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Germany working to ban 'unconstitutional' Scientology

[JURIST] German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble and his 16 regional counterparts have consider Scientology [church website] "an organization that is not compatible with the constitution", and will work to ban it in Germany, Schäuble said at the end of a two-day ministerial meeting Friday. The German government regards Scientology as a money-making organization, not a faith [German Embassy backgrounder]; a recent report of the interior ministers on terrorism criticized Scientology for breaching the human rights of its members, "such as the right to develop one's personality and the right to be treated equally." Scientology has about 6000 adherents in Germany and is closely monitored. The US State Departments' 2007 International Religious Freedom report on Germany [text] chided the German government for its treatment of Scientologists, noting that:

The Church of Scientology remained under observation (as it has been since 1997) by the federal and seven state OPCs [Offices for the Protection of the Constitution], based on a stated concern that the Church's teachings and practices are opposed to the democratic constitutional order or violate human rights. However, in recent years many state OPCs have opted to stop their observations of Scientology; exceptions included Baden-Wuerttemberg, Bavaria, Berlin, Bremen, Hamburg, and Lower Saxony.

Several states publish pamphlets about Scientology (and other religious groups) that detail the Church's ideology and practices. States defend the practice by noting their responsibility to respond to citizens' requests for information about Scientology as well as other subjects. The pamphlets warn of the dangers the Church poses to democracy, the legal system, and human rights.

In response to concerns about Scientology's ideology and practices, government agencies at the federal and state level and private sector entities established rules or procedures that discriminate against Scientology as an organization and/or against individual members of the Church.
The report also noted, however, that the German government permitted the Church of Scientology to open a new center in Berlin in December 2006.

Scientology, founded by American science fiction author L. Ron Hubbard in 1954, has come under increasing scrutiny in Europe in recent years. In September, Belgian prosecutor Jean-Claude Van Espen said Scientology should be classified as a criminal organization [JURIST report] after completing a 10-year investigation into the church's activities. AP has more. Deutsche Welle has local coverage.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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