[House Hearing, 106 Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
THE TREATMENT OF RELIGIOUS MINORITIES IN WESTERN EUROPE
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED SIXTH CONGRESS
JUNE 14, 2000
Serial No. 106-165
Printed for the use of the Committee on International Relations
Available via the World Wide Web: http://www.house.gov/
U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
68-022 WASHINGTON : 2000
COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
BENJAMIN A. GILMAN, New York, Chairman
WILLIAM F. GOODLING, Pennsylvania SAM GEJDENSON, Connecticut
JAMES A. LEACH, Iowa TOM LANTOS, California
HENRY J. HYDE, Illinois HOWARD L. BERMAN, California
DOUG BEREUTER, Nebraska GARY L. ACKERMAN, New York
CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH, New Jersey ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, American
DAN BURTON, Indiana Samoa
ELTON GALLEGLY, California MATTHEW G. MARTINEZ, California
ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, Florida DONALD M. PAYNE, New Jersey
CASS BALLENGER, North Carolina ROBERT MENENDEZ, New Jersey
DANA ROHRABACHER, California SHERROD BROWN, Ohio
DONALD A. MANZULLO, Illinois CYNTHIA A. McKINNEY, Georgia
EDWARD R. ROYCE, California ALCEE L. HASTINGS, Florida
PETER T. KING, New York PAT DANNER, Missouri
STEVE CHABOT, Ohio EARL F. HILLIARD, Alabama
MARSHALL ``MARK'' SANFORD, South BRAD SHERMAN, California
Carolina ROBERT WEXLER, Florida
MATT SALMON, Arizona STEVEN R. ROTHMAN, New Jersey
AMO HOUGHTON, New York JIM DAVIS, Florida
TOM CAMPBELL, California EARL POMEROY, North Dakota
JOHN M. McHUGH, New York WILLIAM D. DELAHUNT, Massachusetts
KEVIN BRADY, Texas GREGORY W. MEEKS, New York
RICHARD BURR, North Carolina BARBARA LEE, California
PAUL E. GILLMOR, Ohio JOSEPH CROWLEY, New York
GEORGE RADANOVICH, California JOSEPH M. HOEFFEL, Pennsylvania
JOHN COOKSEY, Louisiana
THOMAS G. TANCREDO, Colorado
Richard J. Garon, Chief of Staff
Kathleen Bertelsen Moazed, Democratic Chief of Staff
Hillel Weinberg, Senior Professional Staff Member and Counsel
Colette L. Bottin, Staff Associate
C O N T E N T S
The Honorable Robert A. Seiple, Ambassador-at-Large for
International Religious Freedom, U.S. Department of State...... 6
T. Jeremy Gunn, J.D., Ph.D., Guest Scholar, U.S. Institute of
The Reverend N.J. L'Heureux, Jr., Executive Director, Queens
Federation of Churches......................................... 26
Philip Brumley, Esq., General Counsel, Jehovah's Witnesses....... 28
The Reverend Robert Hunt, Pastor, English Speaking United
Methodist Church of Austria....................................31, 37
Craig Jensen, Chairman and CEO, Executive Software............... 32
Catherine Bell, Actress.......................................... 34
The Honorable Robert A. Seiple................................... 50
T. Jeremy Gunn, J.D., Ph.D....................................... 55
The Reverend N.J. L'Heureux, Jr.................................. 70
Philip Brumley, Esq.............................................. 112
The Reverend Robert Hunt......................................... 120
Craig Jensen..................................................... 122
Catherine Bell................................................... 130
Statements submitted for the record:
Letter and statement from His Excellency Peter Moser, Ambassador
of Austria..................................................... 137
Statement of His Excellency Jurgen Chrobog, Ambassador of Germany 140
Statement of Armando Corea....................................... 142
Other material submitted for the record:
Documentation of German sales lost due to discriminatory
procurement practices (provided by Mr. Jensen)................. 147
THE TREATMENT OF RELIGIOUS MINORITIES IN WESTERN EUROPE
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 14, 2000
House of Representatives,
Committee on International Relations,
The Committee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:30 a.m. in
room 2172, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Benjamin A.
Gilman (Chairman of the Committee) presiding.
Chairman Gilman. The Committee will come to order.
The Committee on International Relations meets in open
session today to take testimony on the topic of the treatment
of religious minorities in Western Europe. We do so as part of
the Full Committee's geographic responsibility for Europe.
Today's hearing allows us to turn our attention to a
problem that has troubled many Americans who respect and value
the nations of Western Europe, countries who are, without
doubt, friends of the United States and places where, in
general, freedom flourishes.
The ``blind spot'' that some of those countries seem to
have is their attitude toward religious minorities. As
Ambassador Felix Rohatyn has written with respect to France,
``Recent actions by its government vis-a-vis sects raise
questions about intolerance toward religious minorities and
contravene France's human rights commitments, although it is a
country with a long tradition of religious freedom and the rule
of law.'' That was in an April 12, 1999, letter to Congressman
Smith of New Jersey.
I would like to point out that the purpose of this hearing
is not to support the religious doctrines or other activities
of religious minorities active in Western Europe. However, we
are called on not only to protect the rights of those we like,
but of those with whom we may disagree as well.
I have put on the record repeatedly, for example, my
concern about the use, over the years, of Nazi-era imagery by
supporters of Scientology in their effort to make their points
about German policy. But I am also here to say we must defend
their human rights.
Of course, holding or expressing a religious belief or
worshiping in public and private as one may please is not, as
such, forbidden by law in Western Europe. In practice, however,
expressing a minority religious belief often leads to
discrimination--the loss of a job, of educational
opportunities, of the right to gain custody of one's own child
or to be a foster parent--which seriously burdens one's
exercise of freedom of religion.
Some European governments discriminate among religions,
giving some favors, such as financial aid or simply the right
of clergy of that religion to visit sick parishioners, while
withholding these privileges from others.
Moreover, religious discrimination by private parties is
far from universally discouraged. It is encouraged in some
cases, for example, by the compilation and publication by
governments of lists of sects--although encouraging religious
tolerance is an international human rights obligation.
Such problems are complained of especially frequently and
vociferously with respect to Austria, Belgium, France and
Germany. It is frankly difficult to understand how our friends
in those countries can say they have freedom of religion, given
the burdens on the free exercise of religion I have mentioned
and which will be described a little later on today.
The Committee's attention has been drawn to this issue for
several reasons: First, the practices to be discussed appear to
be in contravention of internationally accepted human rights
standards and seem to be leading to an atmosphere of religious
Second, Americans abroad who wish to evangelize or merely
to practice their religion or professions, or to engage in
business, face discriminatory treatment on the basis of their
Next, emerging democracies in Eastern Europe may copy the
bad examples that are being set by some Western European
countries--and China uses Western Europe to justify its brutal
crackdown on the Falun Gong.
And last, the growth of political extremism on the left and
on the right in some of the nations where religious
discrimination appears to be on the rise to questions of
whether there are links between such discrimination and those
Today, our Committee will first take testimony from our
Ambassador-at-Large for Religious Freedom, Robert Seiple.
In the second panel, it will hear from an experienced
writer and observer of religious freedom issues who has worked
in government, Mr. Jeremy Gunn; from a Methodist minister in
Queens, New York, who has been active in the Religious Liberty
Committee of the National Council of Churches, the Reverend
``Skip'' L'Heureux, Jr.; and from members of religious
minorities working in Europe or who are involved in helping
coreligionists there, Philip Brumley, General Counsel of
Jehovah's Witnesses, and the Reverend Robert A. Hunt of the
English-speaking Methodist congregation in Vienna, Austria;
from an American businessman, who is a Scientologist, who will
testify that his business is being threatened by a religiously
based boycott, Mr. Craig Jensen; and from an American actress,
Ms. Catherine Bell, star of the television show JAG, also a
Scientologist, who will discuss the special problems faced by
members of her church in Europe, particularly in Germany.
I regret to announce that Mr. Chick Corea who was invited
to testify is unable to be with us today due to prior
This is not a hearing about the merit or lack of merit of
one or another religious group. It is about the practices of
certain nations with respect to some of those groups.
Accordingly, the Ambassadors of Austria, Germany and France
have been invited to appear as well. The German ambassador and
the Austrian ambassador have each submitted a useful and
interesting statement. I would ask that my colleagues pay close
attention to those statements. I regret that the French embassy
has chosen not to participate in this hearing in any manner.
