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Background Papers: Understanding the German View of Scientology (from German embassy web site)

Article Index
Background Papers: Understanding the German View of Scientology (from German embassy web site)
Fact Sheet on Scientology
Is Scientology a threat?
Federal and Regional Action Taken Against the Scientologists in Germany
What is the Truth about the Scientologists
The Scientology Public Relations Campaign Against Germany
American Media Reports on Scientology

Is Scientology a Threat?

In its March 22, 1995, the Federal Labor Court also found that Scientology utilizes "inhuman and totalitarian practices."  Often members are separated from their families and friends.  The organization is structured so as to make the individual psychologically and financially dependent on a Scientology system. 

In response to numerous petitions, including those from relatives and former members and one signed by over 40,000 concerned citizens, the German Parliament (Bundestag) established a study commission in 1996 to gather factual information on the goals, activities and practices of "so-called sects and psychological groups."  The commission included 12 experts from the fields of justice, sociology, psychology, education, religious studies and theology.  The commission, which was not focused exclusively on Scientology, neither examined religious and ideological views nor is it preparing a list of groups active in Germany.  Following two years of study, in June 1998 the commission issued a final report which included a recommendation that the Office for the Protection of the Constitution keep Scientology under observation.  (see below Federal and Regional Action)

In the United States, there are three notable court cases involving Scientology that illustrate why Germany's concerns about this organization are justified.  In the early 1980s, American courts convicted 11 top Scientologists for plotting to plant spies in federal agencies, break into government offices and bug at least one IRS meeting.  In 1994, in a case involving Lawrence Wollersheim, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a California court's finding of substantial evidence that Scientology practices took place in a coercive environment and rejected Scientology's claims that the practices were protected under religious freedom guaranties.  In September 1997, the Illinois Supreme Court found there was evidence enough to allege that Scientology had driven the Cult Awareness Network into bankruptcy by filing 21 lawsuits in a 17-month period.  The court stated that "such a sustained onslaught of litigation can hardly be deemed 'ordinary', if [the Network] can prove that the actions were brought without probable cause and with malice."

On December 1, 1997, a New York Times article described Scientology records seized in an FBI raid on church offices that prove "that Scientology had come to Clearwater with a written plan to take control of the city.  Government and community organizations were infiltrated by Scientology members.  Plans were undertaken to discredit and silence critics.  A fake hit-and-run accident was staged in 1976 to try to ruin the political career of the mayor.  A Scientologist infiltrated the local newspaper and reported on the paper's plans to her handlers."  A related Times article also on Dec. 1, 1997, reported on a criminal investigation into Scientology's role in a member's death in Clearwater, Florida.  In November 1998, the responsible State Attorney charged Scientology's Flag Service Organization with abuse or neglect of a disabled adult and practicing medicine without a license. 

Other countries, too, view the Scientology organization with great concern.  In France, a government commission led by then-Prime Minister Juppé, and charged with monitoring the activities of sects, first convened in mid-November 1996.  On November 22, 1996, French courts in Lyon judged several leading Scientologists guilty of involuntary manslaughter and fraud in a case where methods taught by Scientology were found to have driven a person to suicide. 

In Greece, a judge declared in January 1997 that an Athens Scientology group was illegal after ruling that the group had used false pretenses to obtain an operating license.