"Smith's Friends" got support fom German federal president Rau

Cults: "The letter of Johannes"

"Der Spiegel" (Germany)/July 15, 2002

A recommendation letter of the German federal president Johannes Rau enables a dubious religious association to buy an advantageous piece of land.

The village Salem-Dargow in Schleswig-Holstein is a peacefull area mainly used by people from Hamburg and Berlin to spend there the vacations. But now, the peace may be over - due to federal president Johannes Rau who supported the radical Christian cult "Das Leben e.V." ("the life, registered association") by a recommendation letter to buy a large area at a very low price. After a short meeting at a festival at the president's office, the cultists had sent a coloured image brochure to Berlin. In the letter, the president praises the "return to values" and especially the "good education of children."

But, according to the opinion of experts, those Christians are not so harmless as they were praised by Rau. They are one of the about 20 groups of the so-called "Norwegians" or "Smiths Friends" in Germany. This fundamentalistic movement from Scandinavia has, according to the department "cults and psychogroups" of the Federal Ministery for Families, "all marks of a fundamentalistic group with a strong tendency for radicalism". The group is "clearly based on a leader figure and a leader ideology". The experts are especially afraid because of their very conservative interpretation of the Bible: Women have to submit themselves to men, wear scarfs and usually are not allowed to have functions. Girls have to wear long skirts, media should be avoided because they import the "dirt of the world." Contact with outside children should also be avoided as much as possible.

The speaker of the Bible fundamentalist claims that those stories are very much exagerated and had prevented them hitherto to find an adequate place.

Though the authorities in Kiel [the capital of Schlewig-Holstein] refused any cooperation because their auditor warned against the cult, they were successful on a lower level, at the village of Salem, where the warnings did not arrive. Also the seller, a lutherian church association, did not see any problems and sold the area of 11000 square meters with a 1000 square meter former youth center for 536.856 Euro, on 21 February, 2002.

The Lutherian cult expert of that region, Mrs. Lademan-Primer, also had warned against the deal. But pastor Rüdiger Bethke ("I do not need any cult expert, I am a theologian myself") had a "good impression" from the buyers and also from the presidents's letter.

The president's speaker Klaus Schrotthofer: "If we would have had this information before, this letter would probably not have been written that way."

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