Without objection, the submissions of the German and
Austrian ambassadors, along with the prepared remarks of
today's witnesses, as well as those of Mr. Corea and
reasonable-length additional statements and background
materials, at the discretion of the Chair, will be entered into
I now call on our Ranking Minority Member, the gentleman
from Connecticut, Mr. Gejdenson.
Mr. Gejdenson. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
One thing that comes to mind as I look at the years that we
have had hearings on this issue is that maybe a solution would
be if our European colleagues followed our model of separation
of church and state. Because even if it is not explicitly
discussed, there seems to be a strong undercurrent that the
populace of these countries are uneasy about subsidizing,
providing economic support and other benefits to religions that
they are simply not accustomed to or that don't represent a
large portion of their population; and that may be an important
lesson for people in this country who have consistently tried
to degrade and remove the separation of church and state, that
we would find ourselves in a similar position.
Populations often find it difficult to accept new
philosophies and new religions, and it becomes particularly
problematic when the general taxpayers are then asked to
subsidize these new religions by funding religious schools, by
funding other activities, direct payments to these new
religions. So maybe our European brethren could remove some of
their problems with the various religions that they seem to
have difficulty with if they looked to our model more of
establishing a separation between the elected government and
the beliefs that people choose.
I think it is important to make sure that we don't simply
highlight newer religions and newer philosophies and thereby
put them in a separate category. It should be the standards of
behavior that we judge, not the newness of the religion; and
obviously governments that take new religions or new beliefs
and label them as sects and cults, I think undermine an attempt
to have a society that respects varying beliefs.
I believe these countries ought to open up a more
transparent dialogue. They need to announce and enunciate
principles of tolerance for their society, and they could go a
long way to do away with some of the problems in some of the
finest democracies in the world and our closest allies.
For me, it is important to give every belief an opportunity
to express itself and to make sure that a dominant religion
doesn't in some way try to prevent other religions from
competing for parishioners.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Gilman. Are any other Members seeking recognition?
Thank you, Mr. Gejdenson.
Mr. Salmon. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. It is
interesting, just a couple of weeks ago, we had a debate on the
House floor about NTR for China, and numerous Members arose to
denounce the practices in China of impingement on religious
freedom, but yet a lot of the same Members expressed hesitance
about denouncing the suppression of religious freedom in some
of the allied countries that we have worked closely with since
World War II. I find that quite interesting.
I have a different belief. I think that we ought to be able
to be even more candid with those who are considered to be our
allies, and I frankly am very, very concerned because I see a
I have been working on the Helsinki Commission for the last
6 years that I have been in Congress; and I have been able to
go to those annual OSCE meetings, and every year these issues
come up. And I find the response, particularly from the
European Union, very, very troubling when we bring these issues
Last year, we brought up a resolution to denounce some of
the practices in Europe toward religious minorities and the
creation of these sect monitoring offices in several offices in
Europe. We basically got poured in a bottle. I think that we
need to be a little bit more vocal. I think that the Congress
needs to take definitive action to declare that here in this
country we value the right to be able to believe according to
the dictates of one's own conscience. It is a problem.
It has been a problem in Russia. You might recall just a
couple of years ago the Duma had a vote honoring and sustaining
only certain religions.
I might remind everybody here on this Committee that every
religion started out as a religious minority, even the
Christian religion, to which I belong. You might recall that
when they started out, they had their bumps in the road. A few
of them got fed to the lions. They had problems, as well, and
problems being understood by those who believed a different
But this religious intolerance in Europe is very, very
troubling and some of the countries that are really the worst
actors--Germany, France, Belgium, Austria--we need to take, I
think, a definitive stand here in these halls to tell them that
that is not acceptable, and that to have a good and solid
relationship with the United States, they need to value the
same things that we value, and that is the freedom of religious
expression, the freedom of belief.
I would like to cite some examples because this isn't just
a lot of empty rhetoric. The most recent international Helsinki
Federation report mentions that religious minorities in Belgium
have been subjected to various forms of harassment and other
human rights violations such as slander, anonymous threats,
loss of jobs, bomb threats and denial of room rental for
Patrick Belton, a businessman in France, runs a company
that offers training and management advice. When government
officials learned that he was a Scientologist, they accused him
of transmitting client files to his church. Consequently, he
lost several contracts with an estimated loss of several
million French francs.
In 1999, the U.S. Department of State annual report on
international religious freedom stated that the conservative
Austrian People's Party formally accepted the decision that
party membership is incompatible with membership in a sect, and
they decide what is a sect and what is a religion. This policy
led to the resignation of a local party official.
I really believe that this hearing is timely. I thank the
Chairman for inviting the various people to testify before us,
but after all is said and done and we hear the testimony, what
are we prepared to do? Are we going to just sit and listen or
are we going to stand up and be counted?
I think we have an opportunity to make a difference and to
stand for the most basic value that we hold dear in America
and, really, the fundamental that began this country over 200
years ago, and that is the right to believe according to the
dictates of one's conscience without interference from
Thank you very much. I yield back the balance of my time.
Chairman Gilman. Thank you.
I would like to note to the audience that we don't permit
demonstrations during the hearing.
Thank you, Mr. Salmon.
Mr. Hastings. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Mr.
Chairman, thank you for holding this hearing and my apologies
to you, colleagues, and to the witnesses for the fact that I,
as one Member, as I am sure others do, have very serious
conflicts and will not be able to stay for the entirety of the
Toward that end, Mr. Chairman, I would like to associate
myself with your remarks, the remarks of Mr. Gejdenson and my
dear friend and colleague, whom I will miss when he leaves
Congress and goes back to his religious freedom in Arizona, Mr.
Salmon. Mr. Salmon serves on the Helsinki Commission and he and
I, along with other Members, have traveled to Europe
frequently; and I, Mr. Chairman, am an officer in the
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
My point is, what Matt just got through saying I think is a
proper segue for me, at this point, to suggest to the Committee
that today's hearing particularly be placed in a manner whereby
it can be spread widely among our European colleagues; and I
will take it upon myself to take these proceedings to the
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe at its July
meeting, and Mr. Salmon and I can attest to the fact that the
subject of religious freedom arises frequently.
I will end by saying, Mr. Chairman, there is a spiritual
that says, ``A charge to keep have I.'' All of us come from
different faiths in this great country of ours. To promote
religious freedom is a charge that all of us should keep, and
the sooner our European allies recognize this, the more likely
we are to be able to influence others in the world.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Gilman. Thank you, Judge Hastings.
Are any other Members seeking recognition?
Mr. Sherman. Just briefly, Mr. Chairman. I know that we
have had testimony in prior hearings about the treatment of
those who practice Scientology in Germany. I would hope that
Germany would show respect for that religious minority and
others, and it was with great regret that I noticed Germany
pressing for a World Bank loan to the Government of Iran at a
time when that country has 13 Jews being charged on trumped-up
And so respect for religious minorities includes not only
religious minorities within a country's borders, but also
respect for importance of human rights for religious minorities
in foreign policy decisions. And I know that there was one
German citizen who was released from Iranian jails, and I
appreciate that decision, but I would have been far more
impressed if the German Government had respected the importance
of religious liberty in Iran.
Chairman Gilman. Thank you, Mr. Sherman.
Are any other Members seeking recognition? If not, we will
proceed with our first witness, who is Ambassador Robert
Seiple. Ambassador Seiple's position as Ambassador-at-Large for
International Religious Freedom was created by the
International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, which originated
in our Committee. Ambassador Seiple is a highly decorated
veteran of the Marine Corps, having flown 300 combat missions
in Vietnam. He has served in administrative and development
positions at his alma mater, Brown, as President of Eastern
College and Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary and as
President of World Vision. He took up his present position in
May 1999. We welcome Ambassador Seiple.
Your statement has been made part of the record. You may
summarize as you see fit. Please proceed.
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE ROBERT A. SEIPLE, AMBASSADOR-AT-
LARGE FOR INTERNATIONAL RELIGIOUS FREEDOM, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF
Mr. Seiple. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman and Members
of the Committee. I am honored to appear before you today to
testify on the treatment of religious minorities in Western
Europe. Let me begin by thanking the Chairman and the Committee
for their strong and continuing contributions toward our goal
of promoting religious freedom.
