This leaflet is distributed by the German embassy in Washington, D.C.

The Scientology Public Relations Campaign Against Germany

The Scientology organization has financed several highly visible public relations campaigns directed against the Federal Republic of Germany in American publications. Among the papers that have carried full-page ad in the last couple of years are the New York Times, the Washington Post and the International Herald Tribune. In addition, the International Herald Tribune published a controversial open letter to German Chancellor Helmut Kohl.

The Scientology organization has also distributed pamphlets such as "The Rise of Hatred and Violence in Germany", reiterating its allegations.

In its writings, the Scientology organization attempts to equate the treatment of Scientologists in present-day Germany with that of the Jews under the Nazi regime. This is not only a distortion of facts, but also an insult to the victims of the Holocaust. With regards to Scientology ads in the fall of 1996, the U.S. State Department said, "this is an outrageous charge against the German government by an American group. It bears no resemblance to the facts of what's going on there. The language is needlessly provocative." At the same time, Ignatz Bubis, Germany's top Jewish leader, said he was insulted and denounced the comparison "because it is false."

The open letter to Chancellor Kohl, written by a Hollywood lawyer with famous Scientology clients, appeared in early 1997 in the International Herald Tribune. The letter repeated Scientology organization assertions against Germany and was signed by 34 American celebrities. "Disgraceful and irresponsible" is how Michel Friedman, a member of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, described the letter. He added: "It's totally off the mark. Today, we have a democracy and a state based on the rule of law."

Following the letter, the U.S. State Department again criticized the Scientologists' public relations campaign, saying, "we have advised the Scientology community not to run those ads because the German government is a democratic government and it governs a free people. And it is simply outrageous to compare the current German leadership to the Nazi era leadership. We've told the Scientologists this, and in this sense we share the outrage of many Germans to see their government compared to the Nazis."

What are the facts?

Is Scientology a Threat?

After having conducted thorough studies on the Scientology organization, the Federal Government has come to the conclusion that the organization's pseudo-scientific courses can seriously jeopardize individuals' mental and physical health and that it exploits its members. Expert testimony and credible reports have confirmed that membership can lead to psychological and physical dependency, to financial ruin and even to suicide.

According to a decision of March 22, 1995, by the Federal Labor Court, Scientology utilizes "inhuman and totalitarian practices. Often members are separated from their families and friends. The organization is structured so as to make the individual psychologically and financially dependent on a Scientology system. There are cases of the Scientology organization using this system of control and assertion of absolute authority to exercise undue influence in certain economic sectors -- particularly in personnel and management training causing serious harm to some individuals.

In response to the growing number of letters from concerned parents and family members, particularly from those with relatives in Scientology, the German Parliament (Bundestag) established an investigative commission which will present a report on the activities of "sects and psycho-cults" in the course of the year 1997.

In other countries, too, the Scientology organization is increasingly seen with great concern. In France, a government commission led by Prime Minister Juppe, and charged with monitoring the activities of sects, convened its first meeting in mid-November 1996. On November 22, 1996, in Lyon, several leading Scientologists were found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and fraud in a case where methods taught by Scientology were found to have driven a person to suicide.

In Italy during December 1996, an Italian court ordered jail terms for 29 Scientologists found guilty of "criminal association."

In Greece, a judge declared in January 1997 that an Athens Scientology group was illegal after ruling that the group had used false pretenses to obtain an operating license.

Is Scientology a Bona-fide Religion?

In its ads and writings, the Scientology organization claims it is internationally recognized as a religion, except in Germany.

This is false.

Among the countries that do not consider Scientology a religion are Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Luxemburg [sic], and Spain, as well as Israel and Mexico.

In the United States. the Scientology organization did in fact receive tax-exempt status as a religious congregation in 1993 -- after a decades-long, contentious battle with the IRS.

In Germany, it is possible for organizations undertaking non-profit activities to be exempt from taxation. Up until now, attempts by the Scientology organization to obtain such status have failed. Two of the highest German courts recently dealt with cases involving the Scientology organization. The Federal Labor Court (Bundesarbeitsgericht) in its above mentioned decision on March 22, 1995, also ruled, that the Scientology branch in Hamburg was not a religious congregation, but clearly a commercial enterprise. In its decision, the court quotes one of L. Ron Hubbard's instructions "make money, make more money -- make other people produce so as to make money" and concludes that Scientology purports to be a "church" merely as a cover to pursue its economic interests.

The Federal Administrative Court (Bundesverwaltungsgericht) confirmed decisions by lower administrative courts that the Scientology organization has to register its economic activities as a business with the relevant authorities (decision of February 16, 1995).

Also in France, the Scientology organization is neither a religion nor a non-profit institution. The organization's Paris head office was closed in early 1996 for not paying back taxes.

In Great Britain, the Scientology organization has been rebuffed repeatedly by the Charity Commission which insisted as recently as 1995 that the organization could not be considered a religion under British law and could, therefore, not enjoy any tax-exempt status.

Is the Scientology Organization Persecuted in Germany?

Because of its experiences during the Nazi regime, Germany feels a special responsibility to monitor the development of any extreme group within its borders. German society is particularly alert towards radicalism of any kind and has set stiff standards for itself when dealing with aggressive, extreme groups -- even when the groups are small in number.

This concern has prompted social institutions -- churches, political parties -- to make the public aware of the dangers of Scientology.

The Federal Government has not taken any legislative action against the Scientology organization. However, some of the German states feel that steps are necessary to protect their citizens against Scientology and have taken it upon themselves to act in the following cases:

Every citizen in Germany has the right to challenge the legality of government decisions which affect him or her, in an independent court. The Scientology organization has made ample use of its right to go to court in Germany and will continue to do so. Up until now, no court has found that the basic and human rights of Scientology members have been violated.

The Scientologists repeated allegations that artists belonging to Scientology are being discriminated against in Germany is false. In accordance with the freedom of artistic expression guaranteed in Article 5 (3) of the German Basic Law (Germany's Constit ution), artists are free to perform or exhibit in Germany anywhere they please. However, no artist has a right per se to government funding or sponsorship.

Jazz pianist Chick Corea performed in Germany as recently as March 24, 1996, during the 27th International Jazz Week held in Burghausen, an event which received approximately $10,000 in funding from the Bavarian Ministry of Culture.


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