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SELECTED INDIVIDUALS AND GROUPS INTERVIEWED
National Council of Jews
Church of Scientology
Professors Loew and Krumholtz
Orden Fiat Lux
Meetings with Officials
SOURCES OF DISCRIMINATION
A) Govermnent Officials and Political Parties
B) Document Centre on Members of Minority Religions in Schleswig-Holstein
C) Education and Advanced Training for Prosecutors and Judges on Minority Religions
E) Political Opposition
F) Lutheran and Catholic Churches
Representatives of 17 groups numbering from one to five individuals were interviewed about their experiences of discrimination and/or intolerance, the source of these and the mechanisms by which they were carried out. Afler the introduction we have made certain recommendations as to how the situation may be prevented from deteriorating further.
We have to say from the outset that we were completely unprepared for the sheer scale of prejudice, discrimination and even persecution which our witnesses recounted. Our initial reactions were astonishment and perplexity. What has astonished us is that, in a rich, democratic country certain rather unpleasant things seem to have been happening to members of what are officially categorized as insects.
We had in mind while compiling our report the standards for behaviour towards minority groups set forth in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the United Nations Declaration on Eliminating All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on religion or Belief as well as human rights standards covered broadly in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights.
We found incontrovertibly that, in respect of the minority groups whose representatives we interviewed, the relevant parts of these instruments concerning minorities and religious freedom are in Germany at the present time, subject to severe lapses in application even though the government has a direct responsibility to enforce the human rights standards established by international instruments and to intervene where necessary in order to do so.
Our concern that the German government was not fulfilling this responsibility increased as representatives of the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Justice maintained a position that there was no discrimination in Germany and even if it did exist the court system was available to those who felt they were being discriminated against. Their unwillingness to face up to the problem emphasised this "official position" which contrasted sharply with the evidence we were given by all our witnesses.
It puzzled us that the officials we spoke to seemed to think media hysteria about minority religions and philosophies and the attitudes which that has engendered in the population to be perfectly normal. Under the Constitution it is not the business of the State to take issue with the beliefs of individual religious or philosophical "Weltanschauung" - minorities. The German Constitution guarantees members of these minorities certain rights in respect of freedom of expression and belief and the government should be acting decisively against interference with these rights.
Within the political, administrative and church structures there are "sekte commissioners" (in German, sektenbeauftragter). Although the German Constitution clearly obliges the government to refrain from giving an opinion or judgement about religious matters these official "sekte commissioners" are govermnent officials, paid from State finances. The work of their church counterparts, whilst not paid by the State, mirrors that of the govermnent officials. They create written material and make public statements which claim, amongst other things, to show the public and other officials how to "recognize" members of sects.
"Characteristics" of sect members are said by government officials to include such peculiarities as "having no friends", "being humourless", and "having frequent short holidays". In the case of one group, literature published by the government claims that members of the group can be identified by sudden changes in body weight and distinctive beard growth.
The German State is spending millions of deutschmarks per year on anti-sekte personnel, propaganda and related actions, some estimates go as high as 100 million per annum. The groups complained that government officials were not interested in any kind of dialogue and that official reports made (or attempted, as some have been and still are being challenged in court) on minority groups were entirely one-sided and did not make any attempt at impartiality.
Another example of discrimination is in the State of Schleswig-Holstein where a document collection centre law gives the right to collect and disseminate sensitive personal information and expose the identities of individuals associated with minority religions and philosophies to all strata of society in order to ensure that he government policy to blacklist and ostracise members of minority religions is effectively implemented. This tactic violates core data protection principles by creating a substructure of second class citizens classified by their philosophy or religious beliefs.
There is, in truth, no difference in principle between extreme right wing groups inciting racial hatred and extremist anti-sekte groups inciting, religious hatred. Therefore it is wholly appropriate and indeed vitally necessary for state prosecutors to investigate and to prosecute vigorously violations of paragraph 130 of the German Penal Code, which makes it illegal to attack the basic dignity of members of groups of the population or to incite hatred or arbitrary government actions against persons or groups and paragraph 166 which makes it illegal to insult a religious denomination.
We suggest that the German state governments include in the school curriculum special courses to help young people develop an understanding of, and sensitivity towards, members of all categories of minority group. This proposal contrasts with the present situation in which teachers are instructed to give out derogatory information which can only incite the young people to bigotry.
One of our recommendations is to urge the government to establish a forum where constructive dialogue takes place between govermnent and minority religions and philosophies. Where there are anxieties about the purpose and intentions of @roups, these should be discussed in an atmosphere which is conducive to honest and open discussion, respect for the law and existing social values - always bearing in mind basic human rights principles incorporating freedom of religion, thought and belief.
The criminal law is sufficient to prosecute and punish wrong-doers. It should be used to prosecute where there is evidence of an infringement of existing criminal law. Vague and insubstantial, generalized allegations against minority groups in absence of any evidence of law-breaking should cease forthwith.
The purpose of our report is to provide constructive criticism and achievable recommendations in order that the German government can ensure improvements occur. European nations are moving closer and closer to each other and it is important that matters such as we have brought to light are fully resolved so that Europe can leave the past behind & enter the 21 st century on a strong democratic foundation.
The members of the committee were initially alerted to the possibility that such discrimination was occurring and on such a disturbing, scale by statements made in various documents, inter alia, the 1994 and 1995 reports to the UN from the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Application of the Declaration on Eliminating all Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief (1,2) the Handbook on Religious Liberty Around the World published by the Rutherford Institute in Charlottesville, Virginia, USA, (3) and a 1995 publication by Human Rights Watch/Helsinki entitled "Germany for Germans", Xenophobia and Racist Violence in Germany. (4).
Representatives of 17 groups numbering from one to five individuals were interviewed a bout their experiences of discrimination and/or intolerance, the source of these and the mechanisms by which they were carried out. All were solely religious minorities except for VPM, the Centre for Turkish Studies and the Kurdish Information Centre. The delegation heard numerous accounts of individual discrimination and received written accounts of others which totalled over one hundred instances - more than enough to establish that a worrying pattern exists.
We also met officials from the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution at the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Justice.
The committee was satisfied with the credibility of the personal testimonies and in many cases received documentation which supported the statements made. Extensive additional documentation was received from people and groups interviewed. Their credibility was in any case underscored by their consistency and number of singular testimonies.
We had in mind while compiling our report the standards for behaviour towards minority groups set forth in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the United Nations Declaration on Eliminating All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief as well as human rights standards covered broadly in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights. We found incontrovertibly that, in respect of the minority groups whose representatives we interviewed, the relevant parts of these instruments concerning rmnorities and religious freedom are in Germany at the present time, subject to severe lapses in application.
All states which have ratified the above international instruments, which includes Germany, need not only to respect these standards. They also have a direct responsibility to enforce the human rights standards laid down in them, intervening where necessary in order to do so.
The remit which we took upon ourselves was to investigate discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities. Our purpose in publishing this report is to help the German government avoid problems which the present political drift may cause in the future. Most of those we interviewed represented religious minorities. It was the Turks and the Kurds who presented problems to us specifically relating to ethnicity although they also constitute religious minorities and a section is devoted to these groups.
Chapters I,II,M,MI of "Germany for Germans" by the Helsinki Watch/Human Rights Committee, particularly Chapters M, Building a Tolerant Multi-Cultural Society, and MI, The Legal Standard have been helpful. Chapter M indicates to us the depths of the German government's departure from this standard. The easy predisposition on the part of ordinary Germans to adopt and give expression to an intensely discriminatory viewpoint means that racism and religious intolerance are present as cultural phenomena.
They are also entrenched in the legal basis of citizenship. In Chapter MI of the same publication, the point is made that enfranchising the "foreigners" (many of whom in Britain would be citizens as of right) would at least mean politicians had to listen to their voters' political voice. We agree with the authors that this is a prerequisite for improvement in respect of the safety and social and political rights of ethnic and religious minorities. The most chilling phenomenon we encountered was the assumption by officials that current attitudes by them and by ordinary Germans towards minorities in Germany are in some way normal.
