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Scientology in Europe

Marcus Bösch (als)August 9, 2007

An alarming book, fresh demands for a ban and a rejection of those calls for a prohibition: the controversial Scientology organization has been all over the media, yet still aims to missionize Europe.

Scientology's Berlin headquarters
A new Scientology center opened in Berlin this yearImage: picture-alliance/ dpa

Ursula Caberta expressed her opinion loud and clear: "Scientology is a dangerous, extremist organization which has declared war on Europe." As Commissioner for Scientology issues for Hamburg, Caberta is considered an expert on the subject.

She has been observing the movement since 1992 and just presented her new book "Schwarzbuch Scientology" (The Black Book of Scientology) this week.

Ursula Caberta
Ursula CabertaImage: picture-alliance/ dpa

Along with Udo Nagel, Hamburg State Interior Minister, Caberta is also demanding a ban on the organization.


Representatives of Germany's two main political parties -- the Christian Democrats (CDU) and the Social Democrats (SPD) -- have opposed a German ban of Scientology, which was founded in the 1950s by science fiction author L. Ron Hubbard.

Politicians in Berlin have said there is "no realistic chance" and that "there is not enough evidence" for such a prohibition.

Volker Beck of the Green party said a ban could only be pushed through if it could be proved that the Scientology organization is trying to implement anti-constitutional aims through militant or aggressive means.

Conquering countries?

A sign reading Brainwashing -- No thanks is held up in front of Scientology's Berlin office
"Brainwashing -- No thanks," reads the signImage: picture-alliance/ dpa

Caberta, for her part, said she has no doubts that is the case, and pointed to Scientology's militaristic terminology.

"According to Scientologists, Germany, France and Belgium are oppressive countries which should be conquered," she said.

Hollywood star and self-confessed Scientologist Tom Cruise, she pointed out, received a medal for bravery.

"Those are normally only awarded for war activities," she said.

"Scientology is dangerous because the methods sold by way of the brand name 'Scientology' are dangerous to customers' health," said Ingo Heinemann, spokesman for the Federal Association for Information on Sects. "People can become psychologically dependent and their personal and family relationships can be destroyed as a result."

Non-Scientologists are denied human rights, he added.

Under observation

Whether these arguments should serve to have the organization prohibited, however, is controversial.

Germany's domestic intelligence agency, at any rate, is keeping an eye on the organization in five of Germany's 16 states.

Tom Cruise dressed as Count Stauffenberg for a new movie
Cruise is currently in Germany for a movie about the man who plotted to kill HitlerImage: AP Photo/Studio Babelsberg AG, Frank Connor

In France, a legal suit to prohibit the organization has been underway for a year. But, Caberta said that has not deterred Scientologists from trying to conduct missionary work in Europe.

Since 2003, Scientology's well-situated Brussels office -- located between the European Commission and the European Parliament buildings -- has been pursuing one central goal: to get the organization recognized as an official religion across the European bloc.

"During an internal event of the organization in 2006, activists were required to pledge an oath to work towards a positive image of Scientology within the media," Caberta said.