Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Support for Religious Tolerance -- Scientology and Germany

Kudos to Susan Estrich, the Robert Kingsley professor of law and political science at the University of Southern California Law Center, for her incisive critique of Germany's outrageous "lapse" in the religious freedom department. She wrote:

Defense Ministry spokesman Harald Kammerbauer said the filmmakers "will not be allowed to film at German military sites if Count Stauffenberg is played by Tom Cruise, who has publicly professed to being a member of the Scientology cult."

Count Stauffenberg was the German officer who opposed German treatment of the Jews and attempted to assassinate Adolf Hitler in 1944. But when the bomb he planted in a briefcase exploded, Hitler was wounded, not killed, and Stauffenberg was executed for his role in the failed plot. The code name for the project was Valkyrie, which is the name of the movie in which Tom Cruise is slated to star.

Scientology has been recognized as a religion in the United States. In Germany, they call it a cult. Whatever you call it, the film Mr. Cruise is set to star in has absolutely nothing to do with Scientology. Mr. Cruise is an actor seeking to work in his craft, and the Germans are seeking to prohibit him from doing so because of his religious views.

Estrich goes on to describe the systematic marginalization of Jews in pre-Holocaust Germany--the very actions that made it possible to "slid" into the Holocaust itself and the attempted extermination of an entire population. No one is comparing the treatment of Scientologists to what was done to the Jews, but Germany's record of religious intolerance is being examined once again in the public forum, and they do not stand up very well to this scrutiny.

Since the initial "announcement," hit the press last week, support for Tom Cruise has been pouring in, and German officials have apologized for official statement, saying they have no opposition to the film shooting in Germany.

Perhaps this incident will serve to make certain German officials, who have flaunted their intolerance unchecked over the years, the ramifications of their activities not just to minority religions but the the reputation of their country and adopt a policy of tolerance.

"Never regret yesterday. Life is in you today, and you make your tomorrow." — Scientology founder, L. Ron Hubbard

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