A confession: I am not a Scientologist. I do not like Scientology. I would become frantic if my sixteen-year-old daughter fell into the hands of this self-proclaimed church.
Such a repudiation of Scientology is necessary for anybody who writes about Scientology in Germany these days. Of course, to deny, disclaim, and disavow it still may not save you. For the very attempt may prove the opposite: that you are a secret disciple or an agent of influence of a group which, like the Freemasons or the Elders of Zion, has learned to camouflage its quest for planetary domination.
Even going about your normal business might brand you as part of this subversive group, especially in Bavaria, where the feeling against Scientology is strongest. Take Guy Count von Moy, who runs a smallish brewery, the Hofbräuhaus, in the smallish town of Freising just north of Munich. Like all local brewers in Germany’s shrinking market, the count has had to fend off giants like Beck’s or Löwenbräu. And so he launched an advertising campaign. Maybe he was trying too hard to push his suds, especially when he resorted to such mysterious slogans as “Feeling Inner Strength” or “Relying on Your Own Power.”
Sounds like Scientology, doesn’t it? Soon the whispers started (perhaps set off by the competition), and not long afterward the count’s workers were harassed as Scientologists, and so were his children. His wife, Verena, was one for sure, the voices in the dark murmured, and look, wasn’t she actually running the brewery? What better way to corrupt Bavarians than by using their favorite beverage as the devil’s tool?
It did not matter that the Moys were devout Catholics. Nor that the count was a member of the Order of Malta, into which only noblemen with the strictest Catholic credentials are inducted. In desperation, he took out an ad in the local paper: “Neither I nor any of my employees at the Hofbräuhaus Freising nor any member of my family has anything to do with the Scientology sect.” Whether that will restore his reputation and balance sheet is not yet clear.
By their very nature, witch hunts are not concerned with the truth. A favorite means of detection of medieval witches was to throw a suspect, bound hand and foot, into the river. If she floated, she was possessed of unnatural powers and thus destined for the stake. If she drowned, she was innocent. Either way she was dispatched from this world, which was presumably the result intended in the first place. As the count and others like him may yet discover, it is impossible to prove a negative.
The Bundestag has set up a “Commission of Inquiry on So-Called Sects and Psychogroups,” which directs much of its energies at Scientology. Late last year Antje Vollmer, a member of the Green Party who is also the Parliament’s vice-president, showed up for a meeting of the commission. While the experts from the domestic security service, the Verfassungsschutz, were testifying, she was…
This article is available to online subscribers only.
Please choose from one of the options below to access this article:
Purchase a print premium subscription (20 issues per year) and also receive online access to all all content on nybooks.com.
Purchase an Online Edition subscription and receive full access to all articles published by the Review since 1963.
Purchase a trial Online Edition subscription and receive unlimited access for one week to all the content on nybooks.com.