Each of us here today shares a commitment to protecting the
dignity of all human beings. We hold in common the belief that
at the heart of human dignity lies the right to pursue the
truth about the mystery of faith, the truth about our place in
the universe, about how we ought to order our lives. Together,
we seek to speed the day when every human being is free to
pursue that truth as he or she sees fit, not only unhindered by
others, but protected by the state itself.
Freedom of religion and conscience is also foundational for
democracy as recognized in the international covenants. The
government which fails to honor religious freedom and freedom
of conscience is a government which does not recognize the
priority of the individual over the state and that the state
exists to serve society, not vice versa. By the same token, the
government which nurtures religious freedom may be more likely
to honor other fundamental human rights.
So, Mr. Chairman, the promotion of religious freedom and
freedom of conscience makes sense from the standpoint of
freedom in general, but also from the standpoint of all human
rights and from the standpoint of promoting healthy, vibrant
Against that background, Mr. Chairman, let me turn to our
subject this morning, the treatment of religious minorities in
Western Europe. Overall, it must be said that religious
minorities are treated better there than in most other regions
of the world. Indeed, in relative terms, the citizens of
Western Europe enjoy a measure of freedom that is the envy of
aspiring democracies around the globe. Persecution on the basis
of religion in the form of brutal activities by governments,
such as prolonged detentions without charge, torture and
slavery, simply does not exist there as it so tragically does
elsewhere in the world.
But it also must be said that discrimination on the basis
of religion does exist in the four countries on which we are
focusing this morning--Germany, France, Austria and Belgium.
Let me give you a brief overview of the problems that we see in
each. Before I do, however, I want to emphasize that the
standard applied to these countries by the United States is a
standard that they have accepted. All of them embrace the
international instruments that protect freedom of religion and
conscience, including the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights and the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In
applying these standards, we see ourselves as citizens of the
world community, putting our national shoulder to the
But our willingness to speak of discrimination elsewhere
should not be taken to imply that we are free of it ourselves.
When it comes to religious minorities, the United States falls
far short of a perfect record. One need only recall
discrimination against the Catholic minority or the Mormons in
the 19th century. However, we believe that one sign of a mature
democracy is the willingness to accept criticism so long as it
is based on international standards of human rights.
Let me begin with Germany, where our primary disagreement
involves the treatment of the country's roughly 8,000
Scientologists. The nub of the problem is that many in the
German Government believe that Scientology is more a money-
making scheme than a religion. This view is shared by officials
in certain states where responsibility for religious questions
are usually handled.
At the same time, German officials say they are concerned
that Scientology has, ``antidemocratic tendencies.'' The
offices for the protection of the constitution at both the
state and Federal level have been monitoring Scientology since
1997 for evidence of activities that would constitute a threat
against the state. Although initial reports concluded that it
did not, the monitoring continues to this day.
In 1998, a commission on so-called ``sects and psycho
groups'' presented a report to the parliament that criticized
Scientology for, ``misinformation and intimidation,'' of its
critics, accusing it of being a political extremist group with,
``totalitarian tendencies.'' Following this, the states of
Bavaria, Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein published brochures
warning the public of the purported dangers Scientology poses.
For their part, many of the country's Scientologists have
reported both governmental and societal discrimination in their
daily lives. Some employers, for example, use the so-called
``sect filter,'' screening applicants for Scientology
membership. The Federal Government also screens companies
bidding on some consulting and training contracts for
Scientologists, as do some state governments. That these and
other forms of discrimination are occurring was documented in a
1998 U.N. Report, although it rejected the outrageous claim
that Scientologists' treatment was similar to that suffered by
the Jews during the Nazi era.
Scientologists continue to take their grievances to the
German court system. Some, who have charged their employers
with unfair dismissal, for example, have won out-of-court
Mr. Chairman, we have discussed these issues at some length
with German officials, both in Germany and the United States.
We have stressed, in particular, the risks associated with
governments deciding what does and does not constitute a
religion. We have made clear our concern with sect filters. To
prevent an individual from practicing a profession solely on
account of his or her religious belief is an abuse of religious
freedom, as well as discriminatory business practice. We have
expressed our concern that the continued official observation
of Scientology by the German Government, without any legal
action being initiated as a result, creates an environment that
encourages discrimination. We have urged our German colleagues
to begin a dialogue with the Scientologists, and we have raised
our concerns multilaterally at meetings of the Organization of
Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Let me now turn to France. There have been recent reports
by the National Assembly which cast Scientology in a negative
light, expressing concern that they may use excessive or
dishonest means to obtain donations. However, the government
has taken no action against them. Indeed, Interior Minister
Chevenement and others, including Foreign Minister Vedrine,
have assumed a very positive and public posture in support of
freedom of conscience and religion, a fact which has helped
diffuse tensions considerably.
But it is also true that France has been on the vanguard of
the troubling practice of creating so-called ``sect lists.''
These lists are created by government agencies--in France the
list was part of a parliamentary report--and typically contain
the names of scores of religious groups which may not be
recognized by the government. Some of the groups are clearly
dangerous, such as the Solar Temple, which led to suicides in
France and Switzerland, but others are merely unfamiliar or
unpopular. By grouping them together under the negative word
``sect,'' governments encourage societal discrimination.
Some groups that appear on France's list continue to report
acts of discrimination. One of them is the Institute of
Theology in Nimes, a private Bible college founded in 1989 by
Louis Demeo, who is head pastor at an associated church there.
Others have been subjected to long audits of their finances.
For example, tax claims against the Church of Scientology
forced several churches into bankruptcy in the mid-1990's.
The Jehovah's Witnesses have also been heavily audited.
According to the International Helsinki Federation, this audit,
which began in January 1996 and continues to this day, has been
done in a manner which suggests harassment.
In France, too, the United States has been engaged actively
in promoting a dialogue with French authorities. U.S. embassy
representatives have met several times with the
interministerial mission to battle against sects. President
Clinton, Secretary of State Albright, Assistant Secretary of
State Harold Koh and myself have each raised these issues of
religious discrimination with French officials during the past
year, and we will continue to do so. Our goal is to develop a
common understanding with the French Government on what actions
are and are not in accord with international agreements on
Mr. Chairman, the pattern in Austria is not unlike that in
France. The government has long waged an information campaign
against religious groups that it considers harmful to the
interests of individuals and society. A brochure issued last
September by the Ministry for Social Security and Generations
described several nonrecognized religious groups, including the
Jehovah's Witnesses, in decidedly negative terms that many
With the recent appointment of a new minister from Jorg
Haider's Freedom Party there are fears that the government may
intensify its campaign against religions that lack official
recognition. We have raised these issues with the Austrian
Government and will continue to press our view that such
practices contravene Austria's commitments to religious
Let me conclude with Belgium. In 1998, the Belgian
parliament adopted several recommendations from the Commission
Report on Government Policy toward sects, including the
creation of a Center for Information and Advice on Harmful
Sectarian Organizations. The Commission had also appended a
list of sects in Belgium divided into those considered harmful
and all others ,and recommended a special police unit to deal
with the harmful groups. The government has not yet taken any
action on this proposal.
Our concern here, Mr. Chairman, is not with the
government's attempts to deal with illegal activities on the
part of any religious group, whether recognized or
unrecognized, new or old. Our fear is that Belgium, like France
and Austria, is painting with too broad a brush. In its very
use of the pejorative term ``sect'' to characterize
unrecognized religious groups, it casts aspersions on those
groups creating, even if inadvertently, the suspicion that
there is something wrong with them. But every religion began as
something new and unpopular.
We have discussed these issues with Belgian officials and
we will continue to urge all our European friends to recognize
that the religious quest must be nurtured, not discouraged, for
true religious freedom to exist.
Before concluding, I want to note that Muslims continue to
experience some discrimination in Western Europe, even though
Islam is the second largest religion in France and Belgium and
the third in Austria and Germany. In some cases, this
discrimination has more to do with race, culture and immigrant
status than religious beliefs. Indeed, Muslims are free to
worship and form cultural organizations in each of these
countries. Islam is recognized as an established, organized
religion, thus enabling it to claim certain tax exemptions and
receive some subsidies from the state.
