Scientology and the German State

Posted on October 4, 2010 by

An interesting aspect of Scientology’s attempts to take over the world is the conflict which has arisen in recent years between the American State Department and various European Governments. In 2009 six senators wrote to France to complain about religious discrimination against several American cults, including Scientology. Nevertheless in October 2009 Scientology was declared an illegal organization in France.

Germany has an established reputation in the global battle against the dangerous and devious American organization known as Scientology: dangerous for what it does to its followers, and for what it plans to do to everyone else, as soon as it has enough power, devious for its shape-changing powers and its ability and willingness to pay for the best legal advice. That its power is slow in coming is due to many national governments and individual critics. On the other side we have the American State Department criticizing the treatment of Scientologists in Europe.

Scientology has been established in Germany since 1969, when the first branch was set up in Munich. As an organization which rejects parliamentary democracy and seeks global control, it has been seen to pose a danger to the German state. On the surface Scientology is a model religion, promoting peace, democracy, human rights, a world free from war, crime and drugs. But this is a smoke screen which serves to enhance its respectability, to to increase its income, and to recruit new members. For evidence of its duplicity we need look no further than its own RPF (Rehabilitation Project Force), prison camps where errant staff are reprogrammed. Its elite corps, the Sea Organization, live in similar conditions: married members are not allowed to have children. Scientology recruits among the vulnerable: addicts, criminals, students, orphans, children, as well as those who dream of being powerful, and those who truly want to make the world a better place. Once entrapped in the cult’s mind-control techniques it is difficult for them to free themselves. The German government seems more aware of this than most.

Scientology claims a membership of thirty thousand in Germany. The inner circle of activists numbers no more than five or six thousand but they are all programmed to Keep Scientology Working (KSW) by implementing the training routines exactly as they were laid down by the founder, L. Ron Hubbard in the 1950s and since. His hand-picked successor, David Miscavige, is still following the master plan, regardless of what his critics may say.

Scientology has always been very profitable. It has very low overheads and its American and European operations generate millions from courses and from individual donations which in one known case (Nancy Cartwright) have exceeded $10 million. Its annual income is reported to be in the region of $5 million, most of it tax free (as it is recognized as a religion in the USA). Its deeper policy objectives have remained well hidden, though, as a result of leaks to the Net, they are by no means as secret as they once were. I have listed a few of the landmarks in the covert conflict between Scientology, its American supporters, and the German government.

1993: Chick Corea banned
The confrontation between the US and Germany is at least as old as 1993 when the Baden-Württemberg state government refused to invite Chick Corea to take part in a state-sponsored concert. At previous events he had openly advocated Scientology. The cult lobbied in Washington and several US politicians accused Germany of violating freedom of expression and artistic expression. Corea brought a lawsuit against the state of Baden-Württemberg twice and lost twice. Unable to take a hint, at the end of 1998, the US state department sponsored a concert by Chick Corea in Berlin (Berliner Morgenpost, 23.11.1998; Scientology’s Freedom Magazine).

1996: The Letter to Chancellor Kohl
In December 1996 a number of notable names in the film industry put their names to a letter, written by the cult, addressed to Chancellor Kohl of Germany. It was published as an advertisement in the International Herald Tribune. Besides its outrageous accusations it manages to convey a threat of reprisals: “We are far more dependent upon one another…”
Dear Chancellor Kohl

We have signed this letter to indicate our deep concern at the invidious discrimination against Scientologists practiced in your country and by your own party. We are not Scientologists, but we cannot just look the other way while this appalling situation continues and grows.

In the Germany of the 1930s, Hitler made religious intolerance official government policy. Jews were at first marginalized, then excluded from many activities, then vilified and ultimately subjected to unspeakable horrors. The world stood by in silence. Perhaps if people had spoken up, taken a stronger stand, history would tell a different story. We cannot change history, but we can try not to re-live it.

In the 1930s, it was the Jews. Today it is the Scientologists. The issue is not whether one approves or disapproves of the teachings of Scientology. Organized governmental discrimination against any group on the basis of its beliefs is abhorrent even where the majority disagree with those beliefs. And, when individuals hold personal beliefs that they consider their religion, it is not the place of a democratic government to proclaim by fiat that they are not a religion in order to evade laws against religious discrimination. Besides, the German courts have held more than once that Scientology is, in fact, a religion.