Nor is it legitimate for the State to take issue with the doctrine of individual religious or world view - "Weltanschauung" of minorities. The German Constitution guarantees them certain rights in respect of freedom of expression and the government must act decisively against interference with these rights.
We have to say from the outset that we were completely unprepared for the sheer scale of prejudice, discrimination and even persecution which our witnesses recounted. Our initial reactions were astonishment and perplexity. What has astonished us is that, in a rich, democratic country - a country which has adopted the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights and whose Constitution has strong human rights provisions - certain things seem to have been happening to members of what are officially categorized as "sekten".
During our meeting with Dr Schoen, the Director of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, he told us that the precise German term used translates as "so-called sekte". This semantic nicety, which Dr Schoen was at pains to emphasise, puzzled us because it is clearly the authorities who are doing the "calling" so presumably they feel free to call the groups by whatever name they choose.
What has perplexed us is what are offered as reasons for treating members of these seklen as pariahs. Whilst we are making points about the meanings and implications of words we may perhaps usefully add that Dr Schoen told us that in German "sekte" used to be a neutral term but has in the last quarter of a century, or thereabouts, become unfavourably suggestive. (It has always been offensive to label any set of Christians a sect; the neutral term is 'denomination'.).
However we had already received some very disturbing documents relating to the banning of sects by FEtler. These cast doubt on the newness of the word "sekte" as a pejorative term and are available from the Committee. In fact it should be remembered that the Jews were also targeted as a "sekte " at that time. There is clearly a greater variety of religious minorities in Germany sixty years on and some of them may be viewed as perhaps more exotic than those existing then, but it was more than a little eerie, having read these documents, to be sitting c,h the senior German official discussing the 'problem of sekten'.
For reference, we quote from The Small Religious Communities, (author unknown) which was quoted as corru'ng from the Magazine for Evangelic (Lutheran) Church Law 1953154, Vol 3. The Chapter is entitled Small Religious Communities in the State Church Law of the National Socialist Regime. (5) Pages 2'j 5-23 6 names the religions banned by the nazis. They number twenty four and include, with dates of the banning orders, the Baptists (24/6/'j 5), the Seventh Day Adventists (24/04/36), the Bahal Faith (21/05/37), Christian Science, 14/07/41, Anthrosophical Society(20/0'J/37),Theosophical Society(20/03/')7). About the first named, the Geheime Stadtspolizei (Secret Police) wrote "The Community of the Baptists with its doctrine is apt to have damaging, confusing and misleading effects on the population". (For the modern counterpart of this policy see paragraph 8 of Section A of Sources of Discrimination).
It must be said that on the whole, and thus far, a strong legal system exists, based on the principles of the Constitution. There were some reports (detailed later) of attempts by the government to influence the independence of the judiciary on the subject of minority religions but the delegation saw that the integrity of the judiciary was largely maintained.
However from the officials we met we had the inescapable feeling that we were being told either "Hitler got it wrong in the way he dealt with sects, but we have not. We are setting about it in a strictly legal way", or "Hitler was n'-ht about sects but he did not finish the job". Either way the implications of the mind set are chilling. We have the uneasy feeling that 'socalled sekten' are seen as an untidiness on the German social and religious landscape.
2. We urge the government to establish a forum where constructive dialogue takes place between government and minority religions and philosophies. Where there are anxieties about the purpose and intentions of groups, these should be discussed in an atmosphere which is conducive to honest and open discussion, respect for the law and existing social values always bearing in mind basic human rights principles covering the freedom of religion, thought and belief.
3. The criminal law is sufficient to prosecute and punish wrong-doers. It should be used to prosecute where there is evidence of an infringement of existing criminal law. Vague and insubstantial, generalized allegations against minority groups where there is no evidence of law-breaking should cease forthwith.
4. The government should build on existing training programmes for public prosecutors and judges which are designed to develop sensitivity to racial differences in order to ensure that the constitutional protection applies to religious minorities as well.
5. We suggest that the German State governments include in the school curriculum special courses to help young people develop an understanding of, and sensitivity towards, members of all categories of minority groups.
6. Political parties should refrain from attempting to gain political advantage from the socalled sekte issue and thus sensationalising it further.
We were told that their religious doctrine was no different to that of "several well-loved churches in England such as Holy Trinity, Brompton, Kensington Temple, The Vineyard Churches" yet they have been targeted as an extremist "sekte, " received bomb threats, the Pastors have been threatened that they will be shot and Pastor Terry Jones has actually been attacked with a knife. Since the media campaign against them and their Church started they have been unable to create any kind of balance in media reporting and now refuse to even speak with representatives of the media because they have no hope of being accurately reported. We doubt that the violence and threats of violence would have occurred in the absence of such negative media coverage.
The most disturbing situation Pastor Jones described is the attempt by the Cologne authorities to remove their tax-free le charitable status. The Church has received a de-registration order which stated that "they did not contribute to the cultural, religious, social or spiritual value of German society". This appears to the Committee to be a rather arrogant position to adopt in respect of another's religion. It is certainly beyond the limits of state neutrality. Pastor Jones and his colleagues are now engaged in a court battle to reverse this decision.
There were other reports of similar cases of discrimination from other similar Christian churches.
VPM is a group consisting mainly of professional such as teachers, lawyers, parents, theologians, doctors, psychologists and people from various other callings who are interested in the concerns of psychology and education. They told us that "the work of VPM stands in the tradition of Alfred Adler's Individual Psychology, cultural anthropology and developmental psychology. New findings of results and research are incorporated into VPM's work. (7) The main focus is on psychological teaching and socio-ethical matters of general interest. Special consideration is given to the findings of research into ethics and the formation and preservation of values. The association and its members are orientated towards Christian values and are committed to the democratic system based on the rule of law."
They oppose drug use and experimentation and want to improve educational standards within the education system. They are also strongly in favour of the traditional family. There was nothing exceptionable or dangerous about this group's ideas or work that could be reproached. They are a secular pressure group, comparable to the British Campaign for Real Education with which they have close links. VPM and CRE are both members of the European Association Mut zur Ethik (Courage to Take a Moral Stance) which comprises 27 member organizations and was initiated by VPM. It would be legitimate to have a different view on educational policy matters but it is not legitimate to stifle democratic debate in the oppressive manner as outlined below.
VPM has become enmeshed in the network of "sekte priests" and "sekte comissioners" (see section on Sources of Discrimination below) because their stand against drugs runs counter to the views of some powerful proponents of drug legalization. They have been viciously attacked in the media as a "sekte".
We were told that the names of those attending VPM conferences have been collected and circulated to the state education authorities of Zurich and then filtered into Germany. Known members have been refused civil servant status (which is almost unheard of) because of their association with this group. Cases were cited where existing teachers whose membership becomes known are told that they will never be promoted to head teacher grade, and will never be appointed as drug counsellors. VPM's experience illustrates the way in which the media and the political forces collaborate to maxinuse pressure on these minority groups.
In summary, its opponents have stigmatised VPM with the convenient propaganda label of "sekte ". The authorities, the public and the media have unhesitatingly accepted this designation, thus underlining the completely biased and blind acceptance of this label in present day Germany. It is the government's responsibility to exert moral leadership and uphold democracy and this is just not happening.
He also clarified a difference in the meaning of two German words. He said one must listen carefully to the language they use. There are graduations of dislike. The word "auslander" means literally "foreigner". This is applied to the British, Swiss and French for example. Non-whites, Roma and Sinti and presumably members of religious minorities are "Fremde " or "strangers". Presumably this means that the non-white minorities in Britain would count as Fremde even though they are mainly British citizens and now mostly by right of birth in the UK. He said that the problem with Germans is that they hate "Fremden".