The most persistent and controversial religious issue
facing Muslims in Western Europe is the question of head
scarves and whether girls should be permitted to wear them in
public schools. The question has caused considerable debate,
some of it quite charged with overtones of intolerance, but
civil society is well-established in these countries and many
organizations have defended the rights of Muslims. If some
jurisdictions remain opposed to students wearing religious
clothing, others are becoming more accepting of the practice.
Our view is that the international covenants are quite
clear. Freedom of religion includes the right to manifest
religious belief; surely democracies can find the flexibility
to tolerate such an expression of piety as the religious head
Let me conclude where I began, Mr. Chairman. We share a
great deal in common with our allies and friends in Europe,
including common religious traditions. Together, we have done
much to make the world a safer, more human place, a place where
human rights, like democracy, might take root and nourish. We
offer these thoughts about religious freedom to our friends out
of a sense of shared responsibility for what we have done and
what we might do together. We will continue to discuss these
matters with them. Our plea is that they consider our argument
that freedom of religion, while sometimes tragically exploited
by those who would manipulate fate for their own end, is
inherently good because it supports the dignity of the human
person as well as democracy itself.
Thank you again, Mr. Chairman, for your leadership and that
of this Committee on the matter of promoting religious freedom
abroad; and I would be happy to take any or all of your
[The prepared statement of Mr. Seiple appears in the
Chairman Gilman. Thank you, Ambassador Seiple. We thank you
for your work in religious freedom and we know it is a fairly
new initiative for our government, but we appreciate what you
have done to date with regard to these issues.
Ambassador Seiple, is it in contravention of
internationally recognized human rights standards for any state
to provide to some religions financial benefits, for example,
and the right to sue or the right to give religious instruction
in public schools and not to provide those rights to other
religions? Should the government tax the receipts of some
churches or temples or whatever, synagogues, and not others in
a country where government permits or encourages discrimination
in employment based on religion? Can that be said to be
respecting freedom of religion and practice?
Mr. Seiple. Well, this is discrimination. I think the
international covenants are--again, all four of these countries
should be familiar; they are signatories to them, they are
members of the global community--as it relates to these
documents, very, very clear that you do not discriminate on the
basis of thought, conscience and belief.
That is fairly broad; it was intended to be broad. So
anytime that you have a minority faith, minority thought, a
minority belief that is exposed to these kinds of abuses, it is
against the covenants and the international instruments that
they have already signed. These instruments, by and large, have
been put in place so that governments would protect minority
faiths, and ultimately, a government is determined in terms of
its human rights records by how it treats its minority faiths.
So all of this is very much tied to these international
Chairman Gilman. Ambassador Seiple, does the administration
believe that Windows 2000 is being boycotted in Germany because
of Mr. Jensen's religion, and what, if anything, can we or are
we doing about that, and what are we doing proactively about
these sect filters as they relate to employment in Germany and
does the administration work actively to counter French or
German antisect activists when they appear in countries in
Mr. Seiple. The Jensen case, we do follow--have been
following. We feel it is outrageous. We feel it is far-fetched.
It is the ultimate in paranoia, but it is a good example of the
excesses, of the overreach, of what happens when these things
are allowed to happen under the impunity offered by a
government that has not come down hard on the right side of
Yes, we follow this; yes, we have spoken here and abroad
with the Germans about the sect filters and the potential, the
obvious potential--not only the potential, the reality for
discrimination against a religion because of it; and we will
continue to do that.
Chairman Gilman. Thank you, Ambassador. Ambassador, what
will our reaction be if the French adopt a law which would
allow easy dissolution of sects and which criminalizes ``mental
Mr. Seiple. If I understand your question, the easy
dissolution of sects by the French, the problem we have had
from the beginning is, this rather large, indiscriminate list
of 173 different organizations. They had been put on that list
because of a Commission report that was commissioned by the
government. No one knows how they got on that list. No one
knows the criteria or the definitions that were used to be
placed on that list, and then the Commission after filing its
report is put out of business and there is no way to get off
So we have this huge list floating out there with the
potential for discrimination, and some of the acts that many of
you have already mentioned--individual discrimination against
jobs, of threats, harassments, all kinds of things--we have met
with a number of the people who are on this list, talked to
them, continue to meet with them and continue to guide them as
to what might happen. We have also spent a great deal of time
with the French asking the French to meet with them and not let
this thing simply hang out there.
There is some good news to report on the part of the
French. Cooler heads seemed to be starting to prevail and at
the various senior levels of government we see a different
attitude toward this; and hopefully, this attitude of
intolerance that has been fostered in times past will begin to
be ameliorated, we will have a different kind of resolution to
this particular issue.
Chairman Gilman. Thank you, Ambassador Seiple.
Mr. Gejdenson. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let me ask you,
one, what is the impact of the European Union? Are there
attempts by the European Union to set up a standardized
procedure to deal with these kinds of issues?
Mr. Seiple. Well, it is a place for them to go and take
issues. It is a place for any member of the Union to bring them
up. Like all of these cases, we need specifics and we need to
put the specifics through a specific process in order to find
out if the process is going to deliver the right answers to
people who are suffering for their faith; and I would say that
is also the case where the European----
Mr. Gejdenson. They haven't begun to do it.
Mr. Seiple. It has not been the player that the OSCE folks
Mr. Gejdenson. If I was sitting in Europe--and I can look
back and argue that here in the United States, I can't remember
the year, but it wasn't until the Scientologists won in court
in 1993 that we gave them the ``normal status,'' I guess you
One, how do we view their situation as different than ours
in the sense that, you know, we obviously have our tax court
that creates hurdles for people who join together--some are
accepted as religious, some aren't--and how do we then look at
the Europeans and say, well, you have got a process, but we
don't like it? What is the difference there?
Mr. Seiple. Well, they have a process. They have a very
mature juridical process, judicial process. The fact is, they
haven't put their money where their mouth is. These are issues
that have been floating around for years, and they haven't been
taken to court and decided in court, and our feeling has been
either put up or shut up. If you believe this is wrong or if
you believe a particular sect is harmful to the government or
harmful to the health, or is brainwashing people or is a
traitor to democracy, whatever the thing is that is being
floated out there, take it to court and decide it. You have got
the maturity of the court system to do that.
But the fact is that none of them, none of these issues go
that far, and so they continue to be innuendos.
Mr. Gejdenson. Part of what I have seen in the past are
pamphlets by, I think, one of the conservative political
parties that were clearly reminiscent of the depiction of
Jewish people or Jewish beliefs by the Nazis; but it wasn't the
government. And so, you know, how do we--one, what is the
I know in this country we generally get a very clear
statement that government officials and the government finds
offensive the actions of the Nazi party or the Ku Klux Klan. I
think generally there is a revulsion officially and
individually by legislative members.
What has the German Government done in response to those
pamphlets? I think you are familiar with them, with the ``fly
swatter'' and what have you, you know, killing Scientologists.
What has been the government's official response to the
political party that has issued those pamphlets?
Mr. Seiple. As far as I know, it is not enough--hasn't done
Mr. Gejdenson. Has it done anything?
Mr. Seiple. Normally what happens to get this thing to a
higher level and, normally, to a level of some sanity is that
it comes from within the state; it comes from the people. It
has to happen from within.
At the same time, we bring all of this to the attention of
our interlocutors on the German side and say, these are things
that are sticking out there. You have a very highly developed
judicial system. The rest of Europe looks to you, Germany, in
the implementation of law; and if you cannot abide by the
international covenants that you have already signed up to,
this sends absolutely the wrong signal.
Mr. Gejdenson. Has the German Government done anything in
response to these pamphlets that are not issued by governmental
organizations? Do they take any actions either rhetorically or
legally against them? Is there a legal course they could take?
Mr. Seiple. Well, they generally push them down to the
Mr. Gejdenson. And what do the states do?
Mr. Seiple. That depends on the state. There are some
States like Hamburg, Berlin, Bavaria, that are very anti-
Scientology, and you can pretty much guess what is going to
happen there. So this goes back and forth. It is a little bit
of legislative buck-passing.
We don't feel good about it. We speak out against it. We
have been forceful again with our interlocutors on all of these
issues, but ultimately I think the society in Germany is going
to have to, as they have in other parts of Europe, rise up and
make these same statements.
Mr. Gejdenson. What does the national government do if
there are anti-Semitic or anti-Muslim activities, activities
against religions that they recognize? Does the national
government take action? Does that also go to the state
Mr. Seiple. Well, I would think--I don't know the specific
answer to that, but I would imagine there would be such a
public outcry that both national and state governments would
have to respond.
