Scientology kindergarten shut down

Herald Sun, Australia/February 26, 2008

City authorities in Munich, southern Germany, have closed down a kindergarten with immediate effect after discovering it was run by the Church of Scientology, the municipality said overnight.

"The wellbeing of the children in the establishment was under threat because the education process was based on the principles of Scientology," the municipality said.

The kindergarten opened last summer and had 18 children looked after by two adults.

The Church of Scientology became the subject of intense debate in Germany last year when Hollywood superstar Tom Cruise, one of its most famous followers, was chosen to play the role of a resistance hero in a film about a failed plot to kill Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.

Cruise was deemed by many Germans to be unsuitable for the part because of his beliefs. In January, German historian Guido Knopp compared a speech the actor made to fellow Scientologists with a call to war by Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels.

The comparison drew a furious response from the Church of Scientology, which has been described in Germany as a sect that exploits its members financially.

It has been under surveillance in some German states for more than 10 years and regional ministers agreed in December to investigate the possibility of banning it.

A court in southern Germany earlier this month threw out a bid by the Church of Scientology to stop intelligence services watching it.

It ruled that there were clear indications that the movement "seeks to establish a social order that runs counter to the constitution".

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