Government Unveils Campaign Against Church of Scientology
BONN, Germany (AP) _ The German government launched a publicity campaign Wednesday against the Church of Scientology, saying it threatens democracy and should be put under surveillance.
Claudia Nolte, Germany’s family affairs minister, called for surveillance by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, a government agency that keeps tabs on extremist organizations in Germany.
``Scientology aims for world domination and the destruction of our society,″ Nolte, a member of Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s Christian Democratic Union, told a news conference.
She charged that Scientology’s ideology ``has totalitarian traits″ and that the group uses ``the cloak of a religious community″ to make dubious profits and recruit members.
Nolte unveiled a government-sponsored pamphlet warning citizens about the Los Angeles-based church’s recruitment and business methods.
``I consider Scientology to be one of the most aggressive groups in our society,″ Nolte says in the pamphlet.
She urged that Scientology be stripped of tax privileges granted to non-profit organizations.
A Scientology spokeswoman in Hamburg, Gisela Hackenjos, dismissed Nolte’s remarks as ``a mix of accusations that are completely unproven.″ The church says its members face discrimination in Germany.
In March, a German court in Kassel ruled that Scientology is actually a business organization in which members pay high membership fees and receive commissions for recruiting new members.
In its ruling, the court said it was not enough for a group to declare itself a religious community. The spiritual content and the outside appearance of the community should reflect its religious nature, the court said.
``With the Church of Scientology, this is not the case. In reality, it is engaged in trade,″ the court ruled.