April 28, 1997


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Contact:Leisa Goodman

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      LOS ANGELES: In an effort to escape a hate campaign which has targeted him with “incredible lies and distortions,” German artist and illustrator Carl-W Röhrig has come to Los Angeles to find new markets for his work.

      Röhrig, who has been compared to such surrealist greats as Dali and Hieronymous Bosch, is an artist whose work has appeared on the covers of many top international magazines. But as a result of religious discrimination, he has recently been forced to leave Germany to seek new markets outside of his home country because he is well-known as a member of the Church of Scientology.

      For several years the German government has waged a systematic campaign of bigotry and discrimination against Scientologists. Röhrig, who has faced what he calls an “unprecedented propaganda campaign,” has been blackballed, his bank accounts have been closed without explanation and his family and children have been threatened.

      “What has happened to me is only the tip of the iceberg,” he said.

      Today there are 8 million Scientologists in more than 130 countries. Despite this worldwide acceptance, the German government has waged a virulent campaign of discrimination against members of the Church which has been condemned in no less than ten separate reports from international human rights bodies, including the United Nations Human Rights Committee and the United States State Department.

      Members of the Church are currently banned from membership in political parties. Businesses owned by Scientologists must be identified with a red letter “S” in government computer listings and Germany’s ruling political party distributes black condoms emblazoned with a skull and crossbones for the purpose of “preventing future Scientologists.”

      Celebrities like Röhrig are routinely subjected to “artistic cleansing.” Government officials organized boycotts of the internationally popular movies Phenomenon and Mission Impossible because their stars, John Travolta and Tom Cruise, are Scientologists. Officials in the state of Baden-Wuerttemburg banned internationally known jazz musician Chick Corea from performing in that state because he, too, is a Scientologist.

      Röhrig, who lives in Hamburg, has experienced discrimination first hand. Because his children were continually harassed and threatened in school, Röhrig moved his family to Denmark hoping to find a peaceful environment where his children could receive an education. The hate campaign, however, followed them and the family again found themselves facing the same “incredible lies and distortions about Scientology.”

      The personal assaults on him have been no less vicious. His exhibitions have inexplicably been called off, his bank accounts have been canceled without notice and his customers have been threatened for purchasing his artworks.

      Röhrig maintains a studio in Hamburg and insists he has no desire to leave his homeland, despite the ongoing discrimination which has endangered his livelihood.

      “It is not only the existence of my studio which is being threatened,” he said, “but the livelihoods of the nine staff who have continued to assist and support me. It is only due to their extraordinary willingness and spirit that we are still here despite all the barriers.”

      “It requires a lot of courage to openly confess one’s faith in Germany,” he concluded “Nonetheless, we are all happy and proud to be Scientologists.”

      Röhrig is optimistic he can open new markets for his artwork outside of Germany and hopes he and thousands of other Scientologists will someday be able to freely practice their religion in Germany.

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