Leading members of the German government and opposition parties
have attacked the American based Scientology movement as a danger
to democracy and have called on the next government to ban it.
Last spring, the interior ministers of the 16 German states called
Scientology "an organization that combines elements of business
crime and psychological terror against its own members with economic
activities and sectarian traits, under the protective cover of
a religious group."
But full page advertisements paid for by the British-based International
Association of Scientologists that appeared in the New York Times
and the Washington Post last month have sparked fresh anger against
The Scientology ads recounted the rise of militant right-wing
violence against foreign asylum-seekers and immigrants in Germany
since unification four years ago and said "fascism is on
the rise again, condoned and encouraged by the German government."
Labor Minister Norbert Blum denounced the ads yesterday as a campaign
of defamation against the government, which has condemned the
attacks against foreigners and since 1992 has outlawed five neo-Nazi
parties that it said inspired them.
"Scientology is not a church or a religious organization,"
Blum said. "Scientology is a machine for manipulating human
On Tuesday, Renate Rennebach, a member of Parliament from the
opposition Social Democratic Party, asserted that Scientology
is not a religion but a conspiratorial movement with global political
"At present Scientology is misusing international concern
about right-wing radical attacks in the Federal Republic to cause
serious damage to the reputation of the country abroad, with an
advertising campaign in influential American newspapers,"
Rennebach, her party's spokesman on sects, said the news federal
government that will be elected next Sunday should put the group
With an estimated two million members in Germany alone, Scientology
has aroused considerable controversy since it first came here
in 1970. Since then, at least six books have been published denouncing
it for defrauding adherents of their savings, threatening opponents
with violence and seeking to infiltrate companies and entire branches
of commerce - such as commercial real estate - in major cities.
Ursula Cabertha, who heads a department of the Hamburg state Ministry
of the Interior that is devoted exclusively to dealing with complaints
about Scientology, supported Rennebach's call to outlaw the movement
and said the Hamburg authorities would pursue legal action against
it all the way to the German supreme court.
"Scientology is by far the most dangerous and the most wide-spread
of these psycho-technical groups," she said.