Erwin K. Scheuch (editors):
The New Inquisitors
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Gerhard Besier, Erwin K. Scheuch (editors):
The New Inquisitors
With several documents and notes.
1st edition 2003, 434 pages, DIN A5, paperback
Prices: EUR 24,95 [D], EUR 26,96 [A], SFR 39,00, USD 29,95
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Content Overview and Preface
Religious freedom is a fundamental right guaranteed in the constitutions of most modern democratic nations. Germany is among these nations, but conflicts persist, especially between German state churches and religious minorities. Minority religions in Germany today routinely must defend themselves against institutionalized mistrust, bias, and occasionally, outright persecution not only by officials of favored religions, but also by government officials themselves. Indeed, despite constitutional guarantees, the right to religious freedom for all German citizens and religious groups is not being realized.
In 1996, a special body, The Enquete Commission, was appointed by the German Parliament to investigate so-called “sects and psychogroups.” Unfortunately, the religious communities who were investigated were given no chance to react to allegations made against them. The commission’s findings, based on almost no credible evidence, referred to certain religious minorities as dangerous and suspect and recommended that surveillance of these groups be continued. The commission’s findings, therefore, did little to strengthen the free exercise of religion in Germany but rather exacerbated a climate of hysteria about certain religious groups whose members have been described by respected experts as some of Germany’s best citizens.
This volume gathers expert opinions, petitions, appeals and statements pertaining to the status of religious minorities in Germany today. The findings support the notion that indeed, there is an unnecessary “New Inquisition” taking place in Germany today. Special attention is paid to comparing the treatment of religious minorities in other countries, especially the United States where religious pluralism, and the accompanying difficulties of granting religious freedom to all religious groups, is perhaps more a reality than in any other nations of the world.
Continental Europe seems to have a problem: the so-called "sects and psychogroups". Governments in France, Germany, Belgium, and Austria started proceeding against the alleged "dangers" spreading from these groups with the help of parliamentary commissions and laws in recent years. Between 1996 and 1998 a unique chain of events unfolded in Germany. The German Bundestag (Federal Parliament) empowered a largely self-selected "Commission to Observe Sects and Psychogroups". It was the declared goal of the proponents of this committee not merely to alert the public that there might be problematic developments under the guise of religion. The prime purpose was to specify the basis for a tax-financed foundation to monitor the activity of sects and psychogroups. The foundation would institutionalize the training of observers, and only certified observers could then act as experts in court cases. At the time of the institutionalization of the Enquete Commission, there was a media inflation of reports about questionable practices of such sects as the "Moonies" or Scientologists - to name but a few (including Jehovah's Witnesses) that were singled out by the Commission as objects wanting close observation. This lead to widespread discrimination by public employers. Formal resolutions called for a ban on employing members of such religious groupings. If they were already public servants and their allegiance to one of these "sects" became known, their files in the employment offices were marked - as for example in the case of Scientologists with an "S". Systematic research resulted in the finding that only 0.7 percent of the adult population of Germany were members or close to one of these groupings. Why institutionalize a society-wide system of monitoring beliefs? A group of important intellectual figures called into question whether governmental institutions should be in the business of monitoring beliefs at all. A parallel to the McCarthy days in the USA was mentioned. The counter-position taken in this volume on the controversy about the freedom of beliefs is the stance that the state may regulate behavior only. And if proponents of society-wide monitoring argued that a sort of consumer protection was needed to shield citizens from the suggestive techniques of persuasion practiced by these groups, the group of public figures pointed to the freedom granted to campaigns in politics and advertising for consumer products: in a democracy we respect people as adults to make their own choices in view even of seductive forms of influence, and to bear the consequences of these freedoms. The wished for regulation of persuasive practices did not end with religious groups but included organized advice to citizens if this was offered by groups unconnected with the established churches, up to and embracing management training courses involving tactics of psychic pressure. Germany has a special legal provision for the established churches: Roman Catholicism and various Protestant denominations. Groups affiliated with these churches enjoy tax-free status, and for the established churches the tax offices collect a surcharge of nine percent on income tax. The groups under attack enjoy none of these privileges. They do not ask for them. What they do ask is to be left alone when their activities might overlap with that of church affiliated organizations. In Part one, well known intellectual figures from several countries argue against regulating beliefs and practices that are accepted for established churches, political parties and business. In doing so they analyze forms of constraint and outright intimidation that are unbelievable for a society that thinks of itself as being liberal. In the second part, the groupings under attack argue their case. The two parts together present an overview of a development where under the guise of patronizing protectionism and established morality, the freedom of developing dissent ways of beliefs and lifestyles is curtailed. The original German version of this book appeared in 1999 (Fromm Publishing House, Osnabrrck). In the meantime, one of our authors, Derek H. Davis, has published his contribution "Religious Persecution in Today's Germany: Old Habits Renewed" in his book Religious Liberty in Northern Europe in the Twenty-First Century (Waco, 2000, pp..107-124). We therefore omitted it in this volume. We are indebted to all those who made substantial contributions to this book and to those who rendered its publication possible by giving us some moral and financial support.
