THE HELSINKI COMMISSION
Tracking the political machinations of the international cult apology network leads to the halls of the U.S. Congress where Senator Alfonse D'Amato (R-NY) and Congressman Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ) tried to pass a law condemning Germany for "persecuting" the cult of Scientology or -- in Dr. Miguel Martinez' words -- "asking this corporation to pay taxes as do other businesses." Dr. Martinez speculates, "These gentlemen are closely associated with an international network of professional cult apologists."
U.S. Commission on Security & Cooperation in Europe
Sen. D'Amato and Rep. Smith co-chair the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, which is also called the Helsinki Commission. The CSCE is a U.S. Government agency created in 1976 by Public Law 94-304 with a mandate to monitor the activities of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and encourage compliance with the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE). The Final Act was signed in Helsinki, Finland, on August 1, 1975, by the leaders of 33 European countries, in addition to the United States and Canada. The OSCE has also added many new members, including Albania, the Baltic States, and most newly independent states in Europe and Central Asia.
A 1993 CSCE report on the "Human Rights and Democratization in Unified Germany" mentioned discrimination against the Church of Scientology as indicative of Germany's failure to adhere to the Helsinki Accords:
U.S. House Resolution on German Discrimination Against Scientology
In December, 1997, the CSCE brought before the House of Representatives a Resolution "Expressing the Sense of Congress with Respect to the German Government's Discrimination Against Member of Minority Religious Groups," The debate on this resolution is posted at the above web address. Although this resolution was defeated, the facts pertaining to the D'Amato / Smith initiative are relevant to understanding the connections between conservatives in Congress, the Christian Right and Scientology.
Germany's Response to U.S. Interference
The congressmen's determination to impose sanctions against Germany has resulted in strained U.S. diplomatic relations with the German government. The CSCE report included with the Scientologists' allegations, the response of German officials:"Members of the Church of Scientology, for example, have protested harassment in the form of firings, expulsion from political parties, and discriminatory treatment from local and state authorities, solely based on their affiliation with Scientology. Indeed, in one recently publicized case in which the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg broke off contract negotiations with jazz musician Chick Corea upon learning that Mr. Corea was a Scientologist, state officials explained quite unapologetically to the Helsinki Commission that 'The position that Baden-Wuerttemberg takes toward Scientology is shared by all other German States...It seems that the German government has been less than cooperative with the Church of Scientology, which has resorted to using high level colleagues in the United States Government to pressure German authorities. The ARS Week in Review (10/28/97) quotes a Finnish newspaper quotes a German newspaper which states: "In the United States, senior intelligence service officials belong to Scientology,"...
"We judge the practices of Scientology in a very critical manner', and 'Neither would we engage in a contractual agreement with an artist who is either radically to the left or radically to the right because we feel that it would be bad advertising for the State of Baden-Wuerttemberg.' "
The Finnish newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat, explains Germany's perspective on the "Church" of Scientology, which compares itself to the Jews of the Holocaust. Germany, likewise, considers Scientology a threat worthy of surveillance outside its own domain."Finnish newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat carried an article on Scientology in Germany this week."'Hamburg is the center for the anti-scientology campaign, because until a few years ago the sect was very successful here, and the state parliament formed a special office for a scientology ombudsman in 1992. The social democratic politician Ursula Caberta was chosen to head the office. It's mainly thanks to her that the 'church' and the business deals of its members has received increasingly negative publicity, and the number of members leaving the cult has gone up."'The Rasputin of Bonn', a scientology magazine proclaims, with a picture of the federal labour minister Norbert Blum on the cover. Flames are reflected from his eyeglasses, a reference to Nazi book burnings. The scientologists feel they are being persecuted like the Jews in the 1930s. The Hollywood scientologists claimed the same thing in large paid newspaper advertisements last winter."'The offices of Ms. Caberta is located in the office building of the Hamburg senate, beside the main railway station. Caberta has experienced a campaign against her, as defined by Hubbard's instructions. 'I'm not surprised about anything anymore: phone harassment and death threats are a part of the picture', she tells us. According to Caberta, the problems of the Hamburg 'church' became critical in 1995, when their leader Wiebke Hansen resigned or was fired, and Mark Lizer from the scientology elite group Sea Org came as her replacement from the U.S.A. Since then an increasing number of members have left the Hamburg church. 'In the first years we got information on only a few people quitting per year, but in the last three weeks we have been contacted by over 20 Scientologist that have left the organization. If the number of resignations continue the same way, soon there won't be many more left.'""German officials defended their treatment of Scientology this week in the wake of celebrity testimony in Washington DC. From Xinhua Newswire:"'German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel today defended Germany's treatment to the Scientology movement, saying the criticism by a U.S. senator was 'intolerable' to such a free country as Germany. 'The accusation that Scientology is being persecuted here is absurd,' Kinkel said in a statement in response to the claims by U.S. Senator Alfonse D'Amato that Germany was restricting freedom of religion with regard to Scientology. Kinkel stressed, 'Scientology is not a religion or world outlook. Its goals are directed at economic activity.'""Also from Xinhua, word that Germany's intelligence service may begin monitoring Scientology outside Germany."'A government spokesman made the confirmation after the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper reported such a move could lead to international complications with Washington. 'In the United States, senior intelligence service officials belong to Scientology,' said the newspaper. The idea was criticized today by the opposition Greens Party during a parliamentary debate on sects, which it said could intensify the conflict with Washington over Scientology's treatment."Dr. Martinez notes the true motive of the Church of $cientology for procuring the sanctions of the U.S. Government against nations which withhold special status:"...What is involved, at least in Europe, is not religious freedom but the privileges of organisations styling themselves religions: in Germany for example, Scientologists like everyone else can meet freely, however - like ordinary citizens - when they sell their courses, they have to pay taxes."What they are demanding is not the same treatment as other Germans, but a special treatment, currently reserved only to established religions, and which just happens to include such useful items as tax exemption, freedom from police surveillance, social acceptability, etc."
