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Klaus Kempe: Fights to Save His Family

successful and financially secure businessman, Klaus Kempe and his wife wanted to start a family. They sought to adopt a child, but religious discrimination forever denied them their dream. The story of the Kempes is typical. In their place could go the names of any of thousands of Scientologists who have tasted for themselves the bitterness of discrimination.

     Born in 1948, Mr. Kempe grew up when West Germany was struggling to rebuild its economy and industry in the aftermath of World War II.

     Always a self-reliant individual, he became self-employed at 20, first as a real estate agent, then as a building contractor and real estate developer. Today, he is the owner of his own company in Düsseldorf, an author and a pilot.

     In 1981, he read Dianetics: the Modern Science of Mental Health. He and his wife began to apply the principles contained in this book in their own lives. So outstanding were the results that both became active members of the Church of Scientology. In particular, Mr. Kempe found that the Scientology religion vastly improved his ability to communicate with others, enabling him to overcome problems in his marriage. He also developed his writing skills and became the author of eight books.

     He would need these abilities in the years to come.

     When Düsseldorf city officials discovered his religious affiliation, they circulated a formal directive from the city to all fairs, exhibition halls and lumber companies to refuse under any circumstances to sell or rent any property to Mr. Kempe’s company. Moreover, although he had competently trained apprentices in his company for 10 years, the city’s Industry and Trade Chamber arbitrarily took away his firm’s license to train its own staff, solely because its owner was a Scientologist.

     The official who signed the letter had—until then—been one of Mr. Kempe’s friends.

     Tax inspections into his organization dragged on for months, accompanied by threats and intimidation. Planning and building permits that his company needed were hard or impossible to obtain in Düsseldorf, forcing Mr. Kempe to go farther afield to find work.

     But the incident that cut him most deeply was personal.

     The couple had learned that they were unable to have children. As both wanted to start a family, in 1983 they sought to adopt a child. All went well until officials in the Department of Youth and Welfare in Düsseldorf discovered that they were members of the Church of Scientology. At that point, the Kempes were bluntly informed that they were “unqualified” to become adoptive parents.

     Determined not to give up, they fought for seven years in the courts for the right to raise a child. But at the end of that time, the issue became moot. Both had passed the upper age limit allowed for adoption.

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