WASHINGTON — The U.S. State Dept. alleged Thursday that Germany is discriminating against the Church of Scientology, noting that church members have been targets of boycotts and increased scrutiny by the German government.
In its annual human-rights report, the State Dept. claimed, “Major (German) political parties exclude Scientolo-gists from membership, arguing that the church is not a religion, but a for-profit organization whose goals and principles are anti-Democratic and thus inconsistent with those of the political parties.”
The report also noted that the youth wing of the governing Christian Democratic Union called for a boycott of “Mission: Impossible” because star Tom Cruise is a Scientologist. Germany’s minister of culture also was criticized by the Bavarian legislature for allowing musician Chick Corea to perform at a state-sponsored jazz festival.
Scientologists were quick to embrace the State Dept. report, calling it “the most decisive condemnation of German human-rights terrorism since the end of World War II.” Church of Scientology Intl. president Rev. Heber Jentzsch also blasted the German government for “hate rhetoric, which delivered the proof of the parallels between present-day human-rights violations and the Nazi campaign against Jews and other minority religions in the 1930s.”
Although the State Dept. clearly is supportive of the Scientologists’ claims of discrimination in Germany, it draws the line at comparisons with the persecution of Jews by the Nazis. State Dept. spokesman Nicholas Burns called the comparison “historical amnesia.”
While the State Dept. report also indicated that the situation for Scientologists appeared to be improving in Germany, Jentzsch claimed that as recently as Wednesday, Scientologists were banned by officials from handing food, drink and clothing to homeless people in Stuttgart.