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Scientology Opponents Seek Boycott of ‘Mission Impossible’

August 8, 1996 GMT

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) _ A youth organization appealed today for a boycott of Tom Cruise’s movie ``Mission Impossible,″ because the American actor is a Scientologist.

The call came a day after a leading politician said German authorities should put the Los Angeles-based Church of Scientology under observation as an extremist group.

German Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s government says the organization has aims that threaten democracy and is not a church but a business enterprise with some traits of organized crime.

A youth organization belonging to Kohl’s party said its members would go to movie theaters where the German-dubbed version of ``Mission Impossible″ starts playing today, and pass out flyers alleging ``dangerous wheeling and dealings of the Scientology organization.″

``The tactic of Scientology is to connect it with the notion of success,″ said Burkhard Remmers, head of the Christian Democratic Union Youth Organization in Lower Saxony state. ``That is aided by the many U.S. stars who go on publicity tours in Europe. But Scientology does not mean success.″

When Cruise made a publicity tour in Germany last month to promote the movie, he refused to talk about his religious beliefs.

``I’m a Scientologist, but that’s an entirely personal matter,″ he said when the subject was raised at a news conference in Hamburg, where the city funds an anti-Scientology information office.

Franz Riedl, a spokesman at Scientology’s German headquarters in Hamburg, said the boycott call was ``a rebellion of midgets″ and part of politicians’ attempts ``to exploit Scientology’s fame for their own careers.″

The boycott was criticized by a member of the opposition, Renate Rennebach, who said it would only make sense if Scientology had funded the film. Rennebach, speaker on sect politics for the Social Democratic Party, said on German radio that a boycott ``does not affect Scientology, but some film company that produced the movie.″

Johannes Gerster, head of the party in Kohl’s home state of Rhineland-Palatinate, said Scientologists should be banned from government jobs and authorities should review the group’s non-profit status.

Gerster told reporters Wednesday in Bonn that Scientology’s aims include undermining the German government as part of its alleged goal of reaching world domination.

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The church claims 30,000 members in Germany, denies it has any political aims and accuses the government of conducting a campaign of persecution.

Scientologists have been banned from all major political parties and many 0trade organizations in Germany. In January, the Bonn family ministry launched a campaign to warn the public against Scientology.

Scientology views the individual, rather than a supreme god, as the spiritual being, and holds that spiritual problems stem from an intergalactic holocaust 75 million years ago. It is recognized in 62 countries as a legitimate religion.

No final decision has been made on its status in Germany because none of its many legal disputes have reached the constitutional court.

Germany’s 16 states are studying whether to place Scientology under scrutiny of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, which monitors extremist groups.