Individuals guilty of no crime but believing in Scientology are banned from German political parties, including your own. Scientologists cannot obtain employment by your government or contracts with that government. Children have been excluded from schools because their parents are Scientologists. Your Minister of Labor proposed the adoption of a ban on Scientologists from all positions of public service. And – like the book burning of the 1930s – your party has organized boycotts and seeks to ban performances of Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Chick Corea and any other artist who believes in Scientology.

These acts are intolerable in any country that conceives of itself as a modern democracy. This organized oppression is beginning to sound familiar … like the Germany of 1936 rather than 1996. It should be stopped — now, before it spreads and increases in virulence as it did before.

You may feel that, as non-Germans, this is not our business. But today’s World is a smaller, different place. We are far more dependent upon one another. When a modern nation demonstrates its unwillingness to protect the basic rights of a group of its citizens, and, indeed, exhibits a willingness to condone and participate in their persecution, right thinking people in other countries must speak out. Extremists of your party should not be permitted to believe that the rest of the World will look the other way. Not this time.

Those who seek to gain political power or to indulge personal hatreds by repeating the deplorable tactics of the 1930s cannot be permitted that luxury. This time voices will be raised. We implore you to bring an end to this shameful pattern of organized persecution. It is a disgrace to the German nation.

Robert Bookman Dustin Hoffman Michael Marcus Casey Silver John Calley Alan Horn Doug Morris Tina Sinatra Sanford R. Climan Kevin Huvane Rick Nicita Aaron Spelling Constantin Costa-Gavras Larry King Morris Ostin Sheldon Sroloff Bertram Fields Lawrence M. Kopeikin Mario Puzo Oliver Stone Andrew M. Fogelson Arnold Kopelson Jack Rapke Robert Towne Larry Gordon Raymond Kurtzman Terry Semel Gore Vidal Goldie Hawn Sherry Lansing Sid Sheinberg Paula Wagner Barry Hirsch Fred Westheimer

To say that this letter pushed all the wrong buttons is an understatement. Kohl said that those who signed the letter “don’t know a thing about Germany and don’t want to know.” The letter also caused outrage among American Jews, despite the fact that it was signed by several American Jews. Some German officials believe the fuss was engineered by the cult “to achieve what we won’t give them: tax-exempt status as a religion. This is intimidation, pure and simple.”

It is certainly true that, since the end of WWII and the restoration of democracy in Germany, the German security service, the Verfassungsschutz, has kept watch on all extremists who pose a danger to the state. These groups know they are watched. Scientology is watched in part because its stated objective (“to clear the planet”) is believed to pose a threat to German democracy but the Bonn government has declared that it has a “duty to publicize Scientology’s practices and protect its citizens from them.” There are legal requirements to be met before the intelligence agencies can begin their surveillance which were met for the first time in June 1997.

Part of the problem is that Germany and the US have very different views of what constitutes a religion. The 2000 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom says that “the U.S. Government has maintained consistently that the determination that any organization is religious is for the organization itself.” In most European countries this decision rests with the courts. A German court has ruled that Scientology is a commercial enterprise. In addition, 70 per cent of Germans consider Scientology a subversive organization which should be banned. They point out that America also investigates extremist groups.

1997, Joint Press Briefing
On 17 February 1997, in an attempt to paper over the chasm, the American Secretary of State, Madeleine K. Albright, and the German Foreign Minister, Klaus Kinkel, gave a joint press conference.

Albright: Yes, we did discuss [Scientology] as the Foreign Minister has expressed, and clearly it is a subject that needs to be worked out in bilateral relations. But, I must say, any discussion which draws comparisons between what happened under Nazism and what is happening now are historically inaccurate and totally distasteful.

Kinkell: Thank you, that is important for us.

Question: Madam Secretary, I think the comparison really is to the early days of Nazism, when Jews and other groups were identified. Germany is making an effort now to single out and identify Scientologists. The comparison to the Holocaust may not be germane, but the identification and separateness of some people may be germane to the discussion. How do you feel about that?

Albright: I think the issue here is one that can be resolved amicably and bilaterally between the U.S. and Germany, and comparisons that exacerbate the situation are not useful.