Mr. Gejdenson. Thank you.
Chairman Gilman. Thank you, Mr. Gejdenson.
Mr. Salmon. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Ambassador Seiple, wonderful to have you here today. I just
have a couple of questions, and the first one is, I have been
working on this for the last 5 years that I have been in
Congress, and I know that there had been some activity before
that and the talk doesn't seem to be working. In fact, it is
not getting better; it is getting worse, and it is expanding to
When we started working on this several years ago, it
seemed isolated, seemed more isolated in maybe Germany and
Austria, but it seems that some of the other countries are
being emboldened by a lack of standing up to this; and I am
wondering, is there any other recourse that we as a nation can
take? For instance, in the Jensen example that Mr. Gejdenson
brought up, or I believe it was the Chairman, brought up, that
seems to me to be a violation of our trade agreements when
American businesses are adversely impacted by these countries.
Is that not something that can be brought before the WTO,
and should it be, and who has the responsibility to do that?
And second, I know when we have had human rights concerns
with other countries, we have brought up resolutions at the
United Nations, or at some of the U.N. Committees, we have
brought up resolutions. Have we considered doing that, bringing
up a U.N. Resolution? And I say this because it appears that
what we are doing is not working.
What more can we do and do you have any recommendations for
the Congress? Is there something that we can do since it
appears that the problem isn't getting better, it is getting
Mr. Seiple. Well, there are a number of questions in your
comments. This may be the darkness before the dawn as well. We
see some progress in France. We were very concerned that this
had been personalized in such a way that all dialogue was going
to be lost on this subject. Countries claim their sovereignty
on these issues and, of course, an American trying to tell a
Frenchman sometimes does not go over, as good as we think our
intentions have been.
But there has been progress. What we are talking about here
are the tactics, what do you do. I think there are two points
of discernment on truth. One is, what is actually going on in
France, Germany, Belgium and Austria? Listening to your opening
comments, all of you, I think we are right on board with all of
that. Yes, we agree, these are the issues as they have been
spelled out. Now, what do we do about them?
They are our allies. Do we get a lot more done by hitting
them over the head publicly, ranting and raving or whatever? Do
we do a better job talking softly and sustain that conversation
over a long period of time?
We have certainly had these discussions with the OSCE. We
have been very, very bold. The Helsinki folks have been part of
that, you know, naming names, pointing fingers, everything has
been right out there. Again, resistance, step back, put their
feet in the ground.
You mentioned the trade issues. The Title VII report that
comes out from the U.S. Trade Representative mandated on a
yearly basis, as of last year, May 1999, started to mention the
problems with sect filters and the potential for problems; and
that is a direction we may have to go at some point if the case
exists on the procurement side that discrimination has taken
place on the basis of religion.
So these are complicated issues. I can only assure that we
are as passionate about these things as you are and are
constantly hammering these things home. Many times, we do it
much more quietly than people would like, and I think at that
point, folks do have to judge whether it is helping, it is
good, it is time for a tactical change.
This is a group that flew with us in Kosovo. They flew with
us in Kosovo on a human rights issue, a moral imperative. We
weren't fighting that war together to gain oil or to get land
or anything else. It was a moral imperative. They understand
that; they should understand this. And we try to take those
kinds of principles and develop our arguments from them.
Again, I am more optimistic about this because of the
attention it is getting because of the attention of a hearing
like this. I think things are beginning to move our way.
Muslims in France, for example, have an easier time. Some
of the Scientology questions in France are being quietly
adjudicated and in favor of Scientology. These are good markers
to look at. But we will continue to monitor and continue to
pursue, and where we have to raise our voice, we have not been
accused of being shy.
Chairman Gilman. Thank you very much.
Mr. Manzullo. Thank you very much, Mr. Ambassador. I
appreciate your coming here.
I think the United States is too timid. This doesn't make
sense. There is an official document from the German Government
saying that they are going to discriminate against people based
upon the fact that they belong to the Scientology Church. We
seem to be splitting hairs here on whether or not the Germans
are saying this is, in fact, a government or it is a type of
There has been absolutely no proof that this ``business
practice,'' to use their words, is hurting or endangering any
trade issues. I think for the U.S. Government to waste time on
whether or not this is a religious issue or simply another
nontariff barrier put up by the Germans is a waste of time, and
I would suggest that what we do is immediately file for a
panel, have this thing adjudicated in the WTO. That takes a
long enough time.
I have got a document here that we were just furnished from
the State Department on the background for--the title,
``Background from 2000 Title VII Report.'' The last sentence
says, ``Commerce will seek to resolve the issue through
bilateral contacts with senior German trade officials,'' etc.
Well, excuse me, but we have the tools, we have the WTO;
and I think there should be a world fleshing of this issue. I
think the Germans should be held to account in the strongest
terms possible, that we should use the strongest possible
measures of the United States now before more injury is done to
our business interests and to Mr. Jensen's company. I think
that is the only way the Germans are going to understand this
Sure, they flew with us in Kosovo. That is really
important. We also fought to liberate Kuwait, and they have
turned their backs on us and they are jacking up the price of
gasoline; that is how they say thank you to the United States.
And I think the only way that this Nation can stand as a beacon
for religious freedom is to insist in the strongest terms
possible, through a WTO panel, to get this thing going, get the
gears moving, because I am sure we would win it on that basis,
as opposed to going along on some bilateral context.
Mr. Seiple. Well, I would be happy to take that
recommendation back and give it to the appropriate people to
follow through on. The fact is, we yet do not have a specific
case under this Title VII report, and when we get a specific
case, then it can be pursued.
Mr. Manzullo. We have a written policy.
Mr. Seiple. But you don't have a specific case to put
against the policy.
My point is only this: I think it is premature to call them
timid when they haven't been able to apply what is now in the
report. When a specific case comes, then if we sit on the
sidelines or do less than our duty, then I think it would be
fair to say we haven't used the power that is at our disposal.
Mr. Manzullo. So Mr. Jensen, in his testimony, can state
that his company has lost any percentage of market share of one
contract with the Germans, then what you are saying is that
that would be a sufficient threshold showing of damage to bring
a panel under the WTO?
Mr. Seiple. I don't think I said that, but I would like to
take your suggestion on the WTO and put it against this
particular incident which has not yet been formulated into a
case on the Federal level that is noted under our Title VII
U.S. trade agreements.
Mr. Manzullo. Whenever the Scientologists have brought
actions in Germany, the courts there don't have the
precedential power that we have in our country so they get
thwarted in terms of whether or not the court system can
protect them. But my understanding also is that the officially
recognized religions, the German Government exacts the 8
percent tithe from the people who belong to the organized
religions. They run the money through the government, and then
the government doles that back out to the individual churches.
Mr. Seiple. That's right.
Mr. Manzullo. That being the case, this appears to be the
fact that perhaps they are concerned about the fact that people
who would be attending the Scientology philosophy would drop
out of belonging to one of these officially organized churches,
just making this an internal revenue issue for Germany. That,
in turn, I think could be used to show there's still another
NTB, nontariff barrier, that they are using to exclude American
We need to expose this big time and put ultimate pressure
on Germany to get them to back off, to get them to rescind that
ridiculous contract on government procurement. I am going to
send a letter to the German ambassador to do that.
Whenever I meet with the members of the EU--this might even
be a violation of the EU agreement itself among the member
countries, but we need to explore on the heaviest basis
everything to nip this type of religious persecution in the bud
now, before people are really hurt.
Mr. Seiple. I have no disagreement with that.
Mr. Manzullo. I appreciate your coming here. Thank you.
Chairman Gilman. Thank you, Mr. Manzullo.
Ms. Lee. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Let me just ask you very quickly a question with regard to
our foreign policy and the relationship between religious
discrimination and treatment of minorities and government
policies such as we have toward a country which we feel, or we
believe, is engaged in religious repression, such as Cuba. When
do you think that should kick in, if it should kick in, in
terms of sanctions and embargo? When should the mistreatment of
religious minorities be the basis for us looking at a country
to sanction or to embargo, such as we have, like I said, for 40
years against Cuba?
Mr. Seiple. I am in agreement with many of the comments
that have just been made in terms of when we kick in on the
discrimination of minority faiths. I think as soon as we hear
it for the first time, as soon as it is intimated, as soon as
there is any sense that we have a situation that could go
further south, so to speak, we have got to yell loud and long.
