At the 45th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council at the UN Office at Geneva in September, President of the European Office of the Church of Scientology for Public Affairs and Human Rights, Ivan Arjona Pelado, called on the UN to investigate Germany for its continued and egregious violation of the rights of Scientologists to the freedom of religion or belief.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Church of Scientology in Germany and its peaceful and fruitful social actions to benefit German society, said Arjona, who demanded an end to the use of “sect filters”—the practice by which candidates for a public job, a public service contract or a government bid (and, in some cases, jobs in the private sector) are required to fill in a questionnaire intended to establish their possible affiliation or relationship with Scientology. If this is established or if the person refuses to fill in the questionnaire, they are disqualified from employment.
Over the past three decades the German courts—in some 50 decisions—have ruled that the Church of Scientology and its members are entitled to the protection of freedom of religion guaranteed by Article 4 of the Basic Law (Constitution) of Germany.
Nonetheless, in complete defiance of these rulings, despite never producing a single shred of evidence of unconstitutional activities in all that time, and in contradiction to its own name, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution has conducted surveillance of the Church and its members for 23 years.
Last year, reports Human Rights Without Frontiers, NGOs criticized Germany at the OSCE/ODIHR Human Dimension Implementation Meeting in Warsaw, “for stigmatizing and discriminating against people who believe in the teachings of Scientology.”
“This [the use of sect filters against Scientologists] is not only intrusive and discriminatory, but this gravely violates the international human rights standards and stigmatizes the followers of Ron Hubbard’s teachings as sub-citizens,” one NGO stated, adding that Scientologists should not be treated any differently from the followers of the Bible, the Quoran, the Bhagavad Gita, or Buddhist or any other teachings.
As further evidence of the absurdity of Germany’s position, Scientologists point out that German Churches of Scientology may well be the only religious community to have adopted a “Declaration of Principle for Human Rights and Democracy” as part of their statutes.
Scientology was founded by humanitarian, writer and philosopher L. Ron Hubbard and Scientologists opened the first German Scientology Church, in Munich in 1970. Today, there are Churches of Scientology in Munich, Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Düsseldorf, Berlin, Hannover, and Hamburg, along with numerous missions and groups throughout the country.
From its beginnings, the Church of Scientology has recognized that freedom of religion is a fundamental human right. In a world where conflicts are often traceable to intolerance of others’ religious beliefs and practices, the Church has, for more than 50 years, made the preservation of religious liberty an overriding concern.
The Church publishes this blog to help create a better understanding of the freedom of religion and belief and provide news on religious freedom and issues affecting this freedom around the world.