U.S. Congressmen criticize the current dealings with the sect using fantasies of German domination

Washington, D.C., USA
October 23, 1999
Der Tagesspiegel

Robert Von Rimscha

The theme of Scientology is back again. On Thursday afternoon, a phalanx of American representatives, backed by Hollywood celebrities, sharply attacked the Federal Republic of Germany. The majority Republican politicians let it be known that a new resolution which was extremely critical of Germany would be brought before Congress.

What's new this time around, though, is that the "undisputed leadership role of Germany in Europe" is alleged to be responsible for the suppression of freedom of religion by "other governments such as Poland, France and Denmark who are, regrettably, trying to imitate the Federal Republic."

Other than that, the accusations are nothing new. Nevertheless, they were imparted in unusually harsh terms on Thursday in the U.S. Congress. Among other things, the representatives said: "hate is taught in German schools," "the government's persecution of minority religions has destroyed many artistic careers," "thousands need our help, because their voices are being suppressed in Germany." Ben Gilman, Republican from New York and chairman of the foreign politics committee in the House of Representatives, who has sponsored similar resolutions in the past, expressed himself relatively moderately. Gilman demanded that the German government be required take up a dialogue with representatives of small religions. "Unfortunately we have gotten nothing from them so far but trash." Gilman believes that Americans would be violating their Constitution if they did not "speak up against persecution of minority religions everywhere." He alleged that, unfortunately, Germany, in puncto tolerance, had taken a leadership role in Europe, and that other countries were following its bad example.

Republican Mark Foley from Florida threatened to make freedom of religion in Germany a theme at the World Trade Organization (WTO). He also said that Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, Orthodox Jews and Evangelical Christians were discriminated against in the Federal Republic of Germany. He said it was "shocking that something like this could happen in a democracy." California Democrat Xavier Becerra asserted that hundreds of Americans were denied entrance into Germany because they were Scientologists or members of other small religions. Matt Salmon, Republican representative from Arizona and himself a Mormon, gave his impression that the federal government was less of a problem than were state and local governments. Salmon asserted that jazz musician Chick Corea was stopped from entering the Federal Republic of Germany.

Senator Mike Enzi, a republican from Wyoming, and film actress Anne Archer demanded that the Schroeder administration "finally embrace pluralism" and put pressure on its European neighbors to be just as tolerant of small religious denominations and their adherents. Several speakers compared the situation of religious freedom in the Federal Republic of Germany to that of China.

Contrary to custom, the "press conference" for 60 mostly American journalists, who appeared to be overwhelmingly convinced of the truth of the accusations, was delivered without permitting any questions to be asked. Gilman and Salmon said afterwards to the "Tagesspiegel" that they did not know of a single actual case where Americans could not travel to Germany because of their religious affiliation. He said that Corea had not obtained the permit he needed to appear for a concert in Germany. In response to the question as to what kind of permit a musician needed to appear in Germany, Representative Salmon said, "That is just what Chick Corea told us."

The three and a half page proposed resolution demanded that Germany keep its international obligations. The U.S. President was called upon to "express his concern" to the Federal Republic. It is not clear what chances the initiative has. Gilman and Salmon said, however, that they were "optimistic," but interjected that they would still have to do much information work among their fellow representatives.

Previous resolutions of similar content were voted down with the help of German lobby efforts once they reached committee, or never made it to the Senate. This time the sponsors, among them Tom Davis, a Republican from Virginia, wish to introduce the resolution simultaneously in the Senate and House of Representatives. They hope for a vote this spring when the State Department presents its annual report on the situation of human rights in Germany. In the meantime, it has become known that the attorney who represents Scientology in Washington is the same who had Joerg Haider for a client.

Translation note: the quotes cited are not actual, word-for-word quotes, but are translated from English into German back to English.

German Scientology News