Gerhard Besier and Erwin K. Scheuch
Heidelberg and Cologne, December 2002
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Table of Contents
- Preface (Gerhard Besier and Erwin K. Scheuch) 5
- Contributors 7
- Introduction (Gerhard Besier and Erwin K. Scheuch) 10
Part One: Essays
- The State and the Salvation of the Soul (Hermann Lübbe) 23
- Trends of Religious Culture In Processes of Modernization (Hermann Lübbe) 27
- Religious Minorities and Moral Panics (Massimo Introvigne) 39
- Religious Equality vs. Religious Discrimination (James E. Wood, Jr.) 52
- Tolerance and Fairness as Objective Principles of the Guarantee of Freedom of Religion (Heinrich Scholler) 64
- Minor Religions in the State's Legal Order (Hermann Weber) 74
- State-Imposed Restrictions on the Freedom of Minority Churches (Heinrich Wilms) 97
- When Legislators Play "Guardian Angels" Religious Freedom is Endangered (Johannes Neumann) 109
- "Off to the Merry Hunt": Experiences with Manichaeans (Konrad Löw) 127
- No "Faith Control" (Hans Apel) 136
- State "Guardian Angels" Are Unnecessary (Erwin K. Scheuch) 143
- Recommendations of the Sect Commission Regarding Legal Policy (Martin Kriele) 159
- The State as a Religious Party Faithful? About the Contradictions of the Majority Report of the German Enquete Commission (Hubert Seiwert) 180
- Is an "Act on Life-Counseling Services" Necessary? (Gerhard Besier) 192
- Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Discussing the Problem of Sects (Heiner Barz) 201
- The Fundamentalism of the Modern (Age) (Martin Kriele) 207
- Fascist Elements of the "Sect Hunt" (Martin Kriele) 215
- The Permanently Paranoid Perspective of the "Sect Commissioners," Illustrated by the Example of the Negative Evaluation of the Unification Church (Jürgen Redhardt) 222
- Nine "Golden" Rules for New Inquisitors (Hubertus Mynarek) 232
- Religious Freedom: A Rabbi's Perspective (Kenneth B. Fradkin) 242
- Jehovah's Witnesses in Germany: A Struggle for Recognition (Gabriele Yonan) 249
Part Two: Documents
- Is the German State Taking Part in the Defamation of and Discrimination Against Religious and Ideological Minorities? An Open Society Needs no Ideological Controls
- (Hans Apel, Gerhard Besier, Niels Birbaumer, Martin Kriele, Hermann Lübbe, and Erwin K. Scheuch) 259
- Jehovah's Witnesses/Wachtturm-Gesellschaft: A "Pre-Modern" Religious Association in a "Modern" Society? Expert Opinion (Gerhard Besier and Renate-Maria Besier) 265
- Jehovah's Witnesses as Corporation Under Public Law (Armin Pikl and Gajus Glockentin) 347
- Petition of the Unification Church of Germany for the Ending of the Discrimination of a Religious Minority (Unification Church) 396
- The Discrimination of the Original Christians in Universelles Leben in Germany (Christian Sailer and Gert-Joachim Hetzel) 417
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The following authors contributed to the book:
- Hans Apel, born 1932, Dr. rer. pol., former minister in the German Federal Government, honorary professor at the Department of Political Economy of the University of Rostock.
- Heiner Barz, born 1957, Dr. phil., substitute professor for educational science at the University of Frankfurt on the Main.
- Gerhard Besier, born 1947, Dr. theol., Dr. phil., Dipl. Psychologist. Since 2003, director of the Hannah Arendt Institute for Research on Totalitarianism in Dresden. Occasional guest lectures at the Department of History of Stanford University (California) since 1994. 1997 awarded the Research prize by the Historical College of the Foundation for Scientific Research in Germany (Historisches Kolleg im Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft), Munich.
- Renate-Maria Besier, born 1959, Dipl. Pedagogist, Dipl. Psychologist; psychotherapist.
- Niels Birbaumer, born 1945, Dr. phil.; former professor at the Department of clinical and physiological psychology (19751993) and, since 1993, professor of medical psychology and behavioral neurobiology at the University of Tübingen. Since 1989, also professore straniero at the University of Padua. Received the Leibniz-Award in 1995.
- Kenneth B. Fradkin, born 1951, Rabbinical Ordination, Ph.D. in Synagogue Management; Sixth Year Professional Diploma and Masters in Education, Spiritual Leader of the Jewish Center of Sussex County in Newton, NJ; Judaic Faculty member at the Hebrew Day School of Morris County in Randolph, NJ. Member of the American Association of Rabbis, Jewish Educator’s Assembly, President of the Council of Rabbis for Religious Freedom.