CSCE Hearing on Religious Freedom in Europe
On September 18, 1997, the Helsinki Commission held a hearing on Religious Freedom in Europe. For these hearings, the Council for Religious Freedom, an organization which monitors proposed federal and state legislation, submitted a report detailing the harassment of the Church of Scientology, the Unification Church, Jehovah's Witnesses, the Krishna Consciousness Movement and other "religious" minorities:
Prior to the CSCE hearing, former Scientologist and Co-director of FACTNet, Arnie Lerma, wrote a Letter to Senator D'Amato requesting to attend and to offer information regarding the true nature of Scientology:"...It is my contention that much of what appears to be intolerance toward religion in Europe, is in fact, intolerance of fraud and neo-fascist tactics by the science fiction ufo cult called Scientology. I was a staff member for Scientology in the 60’s when Hubbard decided to cloak this fraud in religiosity... ... It was presented to me as a ‘Applied Philosophy’, then in the late 60’s, a cross was dragged in the door, and we were told to wear collars... Staff considered it a joke then, I consider it a fraud now, and an act of the most craven cowardice - to use ‘religious trappings’ to escape government scrutiny..."
Arnie Lerma Goes to Washington
Arnie received no response from the senator, but attended the congressional hearing anyway. One of the panelists at the meeting was the Italian lawyer, Massimo Introvigne, who is the head of the aforementioned cult apology network (CESNUR) and the subject of Dr. Martinez' expose, The Secret Story of a Cult Apologist. (According to Dr. Martinez, even Introvigne's credentials as a sociologist and lawyer are suspect; nonetheless, he is sought after by the Washington establishment as an expert in the field of "cult-apology.")
The following is excerpted from a report by Arnie Lerma to his supporters pursuant to the CSCE hearing:"I walked up to microphone & rattled off something about Scientology having been convicted in 1982 in the largest domestic spy case in US history... [US vs Mary Sue Hubbard 1982] and then asked this Italian cult apologist [ed., Massimo Introvigne] what his relationship was to Scientology. His face turned a bit red and he stammered and woffled a bit and obfuscated any answer worth listening too and it was obvious..."The last question went something like this: Hello, My name is Arnaldo Lerma, I'm an ex-deluded adherent of Scientology. As Scientology stands convicted for Breach of the Public trust in Canada, upheld just last year, April 17 1997 and after the commission has listened to testimony from John Travolta and Anne Archer et al... when will this commission hear the testimony of ex members and find out the extent of the fraud being perpetrated on the public?
"I think the last line was 'When will we be heard?'"The answer was a politically correct yes ..."To date, Arnie Lerma has not heard from the Helsinki Commission.
