Freedom of Religion
and Belief: A World
Report was co-authored
by Kevin Boyle and Juliet
Sheen of the Human Rights
Centre of the University
of Essex, England. Detailing
conditions in more than
50 countries, the report
was released at a conference
at Amnesty Internationals
headquarters in London
on June 19, 1997.
n conservative language belying the severity of the criticism, the authors note that In Germany, democracy is used as an ideology to impose conformity. It has been dismaying to discover that the state, and some of its politicians and people, are using what we know from the past to be well-worn paths of discrimination and of intolerance and of inciting intolerance towards a new religious minority, the Scientologists.
The [German] authorities condone and actively support discrimination against Scientologists in the private sector, with the aim of excluding Scientologists from economic life and reducing the social and financial support for members and their families which comes from earning income or engaging in business ... self-declarations and dissociations are part of the intolerance, the report states.
The Centre also criticized the German authorities for making vituperative literature about Scientology compulsory in schools under the guise of enlightenment.
In Germany, democracy is used as an ideology to impose conformity.
Douwe Korff, a leading European human rights attorney who has successfully sued the British and Spanish governments for human rights abuses, and who contributed to the report, condemned the illegal German persecution of Scientologists. In his view, the German government is turning a liberal constitution into an ideological weapon of intolerance.
The new report is destined to become the definitive contemporary work on international freedom of religion. The University of Essex Human Rights Centres reports are given great weight by the United Nations, the U.S. State Department and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which published a pre-release summary of the Centres report last month.
Although the objection to new religious movements is often expressed as criticism of their methods, it is at bottom a rejection of their freedom of thought which stimulates hostility and restrictions on their organizations and activities, it states. The encroachment of freedom of thought one of the most fundamental of all freedoms is precisely what must be resolved for the good of all people of Germany and Europe. P.M.