- Gajus Glockentin, born 1967, management expert.
- Gert-Joachim Hetzel, born 1947, Dr. jur., former district court judge, lawyer.
- Massimo Introvigne, born 1955, Dr. jur., director of the CESNUR (Center for Studies of New Religions) in Torino, Italy. He has written and edited several books about new religious movements.
- Martin Kriele, born 1931, Dr. jur., professor emeritus of general state law and public right, former judge at the Constitutional Court of the Land North Rhine-Westphalia.
- Konrad Löw, born 1931, Dr. jur.; professor for political science at the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg from 19721975, since 1975, working in Bayreuth.
- Hermann Lübbe, born 1926, Dr. phil., former state secretary, was professor of philosophy and theory of politics at the University of Zurich from 19711991. He has been an honorary professor since 1991.
- H. Newton Malony, born 1931, M.D., M.S., Ph.D. (clinical psychology). Senior Professor at the Graduate School of Psychology of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena (California) since 1969.
- Hubertus Mynarek, born 1929, Dr. theol., Lic. phil., specialized in comparative science of religions and theology of the bases of belief, formerly taught as professor at the Universities of Bamberg and Vienna.
- Johannes Neumann, born 1929, Lic. iur. can., Dr. iur. can., professor of religious law and sociology of law at the University of Tübingen since 1966.
- Armin Pikl, born 1959, lawyer.
- Jürgen Redhardt, born 1926, Dr. theol., Dipl. Psychologist, was an active (parish) minister for twelve years, and professor of religious psychology and didactics at the University of Giessen from 1965 to 1991.
- Rainer Rothe, born 1964, lawyer.
- Christian Sailer, born 1935, Dr. jur., lawyer.
- Erwin K. Scheuch, 1928-2003 , Dr. rer. pol., professor emeritus of sociology, director of the ‘Institut für angewandte Sozialforschung’ (‘Institute of Applied Social Science’) of the Department of Sociology of the University of Cologne.
- Heinrich Scholler, born 1929, Dipl. sc. pol., Dr. jur.; professor of state and administrative law and philosophy of jurisdiction and state at the University of Munich since 1975.
- Hubert Seiwert, born 1949, Dr. phil.; professor of religious science in Hannover from 1985 to 1994, professor of general and comparative religious science at the University of Leipzig since 1994.
- Bassam Tibi, born 1944, graduated in social sciences, philosophy and history in Frankfurt am Main, is now professor of international relations at the University of Göttingen and, since 1998, Bosch Harvard Fellow at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs and, since 2003, Visiting Professor for Islamology at the University of St. Gallen.
- Hermann Weber, born 1936, Dr. jur., lawyer. Honorary professor of public law at the University of Frankfurt am Main since 1984.
- Heinrich Wilms, born 1959, Dr. iur. utr., Assessor iur., is professor of public law, philosophy of law, international and European law at the Department of Jurisprudence of the University of Konstanz since 1996.
- James E. Wood, Jr., born 1922, M.A., Th.M., Ph.D., LL.D., Dr. h.c., is professor of state-church-studies and was, from 1958 to 1973, the first director of the J.M. Dawson Institute of Church-State-Studies, now directed by Derek Davis. Chairman of the International Academy for Freedom and Religious Belief since 1990. Founding co-editor of the Journal of Church and State.
- Gabriele Yonan, born 1944, Ph.D.; Oriental studies and studies of religious science. She teaches Oriental linguistics, literature and religions and lives in Berlin.
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Click here to read the book's introduction in PDF (Acrobat Reader required).
On September 1, 1997, a “General Statement on the Responsibilities of Mankind” was delivered to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan. The statement was compiled and signed by twenty-four former presidents and prime ministers from around the world, over whom former Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, Helmut Schmidt, presided. The statement “addresses itself to politicians and governments, to religious leaders, to persons of the media, and managers.”1 Article 15 states: “The representatives of the religions [have] a special duty to avoid expressions of prejudice and discriminating actions towards those holding other opinions. They should neither instigate nor legitimize hate, fanaticism, or religious wars. They should rather promote tolerance and mutual respect among all peoples.” And article 9 states: “All people… have the obligation… to promote an enduring development all over the world… ensuring dignity, freedom, security, and justice.”2
Germany is still far from the realization of these principles. Indeed, the citizen first recognizes this when he himself is affected or does not look away when the rights and freedoms of fellow citizens are jeopardized. A veritable flood of anti-sect books and so-called information or educational literature has poured over the land since the 1970s. Such material caused emotions to rise, created antagonistic images, and reinforced already existing prejudices against religious minorities. According to the TED-Poll (TV-channel 3SAT) of December 1997, 80 percent of those questioned spoke in favor of “banning the sects.”3 Although parallel incidents from the neighboring countries showed that government action was not necessary, the German Bundestag 1996contrary to the advice of well-known members of the Parliament such as the former Minister of Justice Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger (FDP)set up an Enquete Commission (parliamentary commission of inquiry) on “So-called Sects and Psychogroups.” In June 1998, the Commission, which consumed at least three million Deutsche Mark, submitted its final report.