I think we have learned this from our Jewish colleagues in
terms of anti-Semitic remarks that are made and examples of
that throughout the world.
To sit back and to wait, or to assume someone else is going
to take it up for you--we are the strongest nation in the
world, we are the last remaining superpower. And we now have
legislation to the point of sanctions; they are very specific
sanctions that are pointed out in the 1998 International
Religious Freedom Act. And that is the guideline. It is a high
bar; it is a very high bar. We are not talking about that bar
relative to these four countries.
I think it is very fair to talk about the various avenues
that we have, either from jawboning, the demarching, the role
of diplomacy, to things like the WTO as was just mentioned.
I am a Marine. I believe, when in doubt, you attack
simultaneously on all fronts. I think that, yes, you pull out
the stops and you make sure that this kind of religious
discrimination that we have historical evidence for, where it
has started in places in times past with all kinds of really
terrible things taking place because no one stood up at the
Ms. Lee. But then the high bar, when should the high bar
Mr. Seiple. Well the high bar in the International
Religious Freedom Act is when a country either engages in or
tolerates specific language, engages in or tolerates in an
ongoing systematic and egregious way. So there has to be
intentionality, there has to be pattern, and there has to be
egregious behavior which gets further defined under the heading
It is very high. It is kidnappings, it is rape, it is
general mayhem. It is long-term imprisonments and tortures
Again, we don't have that situation here, so this is not
the sanction, this is not the bar that we would use to go after
and make our point and put teeth into it with the Germans or
Ms. Lee. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Ms. Lee. Thank you, Ms. Lee.
Mr. Smith. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to welcome
Ambassador Seiple and commend him on the extraordinarily good
job he is doing on behalf of religious freedom and speaking
out, as he has, and traveling as extensively as he has been. He
and his staff are doing an extraordinarily good job, and I want
to recognize that, and thank you for that great work.
Mr. Ambassador, you probably saw, or may have seen on
today's wire, the Agence France Presse reports that the law
committee of the French parliament is considering the bill
sponsored by the Socialist Party that would create a new crime
of what they call mental manipulation and establish civil and
criminal penalties for activities by religious or philosophical
groups that the government officials deem to be unacceptable.
As you know, this is the latest French parliamentary action
to threaten religious liberty of French citizens, and our
commission, in its ongoing dialogue with the French, are urging
that they reject this legislation and you might want to comment
on that and other developments as you have in your written
testimony as well with regards to France.
I also again want to highlight for the record the case
which I believe illustrates our concern, the Grace Evangelical
church in Nimes which is affiliated with the Southern Baptists
was listed by the French parliament as a dangerous group in
1997. Since then they have experienced continued harassment and
discrimination such as the church being refused commercial bank
loans, members losing their jobs and cars being torched in the
parking lot of the church. Clearly the French parliaments
listing of a church in Nimes and the continuation of the
policies of intolerance have a negative effect on religious
liberty in France and similar stories as you pointed out in
your testimony can be told as we have heard in ongoing hearings
in our Helsinki Commission, can be told about other Western
I want to point out that there is, and we have been you
know, I talked to the Ambassadors and visiting delegations
frequently from Western European countries, Eastern European
countries and central European countries, but further east
where the rule of law is not that well established, they
continually cite the examples of place countries like Austria
as justification for their laws. Russia, Uzbekistan, Romania,
Ukraine and Belarus have restrictive laws and I was wondering
if you might tell the Committee if there's a model law in any
of those countries, any of the countries of Europe that is
positive because again I think the zeitgeist, the move is
toward a tightening rather than a relaxation toward religious
I plan on bringing it up and our delegation will bring it
up at the OSCE parliamentary assembly in Bucharest in July. We
plan on being very vigorous in that, but is there any example
of countries where rather than saying look at Austria because I
can't tell you how many times I have heard that, I am sure you
have heard that as well, we are just following in Austria's
footsteps or France's. Is there a country that is a model that
they might look at? And of course, the United States shouldn't
be exempt from your answer.
Mr. Seiple. Yeah. Well, we are all working on this and we
all have laws and maybe even enough laws on the books, not only
our own laws but the international covenants that we have
The question is not so much the laws. It is how they are
being implemented. We have the same laws in many respects in
Sweden as we have in Germany. The Swedes have done it
differently. At point of implementation they have taken a
gentler, kinder route that also corresponds to what they have
signed up for on the international side, and I think that is
what we have to call them to account for.
Inherent in the international instruments is the concept of
mutual accountability. That is while I feel emboldened to go
into Paris and say you have got this wrong and by the way if
you want to come to the states and pick on us that is OK too,
but that is what it means to be a part of the international
community as it relates to the human rights and you are
absolutely right on the examples. When something like this goes
wrong in an established democracy, especially democracies that
take great pride in their history of tolerance, we have a
number of the rogue States or semi rogue States point to that
and say you know, they do it, why don't we do it, you have one
relationship there, another relationship here. Inhuman rights,
inconsistency is the Achilles heel, and if we are not fair and
right about all of these countries in our approach to them as
it relates to human rights, we will get into trouble.
The new French law or the new French proposal I should say
at the outset that this kind of legislation has floundered in
the past. Obviously we hope that this flounders as well. We
just heard about it yesterday. We talked about it in the state
Department yesterday. We are on this thing. The down side
potential could be nasty. We are optimistic. We think that this
may only be proposed and not see the ultimate light of day.
In terms of pastor Demeo and the work that he does down in
Nimes we have been extremely close to him as you have been. I
have met with he and his wife on a number of occasions. They
are coming at the end of this month. We will meet again. He has
been a great person to converse with in terms of the specifics
because he is at the end of the food chain. He's on the sect
list, never should have been there. So he is a good example for
us to use.
What we would like just as a starting point would be for
the French Government officials who are most interested in this
battle against sects to sit down with pastor Demeo and tell him
why he is on this list. I think that would bring a lot of these
things to a head. To date unfortunately the French have not
Mr. Smith. Mr. Chairman, at one of our hearings, we had
Willy Fautre, the Director of Human Rights Without Frontiers,
from Belgium, and he went into great explanation of the impact
of freemasonry, European freemasonry on this movement toward--
kind of startled me, because I had not done all that much
research about what Freemasons are doing in Europe, but he
talked about many of their people being behind some of these
What is your take on that? Do you have any information on
Mr. Seiple. I would not venture that at all. It might be
and may not be, but it would be a very unprofessional to
suggest that if I don't have the information.
These are mature governments. They push back, whether it is
the Freemasons or some other interest group, they can push back
if they want.
I do think, and I have said this before, I do think that
there is a change in climate in France, and I do think, given
their history and their proud history of tolerance and the
growing understanding, that they are into something that
doesn't portray them in their best light to the rest of the
world and to Frenchmen. I think we are going to see changes; I
think we have started to see changes. Again, that doesn't stop
us from monitoring, and this potential for new legislation
makes that point.
Mr. Smith. Again, getting to what may be sources, if you or
your staff could at least look into that to see if there's any
validity, that would be helpful to be part of the record.
Mr. Seiple. We would be happy to.
Mr. Smith. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Gilman. Mr. Ambassador, we thank you for being
here but before you go, I know one of our Members has an
additional question. I am going to ask Dr. Cooksey to preside.
I have to attend another meeting for a few minutes, and I will
Ms. Lee. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Let me just ask the Ambassador a general question, and I
know we are concentrating today and focusing on the treatment
of religious minorities in Western Europe, but I am just
curious in terms of your knowledge with regard to any debate or
concerns over the treatment of ethnic minorities in Western
I lived in Great Britain for a couple of years in the
1960's, and being an ethnic minority during that period was
quite challenging, to say the least. I haven't been following
this issue very closely, and since you are here and we are
dealing with very important issue in terms of religious
minorities, I am just wondering, as you do your work and as you
travel, how things are going; or is there concern or debate at
this point in Western Europe with regard to ethnic minorities?
Mr. Seiple. I have been in many of the capitals on this
issue and talked with the NGO's, the human rights, faith-based
communities. I have not heard--this is not to say it doesn't
exist, but I have not heard a concern in this regard. Whether
that is good news or simply people are talking about other
things I don't know. We would be happy to look into it and get
back to you on it.
