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BBC Newshour reports on Scientology, 10 January 1996

BBC World Service: "Newshour" 10 January 1996

[Transcribed by Boudewijn: "I'm not sure if I got all the names right, and all typo's are entirely mine, but anyway:"]

[Newsreader:] A German government minister has issued warnings against a sect whose seven million members worldwide include leading hollywood filmstars and an increasing number of Germans. The German minister for family and youth affairs, Claudia Nolte, condemned the scientology sect, founded by the late american science fiction writer Ron Hubbard, as an unscrupulous organization, masquerading as a religion. The minister said the sect's real goals were purely economic.

Caroline Wyatt reports from Berlin:

[CW:] The scientology sect, whose most famous members include the filmstars Tom Cruise and John Travolta, has been coming under increasing pressure here, as it seeks to recruit new members to add to the thirty thousand it already claims to have in Germany.

This latest attack by the government minister with responsibility for youth affairs, Claidia Nolte, is the most serious yet.

Mrs. Nolte has accused scientologists in Germany of leading it's members to financial ruin, by charging tens of thousands of dollars, for dubious indoctrination courses and she's vowed to fight its expansion. Scientology followers are mainly recruited here by being offered personality tests, before being sold costly books and treatment to resolve the problems, apparently diagnosed in the tests.

Mrs Nolte warned that impressionable youngsters didn't realize the dangers of a sect whose main goal she described as making money and whose ideology she termed totalitarian and not in any sense a real religion. Scientologists in Germany have dismissed the minister's allogations, saying that in more than thirty cases the German justice system has upheld their right to be classed as a religion with the constitutional protection and financial benefits that bestowes.

Nonetheless the state of Bavaria is currently considering banning the sect, while mrs. Nolte is pushing for a national investigation into its affairs.

German banks are already weary of lending money to the sect, which is heavily involved in the property market here, because of what they term it's dubious business methods.

However, if the government does crack down, scientology could be in trouble. Around a third of it's international income is estimated to come from Germany and Switzerland alone.

[end of report]

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