January 12, 1997

Print and Electronic Media



     On January 9, 1997, an Open Letter to Chancellor Helmut Kohl, signed by 34 entertainment personalities was published in the International Herald Tribune. The Open Letter strongly condemned discrimination and harassment directed against Scientologists in Germany, comparing these human rights violations to the excesses of the Nazis against the Jews during the 1930s. The signatories urged Chancellor Kohl to intervene and put an end to the abuses.

     The response of Chancellor Kohl and other German officials was both arrogantly illogical and shockingly insensitive.

      Mr. Kohl stated that those who had written the letter “didn’t know what was going on in Germany or they would not have written what they did.” But he then asserted that he had not read the letter, didn’t know who signed it and that it was “rubbish.” Having not even read the letter, his arrogance in dismissing what it had to say is especially disturbing. Such a reaction reeks of totalitarianism.

     While Mr. Kohl doesn’t like comparisons being made to the 1930s, it is difficult to ignore the parallels—even his dismissal of the letter is reminiscent: Propaganda Minister Goebbels called complaints of Jewish persecution, “Atrocity tales with no foundation.” If they don’t like the comparisons, they should stop the actions that evoke them.

     What is entirely omitted from the comments of the German officials is proof that the allegations about the mistreatment of Scientologists is untrue. In fact, Chancellor Kohl and others who follow his lead, completely ignore the following facts:

      * For the last 3 years, the United Nations have condemned the discrimination against Scientologists in Germany:

      - The Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance, in his 1994 and 1995 annual reports, criticized the official discrimination against Scientologists in Germany.

      - In November 1996, the United Nations Human Rights Committee expressed its concern over German government treatment of Scientologists.

      - The Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance has announced that he would personally conduct a fact-finding mission to Germany in the second half of 1997.

      * In September 1993, the Helsinki Commission, a human rights watchdog organization, issued a report criticizing German government treatment of Scientologists, in particular the Baden-Wuerttemberg state government’s banning of Chick Corea from a state-sponsored concert for no reason other than he is a Scientologist.

      * The United States State Department raised human rights abuses against Scientologists in Germany in its 1993, 1994 and 1995 annual reports. The State Department reiterated its concerns again last year following an attempted boycott of Mission Impossible by the youth faction of Chancellor Kohl’s party.

      * U.S. Congressional leaders representing the Human Rights Caucus, Black Caucus, Arts Caucus and Hispanic Caucus have all publicly expressed concern about German government treatment of Scientologists within the last year.

      * In the last dozen years, city and state governments have enacted 62 measures which sought to restrict the rights of the Church of Scientology in Germany. The Church has had to go to court in order to enforce its constitutional rights, for example, to disseminate information in the street. Every one of these restrictions has been cancelled when challenged in court.

      * Since 1980, 158 unfounded criminal and penal complaints have been brought against the Church of Scientology and Scientologists. Every investigation has confirmed the same thing: NO criminal activity by any Church or Church official was found and every one of the complaints was dismissed. The incessant and outrageous number of investigations clearly demonstrates a Government policy to harass the Church.

      * Thirty-six local and regional German courts have held that Scientology is a religion.

      * Not a single German court decision exists that Scientology is not a religion. Yet, officials at times have knowingly misrepresented an opinion uttered by the Labor court, whose judges were appointed by Mr. Kohl’s Labor Minister. It was not a decision, but a comment disrelated to the actual case. This has been falsely touted as a “negative ruling,” while ignoring the numerous positive holdings described above.

      Ignoring the facts, some German officials assert that Scientology is not a religion but is a “business,” just as they accused the Jewish community in the 1930s of having commercial goals while “pretending to be a religion.”

     While this assertion is completely untrue, it is shown to be ridiculous in the face of the following facts about the State (Catholic and Lutheran) Churches in Germany.

     * They receive income from a church tax exceeding $14 billion – in addition to more than $13 billion which goes to them in public funds. The Church of Scientology, on the other hand, receives {no} government funding but supports its activities entirely by donations from its members.

     * The state churches have property holdings worth $330 billion, own seven banks each, and have extensive holdings in real estate, life insurance, newspapers, magazines and building construction. The Church of Scientology has no commercial holdings at all and owns {one} property in Germany. (And no real estate companies).

     * 440,000 officially resigned from the Catholic and Protestant churches in 1995 alone—and so they no longer have to pay church taxes. Because Scientology is expanding while they are contracting, these churches have mistakenly identified Scientology as the cause of their dwindling revenues.

     Certain German officials continue to try to justify their human rights violations by spreading false information about the Church of Scientology. In the face of the above facts, their irresponsible assertions are evidence of an out of control government that is violating the principles of democracy.

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