Another former Scientologist who has been exiled to Canada, having been prohibited in the U.S. from speaking about Scientology, also wrote to Congressmen Smith and D'Amato. Gerry Armstrong, a Scientologist from 1969 through 1981, spent considerable time with founder L. Ron Hubbard in the Sea Organization, Scientology's "elite" pseudo-military corps. Gerry Armstrong's letter tells of Hubbard's fascist system and his experience in the RPF, a penal camp for problem Scientologists:"Hubbard patterned his intelligence apparatus on the system of Nazi spy master Reinhard Gehlen. Scientology operates as a global intelligence organization collecting overt and covert information on individuals, other organizations and governments and running covert operations against its 'enemies.'"During my Sea Org years I was twice assigned by Hubbard personally to Scientology's Rehabilitation Project Force ('RPF'), first in Florida, then in California, for a total of 25 months. The RPF is a penal camp created by Hubbard to punish anyone he felt crossed his will, or he even just disliked. People were assigned arbitrarily, for something as slight as a needle movement on the E-meter, the electro-psychometer Scientology calls for 'legal' reasons a 'religious artifact,' but which in reality is a lie detector. I was assigned by Hubbard the first time for 'insubordination,' and the second time because he considered I was 'joking.' During much of my RPF sentence I was the 'Bosun,' the highest RPF member and in charge of the group. I became intimately familiar with RPF policies and practices..."In my opinion it is Scientology's own persecution of its members, ex-members and critics which is the source of most of its problems in Europe. I believe that Scientology's use of the shield of religion to carry out its abuses and persecutions is a real threat to freedom for legitimate, non-abusive religions. I believe that the US has turned its back on the victims of Scientology's abuses and persecutions, the very individuals who should be protected by the Constitutional guarantee of religious freedom. Finally, I believe that until it is willing to examine and act to curtail its own brand of religious persecution the US will lack the probity to preach about other countries' religious persecutions..."I am writing to you from Canada. Earlier this year it was necessary for me to leave the US, where I had been a resident since 1975, because I am the target of the Scientology organization's religious persecution in your country. This persecution, using the power and authority of the US legal system, resulted in a court order which prohibits me, on penalty of being jailed and fined, from mentioning Scientology or Scientologists or discussing my Scientology experiences."I believe that this court order is illegal and that Scientology procured it by illegal means. It impermissibly denies me freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of association and due process. In effect it results in a form of legal and psychological slavery. I am in Canada where I am free to discuss Scientology and my experiences, and where I may freely express my religious thoughts about this 'religion.'"The Scientology organization is well known for its policy of 'using the law to harass.' It spends many millions of dollars every year on lawyers and private investigators to harass individuals it designates as 'enemy' targets. It overwhelms these targeted individuals with aggressive litigation, financial ruination, and extralegal operations and threats. Very few people have the money, strength or courage to stand up to this organization and its antisocial tactics. Even the US government, while it has stood up to military aggression of tyrannical foreign national regimes, has succumbed to the 'religious' aggression of this US-based 'church' of Scientology."For insight into the totalitarian character of the Scientology cult, the full text of this letter is worth reading on the FACTNet Website.
Subsequent Developments in Congress
CSCE/Ecumenical Field Hearing on the Status of Religious Liberty for Minority Faiths in Europe
The CSCE never did extend an invitation to former Scientologists to testify before the commission, but continued its campaign for "religious freedom" with a CSCE field hearing on The Status of Religious Liberty for Minority Faiths in Europeand the OSCE at a Jesuit institution, St. Joseph University in Philadelphia. Present in December of 1997 were Catholic priests, a rabbi, an American Jewish Committee officer, a representative of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America - whose collective sympathies were enlisted on behalf of persecuted religious minorities. Rep. Joseph R. Pitts (R-PA) addressed the hearing in defense of cults which are experiencing "subtle harassment" from European nations:"The focus of today's hearing on the status of religious liberty for minority faiths in Europe and the OSCE is not to testify of documented widespread instances of torture and persecution. Instead, it is to testify to the reality of disturbing undercurrents of more subtle, but growing, discrimination and harassment of minority religious believers."In a number of European nations, countries in which the seeds of democracy sprouted, government officials seem to be working to restrict freedom of conscience and free speech in much of their government's actions. The Parliaments of France, Germany and Belgium have established 'Sect Commissions' to investigate 'dangerous' cults."August 1998
CSCE/House International Relations Briefing on Continuing Religious Intolerance in Europe
In September of 1997, Hollywood celebrities (i.e., John Travolta) and the notable Massimo Introvigne (head of the international cult apology network) had been invited by Congressman Chris Smith, co-chairman of the Helsinki Commission to address the CSCE / House hearings. Once again, cult apologist Massimo Introvigne would be invited to testify in Washington before a joint hearing of the CSCE / International Relations Committee.
At this briefing, Introvigne, whose report is posted at the CESNUR Center for Studies on New Religions, remonstrated that anti-cultism is practiced by some governments in Europe as a result of "ex members who become militant critics and of private anti-cult vigilante groups." A "small but vocal clique" of these critics, which attended the briefing to Introvigne's dismay, was Dr. Martinez' group of "apostates" who expose the international cult apology network.