A large coalition of CDU/CSU, SPD, and FDP agreed with this report; Bündnis 90/Die Grünen passed a dissenting opinion. The working group of the SPD party had also submitted a minority opinion in the form of a “statement on the general social phenomena of the new religious and ideological communities and psychogroups.”
The investigations and expert opinions ordered by the Enquete Commission unanimously demonstrate that the new religious and ideological movements hold no greater dangers than those arising from comparable social contexts. An open society must be able to bear the conflicts arising within itself. Abuse of freedom is to be punished using the legal means provided. Consequently, after the years of sect hysteria in Germany, a broad “all clear” issued by the Enquete Commission could have been expected.
The recommendations for legislative procedure determined upon by the Commission’s majority clash with the actual findings of the Commission: they propose an amendment of the association and tax law, the tightening up of profiteering clauses, governmental support of private counseling and information centers as well as the compilation and distribution of pertinent data by the Cologne Federal Administration Office. A new, yet to be established, federal foundation is to make money available for various investigations. With the creation of a federal and state foundation, the work of the Commission could be continued secretly, since the former experts of the Enquete Commission would presumably find a place on their supervisory and science committees. It stands to be feared that, by means of tax money, the defamation of religious groups and damage to the business of organizations in the life-counseling market could be continued through private associations. Apart from church and state commissioners for sect and ideological issues, so-called “self-help organizations,” which carry on their “information work” commercially, have established themselves. They all hope to receive public funds.
The Protestant Church employs 27 official sect commissioners of its established church in the federal states: its head organization EKD maintains an Evangelische Zentralstelle für Weltanschauungsfragen (EZW) (Protestant Center for Ideological Questions) in Berlin with a staff of five.4 In the Roman Catholic Church, 25 sect commissioners operate at the regional level; in addition there are two central institutions, the Katholische Sozialethische Arbeitsstelle (Catholic Socio-Ethical Office) in Hamm and the Zentralstelle Pastoral (Central Pastoral Office) in Bonn.5 Apart from the more than 60 sect commissioners designated by churches, there are 14 state-designated commissioners in the individual federal states, and an official adviser in the Bonn Ministry of Family Matters. Among the estimated 20 “initiative offices” or “self-help groups,” five stand out on account of their size: SINUS (Frankfurt am Main), Sekten-Info Essen, AGPF (Bonn), EBIS (Stuttgart), ABI (Grossdettingen near Stuttgart) and ARW (Munich). The activities of these groups consume money. Their staffs as well as their beneficiaries must constantly prove to themselves and the outside world how necessary their work and program expenditures are. This is done best through the spreading of ever-newer scare reports on the “sect-” and the life-counseling market. The more dangerous the “sectarians” appear, the better the prospects for the persecution market.
The final report mentions in an eye-catching manner those few groupssome 16 out of over 600, which the Enquete Commission had studied in closed hearings. Being mentioned in a parliamentary document or in a book of the Bundestag will in itself have a stigmatizing effect. The effect is greater because the investigated groups are repeatedly mentioned in one breath with Scientology (an organization under surveillance by the Offices for the Protection of the Constitution, although according to the opinion of the European Parliament, the accusations raised were assessed as not yet having been “really substantiated”).6 The reader learns nothing about the criteria for the selection of the investigated groups. In their minority opinion, the Bündnis 90/Die Grünen wrote about the representatives of two groups, who did indeed appear at the hearings but showed no readiness to answer the questions. Their reluctance was not surprising, as they discovered among the specialists on the panel the Protestant commissioner for sect issues who had pursued their groups relentlessly for years. How could this kind of contentious expert be designated for the panel at all? There are organizations that were not given the opportunity of being heard, although their actual or alleged “victims” were invited. Journalists were informed about these facts, as well as about the statements of the “victims,” and they made use of their knowledge in court, among other places. At least one private help organization received a fax of a confidential questionnaire that had been filled in by a religious group. The private counseling centers, thus supported, are themselves involved in legal conflicts with the groups. Indiscretions having a discriminating effect contradict the overall conclusion of the Enquete Commission without allowing for subsequent compensation of the damage. Fundamental legal principles, such as that of giving both sides a hearing, were infringed.
