Bright Facade
Dark Interior

From: "Sueddeutsche Zeitung"
March 2, 1998

German delegation gets a clear picture of Scientology in the USA

In English, there is a picture of ships which pass each other on the high sea at night. The next morning the ocean is, once again, clear and smooth - and the crews are none the wiser for the confrontation. A diplomat of the US State Department called that picture to mind after she had been a witness to a near collision. A steamship - manned by members and experts of the Enquete Commission's "So-called Sects and Psycho-groups" of the German Bundestag - was on a collision course, and it required several attempts to make radio contact with the ship. The Enquete Commission had traveled to the USA in order to track down the causes of the transatlantic difference of opinion in matters of Scientology. Their timing could hardly have been worse: even in the USA, Scientology has been finding itself the subject of criticism. Reports about alleged criminal acts by sect members abound. Teachings and practices of the group are being looked into. President Clinton's security advisor, Sandy Berger, has been ridiculed after he - apparently at the behest of Clinton - met with John Travolta, the actor and Scientologists for an exchange of opinion about Germany. Only a few congressional representatives were ready to have a meeting with their German colleagues; the theme was too unpleasant, too open for a perfectly staged campaign. A proposal from 1997 to condemn Germany had failed. As a result of the vote, many representatives had become aware of the dubiousness of Scientology's accusations. The Commission started off the discussion with the academic work ethic and the German political leeway connected with the the hot topic and wanted to convey that measuring gauge from their country to the American continent. The Commission Chairperson, Ortrun Schaetzle, interjected at the end of the discussion with experts and former members that there are different understandings as to what religious freedom is, and that the state playing a passive role in the life of the citizen and individual responsibility are measured in different ways. America is not a precaution-society, and the protective function of the state for its citizens is considerably weaker. State and church do not fit together here, so that even obscure groups can gain enormous lobby influence. Besides these remarks, the delegation carried a clear picture of the operational effects and technique of the Scientology organization with them back home. Schaetzle said that Scientology had a bright facade and a dark interior. The dangerousness of the organization has, once again, been made clear, in that it does not reject extortion, duress, psycho-terrorism or criminal behavior. Green representative Angela Koester-Lossack said that she would recommend a new position for her party and urge them to categorize Scientology as "threatening" and as an "extremist organization." The Commission did not recommend a new strategy in dealing with Scientology. In the USA, one would have to gain understanding and comment upon German history and their concern about totalitarian organizations. Schaetzle believes that fighting Scientology with its own means would be delusionary. She insists upon slow and peaceful explanation.

Stefan Kornelius

German Scientology News