proposal, the canton assembly will have to see to it that an effective correction is brought about.
What is a sect?
November 9, 1999
Neue Luzerne Zeitung
One speaks of sects, according to the Infosekta organization, when the following symptoms are in evidence:
- Hierarchization, shutting out the outside, black-white thinking
- Dominating fantasies about having been specially chosen and about the mission to save the world
- A claim to possess divine truth
- Means and recipes against all evil, illness and risk.
Nevertheless, it is problematic to classify a group as a "sect" or a "non-sect." That is because use of this label can put the group deeper into a defensive attitude against the world. mk
In tow of the obscure guru
October 14, 1999
Tagblatt, St. Gallen
Sect experts warn of the increasing danger of being taken in by esoteric courses
Maria W. (name changed) is upset. The term "sect" opens up old wounds for her. The 35 year old recalls her long and painful departure from a faith community about ten years ago. Initially, the adolescents, who were plagued by strong fear and doubt, valued the security in a group of people who felt the same as they. However, the strongly regulated life gradually turned into an unbearable corset: "I had to get out. I couldn't hardly breath in the confinement." Then bankruptcy forced her brother out of his information processing business into a deep crisis; he found a new grip in a strongly esoteric group. Since then he has refused any contact to his relatives.
Maria W. is not the only one concerned. The Evangelical Information Center for Churches - Sects - Religions has been recording a strong increase in small, sect-like groups for some time, not only in eastern Switzerland, but also in other regions. In the ill-defined areas between adult education, self-realization, esoterica and psychotherapy, according to finding by Reverend Georg Schmid, professor of theology at the University of Zurich, an increasing number of charismatic therapists and course providers, who are lacking in awareness of responsibility, are assembling conspiratorial flocks of adherents. He sarcastically describes them "as a sort of local savior."
The danger of being caught in tow of such a "mini-sect," Schmid judges, is presently higher than being swallowed up by an inter-regional or even an international community of believers. Schmid and his son and staff worker, Georg Otto, look into a question or a complaint about a doubtful course or unprofessional therapy every other day, on the average. A characteristic which all these dubious institutions have in common is, according to Schmid, Sr., a very naive outlook on life. In them, the person is recognized as a defective being who only has to apply a certain recipe or assume a special belief, and so be free of his collective problems within a short amount of time. "For the most part, something of a basic evil, which must be eradicated, is perceived." Improvement often occurs in the short term, however Schmid is skeptical about such success, and refers to statements by recognized experts in psychiatry and psychotherapy: the real causes and solutions of serious psychic problems are often very complex and can seldom be reduced to a simple, easily removable reason.
Criticism is not desired
Further common features which Schmid has noticed in such groups are a trance-like mood, a radical worldview which is sharply divided into black and white categories, as well as an absolute intolerance of skeptics. "In professional psychology, success can be critically discussed and reviewed without being threatened by an attorney." According to his findings, heavy participation in such esoteric and psycho-groups can bring about spiritual dependency. He regrets that one of the continuing consequences of such courses is the break-up of a marriage: "Dubious therapists give the adherent a choice: either your partner or me." Coerced decisions such as that are, for Schmid, a clear index of a "sect-like climate." From his experience, the dependency which originates from the lead figure frequently extends into the material level, and, occasionally, also to the sexual level. He points out that a transient dependency can also arise in regular psychotherapeutical treatment; however, conscientious assistants will not take advantage of the situation, but will strive for the opposite, to promote the self-sufficiency and independence of their clients.
A lack of education
Susanne Schaaf, psychologist at the InfoSekta counselling center, also advises very careful review of seminar announcements with an "esoteric-spiritual superstructure." "If the course content is not imparted on the plane of "analyze, reflect and discuss," then the gates are wide open to arbitrariness." Sufficient qualifications earned and personal integrity of the instructor are central indicators to Mrs. Schaaf of the seriousness of such courses. Georg Schmid has also garnered rather clear-cut experience with diverse course instructors. "It mostly happens that the less the education, the greater the over-estimation of self."
Will the Raelians be around much longer?
UFO Sect call for suicide
June 19, 1999
The Raelian cult group is developing suicidal tendencies for the millennia's end. On Sunday its adherents met in Volkshaus [Volkshaus (people's building) is a name of a building.]
by Hugo Stamm
The apocalyptic Raelian sect is preparing for the Big Bang and has conducted a public meeting on Sunday in the Volkshaus. The ideas distributed by its founder and guru, Claude Vorilhon alias Rael, are reminiscent in a fatalistic way of groups which stage collective sect drama. Concerning the extraterrestrial being of Elohim, who is supposed to save us, Rael wrote in an apocalyptic style, "To die for Elohim, that is the most beautiful thing that this planet has to offer. It is the key to Allah's garden or to the planet of perpetuity."