DR INTROVIGNE TESTIFIES AT HOME WASHINGTON BRIEFING - Press Release of August 6, 1998"The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (also known as the Helsinki Commission) and the House International Relations Committee scheduled a joint hearing on "Continuing Religious Intolerance in Europe" for July 30, 1998 at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington DC. CESNUR's managing director, Dr Massimo Introvigne, received an unsolicited and unexpected invitation to testify..."Dr Introvigne delivered his testimony in a fully packed room at the Rayburn Building. In attendance were several officers of U.S. departments and institutions interested in international relations and human rights, House and Senate staff, officers of religious denominations and movements, reporters, lawyers, and a couple of anti-cultists...Introvigne's warning to the commission about "misinformation" on brainwashing via the Internet failed to mention the extraordinary measures CESNUR has taken to block the web pages of cult awareness organizations! Read about the New battle in techno-censorship war on the Internet.
"The interest focused on the role of apostates (a technical, not a derogatory term, used by social scientists to indicate those ex members who become militant critics of their former religion) and of private anti-cult vigilante groups. Dr Introvigne also warned against misinformation about the U.S. scholarly literature on brainwashing spread by European anti-cultists (including via the Internet), and personal attacks against well-known scholars of new religious movements by a small but vocal clique."
Dr. Martinez clarifies that the "misinformation" on brainwashing of which Introvigne warned the commission is, in fact, the cult apologist's own misrepresentation of the American Psychologists Association position on the subject:"Smith invited Introvigne of CESNUR to speak as the main guest at the CSCE / House hearings on 'religious persecution' in Europe. Speaking before these institutions, Introvigne repeated what has proven to be an outright lie, saying that the American Psychologists Association (APA) condemned all brainwashing theories as unscientific in 1987. What the APA did was reject *one* report on brainwashing as not having sufficient scientific backing; the APA said the issue is still open. This lie has been publicly denounced (you can find a link to the site of the Roman GRIS on our Xenu site, discussing this issue), and Introvigne has quietly dropped it since. I myself have no clear opinions on the brainwashing issue; however what is interesting is that Introvigne lied publicly before an official US body, just as he had lied publicly before a committee of the German parliament. Something like the Sexgate!"For information on the American Psychologists Association report, please see:
APA Memorandum To: Members of the Task Force on Deceptive and Indirect Methods of Persuasion and Control (DIMPAC)
Washington Times Report on House/CSCE Briefing
The Washington Times newspaper, which is owned and operated by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon (The "True Father" of the Unification Church) also bemoans the unfair treatment of cults in Europe as described in the CSCE hearing. The Moonie tale of woe was also carried in the Jehovah's Witnesses' newspaper:News for Jehovah's Witnesses"Western European governments are stripping minority religious groups of their rights, saying they are cults and therefore not protected under constitutional guarantees of religious freedom, a House panel said Thursday."Participants said traditionally tolerant countries such as France, Germany and Belgium were undermining various groups at odds with the dominant religion -- usually the Roman Catholic or Greek Orthodox Church -- by several methods."Speaking at a House briefing sponsored by the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe -- also known as the Helsinki Commission -- panelists said these methods include gathering information solely from disaffected members.. The other panelist, Massimo Introvigne, director of the Center for Studies on New Religions in Torino, Italy, said current investigations by European governments into lesser-known religious groups began in 1994, with the suicides and murders in the Order of the Solar Temple cult in Switzerland. Belgian and French parliaments now list as "dangerous" groups such as independent evangelical Protestant churches, Bahai's, Jehovah's Witnesses, Hasidic Jews and charismatic Catholics. The Germans are restricting the Church of Scientology, Jehovah's Witnesses and small Pentecostal churches.Freedom From Religious Persecution Act (HR2431/S772)
The D'Amato/Smith House Resolution on German Discrimination Against Scientology failed to pass the U.S. Congress; nevertheless, conservative hopefuls are not without an alternative plan to make the world safe for $cientology, Moonies and similar multimillion dollar corporations seeking special privileges as "churches." With the massive support of the Christian Right, the Freedom From Religious Persecution Act, soon to be voted upon in the U.S. Senate, will achieve the same result on a global scale. Following the defeat of the Scientology bill, Congressman Jon D. Fox (R-PA) revealed Plan B (or is it Plan A?):"In fact, the Wolf-Specter Bill that's in Congress will ensure that we have economic sanctions where appropriate, expedite emigration, and the office of religious persecution in the White House which would be created and issue an annual report--country by country--to the President on religious persecution and make suggestions on how U.S. foreign policy can alleviate the problem of religious persecution."The Council for National Policy is the umbrella organization for a strange assortment of conservative bedfellows whose common cause is ostensibly to "reclaim America" from the liberal establishment. The Council for Naional Policy provides some relevant background on the Christian leaders and subversive organizations which have promoted this legislation.
The next part of this series will continue to examine the Freedom From Religious Persecution Act as the brainchild of a network of Conservative and Christian front organizations for elitist, fascist and international power brokers.
The John Birch Society