Kinkel: I want to make it very clear that we have religious freedom in Germany. Scientology and its members are not being persecuted, in no way whatsoever. Scientology has to abide by the German laws and regulations. This is what we expect of anyone who lives here, who works here. You know that we have a judgment by a court of labor that has made it very clear that we perceive Scientology not to be a religious organization, but a profit-making organization. But this is not persecution. These people are free, Scientologists are free. And we are not willing to accept this comparison. Again, as I said, don’t exacerbate the situation.
After this set-back, lobbying continued in Washington.

1997: the State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns, trying to be all things to all men, urged Germans not to boycott Tom Cruise’s film, Mission: Impossible. He said: “You ought to watch the film; it’s a very good film.”
1997: Sen Alphonse D’Amato (R-NY), chairman of the CSCE and “arguably the most corrupt politician in America” arranged a hearing, “Religious Intolerance in Europe Today”, at which three Scientology celebritiesm, Isaac Hayes, John Travolta and Chick Corea, read prepared scripts. D’Amato was defeated in the election of November 1998.
1999: Sen Mike Enzi (R-WY), Rep Mark Foley (FL), Rep Benjamin A. Gilman (R-NY), chairman on the Committee on International Relations, and others issued a joint press release in which they complained that “European countries are following the German example.” Gilman, who was paid by ten well-known Scientologists, resigned in 2002. Mark Foley resigned in 2006 having sent sent inappropriate emails and sexually explicit instant messages to teenage boys who worked as congressional pages.
1999: Rep Donald Payne (D-NJ): introduced a House resolution condemning the German government for discriminating against Scientologists (H. CON. RES. 22). His bill was defeated 101-318. In the same session, the House agreed 415-2 to participate in EXPO 2000 in Hanover, Germany.

1999-present: The State Department complains
The American State Department began to criticize Germany and other European countries in its yearly Human Rights Reports. Scientologists have been barred from joining major German parties. The state of Baden-Wurttemberg has authorised security checks on local Scientologists. Bavaria is screening them out of the state civil service and says it will deny state funding to events that feature Scientology performers who openly advocate Scientology. Spokesman Nicholas Burns accused Germany of discrimination against Scientologists and of punishing them solely for their beliefs. The Germans confirmed that “as long as Scientology is classified as a threat to democratic order, this will result in discrimination against Scientologists in both the public and the private sector.”

The following countries were criticized for their treatmetn of Scientology:
1999: 9 countries: Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Switzerland and Russia.
2000: 11 countries – Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Russia.
2001: 17 countries – Austria, Belgium, Czeck Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom.
2002: 13 countries: Austria, Belgium, Belarus, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, France, Finland, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, Slovak Republic, United Kingdom.
2003: 16 countries: Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece, France, Finland, Ireland, Portugal, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, Slovak Republic, United Kingdom.
2004: 10 countries – Austria, Belarus, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Spain, Russia, Slovak Republic, United Kingdom.
2005: 13 countries – Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Slovak Republic, United Kingdom.
2006: 14 countries – Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Portugal, Poland, Russia, Spain, Slovak Republic, United Kingdom.
2007: 15 countries – Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Portugal, Poland, Russia, Spain, Slovak Republic, United Kingdom.
2008: 10 countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Russia, Slovak Republic, United Kingdom.
2009: 10 countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Latvia, Russia, Slovak Republic, United Kingdom.

2001: Sen Gordon Smith (R-OR), chairman of the foreign relations committee’s European affairs subcommittee suggested imposing retaliatory sanctions against France, Belgium, Germany and Austria for “increased hostility toward smaller and newer religions”, saying the US could decline visas to European church groups and journalists.

2003: 13 June 2003, Tommy Davis, son of Ann Archer and oftimes spokesman for the cult, Tom Cruise, the actor, and Kurt Weiland, director of external affairs for Scientology’s Office of Special Affairs (OSA) had a private meeting lasting half an hour with Richard Armitage, who was then United States Deputy Secretary of State.

But things were changing, slowly.

2000: Rep Doug Bereuter (R-NE) spoke against H. CON. RES. 22 on 3 October 2000: “Germany is a free country in which religious freedom is guaranteed under the Constitution and thus sacrosanct. The U.S. State Department country report on human rights clearly confirms this in its most recent report. I would add that I think we need to be reminded every time that what we do as a body expressing our views on foreign policy is taken very seriously. This resolution is not balanced. It singles out Germany for a variety of practices, particularly those related to Scientology where their position is no different than seven or eight other European countries and several other countries outside the European Continent. This is a troubling situation for them. It is a matter that is pending currently in their tax court. But I think it is important we not have Tom Cruise or John Travolta setting foreign policy in this country.”

