AP NEWS
Related topics

Government sets up office to fight Scientology

December 18, 1996

BONN, Germany (AP) _ Germany created a government office Wednesday to coordinate its fight against the Church of Scientology and to keep people who are affiliated with the group out of key public jobs.

Chancellor Helmut Kohl announced the move after meeting with governors of Germany’s 16 states, some of whom have been pressing for tougher measures against the U.S.-based group.

Federal and state governments will work together to try to keep companies and people with links to Scientology away from jobs involving teaching and counseling, Kohl said in a statement.

``We agree that we must use all legal means to combat the questionable activities and practices of this organization, its efforts to expand and its quest for domination,″ Thuringia governor Bernhard Vogel said.

The Church of Scientology in Germany condemned the move in a statement from its press office in Munich, saying the government ``reveals its political bankruptcy and proves its shortcomings for spreading the propaganda of state church extremists.″

The Scientology statement said that if politicians would educate themselves about the church, ``they would quickly establish that (it) is officially recognized as a religion in important democratic nations.″

The German government claims Scientology is largely a money-making organization _ with some traits of organized crime _ that seeks world domination and threatens democracy.

The church, which says it has 30,000 members in Germany, denies any political agenda and has accused officials of launching a Nazi-like persecution campaign.

In the United States, the State Department, members of Congress and academics have criticized Germany for its moves against Scientology.

Kohl’s statement suggested that the government’s fight against Scientology would involve publicity campaigns. It noted that the government published a brochure warning the public against Scientology earlier this year.

None of the many German court cases involving Scientology has reached the constitutional court, which can decide whether Scientology should be recognized as a church in Germany, as it is in 62 other countries.

Founded in 1954 by science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology teaches that technology can expand the mind and help solve human problems.