The Church of Scientology owns only one property in all of Germany, and contrary to the established churches, is not at all active in the area of real estate. However, about 40 Scientologists (out of 30,000) in Germany are self-employed in the area of real estate. They broker property sales and rentals and some also buy apartment buildings which they then convert into ownership condominiums. This is a common real estate practice across the country. It has never been at the center of a media campaign because people are generally happy with the arrangements. If tenants decide to use their money to buy the apartment instead of rent it, they end up owning the property rather than with nothing.
One organization that is not satisfied, however, is the affluent Hamburg Tenants Association, reportedly a stronghold of the Social Democratic Party (SPD). The reasons for its discontent are not hard to find. Plainly, every time a tenant decides to buy his own home, he ceases to be a tenant and becomes a property owner. Not only does this mean that his membership in the 30,000-member Association will cease and he will no longer pay fees, but in future, as a homeowner, his political views may change.
The Tenants Association has found a formula that played well to the media: Never mind that its false, simply accuse the Scientologists of being infiltrators in the real estate market on behalf of the Church of Scientology and claim that they control 50 percent to 80 percent of this market. Together with SPD member and Scientology-basher Ursula Caberta (SeeChapter 6, Exposing Hatemongers at Work), the Association subsequently called for a boycott of all Scientologists engaged in real estate.
Yet, of 22,000 real estate agents in Germany, perhaps 40 are Scientologists. Media reports, manipulated by vested interests, that those 40 people control 50 percent to 80 percent of the entire nations real estate market are ridiculous. Were they true, it would be a scathing commentary on the lack of business acumen of the 99.72 percent who are not Scientologists. That would be a newsworthy story!
Those 40 Scientologists represent 0.13 percent of the membership of the Church in Germany. Media reports that the bulk of Scientologists are real estate agents, and that through them the Church is buying up vast quantities of property in Germany, are verifiably false by logic and statistic.
Disregarding these facts, and incited by the opportunity to eradicate the Scientologist competitors and take over their share of the market, the RDM (Association of Real Estate Agents) joined the propaganda frenzy on the side of Caberta and her tenants group. The story ran in all major Hamburg newspapers.
By far the largest non-governmental real estate owners in the country are the Catholic and Lutheran churches, which together own 4 billion square meters of real estate. They profit greatly from their property holdings and real estate transactions.
The Church of Scientology, on the other hand, is funded solely through donations made by members for religious services they receive. It has no state funding. In 1989, the Churchs donations system was described by the Frankfurt Regional Court, which compared it to the customary church tax system, as possibly fairer than the demand of a lump-sum percentage of a members income. Appendix P
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