An 'untrustworthy, destructive cult'
28 Jun 2001
Basel State Attorney:
Scientology not a religion, but a destructive cult
Scientologist Housie Knecht had filed a criminal complaint against politician Susanne Haller for religious discrimination
The state attorney dismissed the complaint and suspended the proceedings
original German page:
Ingo Heinemann: Scientology Criticism
last updated June 27, 2001
Basel-City Attorney's Office
folder number: S 263.31/00 vs
Decision of 12 June 2001
The criminal complaint against Susanne HALLER SIDLER
in regards to racism against Housie Knecht committed in June 2000 at the "Mondo Novis" art operation in the World Children's Festival is suspended for lack of facts in the case.
The complainant brought forward that based on Susanne Haller Sidler's intervention, to which he objected, in the OK of the World Children's Festival, he was discriminated against in connection with his art operation because of his membership in Scientology. In regards to that, the following has been determined:
The criminal action of the sort in Art. 261bis StGB has to have been directed at a member of a race, an ethnicity or a religion. By religion, which in the case at hand would include the understanding of any conviction which maintains a transcendental relationship of people to divinities and manifests weltschauung dimensions whereby the content of the faith is not of prime importance (Rehberg, Criminal Law IV, crime against the public, 2nd edition Zurich 1996 p. 183 with further reference of Niggli, Race discrimination, Zurich 1996 p. 122 N. 470). The kernel of this definition is the reverential relationship (lat. "religio") of people to God. The members of the religion have to think of themselves as a group and must be considered as such by the rest of the population.
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Besides the traditional religions, which without doubt fall into the category protected by Art. 261bis StGB, there are other religious and quasi-religious groups among which there absolutely are a few that may be qualified as religious groups in the sense of the named determinant. Besides those, though, there are also the so-called destructive cults, most of which manifest eastern esoteric and totalitarian tendencies (Niggli, see above N. 474) which cannot claim the protection of Art. 261bis.
The first provision that a new religious group has to meet before it can qualify as "religion" in the sense of Art. 261bis StGB, is the relative immutability of the confession of faith (Niggli see above N. 476). Besides that it has to clearly act like a religious group. That excludes groups which pay homage to an exclusively psychological weltanschauung and those that pursue business interests under the guise of religion (Rehberg see above, p. 183, Niggli, see above N. 477). The legislators specifically left out the word "weltanschauung" under the protected category of Art. 261bis StGB (message of 2 March 1992, BBl 1992, Bd III p. 311). And finally, in light of the Swiss right of immanent liberal concepts of religion, those associations which use coercion on their members, including in the sense of creating psychic dependencies, may not claim this protection (Rehberg see above p. 193, Niggli see above N 470 and 478).
One of the characteristics of Scientology is that it does not present a congruent dogma about the existence of God to its individual members. It understands itself to be a religious philosophy and teaches that it does not try to alter anyone's belief or have them leave the religion to which they already belong. The association makes it clear in its presentation of itself that it is not concerned about the creation of a new religion, that is, a new understanding of people's transcendence, but about the essence of people in the center, whose simple restoration is in no way connected with a belief in God (see: "Catechism of Scientology" in "What is Scientology?" Copenhagen 1993, short "Scientology" p. 544). In this presentation of self there lacks a respectful relationship of people to God. It is exactly there that Scientology differentiates itself from a religious group in the legal sense whose members are connected with an express belief in God by some standard.
Also auditing, used by Scientology for the attainment of its goal of putting civilization on a higher level ("Scientology" p. 155) shows that it is propagated on a psychological and not - in the sense of Art. 261bis StGB - on a religious place following the reformation of its members' lives. According to Scientology's own description, auditing is
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"a unique form of personal counseling," "which helps the individual to look back over his life anew and become more capable and get a look at what he is and where he is."
