The Parliament created a special commission to investigate Scientology's activities and social impact.
Claudia Nolte, the Minister of Family Policy,described the Church as "one of the most aggressive groups in our society" and said she would oppose the organization "with all the means at my disposal."
The youth wing of the CDU in a number of German states urged a boycott of the film "Mission Impossible" because the leading actor in this film is a Scientologist.
In Bavaria the Minister of Culture was criticized by the state parliament for allowing American musician Chick Corea, a Scientologist, to perform at a state-sponsored jazz festival.
The governing Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party approved a resolution saying that membership "in the Scientology organization is not compatible with employment in the public service," and urging that the Church be put under surveillance. The resolution also urged the banning of federal funding for cultural and artistic events featuring Scientologists.
In a report, the Ministry of Interior concluded that there was insufficient evidence to justify surveillance of Scientology by the Offices for the Protection of the Constitution (OPC). In response to the CDU's call for the organization to be placed under OPC observation, the report concluded that "no concrete facts exist currently to substantiate the suspicion of criminal acts." In closing the report reminded states requesting a ban on Scientology that "only economic considerations may be taken into account" when awarding public contracts.
November 1, 1996
The state of Bavaria began to screen applicants for state civil service positions for Scientology membership.
Bavaria also said it would not fund arts-related activities in which Scientologists were to appear.
It also decreed that private companies awarded state contracts in certain "sensitive" fields must sign a statement that they do not follow the tenets of Scientology.
December 19, 1996
Authorities of the federal and state Offices for the Protection of the Constitution (OPC) agreed to place the Church of Scientology under observation for 1 year because of concerns raised by some offices that there were indications that Scientology may pose a threat to democracy. Under the observation decision, OPC officials will seek to collect information mostly from written materials and first hand accounts to assess whether a "threat" exists. More intrusive methods would be subject to legal checks and would require evidence of involvement in treasonous or terrorist activity.
A Bonn state court, in the first court challenge to this exclusion, upheld the December 1996 expulsion of three Scientologists from a state-level organization of the governing Christian Democratic Union party, ruling that a political party had the right to exclude from its organization those persons who do not identify themselves with the party’s basic goals.
[The State of ] Schleswig-Holstein, announced it had decided not to implement such observation, on the grounds that the situation did not appear to justify such measures.
A Berlin hotel and a firm renting meeting space reportedly refused to rent space for public events to be held at their facilities when they learned that the Church of Scientology was involved in organizing the events.
The Federal Administrative Court in Berlin, in sending an appeal concerning the deregistration of a Scientology organization in the state of Baden Wuerttemberg back to a lower level for further review, declared that a registered nonprofit association, religious or otherwise, could engage in entrepreneurial activities as long as these were only supplementary and collateral to its nonprofit goals. The case continues in the lower court.
While Federal Interior Minister Manfred Kanther supported the decision on observation, in a written response to an inquiry from the Bavarian state government, Kanther indicated that he did not see sufficient evidence to support a ban on Scientology.
Most major political parties continued to exclude Scientologists from membership arguing that Scientology is not a religion but a for-profit organization whose goals and principles are antidemocratic and thus incompatible with those of the political parties, although there has been only one known instance of enforcement of this ban.
Officials in Baden-Wuerttemberg posted bail and apologized to Swiss authorities when one of their police investigators gathering information on Scientology's activities in Baden-Wuerttemberg was arrested by Swiss police after interviewing a contact in Basel. The investigator was charged with espionage and violating Swiss neutrality.
A United Nations report agreed that individuals were discriminated against because of their affiliation with Scientology. However, it rejected Scientology's comparison of the treatment of its members with that of Jews during the Nazi era.
The commission established in 1996 to investigate "so-called sects and psycho-groups," including Scientology, presented its final report to Parliament. The report concluded that these groups did not pose a threat to society and state and underlined the constitutional principle of religious freedom and the state's obligation to observe strict neutrality in these matters. However, it called upon the Government to introduce legislation for consumer protection in the "psycho-market" and highlighted the need for the Government to inform the public about dangers to health and property posed by psycho-cults and groups. Particular emphasis was placed on Scientology because it allegedly pursued policies of "misinformation and intimidation" of its critics, according to the report. The report did not classify Scientology as a religion, but as a profit- oriented psycho-group with totalitarian internal structures and undemocratic goals. The commission contended that there were concrete indications that Scientology was a political extremist organization, in German, a "combine with totalitarian tendencies." The commission also recommended to Parliament that observation of Scientology continue. The report also recommended that because of its derogatory connotation the term "sect" should be avoided, and that instead the designation "new religious and ideological communities and psycho-groups" be used. The report referred to psycho-groups as "commercial cults" that offered their services in a fast-growing psycho-market.
Foreign professional tennis player Arnaud Boetsch's contract with the Ruppuer Tennis Club, to represent the club in the German Championships League, was canceled when the club learned that he was a Scientologist.
According to Bavarian and federal officials, no one in Bavaria lost a job, was denied employment, or suffered any infringement of rights by public officials or entities solely because of association with Scientology. Bavarian officials also contended that a Scientologist was teaching in a Munich public school and that another Scientologist was a member of the Bavarian Ministry of Culture. Several states have published pamphlets warning of alleged dangers posed by Scientology.
June 4, 1998
Bavarian interior minister Geunther Beckstein released two new brochures warning against the Church of Scientology. "The Scientology System" and "Scientology: An Anti-Constitutional Movement" warned about alleged hard-sell methods by the church and asserted that Scientology was striving for world power. Beckstein asserted that the Church was even ordering the commission of criminal acts and compared its psychological methods to those of the former East German secret police. He added that due to government measures, membership in Germany had dropped to an estimated 10,000 persons.
Officials in Frankfurt defended their decision to allow about 6,000 Scientology members and supporters to hold a demonstration in the city's Opera Square. Responding to criticism for issuing the demonstration permit, the officials defended Scientology's freedom of assembly.
Federal and state OPC's agreed to continue the observation of Scientology, subject to another review in 1999. The decision was based on an OPC report that concluded that although there was no imminent danger for the political system or the economy of being infiltrated by Scientology, there were nevertheless indications of tendencies within Scientology, supported by its ideology and programmatic goals, which could be seen as directed against Germany's free and democratic order.
Scientology filed a suit in Berlin to enjoin the Berlin Interior Ministry from the alleged practice of bribing members of Scientology to "spy" on other members. The case continued at year's end.
The interministerial group of mid-level federal and state officials that exchanges information on Scientology-related issues continued its periodic meetings. The group published no report or policy compendium during the year and remains purely consultative in purpose.
Scientologists continued to take grievances to the courts. Legal rulings have been mixed. Some individuals who had been fired because they are Scientologists took their employers to court for "unfair dismissal." Several have reached out of court settlements with employers.
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