Bündnis 90/Die Grünen’s dissenting opinion rightly criticized the study of the “psycho-market” that “goes well beyond the ‘more recently established ideological movements’ mentioned in the German Bundestag’s decision to establish the Commission.”7 Law should regulate “Commercial life-counseling services”. This law, however, should not apply to the established churches and other established organizationsnot even if these “use the same methods as the above private service providers.”8 Yet, according to the commissioned investigation, more than 80 percent of those making use of unconventional life-counseling services expressed their satisfaction with those providing it.9 Whether the established organizations also reach this high percentage remains to be seen.
How these inconsistencies could come about is made clear from their discreet request: “We appeal to the German Bundestag to publish the expert reports and the findings of research carried out on behalf of the Enquete Commission… at the same time as the Commission’s Final Report.”10 Some, however, contradict the central statements of the majority report and should, therefore, be withheld from the public.
The SPD’s minority opinion works with the obscure threat that the “most conflict-prone groups” wanted to make their values the political foundation in Germany, thus jeopardizing democracy.11 These allegations are not supported by the expert opinions. They rather stir up fears in order to bestow the motley sect-hunter market legitimacy and to prompt the government to fork out public money to finance sect hunters.
By means of indistinct wording and unproved assertions, the majority report serves existing latent public prejudices and antagonistic images respecting minorities. Only 0.7 percent of the population are members of one of the “so-called sects and psychogroups” or are closely connected to one of the groupsconsequently a peripheral social phenomenon.
Steps taken at federal-state level complete the recommendations at the federal level. Thus, the Senate Administration for Schools, Youth, and Sports of the Federal State of Berlin presented a document to the Berlin City Parliament “for discussion.”12 The title: ??? ’Sekten’ ??? Risiken und Nebenwirkungen. Informationen zu ausgewählten neuen religiösen und weltanschaulichen Bewegungen und Psychoangeboten (??? ’Sects’ ??? Risks and Side Effects. Information on Selected New Religious and Ideological Movements and Psycho-Offers). On March 19, 1996, the government of Hesse had already set up an “interministerial working group ‘Scientology’ Organization, Youth Sects And Similar Organizations.” Its report was presented on July 7, 1998.13 This report is treated as an internal administration document and is not accessible to the public. The Ministry of Culture, Youth, and Sports of Baden-Württemberg replied to a written question on the “consequences of the procedures recommended by the German Enquete Commission on sects for Baden-Württemberg” in a way that shows the federal state government’s approval of considering the report and the recommendations.14 The three examples may suffice in showing that the activities and the final report of the Enquete Commission have created facts, which have a further influence.
On June 13, 1998, the Federal Government of Switzerland established that there is no need for legislative action in the area of sects and psychogroups. The European Parliament was divided on the question of “sects” in mid-July 1998. A joint European policy on “sects” has thereby failed for the time being. In the USA uneasiness is growing over the German, Austrian, and French religious policies. The US Senate passed a bill for the global furtherance of religious freedom at the end of October 1998.15
Those attacked and disparaged find themselves in a difficult situation. If they keep silent on the accusations raised against them, then these will be considered as true in public. If they defend themselves by legal action, thus availing themselves of their right in a constitutional state, they are defamed as “lawsuit-obsessed,” their lawyers stigmatized as “sect lawyers,” and scientific experts suspected of personal proximity to those being assessed. This strategy should prevent renowned lawyers and assessors to act for the despised at all. The lawsuits of the slandered have, at best, very slight chances of success, since according to the prevailing legal practice, more space is to be given to freedom of expression.16 Moreover, the commissioners for sect and ideological issues know that they are safeguarded by their employers: at the end of May 1996, the Protestant Church in Germany (EKD) published an internal paper on “The Legal Liability of the Commissioners for Sect And Ideological Issues of the Member Churches of the EKD.”17 Therein, the sects’ commissioners are granted special protection. “Such protection can be necessary if the special official situation of the commissioners for sect and ideological issues in the course of their ‘danger-prone work’ leads them into a situation of intensified risk of being sued and, thereby, obliging the employer to provide corresponding support.”18 “If critical situations are signaled,” according to the paper, those concerned may turn to their church “at an early time.” Thus, “…significant backing for the commissioners for sect and ideological issues within their own organization” is assured.19 As regards the strategic procedure, it is stated: “It is perhaps necessary to focus on certain goals according to their severity, putting others aside for the time being. Specifically, it could thus look like this, that certain groups will be concentrated on, whereas others will be dealt with only on the periphery.”20