However he said that in his estimation only about one half a percent of Germans are out and out Nazis. A further 40% are xenophobic and the balance are tolerant although he did qualify this last adjective by saying that perhaps the word should be "indifferent". His focus is very much on the events earlier in the century which we, of course, were not in Germany to investigate. He did say that the course of history could have been different if the situation had been handled before 1935. After that it was too late to do anything to change the unfolding course of events.
In the months following reunification there were reports in the British press that skinheads were responsible for terrorising foreigners, gastarbeiters (guest-workers), asylum seekers and the disabled. We asked Herr Bubis about this phenomenon. He told us that the number of skinheads was very low. Government approved statistics show that the number of skinheads who are trouble makers is about 6,500. 90% of them are under thirty years old and 80% are under the age of twenty one. He said that it is not they who are the danger, it is the "skinheads in nice suits" (a quote from the author Gunter Grass) - the ideological anti-Zionists and that the level of intellectual support for these ideas has increased greatly in the past few years. However, rather than talk openly in support of fascist ideas, these people focus on the subject of "law and order".
We asked Herr Bubis about the situation of other groups. He said there are about 100,000 Buddhists, mainly from Japan, India and Kashmir and most live in Dusseldorf but that they have little influence because they are not organised. We did in fact arrange to meet people from one Buddhist group but they were unable to keep the appointment.
Herr Bubis expressed sadness that the Muslims were not as organised as the Jews and said that he had tried to help them to speak with one voice but his efforts had not so far been successful. He has a good working relationship with the Catholic Church. He also mentioned that he was asked by the CDU Young Union to be a member of a tribunal they were setting up to attack Scientology but he declined because it was not his problem and he did not want to be involved with it. Asked about the cases of cultural and artistic discrimination we had encountered and the parallels with the 1930s he said that Germans have to have someone to hate.
The Rutherford Institute covered in its 1996 survey of religious liberty around the world that the President of the Israeli Cultural Society reported that her members have had their tyres slashed and "receive death threats in the mail and on the phone 'on a regular basis.
Another situation which they described in detail was the decision by the Foreign Ministry not to allow the Reverend Sun Yung Moon to enter Germany. They told us that government officials put in long hours working through the night to persuade all the other Schengen countries to follow suit by placing him on the "Schengen List". The Unificationists' lawyers started a "fast track procedure" court action to counter the government action but it was not successful and they had to revert to a more usual longwinded procedure to obtain justice as they saw it, but only to establish the principle that the ban had been wrong as the event has long since passed.
The Unificationists also wanted to start a kindergarten for their members' children but were told their proposed kindergarten teacher was unsuitable despite the fact that the person was fully qualified. In common with other witnesses the Unificationists feel that life is deliberately made difficult for them by Federal and State authorities and that they then have to go to court to secure their constitutional rights.
The Scientologists we met presented the delegation with a detailed and well researched briefing. They provided a sampling of incidents of discrimination against their Church and/or individual members. This covered some 60 documented examples of discrimination and included an updated "Volume 2" of their publication from earlier this year called "Religious Apartheid 1996" (8), an indication of the deteriorating situation through which they are living.
They told us that in September of 1994 the Federal Minister of Labour and Social Control, Herr Bluem, issued a decree which stated that no Scientologist could obtain a licence to operate an employment agency. This directive was not based on any evidence of criminal or civil wrongdoing. It accused Scientology of being a "criminal association." This charge was eagerly taken up by the media because of Herr Bluem's high public profile, but the Church has been convicted of no crime. We were told, despite years of intensive investigations by German authorities there has been no evidence of wrong-doing. Even so, this ban was put in place, according to Bluem, as part of a "determined fight" to ban Scientology in Germany.
Mrs Claudia Engel, from Frankfurt, who started an employment agency for au pairs, was a casualty of this ban. The State Labour Office of Rhineland-Pfalz sent her the sekte filter form and demanded that she acknowledge her affiliation with Scientology and thereby disqualify herself from obtaining her licence or execute a declaration swearing that she had never participated in Scientology and that she disapproved of its teachings. She refused to do this and her licence was revoked on the grounds that she was too "unreliable" to run an employment agency because of her association and beliefs. After bringing the issue to court she was able to regain her licence with a preliminary injunction because the court found that there was no substance to the general accusations made against Scientologists by the Minister of Employment and Social Control on which the issuance of the "sekte filter" decree was based. The main case has still to be heard. Since we returned from Germany we were informed that the Social Court in Nuremberg ruled in another case that denial of such a licence to a Scientologist, on the basis of his religion, is against the law.
We also received a copy of the application form to become a member of the Christian Democrat Party. (12) There are two preconditions for membership. One is common to all such application forms known to the Committee and states that the applicant is not a member of any other political party. The other is a declaration that the applicant is not a Scientologist. We were told that all other major political parties took a similar line. In other words, a German Scientologist may not participate in the democratic process as a member of any of the main political parties.
Scientology also provides the best illustration of the way the courts system is used to tie up the attention and resources of minority croups. It is quite true of course, as Dr Schoen said, that the courts system is available to anyone who feels their constitutional rights are beina violated. However the German Churches of Scientology and individual Scientologists currently have about 70 court cases in progress and approximately another 120 administrative proceedings pending with government agencies. This legal morass is further complicated because Germany has court systems for various branches of law comprising civil/penal, labour, administrative and tax law spread across the sixteen States with one Federal Supreme Court for each of the branches of law. It shows how, in the absence of good will even the best legal system can be abused. They also pointed out to us how unfair it is that they and other minority groups are compelled to fight for their existence in the courts but when they do they get acused of being militant and litigous.
If one takes into account the following parts on "Education and Advanced Training for Prosecutors and Judges" and the "Document Centre on Minority Religions" (16) (section on Sources of Discrimination) one has to conclude that the authorities intend to ensure that, over a period of time, both the legal framework of human rights and the 're-educated' attitude of the judces make the position of nearly all religious minorities untenable as a result of the erosion of previously high judicial standards.
The huge number of court cases in which this Church (and others) and its members are involved would, if they win the cases, indicate constitutional violations on a major scale on the part of the German authorities who put forward the rather disingenuous view that as all these cases are in progress they cannot comment. It is precisely the large number of occasions on which such disparate groups feel the need to have recourse to the courts to establish their rights under law that makes it clear that something is very wrong. The time that cases take to wend their way through the different levels of court places a further burden on these very small groups of devotees. (The Oshos, followers of an Indian meditation teacher, have been pursuing a court case they feel is important to the survival of their movement in Germany for twelve years).
The Scientologists gave us an interesting internal CDU document. (13) It describes the discussion within the CDU about their religion and states why the CDU says that membership of Scientology is incompatible with membership of the CDU. Scientologists believe in the spiritual nature of mankind and that the soul is separate from the body. According to the CDU document this is incompatible with the CDU membership because it puts the individual above the state. (This shows an interesting parallel with the Congress of Nicea in 553 CE. More than one religious following holds that the Christian Church abandoned the doctrine of reincarnation at that Congress because it sat uneasily with the claimed divinity of the Roman emperors).
The Committee members each have different religions or beliefs but clearly the truth about matters of life and death exists independently of what each person or any political party chooses to believe. Setting the authority of the state above individual spirituality in tl-lis very materialistic way bodes ill for the future of human freedom.
The book that the followers of Sri Chinmoy brought with them contains pictures of his meetings with some of these world leaders and includes their messages to him. (17) Pope Paul VI told him "This meeting of ours has been most essential. Your message and my message are the same, and from Pope John Paul II, "I am very grateful for your visit. God Bless You and all your contemplative activities".
His followers apparently do not receive as warm a welcome in Germany. The witness from Sri Chinmoy told us "We make ourselves visible and they shoot at us from the forest", in talkine, about the bureaucratic obstruction which his movement experiences.
