German Parties Reject Bid to Ban Scientology

Spiegel Online, Germany/August 8, 2007

Senior politicians from Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition have rejected calls for a ban on the Scientology cult. A legal bid to outlaw it would fail because authorities haven't had time to build a proper case against the organization, they say.

Politicians from Germany's two ruling parties have rejected calls for Scientology to be banned in Germany.

A bid to outlaw Scientology may fail because Germany's domestic intelligence service is unlikely to have gathered enough evidence against it to back court action against the sect, said Wolfgang Bosbach, deputy parliamentary group leader of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives.

"You can't shoot from the hip with a bid to ban it. If an attempt is made it has to be successful," Bosbach told Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung.

"It's decisive that the organization be closely monitored, which unfortunately isn't the case today."

The chairman of the domestic affairs committee in Germany's lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, Social Democrat Sebastian Edathy said: "I don't see any realistic chance at the moment to get the organization banned."

The interior minister in the city-state of Hamburg, Udo Nagel, had called for a ban on Scientology, echoing demands by the head of the city's Scientology monitoring group, Ursula Caberta, and church experts on sects.

In Germany, the government views Scientology as a money-making cult rather than a legitimate church.

Berlin's distaste for the organization was highlighted last month by the Defense Ministry's decision not to allow Tom Cruise (more...), a prominent Scientologist, to shoot scenes in authentic military sites in Berlin for his new film "Valkyrie" about a 1944 plot by German officers to assassinate Hitler.

Defense Ministry spokesman Harald Kammerbauer said the fimmakers "will not be allowed to film at German military sites if Count Stauffenberg is played by Tom Cruise, who has publicly professed to being a member of the Scientology cult."

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