U.S. administration concerned about German "sect filters" in contracts

Washington, USA
May 2, 2000

Washington (dpa) - The USA has expressed concern about the so-called German "sect filter" in the awarding of government contracts. The measure which is directed against the controversial Scientology Church could lead to discrimination against American companies, emphasized U.S. Trade Commissioner Charlene Barshefsky on Monday (local time) in Washington in her latest annual report. The President of the Church of Scientology, Heber C. Jentzsch, described the step on Tuesday as a "clear condemnation" of German behavior.

The Scientologists went on to stress in a commentary that this was a "considerable increase" of American criticism. They said it also demonstrated the government's point of view that the German method of operation could endanger American trade. The U.S. State Department has previously exercised criticism of the treatment of Scientologists in its annual reports.

The trade commissioner urged that the U.S. government express its concern over the "sect filter" in use by the German side. It was said that a company must confirm that it rejected the principles of the Scientologists and that it did not require its staff to participate in courses or seminars from the sect. It was also said that those who did not sign would not be considered and that contracts could be immediately cancelled.

Although the regulation on the federal level only applied to consulting and education contracts and its exact effect was unclear, it was said that institutions of the states and even private companies used it to a large degree. At least one important American provider was said to have been subjected to a review process which result from prior business practices. dpa hw xx hi

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