They express their love of life and their devotion to their leader's quest for peace in the world by organising concerts and marathon running and other athletics events. The facilities they need for these are almost all within the gift of local authorities. They recounted instances where concert venues and sporting facilities are closed to them for no apparent reason. On one occasion they organised a marathon run only to find that they were not allowed to use the showers at the sports centre. The City Council of Cologne has decided that no public rooms were to be let to Sri Chinmoy groups.
Firstly, they have each come to the same conclusion as academics in other West European countries and in the United States, that the concepts of brainwashing and mind control are not a valid theoretical construct for viewing new religious movements or denominations and they simply do not work in practice. Even using the most simplistic argument it is obvious that if they were valid techniques the groups which used them would make and keep far more converts than they do. Most of the groups we interviewed had a minuscule membership of hundreds or at most a few thousand. Even Scientology, with a reported 30,000 parishioners only makes up 0.04% of Germany's population.
Secondly, they said, the accusations made against these groups are simply witch hunts which echo the Germany of the 1930s. They say that the damage that this is doing to German society makes them extremely pessimistic about the future of their country. The pain they feel at this conclusion was evident in their words and in their faces. They themselves have also experienced ostracism within their own communities and Professor Krumholz was anxious about the effects of social ostracism on his family were he to be too outspoken. Professor Krumholz met Ms Renate Rennebach, the SPD's sect expert and was amazed to hear her express her determination to have Scientology banned despite the fact that she openly admitted that the Church had been thoroughly investigated and found not to be involved in any criminal activity.
Professor Krumholz also described a meeting with Ms Renate Renebach, the SPD's "sekte" Commssioner. She expressed her frustration that she could not find anything incriminating about Scientology but she was determined to find a way to ban them in Germany.
The active discrimination against them began in 1992 with an hour long TV programme which was repeated several times in rapid succession. He told us that it started innocuously enough with interviews with Uriella and himself but in the second part of the programme it was alleged that she was responsible for the deaths of three people in Germany in 1988. Herr Eike explained that the truth was that she never treated any of the three. They asked her to treat them but she was in Switzerland and they were too far away. Instead, she advised them to see a doctor. The programme was followed by a great media interest in Orden Fiat Lux and was repeated in several other European countries.
Three days after the programme, many of the fourteen or fifteen houses owned by the group were raided by a large number of police and detectives. Documents were removed and shortly afterwards between two and three hundred of Uriella's patients were visited by police trying to build a case against her. Seven court cases resulted and the Orden Fiat Lux won all of them.
One of the charges was supplying natural healing products which Uriella does on two Sundays per month. This is illegal in Germany but she only does this at Egg near Zurich and there is no law against it in that Swiss canton. It was alleged that she made an extortionate amount of money selling these products and Herr Eicke told us that, while it is her only income, the profit she makes is in line with other similar products.
It is not only Uriella who carries out spiritual healing. Herr Eicke and four or five others have been charged in Germany under the Healing Practitioner Law of 1939 which forbids spiritual healing except as part of a religious ceremony. It is necessary to have a permit to carry out spiritual healing and they had one from 1990 until 1992 when it was cancelled or not renewed by the authorities. The procedure was that some local government officials decided that this law had been broken and ordered the accused to pay a fine of 20,000 DM, It is up to them to contest this order which they have been doin since 1992 as it moves from one level of court to the next.
The negative press, radio and TV coverage they receive is similar in all three German speaking countries. Herr Eicke told us that they are harassed by the Lutheran and Catholic Churches, as well as the legal and administrative machinery of the government.
A further racial community left documentary submissions, but the Committee was unable to interview them. These were the Sinti and Roma groups ("Gypsies").
The common threads that seem to bind the discrimination from officialdom against them together, and it seems to be extreme, is bureaucratic policy and the demand for "tidiness".
There are between 400,000 and 600,000 Kurds living in Germany. As far as official-think is concerned, they must be one of Turkish, Iraqi, Iranian or Syrian nationality. Therefore, if a Kurd is in need of any official papers (birth certificates, marriage certificates, etc.) then he or she must go to the relevant embassy or consulate. Officialdom does not recognise the problem that the person might be wanted by the police or military "back home" - even though he or she might be accepted as a refugee in Germany - if he or she were to enter diplomatically sovereign territory then an arrest might follow. So, frequently, Kurds take great personal risks just to acquire simple documents for German officials. In a number of cases cited to the Committee, members could only draw the conclusion that all too often officials' requests were trivial and sight of such documents unnecessary.
"Kurds being Turks must therefore also be Muslims; or all Kurds are Muslims anyway" - this is another bureaucratic tidiness that catches out the Yazidis. They are a community of Zoroastrians, but are not recognised as a separate religion in Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria where they are classified as Muslims. In Germany, where they try to practice openly as Zoroastrians, they are still officially classified as Muslims, because that is how their countries of nationality define them.
Both Kurdish groups spoken to mentioned that it would be a great help if Germany recognised dual nationality.
There is no right to "mother-tongue" teaching in German schools, and policies set by the Lander (States) vary. Public libraries do not seem to stock books and audio-visual material 'm Kurdish, and Kurdish festivals - notably Navroz - are not allowed by the authorities. This last is in part because in the past the extremist group PKK have used the occasion to stage violent demonstrations. But mostly this lack of official provision for the Kurds is because officially, they are Turks (or Iranians or Arabs).
The three racial groups (Kurds, Sinti-Roma and Turks) all make similar points about the difficulties they experience for them to become German citizens, even if they are now in the third Generation (i.e. it was their grand-parents who migrated to Germany, for whatever reason - usually for work as Gastarbeiter or "guest worker"). This produces insecurity and instability within the communities. It also produces officially sponsored inequities where a third-generation German Turk is forced to go back to Turkey (they are even disparagingly called "Almanlilar" or Germans in Turkish), because their continuing Gastarbeiter status is increasingly viewed as taking jobs away from Germans. As Germany enters ever-deepening recession this is becoming a serious point of friction between the immigrant and "host" communities. A survey reported that over 51 percent of Germans supported the notion that "Germany should be for the Germans."
The Greek Orthodox community met in Munich seems to be the victim of similar "tidiness". It does not accept or possibly even recognise, the authority of the Patriarch in Istanbul but only that of a Metropolitan in Athens. However, the other Greek Orthodox communities do accept the authority of Istanbul. The Turkish authorities do not seem to care one way or the other how this small community behaves, but the local municipality, and the Roman Catholic Cardinal's office, do. We were told that they would like the community to be absorbed into another Greek Orthodox community further out of the city, and presumably then the church they occupy could revert to being a Roman Catholic one, which it was for 300 years before the mid-1800s.
The Turks report a great deal of discrimination. In this the Kurds (and other Middle Eastern Muslims) can be bracketed with them. It is unclear whether this discrimination, however, is religious, racial or because they are seen as taking jobs that Germans would now love to have.
We also asked for meetings with the Interior Ministry and the Ministry for Youth, Family, Women and the Elderly People's Affairs and the Enquete Commission but these could not be arranged. It was not necessarily due to short notice because the officials of the Enquete Commission wanted to know if we were their equivalent in the UK. When they discovered we were concerned that a body such as theirs should even exist they declined to meet.
We also met Dr Meyer-Ladewig of the Justice NEnistry. An official from the Ministry for Youth, Family, Women and Elderly People's Affairs was supposed to attend this meeting but was unable to do so.
Artists have to communicate. All art, unless for the sole and private pleasure of its creator, is a communication, whether it is visual or performance art. We describe later in our report the concatenation of sekte priests, sekte commissioners, media and creative generators of administrative difficulties which homes in on the artist's communication lines where he or she is most vulnerable. Art, of course, was of considerable interest to the authorities in Germany before the war. Recent revelations about the wartime trade in "degenerate art" and art works deemed acceptable find another echo in today's Germany. This was highlighted in a recent publication called Art as Propaganda by Stephen Feinstein, Chairman, Department of History, University of Wisconsin. (19)
The attackers are really quite sophisticated and approach each sekte with a target specific strategy. For example, Sri Chinmoy, organizes marathon runs and musical events. As mentioned in the previous section they recounted instances where concert venues and sporting facilities have been unaccountably closed to them. On one occasion they were told they could not use the showers.
