Open letter to Chancellor Kohl

December 1996

The following is the text of the letter which was sent to Chancellor Kohl by Bert Fields and which was subsequently published in the International Herald Tribune.

December 1996

Dear Chancellor Kohl:

We have signed this letter to indicate our deep concern at the invidious discrimination against Scientologists practiced in your country and by your own party. We are not Scientologists, but we cannot just look the other way while this appalling situation continues and grows.

In the Germany of the 1930s, Hitler made religious intolerance official government policy. Jews were at first marginalized, then excluded from many activities, then vilified and ultimately subjected to unspeakable horrors.

The world stood by in silence. Perhaps if people had spoken up, taken a stronger stand, history would tell a different story. We cannot change history, but we can try not to re-live it.

In the 1930s, it was the Jews. Today it is the Scientologists. The issue is not whether one approves or disapproves of the teachings of Scientology. Organized governmental discrimination against any group on the basis of its beliefs is abhorrent even where the majority disagree with those beliefs.

And, when individuals hold personal beliefs that they consider their religion, it is not the place of a democratic government to proclaim by fiat that they are not a religion in order to evade laws against religious discrimination. Besides, the German courts have held more than once that Scientology is, in fact, a religion.

Individuals guilty of no crime but believing in Scientology are banned from German political parties, including your own. Scientologists cannot obtain employment by your government or contracts with that government. Children have been excluded from schools because their parents are Scientologists. Your Minister of Labor proposed the adoption of a ban on Scientologists from all positions of public service. And - like the book burning of the 1930s - your party has organized boycotts and seeks to ban performances of Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Chick Corea and any other artist who believes in Scientology.

These acts are intolerable in any country that conceives of itself as a modern democracy. This organized oppression is beginning to sound familiar ... like the Germany of 1936 rather than 1996. It should be stopped - now, before it spreads and increases in virulence as it did before.

You may feel that, as non-Germans, this is not our business. But todays World is a smaller, different place. We are far more dependent upon one another. When a modern nation demonstrates its unwillingness to protect the basic rights of a group of its citizens, and, indeed, exhibits a willingness to condone and participate in their persecution, right thinking people in other countries must speak out. Extremists of your party should not be permitted to believe that the rest of the World will look the other way. Not this time.

Those who seek to gain political power or to indulge personal hatreds by repeating the deplorable tactics of the 1930s cannot be permitted that luxury. This time voices will be raised.

We implore you to bring an end to this shameful pattern of organized persecution. It is a disgrace to the German nation.

Robert Bookman                  Dustin Hoffman
Michael Marcus                  Casey Silver
John Calley                     Alan Horn
Doug Morris                     Tina Sinatra
Sanford R. Climan               Kevin Huvan
Rick Nicita                     Aaron Spelling
Constantin Costa-Gavras         Larry King
Morris Ostin                    Sheldon Sroloff
Bertram Fields                  Lawrence M. Kopeikin
Mario Puzo                      Oliver Stone
Andrew M. Fogelson              Arnold Kopelson
Jack Rapke                      Robert Towne
Larry Gordon                    Raymond Kurtzman
Terry Semel                     Gore Vidal
Goldie Hawn                     Sherry Lansing
Sid Sheinberg                   Paula Wagner
Barry Hirsch                    Fred Westheimer