August 21, 1996
Contact: Rev. Heber C. Jentzsch (323) 960-3500 firstname.lastname@example.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TOP INTERNATIONAL SCHOLARS DECLARE GERMAN GOVERNMENT IS NOT QUALIFIED TO DICTATE WHAT IS AND IS NOT A RELIGION
Top internationally acclaimed scholars in the field of religion have condemned German officials for seeking to ostracize the Scientology religion from society. They rebuked the German government as not qualified to dictate what is and is not a religion. Their protest represents the latest development in the ongoing conflict between the Church of Scientology and German officials.
Over the last year, the scholars, independently of each other, conducted a thorough study of the Church of Scientologys scriptures and activities and concluded that Scientology is a bona fide religion. As part of todays protest they appealed to the German government and the ruling CDU party to engage in meaningful dialogue with the Church so this religion-based conflict can be resolved. Everyone would be better served, they said, including Germanys image in the world.
The academics are professors of religion and sociology from universities around the world, including the University of Oxford, the Catholic University of Louvain in Brussels and the Universities of Copenhagen, Helsinki, Toronto, Dallas and Washington. (NB: Listing of names/universities at end of release.)
Their strongly worded public criticism chastises German government officials for not basing their conclusions about Scientology on rationality... scientific method or criteria and, therefore, quite simply, [they] do not comprehend the subject they are talking about.
The scholars decisively affirm the religious character of Scientology. They state, Each of us has in the recent past conducted a thorough study of the religion of Scientology and has independently come to the conclusion that Scientology is a religion. In reaching this conclusion, we have examined its doctrines and practices and applied the academically recognized, scientific criteria for what constitutes a religion.
Dr. Bryan Wilson, of Oxford University, Prof. Liliane Voye, current President of the International Society for the Sociology of Religion and Professor Karel Dobbelaire, of Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium wrote separately:
We deplore the example of official German intolerance of Scientology currently reported in the press of the free world and endorse the protests against these occurrences made by the US State Department and other international organizations.
The experts have added their voices to a growing number of outspoken critics of the German governments measures against religious minorities, especially Scientologists. These include European parliamentarians, US Senators and Congressmen, the United Nations Human Rights Committee, the Helsinki Commission, the United States State Department, the Rutherford Institute and other human rights experts and watchdog groups.
Over the last month, the United States State Department and several members of the United States Congress expressed concerns about human rights violations and discrimination against Scientologists in Germany following an unsuccessful attempt by the youth union of Chancellor Helmut Kohls Christian Democrats to boycott Mission Impossible because the movies producer and principal actor, Tom Cruise, is a Scientologist.
A cross section of the most eminent authorities on religion in the world have now registered their collective view that German politicians such as federal ministers Bluem and Nolte are violating basic principles of German constitutional and international law.
The scholars are:
- Dr. Bryan Wilson, Oxford University
- Professor Liliane Voye, University of Louvain
- Professor Karel Dobbelaire, Catholic University of Louvain
- Professor Dario Sabbatucci, University of Rome
- Professor Juha Pentakainan, Helsinki University
- Professor (ret.) Arilv Hvivtfeldt, University of Copenhagen
- Professor Petro Bilaniuk, University of Toronto
- Professor Darrol Bryant, University of Waterloo, Ontario
- Professor Lonnie Kliever, Chair of the Department of Religious
- Studies at Southern Methodist University, Dallas
- Professor Frank Flinn, Washington University, St. Louis
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