The government of Germany is once again listed as wrongly stigmatizing certain religions, the result of which has been numerous violations of parishioner’s human rights.

This year’s report states:

“The Basic Law (Constitution) provides for religious freedom; however, the Government does not recognize Scientology as a religion and views it as an economic enterprise. Concerns that Scientology’s ideology is opposed to a democratic state have led to the screening of firms and individuals in some sectors of business and employment. The federal and state Offices for the Protection of the Constitution, “watchdog” agencies tasked with monitoring groups whose ideologies are deemed to be counter to the democratic order, have been “investigating” the Church of Scientology and Scientologists for approximately 4 years. During that time there have been no prosecutions or convictions of Scientology officials in the country, and the investigation has uncovered no concrete evidence that the Church is a “security” threat.

“In 1997 the Federal Administrative Court in Berlin upheld a decision of the 1993 Berlin State government not to grant “public law corporation” status to the Jehovah’s Witnesses, on the grounds that they did not offer “indispensable loyalty” to the democratic state. On December 19, 2000, upon appeal, the Constitutional Court found in favor of Jehovah’s Witnesses, remanding the case back to the Federal Administrative Court in Berlin. For the first time, the Constitutional Court had examined the conditions for granting the status of a public law corporation and found that for reasons of the separation of church and state, “loyalty to the state” cannot be a condition imposed on religious communities. The Constitutional Court tempered the victory for Jehovah’s Witnesses by instructing the Berlin Administrative Court to examine whether Jehovah’s Witnesses use coercive methods to prevent their members from leaving the congregation and whether their child-rearing practices conform to German human rights standards. The case had not been resolved by the end of the period covered by this report.”

U.S. Actions Taken:

“The U.S. Government expressed its concerns to state and federal authorities over infringement of individual rights because of religious affiliation posed by the screening of foreign firms for possible Scientology affiliation. In these discussions, U.S. officials pointed out that the use of so-called “sect filters” to prevent persons from practicing their professions is an abuse of their rights, as well as a discriminatory business practice. The government of Germany subsequently changed the language of its sect filters, so that firms owned, managed by, or employing Scientologists could bid on government contracts.”

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