Germany's top officials seek to ban Scientology

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Friday, December 7, 2007

Official warning leaflets from the Bavarian Ministry of the Interior on (from left to right) Islamic extremism, Scientology, and organized crime.
Image: Jeff Barnes.

After an investigation into the Church of Scientology (CoS), top security officials in Germany said that they consider its goals to be in conflict with the German constitution. Hamburg's Interior Minister Udo Nagel first brought complaints to state interior ministers in Hamburg. The German Office for the Protection of the Constitution has also been monitoring the group, fearing they may gain control in German elections. In official reports, the government agency has said "There is substantial evidence that the Scientology organization is involved in activities directed against the free democratic order." Nagel has been building support among other interior ministers.

Cquote1.svg There is substantial evidence that the Scientology organization is involved in activities directed against the free democratic order. Cquote2.svg

—German Office for the Protection of the Constitution

Berlin's Interior Minister, Senator Erhart Koerting, presided over a two-day conference on the issue with the interior ministers of all of Germany's 16 states. Federal Interior Minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, also attended. The German government does not believe Scientology is a religion, but instead treats it as a commercial enterprise, and states that it takes advantage of its members. The government taxes the CoS and its sister organizations as businesses in the country.

The interior ministers will ask Germany's domestic intelligence agency to determine what will be necessary in order to ban the CoS in Germany. The organization has been under investigation by the German government for over a decade, under allegations that it "threatens the peaceful democratic order."

Scientologists have said that the investigation is a violation of their freedom of religion, and the United States Department of State has criticized Germany in its Human Rights Reports in previous years. Sabine Weber, a representative of Scientology in Germany, called the actions to ban Scientology "more than incomprehensible."

This past summer, Germany had initially refused producers of a film starring Scientologist Tom Cruise to film at key sites. Cruise was later able to shoot his film in certain restricted areas.

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