In addition to the artists we inter-viewed, we have been given documentation which describes quite unacceptable discrimination. Reports in the media about two recent situations highlight the absurdity. In August 1996, as the release of the Tom Cruise film, Mission: Impossible, approached, a spokesman of the Youth Union of the CDU issued a statement urging Germans to boycott the film because Cruise is a Scientologist.
NB. The Youth Union of the CDU has issued a booklet comparing "sekten" with insects which should be killed with a fly swat and this was distributed at a CDU Party conference with the authorisation of the General Secretary of the CDU despite protests from the religious groups.
John Travolta, whose film Phenomenon was to be released in October 96, was also a target of political forces. He is a member of the Church of Scientology and there were absurd claims that Phenomenon was an attempt to "infiltrate" Scientology ideas into Germany. In fact, the script was written by a non-Scientologist called Gerald De Piego before John Travolta was even considered for the part. (20)
Our witnesses included two other artists. One, Gottfried Helnwein, a well-known painter of portraits and cover art, gave numerous examples of discrimination including the absurd demand that he withdraw from an exhibition (where he was showing his collection of original sketches and paintings of Donald Duck) because they said he was a Scientologist, and that, therefore, allegedly made his exhibition unsupportable. He was also required to sign a statement (which he refused to do) saying, in effect, that he denounces the Scientology religion. He stated that he had been systematically banned from exhibiting his work all over Germany and was "socially dead" due to the campaign against him. A few years ago he bought a mediaeval castle as a home and studio. Press reports said that he held a leading position in Scientology and had kidnapped children whom he was keeping at the castle. As a result of this kind of propaganda, he found that galleries with whom he did business would have nothing more to do with him.
Another very well known German artist, the painter Pablo Roehrig, is a member of the Church of Scientology. He has suffered considerably in his professional life because of his membership. He told us that Scientology had been under attack for some time in Germany but that it had become more intensive and much more personal starting in 1990. After he was personally attacked in the media his income halved from the 1991 figure and he had to reduce the staff in his workshop from 22 to 7. There have been media reports that just looking at one of his pictures can "brainwash" someone into becoming a Scientologist. A very well known German entertainer and TV personality who bought three of his pictures later declared that he did not know Roehrig was a Scientologist when he bought the pictures and publicly distanced himself from the artist. This illustrates the way that social pressure is brought to bear on even the associates of members of the targeted groups.
The delegation also received documentary evidence of discrimination against other Scientology artists. Chick Corea, the world famous American jazz piam'st, was scheduled to give a concert in Baden-Wuerttemberg in 199? but local government officials banned him from performing in that German state. Other discrimination by political flaures followed. During his frequent European tours, Corea used to give about a dozen performances in Germany. This has been reduced to two offers, at most, from German promoters. He attributes this to the government-backed discrimination campaign against him.
Similarly, a performance in 1993 by a folk group called Golden Bough in the city of Stade was interrupted by a demonstration by the Junge Union when they marched on stage with banners to protest that the auditorium was being made available to artists who were Scientologists. The stage was eventually cleared but the concert was severely disrupted and the audience intimidated. This was but one incident in a succession which included several cancelled concerts by different local authorities on the grounds of the musicians' religion. One prominent German folk music magazine listed the names of the members of Golden Bough among other Scientology musicians and urged the public to boycott all performances by Scientologists..
Within the political and administrative structure there are also "sekte commissioners" - in German, sektebeauftragter. Their task is similar to that of their religious counterparts which are covered in detail later in this section. Indeed, and this reflects the closeness of Church and State in Germany, their work mirrors that of the sekte priest/pfarrer and the allegations they make are equally extreme and equally vague and unsubstantiated. It was also reported to the delegation that approximately 20% of elected German politicians are trained priests or pastors.
Although the German Constitution clearly obliges the government to refrain from giving an opinion or judgement about religious matters, these official "sekle comissioners" are government officials, paid from State finances. They create written material and make public statements which claim to show the public and other officials how to "recocnize" members of sekten. Ursula Caberta has been employed by the Hamburg State Interior Ministry to run the "working circle Scientology". She published a 1? point list of characteristics that would enable one to recognize a Scientologist. This list included such points as "having no friends", "being humourless", "not joining in discussions" and "having frequent short holidays". This also appeared in Bunte Magazine. (9)
The Bavarian government has created literature for use in schools (29) which claims that Scientologists can be recognized because they are susceptible to sudden changes in body weight and distinctive beard growth.
Scientologists we met could not contain their amusement when shown this list but did point out that in the social climate of Germany today it is almost impossible to make known any religious affiliation other than to the established religions without thereafter experiencing at least some, often extreme, form of discrimination. This was echoed by adherents of all the other religions and other groups we spoke to.
Another example of political discrimination is the campaign by the Young Union, the youth wing of the CDU. It published a booklet called "InSects, No Thanks! " which depicts members of minority religions as flies being exterminated by a fly swatter held in the hands of the Youn. Union. The publication has derogatory, inflammatory and untrue information about minority religions. There are forces at work subverting and channelling the idealism of youngg people as Hitler did with the Hitler Youth.
It is apparent that the German State is spending millions of deutschmarks per year on antisekte personnel, propaganda and related actions, some estimates go as high as 100 million per annum. In addition to this, most groups complained that govermnent officials were not interested in any kind of dialogue, that the material published by the authorities on minority groups has been entirely one-sided and does not make any attempt at impartiality. There are moves by the Federal and State governments to publish brochures listing "sekten " that are regarded with disfavour. Some groups which have been included provisionally are challenging their inclusion in the Federal govemment's "sekte " brochure in court.
An Enquete Commission (Commission of Inquiry) of the Bundestag has been initiated by Federal Social Democratic Party Member of Parliament Mrs. Rennebach. We were informed that she is both a member of the Lutheran synod from Berlin and an advisory member of the Board of the most important German anti-sekte group called AGPF in Bonn. The Commission is targeting 600 "sekten" in Germany, amongst them such groups as the Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, Anthroposophists and Scientologists. We were also told from several groups that the Enquete Commission has been staffed exclusively with outspoken opponents of the "new religions" in Germany who are now acting as "experts" with the stated purpose of proposing new legislation against these "sekten".
Our own experience reinforced this perception of the official attitude as representatives of the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Justice maintained a position that there was no discrimination in Germany and even if it did exist the court system was available to those who felt they were being discriminated against. Their unwillingness to face up to the problem emphasised this "official position" which contrasted sharply with the evidence we were given by all our witnesses.
We wish to make no criticism or judgment here about the intrinsic constitutional and legal relationship between Church and State in Germany. However there appears to be cause for concern that certain elements within the Lutheran and Catholic Churches exploit their powerful connections to the government to manipulate the State for their own ends.
In March 1995, the State Parliament published a report entitled "Activities of Sects in Schleswig Holstein". (21) This report provides information on eight minority religions targeted by the government and details the ominous purpose of the document centre. The report states that information collected by the document centre on individuals who are members of the targeted religions will be shared with federal, state and municipal govermnent offices, social organisations, unions, trade associations and chambers of commerce, churches, private groups, educational institutions and the Parliament. The report also calls for the ct education and advanced training of prosecutors and judges regarding targeted religious groups" - actions clearly designed to strip away neutral enforcement and application of the law.
This document collection centre law gives the government the right to collect and disseminate sensitive personal information and expose the identities of individuals associated with minority religions to all strata of society in order to ensure that the government policy to blacklist and ostracise members of minority religions is effectively implemented. This tactic violates core data protection principles by creating a substructure of second class citizens classified by their philosophy or religious beliefs.