Although the Protestant churches could provide a backing running into billions (DM) and have covered themselves by “liability insurance relating to pecuniary loss” as well as by “blanket bond and computer crime insurance” against claims by injured parties, they deliberate on how a part of their apologetic advice work can be financed out of the public purse and, thereby, still be further expanded in the long run. Michael Nüchtern, head of the Evangelische Zentralstelle für Weltanschauungsfragen (Protestant Center for Questions on Ideology) until 1999, wrote a letter to the church’s designated commissioner on ideological issues at the beginning of December 1997, in which he states:
Political attention has also distinctly increased towards conflict-prone groups in recent years. This must be considered as a significant side effect of our church’s information and counseling work. In this connection, those bearing responsibility are particularly aware of a public need for offers of improved counsel for those affected. Revolving around this scam in the work of ideology between information and advice is a model project, which is being worked on at the moment in cooperation with the KSA (Katholische Sozialethische Arbeitsstelle) in Hamm. In this connection, the Catholic colleagues have asked all educational institutions and life-counseling services under Catholic maintenance whether they would be interested in gaining a ‘qualification as sect-advisors.’ They have met with considerable resonance. On the Protestant side, Michael Utsch will speak on the possibilities of cooperation at the Annual Convention of Head Office Managers of the Protestant Conference for Questions on Families and Living in January. Not only are information conferences for churches’ charitable advice committees conceivable for us, but also seminars for the discussion of cases. The Catholic model is tailored to the state’s sponsoring ability. Here we, as the Protestant side, must remain in the game.21
Sometimes there is indeed a deficiency in the coordination among the church authorities as well as between church and state organizations. Thus, the following complications arose: in 1997, without informing the sect commissioner, the member of the board of the EKD of the Federal Republic of Germany and the European Community and the Commissariat of German Bishops issued a “joint preliminary statement” on the bill for the regulation of the legal connections between providers (male or female) and those seeking help in the area of providers of commercial life-counseling services.22 The “final remark” of the statement says:
The bill at hand would have considerable detrimental effects on the offering of life-counseling services to the disadvantage of those seeking help. This weighs heavily in direct comparison to the comparably small number of cases of abuse. It unduly curtails the rights of those offering life-counseling services. Charitable organizations and the ‘established churches’ would be affected as well, contrary to the declared intention of the law.23
The sect commissioners and the experts of the Enquete Commission on “So-called Sects and Psychogroups,” who are closely connected with the church, had not expected any criticism out of their own ranks. Hartmut Zinser, Berlin religious scientist and expert of the Enquete Commissionaccording to the Berlin sect commissioner Thomas Gandow “Member of Our Church (Reformed Moderama)”24 had to learn in the Enquete Commission at the beginning of 1998 that the existence of the church declaration, which was unknown to most of those present, sufficed on its own to prevent the acceptance of the bill among the committee set up by the Bundestag. Being quite surprised, Zinser requested the wording of the unknown declaration from Gandow. “It does not make much sense now to discuss [church] reservations and to take these into consideration if they are not known. I consider the law, which was passed by the Bundesrat (Federal Council) to be extraordinarily important for the regulation of the phenomena appearing on the ‘religious psycho-market’, which have led to the known defects and complaints. I would appreciate, if you would inform me as to how it came to the issuing of this ‘Statement…’ and its wording, so that an appropriate discussion will be possible.”25 Gandow was likewise uninformed and turned to his bishop, Wolfgang Huber. Neither did he know about the procedure and asked the chief consistorial councilor Ulrich Schröter to pursue the matter. On February 26, Schröter received the requested information from the chief church counsel Joachim Gaertner, representative of the EKD commissioners at the Federal Government in Bonn. Not only did Gaertner pass on the text of the declaration but also stated which church authorities had worked on it. However, it would not lead to an official church statement before “the committee on legal affairs of the German Bundestag concern[ed] itself with the material after the bill of the Bundesrat was read for the first time and is presumably invited to a hearing.”26
Gaertner probably added the following to lessen irritation on the side of the church-loyal fighter for a law regulating “life-counseling services” and to mark the pursued objective:
In conclusion, I would like to point out that in the discussions, in which the signatories participated, it was not the necessity of legislative intention as such that was questioned. Rather, the difficulty of how it can be actually ensured in the wording of the law was primarily discussed so that the intention expressly emphasized in the statement of reason for the original bill from Hamburg and in the later bill of the Bundesrat, namely not to include the life-counseling services provided by the churches, will actually be achieved. The main point of criticism in the opinion expressed by the Federal Government on the proposal of the law by the Bundesrat is that the bill of the Bundesrat has not sufficiently solved the problem of demarcation.27
In other words: both churches are absolutely in favor of a law for the regulation of “life-counseling services.” Only it must be ensured that the life-counseling services provided by the churches does not lie within the scope of this law.
The case illustrates in its own way the problematic nature of state-church-relationships in the Federal Republic.
