German ministers say Scientology unconstitutional

Fri Dec 7, 2007 9:16am EST
 
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By Louis Charbonneau

BERLIN (Reuters) - German federal and state interior ministers declared the Church of Scientology unconstitutional on Friday, opening the door for a possible ban on the organization.

Federal Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and 16 state interior chiefs agreed "that we do not consider Scientology an organization that is compatible with the constitution," Ehrhart Koerting, Berlin's interior minister and chairman of a ministers' conference in Berlin, told reporters.

Germany does not recognize Scientology as a religion. seeing it as a cult masquerading as a church to make money. Scientologists reject this view.

The government permits the Church of Scientology to operate in Germany as an organization, and in January it opened a six-storey headquarters in the heart of west Berlin.

Earlier this week, a Berlin district set up an office to deal with complaints about Scientology.

Koerting said Germany's domestic intelligence agencies should continue gathering information on the legality of Scientology's activities in Germany so that a decision could be made on what to do about it next year.

Earlier this year, the German Defense Ministry said it would not allow the makers of a movie about an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate Hitler to film at German military sites because U.S. actor Tom Cruise, a Scientologist, was appearing in it.

The government later insisted that Cruise's personal beliefs had nothing to do with its initial decision to prevent him from shooting scenes at a site in the Defense Ministry complex and permitted the actor to film there.   Continued...

 
<p>In this file photo actor Tom Cruise gestures after delivering a speech at the inaguration of a Scientology church in Madrid Sepember 18, 2004. Earlier this year, the German Defense Ministry said it would not allow the makers of a movie about an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate Hitler to film at German military sites because U.S. actor Tom Cruise, a Scientologist, was appearing in it. REUTERS/Paul Hanna</p>