The adherents of the UFO sect, which is active worldwide, believe that the cosmic super-being of Elohim will soon arrive with UFOs and liberate people who have the proper awareness from their earthly valley of sorrow. So it is no coincidence that the magazine in which Rael makes his revelations bears the name "Apocalypse" (Nr. 101). The title and the program are the same.
Call for Martyrdom
Rael, who is honored by many thousands of adherents as a savior, gives an impression of suicidal tendencies in his article. Sacrificing oneself for the congregation is the "most admirable human conduct," wrote the UFO guru. He challenged his adherents to testify to the Raelian movement and he illustrated his call with a comparison: the Christians are respected today because the faithful of 2,000 years ago had been brave and would rather die in the lion's pit than renounce their faith. "Our sacrifice gives us greatness," announced Rael pathetically. The article reads like a summons to suicide and martyrdom.
What makes Rael put his adherents in such a psychic borderline situation? The UFO group is criticized in various countries. The French administration, for instance, has classified the Raelians as a dangerous sect. In Pakistan his followers are even persecuted, wrote Rael. He continued that in order to be respected in the future, it would be better to sacrifice one's life.
Rael explained that unfortunately there was no danger of having to die in Europe because one is a Raelian, "I say 'unfortunately' because there would be nothing more beautiful for me." He said that the Jews can thank the victims of the gas chambers for them being able to live peacefully in Israel today. "Entrance to the planet of Elohim is reserved for those who consciously take this sacrifice upon themselves," he incites his followers.
Especially active in Zurich
The Raelian movement is represented in 50 countries on all five continents and has been especially active in Zurich for several years. The UFO sect made headlines in Summer of 1997 because it announced that it would soon clone people. Whoever wants a duplicate of himself can order one for $200,000.
The Swiss adherents have introduced themselves at the Federal Assembly and have already demanded diplomatic status for Elohim. Besides that they want the government to erect a UFO landing field and an ambassador's residence. Otto Stich, who was then a member of the Federal Assembly, responded by asking if Elohim, as a counter-gesture, would be willing to establish a Swiss embassy on his planet. Since then a diplomatic news black-out has been in effect.
Harnecker - a Con Man and a Fraud
February 22, 1999
The police are investigating Patty Schnyder's companion for violation of the medical practice law. The two react calmly.
by Rene Stauffer
It reared its head on Friday; over the weekend it turned into certainty: there are facts presented against Rainer Harnecker, the new, mysterious man at the side of tennis pro Patty Schnyder, which reveal him to be a deceitful con man. He has repeatedly violated the German medical practice law in that he practiced medicine without possessing the legally required permit. Rosenheim of the criminal police has initiated an investigation; the maximum penalty Harnecker could receive is two years in prison and a 20,000 mark fine.
The background investigation has been carried out in detail by the "Wirtschaftsdetektei Time Service" / ["Time Service Commercial Detective Agency"] in Kronberg in Taunus, which is known for its painstaking investigations of Scientology, and which is said to be doing the research in the Harnecker matter on its own initiative. The agency found out that Harnecker had treated Johann Voggenauer, a heart patient, while he was sub-letting a place in Bernau on Chiemsee, and also Peter Osterhammber, who has cancer. In these treatments, Harnecker used highly controversial methods, e.g., the high-risk induction of hemorrhaging through the application of a type of wooden wheel with needles. This device was known in the middle of the 19th century as "Baunscheidt's Life Awakener," after its German inventor, Carl Baunscheidt (1809-1860), the founder of Baunscheidtism. Harnecker also used the device on Patty Schnyder and a Belgian woman, Sabine Appelmans.
The list of accusations against Harnecker gets longer every day. Instances continue to surface in which he told untruths, adorned himself with fake awards (e.g., a doctor's title), and took people in with falsified stories. In Kaufbeuren an anorexic girl is said to have eloped with him - a story which has distinct parallels with that of Patty Schnyder, however it is not known how that turned out. Harnecker had run afoul of the authorities two years ago in the southern Bavarian town. He received a summons from the Kaufbeuren Health Office in which the legal situation was thoroughly explained to him after the office had received a call from a woman who said that Harnecker had treated her granddaughter. He allegedly left Kaufbeuren in a big hurry two years ago.
Harnecker played down
Research by the "SonntagsZeitung" newspaper has shown that Harnecker's methods, contrary to his claims, have not been patented, nor is it likely that he will receive a patent for them. Harnecker's wife, Ursula, who runs a fitness center in Kaufbeuren which uses his methods, will now risk filing a complaint against her husband, from whom she has been separated for two years, since she has been sending him 1,500 marks a month for use of the patent rights. In a public information letter of November 1996 from the German Patent Office, a laughable process of Harnecker's was described "for the training of the human motion apparatus." On eight pages, simple gymnastic exercises were described in great detail - Harnecker claimed the the whole was probably too difficult to be understood.
