JUNE 14, 2000


Joining U.S. State Department experts, Jehovah’s Witnesses and other Christians from America and Austria, members of the Church of Scientology testified before Congress Wednesday on how the German and French governments are violating international human rights covenants by making religious affiliation a basis for denying democratic freedoms.

Actress Catherine Bell of the popular CBS TV series “JAG”, a Scientologist herself, spoke before the House International Relations Committee on behalf of German members of her church whose businesses have been boycotted, their houses picketed and scrawled with graffiti, and their children expelled from schools, for no reason other than their religion. She described in human terms what it means to be a member of a minority religion living in Germany and France, and accused the French and German governments of deliberately fomenting a climate of religious intolerance.

Bell strongly criticized the German Ambassador to the United States, Juergen Chrobog, for his refusal to testify at the hearing.

“The Ambassador has not hesitated to discuss his government’s position on Scientology with members of the press and with certain members of this Committee in private... [his] repeated refusal [to testify] betrays the fact that there is neither defense nor justification for his government’s position.”

Craig Jensen, an American Scientologist and CEO of Executive Software, accused the German government of attempting to boycott American companies because of the minority religious affiliation of their CEOs. When German officials discovered Microsoft had included his company’s innovative software in Windows 2000, they threatened a boycott of the program, solely because of Jensen’s religion. Microsoft refused to bow to German pressure.

In April, citing the German government’s use of so-called “filters” which make employment and contractual religions conditional on non-membership in Scientology, the U.S. Trade Representative included Germany on a list of six countries engaged in discriminatory trade practices which threaten American trade.

American Scientologist and legendary jazz musician Chick Corea provided the Committee with written testimony describing a 7-year campaign by the German government to deny him the right to perform his art in Germany. Most recently, German officials threatened to fire the artistic director of a music festival in Bremen if he permitted Mr. Corea to perform with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie at a concert in October.

The U.S. State Department has criticized the German government for religious discrimination in every one of its annual human rights reports since 1993. More recently, the U.S. Congress has presented an avenue of reform with House Resolution 388 and Senate Resolution 230 — Resolutions which now have more than 50 co-sponsors. The Resolutions express concern over governmental religious discrimination against a range of minority faiths in Germany and put pressure on the German government to comply with international human rights laws.

More than 20 German Scientologists attended the hearing, many of whom have been compelled to leave their native land and live in the United States to practice their religion freely. Among them was a woman granted asylum by a U.S. Immigration Court on the grounds that she faced religious persecution if she had to return to Germany.

The Church’s determination to end governmental religious discrimination in Germany and France is consistent with its fifty-year history of crusading for human rights around the world. The founder of Scientology, philosopher and humanitarian L. Ron Hubbard, set the tone for such work when he wrote, “Human rights must be made a fact, not an idealistic dream.”

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