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21 January 1997



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      The Church of Scientology said today that the German government is trying to drive individual Scientologists into bankruptcy.

      During a national television show in Germany Sunday, Johannes Gerster, a leading member of the Christian Democratic Party, refused to acknowledge the existence of discrimination against Scientologists.

      “Mr. Gerster’s ignorance is surpassed only his arrogance,” said Karin Pouw, public relations director for the Church of Scientology International. “Only last week, the U.S. State Department repeated that the German government ’has interfered... with the religious rights of many Scientologists, among them American citizens.’”

      She said the German government’s intention is plainly to make Scientologists bankrupt and unable to live in Germany. She compared Gerster’s “disinformation efforts” with the Nazi denials of persecution of the Jews in the 1930s. “’Atrocity tales with no foundation,’” was how Hitler’s progaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels described Jewish complaints,” she said.

      The United Nations Human Rights Committee, the United States State Department and other civil rights watchdogs issued eight reports in the last four years expressing concern about Germany’s mistreatment of Scientologists. “Neither Mr. Gerster nor anyone else in the German government has even bothered to investigate their charges,” said Pouw. “They are practicing the Big Lie, a favorite German propaganda trick. For all their protestations, their actions are not those of a democratic government. They are behaving like a totalitarian state in their treatment of our members.”

     The State Department spokesman noted that the last three years of State Department annual human rights reports had criticized the German government’s treatment of Scientologists and that the 1996 report, which is due out in a week, will reiterate American concerns.

     Scientology is a religion founded by writer and humanitarian L. Ron Hubbard, who is best known as the author of Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, which has sold more than 17 million copies. It is the fastest growing religion in the world and is expanding rapidly in Europe. It has earned commendations for its many highly effective programs that utilize the technology of L. Ron Hubbard to resolve drug abuse, illiteracy and crime.

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