We also discovered that in Germany in-service training has been given a completely new twist. Two lawyers who act for minority groups managed to join a government funded training programme for public prosecutors. The purpose is nothing less than to subvert the course of justice and "re-educate" the judges so they fall in line with the governinent's view on minority religions and groups.
On this occasion the lecturer was Frau Dr. Wettengel, a leading government "sekte expert". The "instruction" was very much in the same vein as the government funded documentation attached to this report. On the evening after the seminar, in a wine bar, one of the two lawyers who had attended this seminar was horrified to hear the judge in a case where he, as the defence lawyer, was acting for the minority group, was discussing his client's case in a jocular fashion with the sekte expert.
We were told that the State of North Rhine Westfalia also organises courses on sekten and in fact organised the above "training" of judges and prosecutors at the governmentally controlled "German Academy of Judges" in 1993.
Another group reports that it is not unusual to receive several hundred negative articles a week. Just as the officials we spoke to assured us (rather disingenuously we thought) that any group or individual who felt aggrieved could go to court to seek redress so they also said that in Germany there is freedom of the press. This is fine but freedom of the press must include the effective right of reply otherwise it simply becomes the tyranny of the majority view.
All groups we interviewed complained that the media would either alter their statements, take them completely out of context or simply give them no opportunity at all to put their point of view. Their common experience is that the media is interested only in sensationalising and misrepresenting their position and gives preferential treatment to the "authoritative" voices of the government and the established Churches. This may also ring true for minority groups in other countries but given the extraordinary volume of negative media coverage of minority groups the German language press seems to have brought this to an altogether higher level of discrimination which amounts to nothing short of a propaganda campaign. This is the only description that adequately characterises the sheer volume of one-sided reporting which they described.
Althoueh the right of reply does exist under German law covering the media, it is (as in many countries) restricted to correcting factual errors. From a legal point of view the producers and presenters are generally very careful not to quote any challengeable facts but to express their views as hostile opinion. This is in any case likely to be more effective in damning the group concerned because it creates a powerful negative imace in the mind of the reader, viewer or listener. There is no legal remedy for this. Again and again, while in Germany, it was brought home to us the extent to which the functioning of civil society, under any constitution, depends on good will and good faith. In Germany, in respect of those minority faiths and philosophies whom we interviewed, these are notable by their absence.
Pastor Jones of the Christian Church of Cologne, for example, has reached the point where he refuses to have anything to do with the German press because he can never get any reporter to represent him accurately. For accurate reporting of the situation in Germany one has to look overseas as the news story from the New York "Amsterdam News" (22) shows (see section on Lutheran and Catholic Churches).
An example of how the hatred is spilling over into neighbouring countries is an article from the Nordschleswiger, a German language newspaper in southern Demark. This reads like the sort of hate propaganda that bigots might anonymously push through someone's letterbox. In fact it was the Sunday evening edition of the Nordschleswiger from 12th October 1996. In this case the diatribe is directed against Scientologists.
Since 1990 and reunification, cartoons have appeared in German magazines which bear a chilling resemblance to those in der Stuermer, the Stormtrooper, the Nazi magazine of the 1930s and 40s. (23) These cartoons seem to build on stereotypes already present in the minds of the population. It is almost as if some former Nazi black propagandist had been stuck to the wrong side of the wall, waiting nearly half a century to emerge in 1990, to continue to ply his trade.
The point here is not that this means the individuals being targeted are going to suffer the same fate as before. It simply establishes that the same emotive images are being used as before and contribute to a social climate where people are easily ostracised.
It should be said that the media in this electronic age has immense power to shape the mind set of a population. Whoever is steering this campaign has lost no opportunity to influence the German people against these, mostly tiny, minority groups. In respect of those we interviewed, this intensive and extensive campaign has been "successful" and the majority of the German people have been led to believe evil of their compatriots.
There is an oppressive conformity of views reflecting the only view about minority religions and philosophies which appears in the media. There is no other explanation for the "fear of conta 'on" that was so apparent to us. Minority groups have been so reviled for so long that to be publicly associated with such a group or with one of its members is to risk the fate of "social death". One witness referred to a phrase in Goldhagen's book Ordinary Germans in this context.
"The term sect is nowadays used as a political weapon mainly by the Marxists to stigmatize opponents (people with other opinions). This method originated in socialist countries and was formulated already by Lenin in his writing. The effect of such a stigma is similar to labelling someone as a Fascist (cf the publication by Prof Helmuth Knuetter "Die Faschismuskeule"). This procedure can perhaps be compared to the often used and politically motivated label of racist to brand a political opponent and to distract attention away from a proper discussion on the basis of arguments."
"To stigmatize an organisation as a sect has the effect that no discussion using arguments and factual evidence will take place but that the group or organisation will be outed by society and left without a voice."
Although as far as we could discover these accusations are not substantiated by any evidence that would support a prosecution, they have been made with such frequency and over such a long period that the German people have apparently come to believe them. This is shown by the way in which ordinary Germans turn on friends and colleagues who have been "outed" as sekte members and thereafter refuse any further contact. If the accusations had any substance, a rash of criminal convictions would long ago have closed down these organisations.
Declining church attendance may be a precipitating factor for the Lutheran and Catholic Churches but the question has to be asked whether in fact empty churches or loss of revenue is the greater concern. It would be interesting to discover whether church attendance has fallen faster in recent years as persecution of minorities has increased. The imposition of the 8% solidarity tax to finance reunification was a heavy blow to many German families and it was compulsory, whereas they could opt out of the church tax. Political opportunism and "me too-ism" - the rush to conform - do evidently also play a part in the attacks on these Groups.
According to the figures given to the Committee in oral and written evidence, the Lutheran and Catholic churches receive about 9 billion DM per annum in church tax. This is levied on individuals by the State at the rate of 5% of the income of church members and is paid to the churches. In addition, the German State pays the churches about 10 billion DM to run hospitals and kindergartens and for the purpose of training their priests and pastors in universities. The Federal Ministry of Defence also pays about 50 million DM to the churches for salaries of priests and pastors servicing the military.
We were told that the churches also own or have shares in insurance companies, banks publishing houses, breweries, a vineyard and a variety of other commercial activities. The established Churches are also said to be the two largest non-governmental landowners in Germany. If true, it is a little ironic for the sekte priests to claim that some of the minority groups we interviewed are really businesses because they publish and sell books or provide courses to spread the word about their faith or philosophy.
If a member of either the Lutheran or Catholic Churches wishes to stop being a member they have to contract out of paying the church tax. This can result in social ostracism, especially in small, rural communities where it might be made public, so church membership remains high. Church attendance, on the other hand, is around 2% (lower than the figures for the Church of England) according to our witnesses from the Charismatic Christian Church of Cologne.
We do of course understand that the established churches are concerned about loss of membership and therefore of income and want to prevent further erosion. However the total membership of the new religions and new denominations are, as far as we could determine, only about 50,000 to 100,000. The Catholic and Lutheran churches between them lost 446,000 members in just one recent year, according to figures available to the Committee. The minority religions simply do not absorb those leaving the established Churches. There is something medieval about the unjustified and shortsighted persecution of these very small minority religions and philosophies.
According to a children's book we given in Germany (Hexen und Hexenwahn - Witches and Witch Hysteria -from the Was Ist Was - What Is What - series) the area of the former West Germany had, during the 12th and 13th centuries, the highest total of witch bumings at over 15,000. The alarming thing about this book was the voyeuristic detachment of the style in which it was written. This attribute also came across in the failure of the officials we spoke to take responsibility for what is being done to these minority religions and philosophies. The parallel between the late 20th Century persecution encountered and the witch hunts of the Middle Ages struck us on more than one occasion. It is highlighted by the title of Professor Loew's book, Hexen und Hexenjaeger, (Witches and Witch Hunts) written about the witch hunt on his person after having acted in his capacity of scholar for the Unification Church in Germany.