In view of the generally well-known aggressive recruitment attempts by Scientologists, including against passersby on public land (see, among others, Federal Court in its unpublished decision of June 27, 1995 where the Scientologists' recruitment methods are debated) as well as against mentally handicapped and those who are not well off (see BGE of Dec. 14, 1994 in Practice 1994 Nr. 2 p. 4), with the primary goal of selling them books authored by the founder of Scientology or to motivate people to buy very expensive auditing-courses, the question is posed of whether the organization actually is dealing with the attainment of its stated higher goals or whether, under the mask of religion, it is pursuing purely commercial interests. German courts (among others cited in Niggli, see above N477) have answered in the positive to this question and have clearly found that Scientology uses its appearance as a church as a pretext to pursue commercial interests.
Besides that Scientology forgoes individual independence. The strongly hierarchical construction of the organization is conspicuous (see "Scientology pp. 225). In the "Creed of a good, trained Manager" there is even talk of "subordinates" ("Scientology" p. 501). Intensive influence and strict control mark the operations of the organization. In the above-mentioned auditing the auditor demands from his "subordinate," the "Preclear," (someone who, in the terminology of the Scientologists, is not yet clear) unconditional obedience ("Scientology," p. 326). If the Scientology member commits "mistakes, misdemeanors, crimes or high crimes," then punishment is prescribed. Included as a misdemeanor, for example, is continual uncertainty over directives from a superior (see "Introduction to the Ethics of Scientology," Copenhagen 1988/1989, "Ethics" for short, p. 197). It is considered a crime for someone to neglect or refuse to carry out a direct, lawful order from a member of the international board of directors ("Ethics" p. 202).
The restrictions put upon individual members is also clear in Scientology's prescribed method of operation against people who are not inclined toward the organization. In that case the member, in accordance with the teachings of the association, has to solve the situation by "either handling the antagonism of the other with true information about the church or - as a last resort, if all other attempts have failed - to separate himself from this person," which is described as "disconnection" ("Scientology" p. 552).
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Finally people who once had gotten themselves into the Scientology organization often appear to have trouble getting themselves out again (see. BGE I 384, e. 7). If someone publicly turns away from Scientology, then he has committed a "high crime," according to its teachings ("Ethics," p. 208). This indicates there is a presence of coercion and psychic dependency.
Scientology aggressively advertises for its weltanschauung. The "Code" dictates to adherents that the "size and strength" of the movement will expand over the entire planet ("Scientology," p. 585). In doing that the opponents of Scientology are not dealt with light-handedly. This is shown in the "Ethics" book under the title, "The Responsibilities of Leaders," where passages can be found which talk about "the dull thud of one of his enemies in the dark, or the glorious blaze of the whole enemy camp as a birthday surprise" ("Ethics", pp. 270). In view of that sort of speech, it is not surprising that in the above cited decision of 14 December 1994, Scientology was described by the Federal Court as an "untrustworthy organization," and by the Bavarian State Ministry of the Interior as "a counter-constitutional endeavor" (Munich, August 1997) and the description of Scientology as a "cynical cartel of suppression" was declared permissible by a German court (decision of the 5th Senate of the Superior Administrative Court of the State of Nordrhein-Westfalen of 31 May 1996) and another German court in a newly published decision found that the goal of Scientology was directed against the basic liberal democratic system of Germany (judgment of the Saarland Administrative Court 8 K 149/00 of 29 March 2001).
Altogether Scientology can be regarded as an untrustworthy, destructive cult with the significance of, at most, a quasi-religion. This is, according to its own self-presentation, characteristic of the new belief in the proclaimed, charismatic founder L. Ron Hubbard (not in God in the tradition manner), the authoritarian leadership and control of the categorized members (not the free religious activity of a confessional denomination) and the pervasive claim to have and teach the only true determination for humankind (not the admission of the remaining mistakes and imperfection of human nature). In that this organization fulfills neither the criteria of religiosity nor that of a liberal core content which - besides that of stability, which would still have to be reviewed - which a religious group would have to in order to be religion in the sense of Art 261bis StGB whose members who invoke this standard of protection. Facts of the case are missing.
As a result there is still a process to be initiated against Hugo Stamm.
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The state will bear the cost.
Basel-City State Attorney
lic. jur. D. Weissberg, Leading State Attorney
- Susanne HalIer Sidler
- Housi Knecht
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