2003: Marci Hamilton wrote: “Why the U.S.’s International Religious Freedom Commission Is Harming Its Status In the World Community.” “They say you should never bring up religion or politics at a polite dinner party. Unfortunately, the United States has decided to combine both topics, and speak out loudly to the international community. That’s a big mistake… Other countries are rightly annoyed at our judgmental condescension on religious liberty issues, as embodied and perpetuated by the IRFC. Accordingly, the IRFC has contributed to creating rifts with needed allies, including France. It is crucial, now more than ever, for the U.S. to avoid being, or even appearing to be, the world’s imperialistic bully. It’s one thing to be a leader, but quite another to be the world’s judge and jury. Yet the meddling of the IRFC only strengthens the very image we are trying to avoid projecting.”

2003: Louisiana Rep John Cooksey (R) said: “How can we criticize Germany for not recognizing Scientology when our administration made a public proliferance decision with a group that has a history of preying on elderly, perceived wealthy widows and apparently preys on some people of the entertainment industries who are not smart enough to do anything else but be entertainers. So I really am opposed to this and do not think that it serves any useful purpose (…)” San Diego Union-Tribune, 16 November 2003.
Negative results
The main discernible effect of ten or twenty years of lobbying in Washington has been to teach politicians that Scientology is bad news. The result of State Department intervention is that any contact with Scientology in Germany is now entirely negative. If a German is known to be a Scientologist, he cannot occupy an official position. Scientology has orgs in Düsseldorf, Munich, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Berlin and Stuttgart, all large cities which are centres of regional political life but they have no detectable influence. An example of this is the Cruise film, Valkyrie.

2007, Valkyrie, and Bambi
Hoping, perhaps, to convert the nation, Tom Cruise played the leading role in a film, Valkyrie, featuring Claus von Stauffenberg, a war hero who was behind an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler in 1944. Parts were filmed in Berlin where the German government tried to forbid the shooting of a scene at the a historical site. This decision was massively criticized by representatives of the American government. The shoot went ahead.

Most Germans didn’t like Cruise in his role as Stauffenberg: “We already have a very good German film about Stauffenberg with a very good German actor. Valkyrie wasn’t made for Germany, it was made for uneducated Americans.” Von Stauffenberg’s son, Berthold von Stauffenberg (72), a retired general, said that Cruise “should keep his hands off my father.” He objected to the American actor because of his involvement with Scientology. The film broke even but did little for Cruise’s career and nothing to improve Scientology’s prospects in Germany.

Since at least that time – perhaps for longer – Cruise had been friendly with Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, an Oscar-winning film director, and through him with German Defence Minister, Baron Karl Theodor von und zu Guttenberg, and his wife. Florian is a remote relation of Guttenberg. This may be innocent but the relationship has jeopardised Guttenberg’s career: “Any minister who calls a leading Scientologist his friend is in my eyes no longer viable.”

To general surprise, Tom was awarded a Bambi “for courage” in November 2007. Stern commented that no-one had yet seen the film. “That alone makes it very odd that the publishing company Burda should have awarded him a Bambi for his role – not to speak of the selected category. Maybe they were fired by patriotic gratitude at the prospect of a German resistance hero immortalized as a movie star. ” According to the official statement, the Bambi was granted for his efforts to make “an international public familiar with a story that has never before been the theme of a major Hollywood production: the German resistance against the Third Reich.”

But Cruise seems fated to do odd things. His Bambi acceptance speech was the longest ever, “a long, very confused and yet apparently memorized speech”. He spoke at length about his difficult childhood and about his most important roles, he said that one should not judge a man by his religion, and he thanked Germany for being so generous to him. According to Die Welt, his wife, Katie Holmes, went back to chewing gum as the monologue continued. Tom then ended with the words uttered by Stauffenberg before his execution on 20 July 1944: Es lebe das heilige Deutschland, “Long live holy Germany!” Even this did not go down well. In Germany today this is no longer felt to be an appropriate sentiment.



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