This (subtitled) programme for German television opens with a film crew driving past the Scientology organisations in Los Angeles with ex-Scientologist Marc Headley (author of “Blown For Good: Behind the Iron Curtain of Scientology“).
They are followed by cars, intercepted by ‘security guards’ and watched over by surveillance cameras – and record it all.
They go on to describes the aim of Dianetics and Scientology as follows:
In 1954 Hubbard had already laid down the goal of Scientology. A new civilisation with so-called clears, a kind of Ubermenschen free from all negative emotions. […] Clear – this is a state that only Scientology can bring about. And in this clear world, according to Hubbard, the code of law of Scientology would then be applied.
Then, they play a recording of a Hubbard lecture. He tells his audience:
In the central organisation there will be a political officer. You want to know what happens when you have cleared everyone in the area? The only purpose that this centre is going to be used for is as a political centre. Once you have done all this, you are the government.
The totalitarian nature of Scientology, and its potential threat to German democracy is evidentially uppermost in the mind of this film-maker.
Read on (and play the video) after the break.
As the programme continues, Marc Headley states that the Church of Scientology considers Germany to be a gateway into Europe and has spent much time, money and effort to establish themselves there.
The journalists in LA try (and fail) to obtain and interview with the Church to discuss this. All they can do is note the number of Scientology-owned buildings in the area, and their obvious influence – which does not damage Headley’s case. Neither does another interview with an anonymous ex-Scientologist who worked for Scientology in its German HQ.
Berlin’s impressive ‘Ideal Org’ is presented as evidence that Germany (whose government and law restricts the operations of Scientology more than any other European state) is considered by the Church to be a prime target for Scientology ‘handling’.
In part two, Scientology’s inept response to the concerns of the German government is discussed. This includes the publication of literature which “Draws parallels with the situation of Jews in Nazi Germany”, and the harassment of a German official who was met at a US airport by Scientologists shouting (among other things) “Nazi criminal – go back to Germany”.
This hostility is part of two-pronged attack. Their other tactic is to present a friendly face, and form allegiances with any group within Germany that will engage with them. They are shown to seek influence by going direct to powerful politicians and by exploiting American politicians in an attempt to influence German policy.
Also discussed is the attempt to use US celebrities to influence German policy a gambit discussed in depth here. The film presents Tom Cruise’s reception by Berlin’s Mayor as a major triumph for this policy and examines Scientology’s policy regarding the recruitment of celebrities in an interview with actor and ex-Scientologist Jason Beghe.
Part three examines the central Scientology practice of ‘auditing’, beginning with interviews with ex-Scientologist Bruce Hines. They evidently view it as a form of social-psychological control. Hines was a member of the Sea Org, which the programme now scrutinises with the help of Hines and the prominent German cult expert Ursula Caberta.
The RPF in LA proves of great interest to the German Journalists. This is Scientology’s labour camp in which out-of-favour members of the Sea Org are ‘disciplined and redeemed’. Hines and the film crew pay a visit. Unsurprising, they don’t get beyond the gates to the compound. Instead, they use aerial photography and the words of Hines to illustrate life in the RPF .
Tragically, this account includes Hine’s encounter with a German citizen, also condemned to the RPF despite suffering from multiple sclerosis. He was (according to Scientology policy) deprived of medical treatment. The journalists track down the man’s brother whose offers to supply him with the latest medication were blocked by Scientology. These could have extended his life and improved its quality. Instead, he died prematurely in an LA nursing home.
After failing to obtain an interview for the Church in LA regarding this matter, the team try their luck with the head of the Berlin Celebrity Centre who is (predictably) evasive and unresponsive.
The German constitution was written to ensure that the likes of Nazism would never rise again. The government and law are sensitive to totalitarian organisations – and Scientology certainly qualifies as one such, according to its founders own writings and policies.
However, the officials who watch these matters conclude that Scientology in Germany is stagnating and, although the pursue their goals tenaciously, they fail to achieve them. In 2009, then, Scientology in Germany was troublesome but politically impotent. However, it was evidently still capable of causing great suffering on an individual human scale.