Why Germany Warns About Scientology

Source: New York Times
Date: December 26, 1994

To the Editor:

The so-called Church of Scientology has undertaken a campaign, including full-page ads in your pages (Dec. 19), to publicize its quarrels with the German Government. German authorities are justifiably concerned by this sect's increased influence, particularly on younger people. Scientologists use phony psychological tests to entrap victims, to make them work long hours for the organization and to bilk them and their relatives of money.

Many sociological studies have been done on the Scientologists that show that although this sect is not on the lunatic fringe, it still causes family breakups and emotional hardship to its victims. Now that Scientology is losing appeal in the United States, Europe has become the next target.

As a teacher of German history and Judaic studies, I am appalled at the audacity of the Scientologists in trying to draw a parallel between the persecution of the Jews and other religious groups in the Third Reich and the the present German Government's information campaign.

It insults the memory of Holocaust victims to be so used by Scientology propagandists. The comparison is also ahistorical: Nazi persecution meant torture and death for victims.

The German Government today is acting responsibly by trying to heighten awareness of a public menace. The secret police are not knocking at the door in the middle of the night.

Elliot Neaman, Professor of History, University of San Francisco, San Francisco