When addressed on Sunday afternoon in regard to the investigations which have been initiated, Harnecker appeared to be unimpressed. He was only "dealing in information" he stated, and had not violated the law. He said he uses Baunscheidtism only "to a quite a small degree." He had already known about the investigation by the district attorney's office four days ago, as had Patty Schnyder, who played tennis yesterday evening in the vicinity of Munich with the German, Timo Differt. That would not change anything in their relationship; Harnecker said, "Patty knows I'm not that way. That is the kind of thing you have to continually put up with from the outside." Moreover he disputed being personally involved with the girl from Bottminger. And the romantic scenes at the Players Party in Hannover? "We had drunk too much and were rather badly off." Besides that, Harnecker also asserted that the other evening Patty and he had "turned into a proper team" with trainer Vito Gugolz and manager Toens Haltermann - nonsense. He did not want to go into the accusations of fraud and deceit; he said he had accustomed himself to the fact that "many people want many things, now as before." He said that was normal whenever anything new appeared.
Patty Schnyder was informed by telephone on Saturday about the results of the research against Harnecker, however she expressed no concern about it. On the morrow she was expected by a business partner in Switzerland for a promotion spot. It would be good if he were able to accompany her, Harnecker thought out loud. As far as her day-to-day life went she would work the same as she had in Brisbane; "she takes her place and gets tips from me." Somehow it sounded menacing as Harnecker then added, "That is what drives her. That is what she does."
"Care is just as important"
From: "Tages-Anzeiger Zürich"
November 3, 1998
Has the medically controlled distribution of heroin proved to be a success? That is what the voters will have to decide whether the practice will be continued on November 29. Drug expert Ambros Uchtenhagen takes a position on the issue.
Claudia Banz speaks with Ambros Uchtenhagen
You have scientifically evaluated the Swiss experience with the medically controlled distribution of heroin. Has the goal of the experiment been attained?
The positive results have shown that the energy and many resources invested in the project have panned out. People who were heavily dependent on drugs who did not respond to other treatment have profited to a considerable extent from their heroin prescriptions. The heroin has surely contributed to the fact that they were able to muster the courage they needed to go back into treatment again. A good part of the resocialization process had to do with the accompanying care though, and not just with the substance.
What is the goal of the medically controlled distribution of heroin?
The goal is that someone in substitution treatment can lead a normal life without illegal activity, can assume responsibility for his life, and as far as possible, assume the costs for his life also.
Isn't withdrawal the goal: a life without drugs?
Of course that is also a goal, but we know that not everybody will attain it. From experience one can say that most of the people who survive it will manage to withdraw sometime. For that read the first goal must be that the drug addict survive - with as little damage as possible for himself and others.
Are there people who have managed to withdraw as a result of the heroin program?
The longer somebody is in the heroin program, the greater the probability that he will choose withdrawal. Over 60 percent of those who have stopped the heroin prescriptions have not gone back on the street, but have decided upon a different treatment. With the 280 openings for withdrawal treatment, 1,200 for drug-free in-patient long-term therapy, 1,000 on heroin prescription and 14,000 methadone patients we in Switzerland have a functioning balance between the various forms of treatment. Provided that a new source of funding is found for the abstinence oriented treatment. It would be absolute nonsense to have a well constructed network of substitution treatments, but no openings available for drug-free in-patient care.
What are the difficulties in heroin prescription as a form of treatment?
There are always the people who quit their treatment prematurely. For instance, some people have not only a heroin habit, but are addicted to cocaine as well. They may not make it through the heroin prescription program. We are trying to optimize the treatment in that area. Besides that the people in the future should be supported more in re-establishing a social network. The people in the heroin program break off any contact with their old drug acquaintances and there is a risk that they will be alienated. It would be advantageous for them to obtain a place in an occupation program or find a job.
Barely five years ago the first efforts in Switzerland were made to distribute controlled substances to drug addicts. At that time you warned people not to overestimate the effectiveness of heroin distribution and you promoted the methadone program. Why were you skeptical? Methadone as a substitute has several advantages. It can be swallowed, ant the effects last longer. For that reason the methadone user has more freedom of movement. Taking methadone orally need only be done once a day, whereas the heroin user needs an injection three times daily. Besides that, there is less objection to methadone therapy.
In a supplementary study the therapeutic effectiveness between heroin and methadone was compared? What came out of that?
The report clearly showed that participants in the heroin program more frequently stop consuming cocaine and sedatives than those in the methadone program. In other words, the non-prescriptive consumption of addictive substances decreases much more significantly with the heroin program than it does in the methadone program. It cannot be concluded from that, however, that methadone prescription should be done away with in favor of heroin, but rather that the methadone prescription program must be qualitatively improved.
What does that mean in real terms?
