ne of the first authoritative expertises on new religions in Germany was published in March 1980 by a renowned German psychologist and professor, Dr. Georg Sieber. After reading numerous articles that reported the governments and clerical sect experts warnings about the alleged dangerousness of new religions, Sieber wanted to know the truth.
He also wanted to teach his students independent verification and thinking. So, to test the veracity of official reports, he appealed through mass communication channels for citizens with knowledge of abuses by such groups to come forward.
His appeal reached 20 million peopleone third of the entire German population. Yet, he received not a single response.
Siebers conclusion was that public opinion had been manipulated against new religions by vested interests and the media, and he recommended that in future all publications regarding new religions be based on actual, verified data.
Government operatives in Germany have historically used the media as a Machiavellian weapon to bring about their objectives. An Anti-Semitic caricature from Der Stürmer, the Nazi Party's mouthpiece, was reflected half a century later in artwork on the front page of Rasant, denigrated the Scientology religion.
Examination shows that government operatives in Germany have historically used the media as a Machiavellian weapon to bring about their objectives. It was in this spirit that Hitler appointed Joseph Goebbels as Minister of Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda and placed him in charge of the spiritual direction of the nation, responsible for supervision of radio, movies, press, theater, creative arts, music and writing.
In 1936, the German Minister of Justice ordered that buildings owned by the Christian Science Church would henceforth be liable for taxation, as would any voluntary payments made to the religions practitioners. Only international intervention on their behalf rescued the Christian Scientists from further restrictions at the time. In June 1937, a media campaign was launched. A Nazi newspaper, the Blitz, ran an exposé on the Christian Scientists, labeling them as a political and revolutionary movement and calling for an outright ban or severe controls.
By 1941, the movement was dissolved. All Christian Science literature was banned, churches and reading rooms were closed, books were confiscated and the work of practitioners declared to be illegal.
A widely publicized 1936 Nazi government report characterized the Jehovahs Witnesses as pace makers for world bolshevism. Their eschatology was denounced as a front for political activity and a new world order intended to ensure Jewish domination. More severe persecution followed.
Whether the targeted religion was the Jews, the Christian Scientists, the Jehovahs Witnesses, the Seventh-day Adventists, or any other group, the media was used to flank the governments attacks with inflammatory, sensationalized reports.
These stories were all false, of course. And no one believes them now.
Who today would applaud and defend a newspaper cartoon depicting a Jew as a rapacious vampire? Only a neo-Nazi.
Yet today, German government officials, in clear violation of the German Constitution, expect us to believe media stories that are just as sensationalized and which never give the targets of the stories an opportunity to present their side of events. Graphically illustrated by the same characterizations of insects, devils or rats the media used to depict Jews, these modern media reports stereotype members of new religions, even though they are as good German citizens as any others. Thus, well-meaning citizens have been manipulated into accepting clichés about new religions.
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