An influential section of the members of the Enquete Commission on “So-called Sects and Psychogroups” did not adopt a neutral stand towards the subject matter of the investigation but judged it from an ideological standpoint. The Swiss clergyman Felix Flückiger remarked: “In reality the sect-fetish should hit any organization and individual that stands in the way of one’s own political-ideological positions, the self-realization culture.”28 To what extent the experts of the Enquete Commission thought of using their position in order to incorporate the nuclei of their absolutely personal convictions and prior understanding into public social reality becomes clear by considering their statements outside the Enquete Commission.29
Such prior understanding was also voiced in the publicly expressed declaration of intent of Renate Rennebach, SPD member of the Bundestag. Her intent was to also have Protestant groups on the periphery of the Protestant Church and the conservative Catholic group Opus Dei investigated by the Enquete Commission.30 Of course the established churches knew how to prevent such encroachments on their territory. Nevertheless, Rennebach betrayed the elucidating direction of thrust of her request. For her, and a considerable number of other members of the Commission, the only religious groups to exist must correspond to “the traditional doctrines of the major Christian churches,… to the secular conception of the social environment,… and to the understanding of reality of the recognized sciences.”31
The Enquete Commission was concerned “about ‘the modern’… it opines that modern ideology has replaced the medieval, and character assassination torture and fire. Even modern ideology would have a claim to a monopoly on public recognition, which would have to be inexorably pursued. This view should be called ‘modernistic fundamentalism.’ It has not taken note of the three essential characteristics of the modern: freedom, respect for the dignity of the person, the ideological neutrality of the state.”32
What Martin Kriele, expert of constitutional law, calls “character assassination” is well organized. As soon as a critic speaks out against the sect hunting, he must reckon with a campaign of ruin against his person.33 After Heiner Barz had posed the question in Psychologie Heute whether “the sect menace [was] a bogey,”34 it hailed down not only readers’ letters from the commissioners for sect issues.35 In antifascist manner relevant combative pamphlets related why the mentioned ones were not credible”He, who became known on account of his not only methodically controversial survey on ‘Youth And Religion’…”36 Everyone knows that “controversial” is an annihilating word in Germany. Whoever receives this label has no further chance of being heard. Only a few have the inner freedom to react in the same way as Ernst Jünger: “I deserve the title.”37 It is time for moral courage!
Compiled in the first part are scholarly treatises, essays, and polemics that deal with the basic right of religious freedom and with the problem of ideology control from various angles and in various forms. The authorsphilosophers, lawyers, historians, sociologists, and theologians from Europe, the Near East, and North Americaoppose the “new inquisitors.” They want to put an end to the senseless witch-hunt of religious and ideological minorities.
The second part is constructed as documentation and summarizes expert opinions and selected petitions of the affected religious associations. Other possibilitiessuch as getting a word in public with their objections and complaints within the context of the publications of the Enquete Commissionremained denied to the petitioners.
In several cases the contributions go beyond an orderly discourse. Some even stand in danger of playing straight into the hands of their opposers through their expressions of a sort of “self-fulfilling prophecy.” Prejudices meet up with prejudices, mobilize partly unjustified associated comparisons with the past, encourage even specialists to hair-raising historical reconstructions. When driven into a corner, or from a distance, people are inclined to such reactionsas expressions of long-standing humiliation, subtle persecution, factual marginalization, or latent reservations against a group or a whole nationin this case the German. In their own way they illustrate the atmosphere first created by the “sect” discussiona room of “potential conflicts.”
The texts substantiate how small religions and ideological associations are marginalized, their members disadvantaged at their secular work and personally defamed. This works by means of psychological communication mechanisms. Through opinion leaders of groups, which pursue common interests, religious and other convictions receive strong, biased labels (“fundamentalistic,” “totalitarian,” “conflict-prone,” etc.). These remove inhibitions, justify control measures, and promote the consolidation of majorities against minorities.
1 According to H. Schmidt, Auf der Suche nach einer öffentlichen Moral. Deutschland vor dem neuen Jahrhundert (Stuttgart: 1998), p. 253.
2 Ibid. The complete statement op. cit., pp. 259-266.
3 Cited according to the Final Report of the Enquete Commission on “So-called Sects and Psychogroups,” Bundestag Doc. 13/10950, p. 49.
4 EZW (ed.), Liste der Landeskirchlichen Beauftragen für apologetische Fragen‚ state: 5/18/1998 (Besier Archive).
5 Adressenliste der staatlichen, kirchlichen und privaten Informations- und Beratungsstellen im Bereich Sekten und Psychogruppen. Issued by the office of Renate Rennebach, Member of the Bundestag, state: 3/12/1996 (Besier Archive).
6 Cited acc. to Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung No. 161 of July 15, 1998, p. 4. See also Der Spiegel of September 21, 1998. According to the “Bericht der Bund-Länder-Arbeitsgruppe Scientology der Verfassungsschutzbehörden gemäss Beschluss der Konferenz der Innenminister und -senatoren der Länder vom 5./6.6.1997” of October 12, 1998, the Scientology organization has only 5,000 6,000 members in Germany (op. cit., p. 92).
7 “Minority opinion of the working group of the parliamentary group of Bündnis 90/Die Grünen,” in Final Report of the Enquete Commission on “So-called Sects and Psychogroups” (ref. 3), pp. 305-370, p. 338.