Ms. Lee. Thank you very much.
Mr. Seiple. I think it is an appropriate question, but we
have not run into that in Western Europe as it relates to my
portfolio and my position.
Ms. Lee. I would like to get some more information on it if
you have it. Thank you very much.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Cooksey [presiding]. The gentleman from Colorado, Mr.
Tancredo, has a question.
Mr. Tancredo. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Just briefly, Ambassador Seiple, I am wondering as I sit
here and listen to your discussion and your analysis, how we
should go about trying to identify those behaviors on the part
of governments, that we deem to be inappropriate as they relate
to these particular religious entities within their countries.
And it is apparent that it is quite difficult, because we are
continually addressing them on an individual basis and we seem
not to have a way of establishing some overall framework in
order to analyze actions of each government. Therefore, we
can't really do anything except go to each one and say, we
don't like it when you do this.
But I am wondering if it would not be in our best interest,
it would not satisfy our mutual goal here, to establish as the
prime criterion for our intervention, something that
establishes a definition for us to use that is: governments
should react only to actions and not to thought--react to
actions, not to thought.
And if that is unacceptable, certainly you would elaborate,
I am sure, broadly upon that; but if that basic understanding
is a mutual understanding here, what do you think the
administration should do to sort of, you know, implement that
Mr. Seiple. Well, I think if we reacted to actions, not the
thought, and we demanded actions--certain actions, not
thought--we would certainly eliminate a lot of paranoia around
these issues. We would get into a much more real discussion.
We do have frameworks in which to look at this. We have the
framework of the legislation. We have the framework of our
office. We have the framework of the embassy system where there
is ongoing daily discussion of these issues, even as we connect
maybe on a less frequent basis. We have got the report, which
is the high court of public opinion because you folks have
agreed to print it. It is not only on the Web site, but it is
in hard copy, and these are countries that are portrayed in
here by region and so you can read the problems that we----
Mr. Tancredo. And I have--and I don't mean to interrupt
except to say that I certainly understand the efforts that are
ongoing to deal with the specific problems that are identified
in each country. But it just seems to me that that is a very
laborious process that could be, to some extent, alleviated by
a general definition that we could get everybody to sign onto,
that isn't there in the legislation. And the legislation, at
least that I have seen and that you reference, talks about this
issue in a way as to still leave it, I think, open to some
degree of subjectivity; and I just wonder whether or not we can
come up with some language to implement through the legislation
and through EU agreements that would eliminate the
subjectivity, and that is on actions, not thought.
Mr. Seiple. I think the quick answer to eliminate
subjectivity may not happen in my lifetime.
We do have lots of words written. There is a series of
articles, article 18s, in the universal declaration, the ICCPR
and things that essentially came out of Europe over the last 50
years. They still have to be interpreted.
The issue of national sovereignty as it relates to human
rights always has to get interpreted, especially on some of
those that can be most prickly on these issues. I am not sure
how you shortcut that without an ongoing process which exists
at many, many levels.
I am glad that our legislation was cast in the framework of
the international covenants. This is not a heavy-handed
American approach. It is an American feeling, a strong feeling
that we need to put our considerable shoulder to the wheel of
international instruments that are already out there.
But the OSCE does a really fine job. There are formats and
forums and conferences and seminars to advance this discussion.
At the same time, we have to use the embassy system. I
mean, it is just too good an infrastructure to bypass when we
have people who know these issues, know the country, the host
country, and can speak on a daily basis about them. And then in
terms of the finitude of resources, I think we have to use all
of them that are at our disposal and come to bear.
Having said that, I don't see us creating dramatic changes,
wholesale changes. I mean, we wrote a good law. If we sit back
and think that the rest of the 194 countries are waiting for
this law to pass so they could jump in line, it ain't going to
happen. We are going to be taking baby steps, incremental
steps, with lots of countries, and it is going to take a long
time. It is going to take a lot of perseverance.
These issues are not going to go away fast whether it is
our ally or our worst enemy. Our commitment is to continue to
pursue on all these levels simultaneously, inasmuch as we have
resources to do, a conclusion that will match thought and
activity, will match words and what they do, and people will
begin to see this is a good thing, this is in their best
I can't believe for a second that these four democracies in
Western Europe enjoy being on the short end of the discussion,
but we have a better philosophical rationale for what we are
saying than for them to answer. It must be hard for them to
make this case. I can only imagine that they are looking for
ways that they can change over time without the sense that the
Americans jammed it down their throats.
Mr. Tancredo. Thank you, Ambassador. I appreciate it.
Mr. Cooksey. Thank you, Mr. Ambassador. I want to thank you
for appearing before this panel. I was looking at your resume.
You have a very impressive resume and I see that you were a
warrior and a fighter pilot and our careers overlapped at the
Yours was a lot more illustrious than mine was. I was in
the Air Force. I personally feel that warriors make the best
peacemakers, and you have obviously been a leader in theology
at the seminary, and that, too, I think makes you a great
witness. I appreciate your comments; I appreciate your being
here. The Committee appreciates your being here, and you will
be excused and we will have the next panel seated. Thank you.
I will call on the witnesses in the following order: Dr.
Gunn, the Reverend L'Heureux, Mr. Brumley, Dr. Hunt, Mr.
Jensen, Ms. Bell.
Mr. Gejdenson. Mr. Chairman, I think Ms. Bell is unaware
that there is a seat for her at the table.
Mr. Cooksey. On our next panel, the first witness is Mr.
Jeremy Gunn. Mr. Gunn has looked at issues of religious liberty
from the perspectives of the U.S. Institute of Peace and the
U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. He has
published widely on this subject.
We are happy he was recommended to us by the Committee
minority. So, Dr. Gunn.
STATEMENT OF T. JEREMY GUNN, J.D., Ph.D., GUEST SCHOLAR, U.S.
INSTITUTE OF PEACE
Mr. Gunn. It is an honor to be here to provide testimony
During World War II, Felix Chevrier arrived in the small
French town of Chabannes for the purpose of renovating an
abandoned chateau to house and school Jewish refugee children
from Eastern Europe.
While Monsieur Chevrier and the good people of Chabannes
risked their lives to save the refugee children, the French
Vichy Government sent police into the villages of France to
arrest Jews. By October 1940, the Vichy Government issued a law
defining Jews and prohibiting them from holding certain types
of employment, including positions in government, law, the
police, the army, the press and teaching. The law subsequently
expanded to prohibit Jews from engaging in most forms of
Jews were condemned as a group simply because they belonged
to the group. Such is the peculiar logic of prejudice. It does
not require individual culpability; it requires only the
accusation that a person is a member of the condemned class.
The Vichy Government ultimately was responsible for
arresting, transporting and delivering to the Nazis tens of
thousands of European Jews. In stark contrast, all but four of
Monsieur Chevrier's 400 Jewish children survived the war.
One of Monsieur Chevrier's colleagues, Dr. Meiseles, had
previously treated children who were housed in French
concentration camps before he came to Chabannes. In 1942, while
the war raged, he wrote, to examine the children of Chabannes
after having examined the children in the concentration camps
is to know in our sad times the two faces of France. The true
one is here in Chabannes where Monsieur Chevrier is working
with such beautiful success to cure the misdeeds of the other.
Unfortunately, France, like all countries of the world--and
I include the United States--has two faces, the face of courage
and toleration and the face of discrimination.
There are several obstacles to the internationally
recognized freedom of religion and belief in France and other
Western European countries, but before criticizing them, it is
also important to recognize that these governments and people
in Western Europe generally believe in the rule of law and
human rights. Much to their credit, virtually all European
States have ratified the European Convention on Human Rights,
and the people of these countries have the option of taking
complaints to the European Court of Human Rights.
Although I will devote the bulk of my testimony to the
problem of new religious movements, this Committee should not
be under the impression that this is the only or necessarily
the most important of the obstacles to freedom of religion and
belief in Western Europe. Without attempting to rank the
problems in order, three other salient and interrelated
problems of freedom of religion and belief in Western Europe
are, first, the incorporation of Muslims into society; second,
laws that discriminate among religions; and third, societal
attitudes of intolerance, including anti-Semitism.
But the one issue that has received increasing notice
during the past few years in Europe is what may be called the
The most serious problem regarding the antisect movement in
Western Europe is in France. In 1998, the French Government
established an agency entitled, unsubtly, the Interministerial
Mission to Battle Against Sects. The mission is now headed by
the former French foreign minister, Monsieur Alain Vivien.