The New York "Amsterdam News", (22) a Black American newspaper reported a meeting with members of Universelles Leben (Universal Life) a Christian denomination with members in several German towns and cities. This report was alarming when viewed against the backdrop of Germany's 20th Century history. The article contradicts what we were told by the sern'or civil servants we met. The paper's reporter wrote:
"According to [Dr Gert] Hetzel, a lawyer and former Lutheran Protestant, "Our community began 17 years ago. We are Christians. We are pacifists. We live according to the Ten Commandments and we have never harmed anyone". However, says Hetzel, the Christian leadership in the Catholic and Lutheran Churches have publicly, verbally brutalized them for a decade, and as a result have created an atmosphere of hatred towards the Universelles Leben community making them the target of misinformed citizens, bigots and right wing gangs.
"There is supposed to be separation of church and state in Germany but in reality church and state are the same" relates [Jeanette] Wood who earns her living as a translator.
"The Universelles Leben..... has filed a case with the state prosecutor in Munich acainst various officers of the churches, citing their violation of paragraph 130 of the German Penal Code, which makes it illegal to incite hatred and racism against a person or group and Paragraph 166 which makes it illegal to insult a religious denomination.
"The laws are reminders to Germans that one of Hitler's tactics was to incite hatred towards religious communities, which eventually resulted in the extermination of six million people."
The mechanism that allows the persecution we have uncovered to occur has two stages. First, what we can only describe as propaganda campaigns soften up the populace and second, make it ready to accept huge restrictions on the basic freedoms of these minority groups. The German people apparently do not realise that, by their acquiescence, they also, in the long run, sacrifice those freedoms for themselves.
The propaganda campaign against minority religions and other groups intensified after reunification. This was the experience of many of our witnesses. We urge academic readers of this report to consider giving this phenomenon detailed study. It would surely be fruitful ground for historians and sociologists. We are puzzled by it. What, of all the things that changed with the tearing down of the Wall, caused this reemergence of tendencies we all hoped had ceased to exist but perhaps suspected were still lurking beneath the surface? Whatever the answer, it is the responsibility of the German government to rein in the forces behind this renewed persecution.
We were provided with an agenda and speakers list for a conference the week following our visit that was to take place at Wannsee, near Berlin. Most of the main protagonists of the war on "Sekten" are listed and the purpose of the meeting was to agree on strategy and tactics for dealiner with the "Sekte Problem". It may have escaped their notice that this was the venue of the Wannsee Conference at which the Nazis planned the Final Solution, but then it may not. At the very least, the choice of this location does indicate a certain insensitivity.
The conference was held under the patronage of Norbert Bluem, the Federal Minister for Employment and Social Order, a Catholic theologian by training and also one of Scientology's most dedicated attackers, and the Bishop of Berlin-Brandenburg. It was sponsored by the provincial priests' office for sekten and the "Weltanschauung" - worldview (philosophical) questions centre of Berlin-Brandenburg in association with the Berlin Dialogue Centre (28) and the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung. (Stiftung means "foundation". The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung propagates the policies of the CDU within Germany and abroad).
The propaganda campaign itself has two aspects. First a climate of apprehension has been created in which most Germans have apparently been led to believe that Germany is in danger of being, overrun by a collection of Moonies, Oshos, Hindu meditators, Scientologists and Charismatic Christians. The techniques employed to bring about this state of affairs are the standard procedures for sowing disinformation in the minds of the population. More recently, during, the nazi era and the Soviet period this has been used to varying degrees by black propagandists the world over. People who are made anxious are easier to mould to the pohtician's will. The government is in fact fuelling the whole campaign by publishing propaganda which supports and encourages it.
It is hard to resist the conclusion that the Schleswig-Holstein documentation centre indicates malevolent intent towards the minorities affected. In deciding how to react to this move, one either has to side with the German government and the network of sekte priests and sekte commissioners against all mainstream academic opinion worldwide in the fields of the sociology of religion and social anthropology or conclude that, to borrow from Shakespeare, there appears to be something rotten in the state of Germany.
It is clear from the volume of negative media articles reported by our witnesses that a sustained media bombardment has been taking place which has increased in intensity since 1990. It is a well known principle of advertising that the more plays the message gets the more likely it is to be believed and acted on. If the message telling people to hate and fear certain groups is repeated often enough it too will be believed. The media messages are also repeatedly reinforced by authority figures in the government and the established Churches which enhances their effectiveness. Having created a climate of apprehension, the propagandists proceeded to the next stage which is to darken any association with these minority groups to such an extreme degree that anyone discovered to be a member or even anyone associated with a member is damned by association in the popular mind.
This has the result that friends and associates of anyone "outed" as a member of one of these groups are likely to shun them and refuse all further contact. It seems as though they are afraid they will themselves be accused for not reporting their erstwhile ffiend to the authorities. A situation has been created in which people are forced by social pressure to ostracise their friends and business associates.
Once the propagandists have achieved this, the infrastructure of repression against these groups can be installed without protest by the general population because to speak up against the power of the State, Churches and media in these matters in the Germany of 1996 means to court social and economic destruction. Academics who are prepared to speak out for reason, for democratic principles and for 'ustice on behalf of members of these minority groups are themselves attacked and accused by the media. In other words, the media has completely failed to do an honest job of reporting views which dissent from the prevailing institutional orthodoxy and of encouraging the expression of the many different viewpoints which characterize a healthy democracy.
In the Committee's view it would be extremely unwise for the members of any ethnic or religious minority, not immediately targeted, to shrug their shoulders and thank the Lord they are not in the firing line, this time. We should remember Pastor Niemoeller's famous words: "When the Nazis came for the Communists I said nothing; I was not a Communist. When they came for the Social Democrats 1 said nothing; I was not a Social Democrat. When they came for the Catholics I did not protest; I was not a Catholic. Then they came for me but there was no one to speak up for me ".
The figure of 2% we were quoted for church attendance in Catholic and Lutheran Churches by the Charismatic Christians may or may not be accurate but clearly there is problem for the pastors and priests as there is in most European countries: their flocks are not coming to church on Sundays. Despairing of filling their churches, some priests of the established religions have taken to holding public meetings to denounce the "Sekten" and any member they know of. The parallels with the Middle Ages struck us in this respect also.
In the section on sources of discrimination we describe the sekte member documentation centre in Schleswig-Holstein. The passing of the legislation to strip members of minority groups of their constitutional rights under the data protection legislation is an example of seriously declining moral and political standards. It is a clear signal that those who are involved with the programme to eradicate minorities believe that the propaganda campaign has been successful and that it is time to install the Infrastructure of repression.
It is worth noting here that in September 1996, the former Federal Minister of Justice, Sabina Leuthheusser-Schnarrenburger, criticised measures proposed specifically against Scientologists as a tactic to set aside "constitutional principles, the rule of law, [and] the restriction of the authority of the State." In other words, the former Federal Justice Minister is saying that the attacks against the seklen are simply a device to dismantle constitutional safeguards for all Germans. This is a very powerful statement bearing in mind that it was made against former colleagues in Helmut Kohl's cabinet. In the conditions prevailing in Germany it show great strength of character.
A) A booklet has been written and distributed to teachers by the education authorities in the State of Bavaria. (29) It contains false and derogatory information about various minority groups. Teachers have to warn their pupils about the listed Seklen using the booklet. This has resulted in school children drawing pictures of supposed sekte members cutting open people's heads with a chainsaw taking out their brains and washing them in a washing machine.
B) The Bavarian State has determined that, from the 1st November 1996, anyone who is employed by the State of Bavaria must sign a form (30) which states that they are not a member of the Church of Scientology and have never done any courses in Scientology. If the person refuses to sign the declaration they will be prohibited from being employed by the State. It is not clear whether this applies to existing civil servants or to new applicants only.
The Federal government should be restraining the State governments. The fact that it is not only not doing so but is giving a lead by such discriminatory policies demonstrates the lack of moral leadership from national figures and their apparent blindness to the dangers of the present situation.