8 Op. cit., p. 368.
9 G. Hellmeister and W. Fach, Anbieter und Verbraucher auf dem Psychomarkt. Eine empirische Analyse im Auftrag der Enquete-Kommission “Sog. Sekten und Psychogruppen,” Summary, 3. Cf. also the Final Report (ref. 3), p. 369.
10 Minority opinion of the working group of the parliamentary group of Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, op. cit., p. 370.
11 “Minority opinion of Caberta y Diaz, Hartenbach, Hemminger, Rennebach, Schröter, Steinmetz, Zinser, members of the working group of the SPD’s parliamentary group with regard to Chapter 6.1,” in Final Report (ref. 3), pp. 301-304.
12 Abgeordnetenhaus Berlin, 13. Wahlperiode, Drucksache 13/2272. Cf. also Senatsverwaltung für Jugend und Familie (ed.), Informationen über neue religiöse und weltanschauliche Bewegungen und sogenannte Psychogruppen (Berlin: 1994).
13 Cf. Presseinformation der Hessischen Landesregierung Nr. 128/1998 vom 7.7.1998; see also Main-Echo of July 8, 1998.
14 Landtag von Baden-Württemberg, 12. Wahlperiode, Drucksache 12/3151 vom 5.8.1998. Cf. also Ministerium für Arbeit, Gesundheit und Sozialordnung (ed.), Unseriöse Hilfen zur Lebensbewältigung. Sektierer und Heilsversprechen. Zugang Soziale Gefährdung Beratung. Dokumentation zum Informationstag am 8. 12.1994 im Lindenmuseum Stuttgart (Stuttgart: 1994).
15 Süddeutsche Zeitung of Ocotber 13, 1998; cf. dpa of Ocober 12, 1998: http://thomas.loc.gov/home/hot-week.html.
16 Cf. M. Kriele, “Ehrenschutz und Meinungsfreiheit,” in Wolfgang Fikentscher et. al., Wertewandel Rechtswandel. Perspektiven auf die gefährdeten Voraussetzungen unserer Demokratie (Munich: 1997), pp. 67-92.
17 Elfi Abram, Kirchenamt der EKD, Hannover, 5/30/1996, Referat 123, Besier Archive.
18 Op. cit., p. 2.
19 Op. cit., p. 8.
21 Dr. Michael Nüchtern to the commissioners for ideological issues, December 8, 1997, Besier Archive. (Highlighting not in original.)
22 The statement refers to the corresponding application of the Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg of May 13, 1997, Bundesratsdrucksache 351/97.
23 Joint preliminary statement, Besier Archive.
24 Gandow in a letter to Bishop Wolfgang Huber dated Feburary 1, 1997, Besier Archive.
25 Zinser’s letter to Gandow of January 1, 1998, Besier Archive. Zinser had also asked Hans Gasper, another expert of the Enquete Commission who is active as a commissioner for ideological issues in the Committee on Pastoral Practices of the German Conference of Catholic Bishops, for information. Gaspar responded on January 23, 1998, that he does not want “to hand out the text of the declaration of the Protestant and Catholic Office in Bonn without having talked to Mrs. Marks whom I [Gaspar] have not reached yet.” Besier Archive. The cautious clergyman copied some passages from the text for Zinser instead.
26 Gaertner to Schröter of February 26, 1998, Besier Archive.
27 Op. cit. Cf. the statement by the Federal Government, Enclosure No. 2 of the bill of the Federal Council “Entwurf eines Gesetzes über Verträge auf dem Gebiet der gewerblichen Lebensbewältigungshilfe” of January 29, 1998, Drucksache 13/9717.
28 Felix Flückiger, “Sekten”-Jagd. Die neue Intoleranz Fakten, Hintergründe, Einwände (Zurich: 1998), p. 11. The book is out of print but still available through the author (Bannholz, CH-3416 Affoltern).
29 Cf. for example Jürgen Keltsch, “Der neue politische Extremismus mit therapeutischem Legitimationsanspruch,” in Politische Studien 4, No. 346 (1996), pp. 26-50.
30 Cf. “Der Glaube an die grüne Zwiebel. Interview with Renate Rennebach.” By Wigbert Tocha, in Publik-Forum No. 9, 5/10/1996, pp. 16f.
31 According to M. Kriele, “Sektenjagd,” in ZRP 31 (1998), pp. 231-234, quote: p. 233; also: Kriele, “The Fundamentalism of the Modern (Age)” below, pp. 251-259.
32 Kriele, “Sektenjagd,” p. 233.
33 See also Scheuch, below, pp. 281ff. in this connection.
34 Psychologie Heute, August 1998, pp. 42ff.
35 Psychologie Heute, October 1998, p. 6.
36 Berliner Dialog 1/98, p. 27.
37 Ernst Jünger, Siebzig verweht, IV (Stuttgart: 1995), p. 319.
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