Scientologists "exploit drug problems as recruitment lure"
Tages-Anzeiger, Zurich, Switzerland
by Hugo Stamm
18 February 2002
Pedestrians complain about the aggressive missionary methods of the Scientologists
The voices of the district merchants and residents resound in unison: the Scientologists who have been advertising for over a week on the street for an exhibition in the Spirgarten Hotel are obnoxious and aggressive (TA of Feb. 9). The TA has also been notified by readers who feel they were actively annoyed. Most of them do not comprehend how a cult may use public land for commercial purposes. "It is well enough known that Scientology fosters mainly commercial goals," responded one reader. A district resident told the TA that he had filed a complaint with the police.
Using drug problems to get a foot in the door
The store owners and merchants on Lindenplatz are also fed up. "What's especially perfidious is that the Scientologists hint at solving drug problems as a decoy to get people inside," said one saleswoman. "Many customers did not realize until they were in the hotel that they were involved in a Scientology operation." Pedestrians also verified that the street recruiters kept mum about their membership in Scientology. Parents, moreover, were angered that Scientologists were even luring children into the exhibition.
District residents also complained about the Spirgarten Hotel. The management did not wish to comment, but referred to a press release that was to have been published this week. In any case it can be seen that they will continue to let the exhibition operate in their spaces. One passerby commented that the Scientologists had plenty of money to pay rent, and they would always find someone to take it.
Two flower saleswomen were especially upset. They said, "The Scientologists are handing out roses to attract people into their exhibition. Once people realize what has happened, some have brought their roses to us, thinking that we were the ones who gave them to the Scientologists."
One shop owner was annoyed because she was being approached several times a day by the Scientologists. "At first they wore yellow jackets. You could recognize them and dodge them. Now they're wearing civilian clothes again. Besides that they sometimes run after people."
The commercial police say their hands are tied. "Without complaints we can't do anything," said a spokesman. One person after another has complained to the police, but as a rule they are afraid to file charges. "Once they realize their names have to be put on record, they get discouraged." City council tried to stop the Scientologists' missionary work, but the cult appealed all cases and recently won in the federal court. Since then the commercial police must occasionally grant Scientology a permit.