The number of methadone users who go back to consuming illegal drugs is too large. That does not have to do with the substance, but with the quality of the treatment. One of the most important findings of the Swiss study is that the prescription alone does not provide the turning point, the support and care are just as important. Anybody who needs care should be able to get it.
Evangelical Information Center: Churches - Sects - Religions
Laws against Sects?
Prophets in Jail?
The sect problems of the present are challenging the legislature. Nevertheless, we are obligated to prohibit people being manipulated in such a way that they become uncritical members who belong to some dubious guru or a schizoid prophet and sacrifice everything to them: former career, former family, former friends, all their free time and, also - if they have to - their entire wealth. One must be able to put all these religious charlatans either straight into jail or into a psychiatric institution, if their paranoia is more pronounced than their criminal intent. An alternative is that the advertisement of the sects be restricted so that they could no longer be a danger to anyone who unsuspectingly comes across them.
Widespread Susceptibility to Sects
Behind all these considerations lies an inkling that, as this millennium comes to a close, it is not only hopelessly naive people who are susceptible to sects. Any person shaken by a mental crisis or an identity crisis is a possible sect victim. This is because the sects, and only the sects, free him in an instant from all self-doubts and from all feelings of emptiness. Anybody who has asked himself what this life is worth, or which truth remains true in the battle of opinions is, after his sect pronouncement, a beaming proclamation of perpetual truth, unshakable fundamentals and divine perspective. The course followed is bottomless uncertainty associated with life crisis is a nearly direct path into the sect. The legislature asks how could we use governmental limitations to prevent this widespread susceptibility to sects from turning into sect membership.
The Geneva Recommendation
The Geneva Justice Department, moved to action by the Sun Templer tragedy, suggested that imprisonment or fines be used to punish those who systematically and repeatedly employ physical and psychological pressure upon people to weaken their judgment capability and to place them in a condition of dependence. At first glance, this suggestion for a new law is appealing. Is it not one of the most perfidious acts of meanness to snatch up uncertain, helpless people in the moment of their life's crisis and exploit their uncertainty? Sect chiefs are criminal rescue workers, pseudo good samaritans who gather the wounded from the streets of this world in the delusion that they are curing somebody, but in reality are turning them into psychological cripples. As convincing as the Geneva suggestion sounds at first, upon closer examination it raises many questions. For instance, how should this resolution be laid out - by extension or restriction? In the first case, this law would lead to a flood of legal proceedings in which numerous religious communities would have to be investigated for the pressure they use to exploit their members and the type and intensity of their members' dependency. If such a legal avalanche were to roll over our entirely religious Switzerland, then our freedom of religion would be placed in question. The state would decide which communities overtax the individual and which do not. In a restrictive theme, the effect of this law would be minimized to a few recognized "totalitarian categories." However, the hard-boiled sects would never operate so clumsily so as to provide proof that they were using physical or psychological pressure. They would immediately counter accusations of alleged dependency with opinions presented as pure self-determination, according to the motto, "We are forcing nobody. All are with us completely voluntarily." The most refined sects, I presume, would slip through a restrictive scheme as well as through the mesh of the new law. In any case, the ones left holding the bag would be the local healer/magicians who alleviates rheumatism by the laying on of hands, the young dynamic ministers of the independent churches who instill the youth groups with such unrestricted enthusiasm that they are ready to report to India for a mission assignment, and who dare to move unsuspecting abbots and novice leaders - which happens seldom enough - into the type of "dependency" where they will enter the cloister.
The Basel Recommendation
In Basel, a legislative proposal is under discussion which forbids aggressive advertisement for religious material on public land. This proposal could also be associated with either a narrow or a wide interpretation. If everything that pedestrians take as a religious annoyance is considered to be aggressive, then every personal religious advertisement would disappear from the face of Basel. That is because some people get excited about any entreaty which is made to them. However, if the resolution is applied restrictively so that only those will be punished who do not let pedestrians pass by unmolested, then every group and community would effortlessly conform to this new resolution. If I know what constitutes aggressive advertising before the legislature, then I am able to plan and execute my next advertisement campaign with no problem. In short, the narrowly interpreted law would not prevent sect propaganda. The wide interpretation exceeds the goal by far.
Wanted: Helpful Helpers
It appears to me that the problem of blind obedience to leaders without conscience will not be solved by taking punitive measures, but by explanation of the dangers of sects, and by providing other, better ways of handling crises. The honest Samaritan will make the criminal Samaritan obsolete. However, the very rich gurus and prophets will only sidestep the new laws.
The legislature has not thought out the matter to such a degree. When everything is said and done, I am convinced that the prophets will still be sunbathing on the Riviera and appearing with beaming countenance in our television studios. Unsure people, after the new law, will still be unsure people who are susceptible to sects unless they find fellow human beings who do not exploit them and who enter with them on the laborious path to genuinely coming of age.
Georg Schmid, 1998