C) A "sektefilter" has also been issued by the Berlin administration. (31) It requires every supplier of goods or services to the state government to sign a declaration that they are not a member of the Church of Scientology and have not have they done any Selentology courses. The State of Hamburg has adopted a similar declaration with the purpose of excluding Scientologists from business relations, not only with the government, but also with other private business partners.
D) Two teachers in Hamburg who are members of VPM have been told they will not be given permanent civil servant status. To deny civil service status after the usual two years service is completely unheard of.
E) The Bundestag has set up a parliamentary commission (the Enquete Commission) to propose a catalogue of measures including passing legislation to restrain "sekten " in Germany. The Federal government is going to publish a brochure which warns the public about various new religions or denominations. Several groups have ongoing court actions to force the government to take their name off the list. We understand about twenty groups are listed whilst the Enquete Commission is considering about 600 religious groups to be affected by its future recommendations.
The membership of the Enquete Commission totals eighteen or twenty. Half are members of the Bundestag and half are "sekte experts" appointed by the Bundestag. There is no representative of any minority religious croup nor any neutral academic who has studied the sociology of religion as we understand the subject in Britain or America. The 600 minority croups provisionally considered have not been asked to present their case and are thus excluded from the parliamentary debate or process.
In May of this year, sekte expert Ursula Caberta of the Hamburg State Interior Ministry and Brigitte Dewald-Koch of the Ministry for Culture, Youth, Family and Women of Rhineland-Palatinate were listed as speakers at a management counselling conference organised by a company called Management Circle. (32) Its purpose was to warn business people how to detect "sekte members" in their company. This shows clearly how the government is actively pushing its "dangerous sekten" message into the private sector. The head of the Lutheran working croup for religious and world outlook (weltanschauung) questions in Frankfurt, Kurt-Helmuth Eimuth also spoke. The religious minorities targeted at this conference were the Jehovah's Witnesses, Universal Life and Scientology. Two well known German companies, Lufthansa and BASF also supplied speakers.
After the coffee break on 21st May 1996 there was a practical example of how the Warsteiner Brewery dealt with the "scurrilous" rumour that they employed some people who are members of a "sekte". The session title translates as "How does a company react to character assassination and defamation" ie how does a company deny that it employs members of sekte. From the subsection headings it is clear that an intensive public relations campaign which included national advertising was needed to restore public confidence in the brewery's products.
We note from this that the government is inextricably involved in advising the private sector how to deal with an imaginary danger which the government itself has done much to create. The organiser of the conference, Dr Steven Goldner has clearly tapped into a lucrative new market which he personally helped to establish a "demand" for, and for which he now offers his"solution" to the business community.
It dawned on us that we can only make sense of this intense effort if it is the prelude to something else, something far bigger and more important but we were unable to work out in the short time available what this bigger project may be. The observation by the former Federal Minister of Justice is a possibility to be considered in this regard. We hope that our report will stimulate further research. It may also be that readers of the report will identify a number of other interesting areas. We also hope that the results of this research will inform policy making in Europe and North America and set a trend towards more tolerance and a pluralist society worthy of the title "democracy.".
We end with an urgent plea for dialogue based on facts, reason and the desire to advance the democratic process. We hope that the Committee's visit to Germany and our report will focus the attention of the International Community on what is taking place there. There is already disquiet in international human rights organisations. It is vital that the German government confronts the reality of what is happening. In the Comrnittee's view, the situation has degenerated beyond the point where private initiatives will be adequate to rectify it. It needs the concerted attention of the democratic nations.
Nowhere in our report do we suggest that events will inevitably follow a similar pattern to that of the thirties. That would be unthinkable and, post holocaust, quite impossible. However there are unquestionably comparisons that can be drawn regarding the persecution of minorities and these are of considerable concern to the Committee.
In reality, the build up to the holocaust lasted as long as the horrors which followed and this build up was orchestrated by nazis. During that time the propaganda machine rolled and the population was prepared, carefully and systematically, to accept the final solution. We have been struck by the parallels, not with the obscene horror of that terrible fate which eventually came about, but with the preparatory phase. We are left with the uneasy feeling that the population is being prepared, systematically and carefully, for some kind of total exclusion of these minority groups from Germany.
It is evident that elements within Germany are progressively increasing the pressure in their struggle against minority religions and justifying each new imposition as the months go by. They may be hoping, and calculating that their targets are of insufficient concern or importance to the rest of the world for any voices of protest to be raised.
The members of the Committee feel the need to point out that freedom is indivisible and undertake to maintain a watching brief on the situation. The German government is not only failing to fulfill its obligations to protect the rights of minorities under the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, it is also directly responsible for fostering a climate of intolerance against them. Moral leadership is essential to discharge this responsibility but is marhestly absent in the treatment of minority groups as a whole. On the contrary the govermnent is leading a crusade against minority religions and ideas. The consequences of this process will inevitably be destructive for Germany as a modem democratic state.
The purpose of our report is to provide constructive criticism and achievable recommendations in order that the German government can ensure that the necessary improvements occur. European nations are moving closer and closer to each other and it is important that matters such as those we have brought to light are completely resolved so that Europe can leave the past behind and enter the 21st century on a strong, democratic foundation.
15 December,1995 United Nations report entitled, "Application of the
Declaration on all forms of Intolerance and Discrimination based on
Relicion or Conviction.
Full report from http://www.unhchr.ch/huridocda/huridoca.nsf/(Symbol)/E.CN.4.1996.95.En?Opendocument.
3. Around the World, The Rutherford Institute. "Handbook on Religious Liberty."
Helsinki Watch/Human Rights report entitled, "Germany for Germans".
Full report from http://www.hrw.org/reports/1995/Germany.htm.
5. Quoted from the book,"The Small Religious Communities," (author unknown) in magazine for Evangelic (Lutheran) Church Law," 1953/1954 3rd Volume. Chapter: "Small Reliaous Communities in the State Church Law of the National Socialistic Regime."
6. November 1995, Charisma article, "German Charismatic Churches Face Persecution. Threats of Violence."
7. Selection of VPM's conference papers.
"Religious Apartheid: Germany, Volume 2.
9. "Bunte" article of 22 August 1996. "How do I recognize a Scientologist.
10. "The Scientology Organization - Goals, Practices and Dangers" published by the Federal Family Minister, Claudia Nolte.
11. Administration Office Berlin; "Declaration of Tender/contractor concerning Scientology."
12. Membership Application for the CDU Political Party.
13. CDU internal document: incompatibility of Scientology with CDU membership.
14. Bavarian Ministry for School, Culture, Science and Arts, "Enlightenment about the Scientology Organisation.
15. State Labour Office
16. Parliament of the Federal State of Schleswig-Holstein, "Draft of a Law to change the Federal State Data Protection Law.
17. "Sri Chinmoy, A Global Man of Peace" extract, "With World Leaders."
18. Orden Fiat Lux letter dated 27tb- September 1996.
19. "Art as Propaganda against Jews and Scientologists in Germany," Stephen C. Feinstein, Ph.D.
20. Gerald Piego -: Phenomenon.
21. Activities of Sects in the State of Schleswig Holstein.
22. Amsterdam News,
23. Hate and Propaganda publication, published by the Church of Scientology. (German version)
24. List of sect priests/commissioners - Catholic, Lutheran and State.
25. Numers leaving the Lutheran and the Catholic Churches.
26. "Von Hexen Und Hexenjaegern, " Dr Konrad Loew. Available from Dr Loew on request.
27. "Hexen und Hexenwahn," children's Book.
28. Berlin Dialog Centre Conference Programme - 30 September to 3 October 1996.
29. "Schulkulter" April 1996.
30. Bavarian State civil service
31. Berlin Contractors
32. Management Circle
The documents referenced in these end notes, or parts of them as appropriate, may be obtained from the Committee's rapporteur, Lord McNair, House of Lords, London, SW1A OPW.