During the past few years, the French National Assembly also
has issued prejudicial reports on so-called ``sects'' that are
shockingly unscientific. Widely supported bills, currently
pending in the French legislature, including one that was
mentioned a few moments ago, call for increasingly severe
measures against sects.
I will describe two interrelated problems of the official
antisect movement in France to illustrate how a legitimate
concern for human welfare can be diverted toward the taking of
illogical and discriminatory action.
First, the language of prejudice uses pejorative terms as
an appeal to the listener's bias. The most commonly employed
term by the antisect movement is, of course, the term ``sect,''
which plays a role similar to that of racial epithets.
One common tactic by some in the antisect movement is to
accuse their ideological opponents of being members or fellow
travelers of the scorned groups. I personally witnessed one
telling example of this tactic by the president of the
interministerial mission, himself, against a member of an
official U.S. delegation in France.
In April 1999, a three-person delegation sponsored by the
U.S. Department of State Office of International Religious
Freedom went to France and other European countries. Shortly
before the meeting, we were advised that the president of this
new interministerial mission had declined our request to meet
with him. He did so on the grounds that one of the members of
our delegation was affiliated with the Church of Scientology.
Now, I am not a Scientologist and I knew that the other two
participants, Dr. David Little and Karen Lord, Council for
Religious Freedom at the congressional Helsinki Commission,
were not Scientologists.
The president later decided that he would, in fact, meet
with us, but as we were introduced to him, he remarked that he,
``already knew who Ms. Lord was and that he did not need to be
introduced to her.'' Later in the meeting, following a question
by Ms. Lord, the president said that he would not respond to
her, but would give a response to the head of the U.S.
delegation. Subsequently, Monsieur Vivien has repeated publicly
on several occasions that a member of this three-person
delegation was affiliated with the Church of Scientology.
Monsieur Vivien's assertion is, in a word, false. I am
certain that he cannot prove his assertion. I challenge him to
provide evidence to support it or to issue an apology to Ms.
Lord and the United States.
The most important issue, however, is not that Monsieur
Vivien made a false statement that was designed to discredit
Ms. Lord or the United States Efforts to promote religious
freedom. The important issue is that his manner of responding
to questions about religious discrimination exemplifies the
tactics of much of the antisect campaign, the use of
uninformed, provocative and false allegations for the purpose
of discrediting people and groups.
His ad hominem attack was not an aberration. It has
unfortunately become a standard rhetorical device to discredit
those who believe that the antisect movement is going too far.
I give some additional examples in my prepared testimony.
The language of prejudice also reveals itself in the use of
such terms as, ``infiltration'' to describe the real or
imagined employment of a ``sect member'' in a business or
government office. Whereas if Catholics or members of the
Reformed Church teach in school or work for Electricite de
France, they are called ``employees,'' but if they are members
of the groups under attack, they are called ``infiltrators.''
This is the use simply of pejorative language.
Second, there are illogical methods of prejudice that come
into play, and I would like to identify four now. One, the
methods of prejudice do not consult scholars familiar with
issues related to new religious movements, but rely instead on
antisect activists. By failing to consult scholars, the report,
particularly in France and Belgium, presents an ahistorical and
caricatured view of new religious movements.
Two, the reports in the antisect movement rely on
statements made by accusers and disgruntled former members, but
they refuse to accept the considerable evidence that most,
although not all, adherence of the new religious movements
generally report positive and beneficial experiences with the
groups. This was, in fact, the conclusion of both the Swedish
and the German Governments' investigations into new religious
In a telling repudiation of this methodology employed by
the antisect movement, a French court recently found Jacques
Guyard, president of the 1999 parliamentary investigation,
called ``The Finances of Sect,'' libel himself for defamation
against anthroposophy. As reported by the newspaper, Le Monde,
the court held that his parliamentary report and his statement
was not ``a serious investigation.'' Monsieur Guyard, for
making the statement about anthroposophists, was fined 20,000
francs and ordered to pay 90,000 francs in damages.
The French antisect movement typically refuses to engage in
dialogue with the groups they are attacking. This refusal to
engage in a discussion with the groups that are under attack is
an approach very different from that recommended by the Swedish
Government, for example, which strongly recommends dialogue
with groups rather than polarization of the issues. That is
also the recommendation made by the Organization of Security
and Cooperation in Europe.
Three, the principal documentary evidence in the French
reports are secret allegations contained in the files of the
Renseignements Generaux, the security division of the French
Four, the reports use examples of alleged misdeeds of some
people in some groups and then broadly condemn the entire
group, or even sects generally. The fallacy of this type of
analysis can be easily illustrated by reference to the recent
criminal conviction of Jacques Guyard himself. The spring has
not been kind to Monsieur Guyard, being sentenced to having
committed a criminal offense and defamation against religious
minorities. The same Monsieur Guyard who condemned in 1999 the
fraud committed by sects was ironically convicted by a French
court in May of this year for influence peddling and was
sentenced to 1 year in prison and fined 100,000 francs. If we
were to apply the same analysis to Monsieur Guyard that he
applies to the new religious movements, we would then need to
hold the entire----
Chairman Gilman [presiding]. Dr. Gunn, I would just like to
interrupt you. You are exceeding your time and I would hope you
could summarize your statement. Thank you.
Mr. Gunn. Yes, thank you. It would be the same as holding
the entire French interministerial mission responsible for the
actions of Monsieur Guyard.
I would like to make four short recommendations. First, the
Department of State should monitor much more closely and
vigorously antisect movements on both bilateral and
Second, based upon my experience working in the State
Department, I must also suggest that Congress take seriously
its responsibility for fully funding the State Department. From
my own observations, personnel in the State Department are
overworked and undersupported. There's a need for more time and
resources in the State Department.
Third, Congress could assist the Department by promoting
genuine international approaches to human rights.
Fourth, I believe that the religious community in the
United States can be much more helpful in supporting religious
freedom abroad. While all faiths in the United States can help,
those that are widely practiced and respected in Europe,
particularly Catholicism, Lutheranism, Orthodoxy and the
Reformed Church can play a very helpful role in promoting
I don't know how long the antisect movement is going to
continue in France. The Vichy Government continued in France
for 4 years, and I hope the life of the antisect movement does
not have much longer.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Gunn appears in the
Chairman Gilman. Thank you, Dr. Gunn.
Just one admonition to our panelists. Since time is running
and we want to hear from all of you and then we want to have a
dialogue with our Members, I am going to ask if you would try
to keep within the 5-minute rule that we have. Your full
statements have been made part of the record.
We will now proceed to our next panelist, The Reverend N.J.
``Skip'' L'Heureux. The Reverend L'Heureux is Executive
Director of the Queens, New York, Federation of Churches and
Moderator of the Religious Liberty Committee of the National
Council of Churches of Christ in the United States. He is a
Methodist pastor with wide experience in ecumenical work and
religious freedom questions.
We welcome your proceeding, Mr. L'Heureux.
STATEMENT OF THE REVEREND N.J. L'HEUREUX, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR,
QUEENS FEDERATION OF CHURCHES
Reverend L'Heureux. Mr. Chairman and distinguished Members
of the Committee, thank you for inviting me to testify today
about the worsening problem of religious intolerance in France,
and I will present here a short summary of my testimony.
It was 343 years ago on December 27, 1657, that residents
of Flushing, Queens, began a letter to then-Governor Peter
Stuyvesant by declaring ``You have been pleased to send up unto
us a certain prohibition or command that we should not receive
or entertain any of those people called Quakers because they
are supposed to be, by some, seducers of the people. For our
part, we cannot condemn them.''
The Flushing Remonstrance is the earliest declaration of
religious liberty on these shores, focused on securing that
liberty not just for self, but for individuals and groups other
than the ones making the declaration.
France is a signatory to international human rights laws
protecting religious freedom. Unfortunately, the French
Government policy is so far in violation of these tenets that
its officials have set up an office called the Interministerial
Mission to Fight Against Sects, commonly known as MILS. MILS
has drawn deep from the wells of hostility fueled by the
American anticult movement and by its long campaign of militia
vilification of new or religious religions.
In France, a 1996 parliamentary commission report
stigmatized some 173 religious movements with the pejorative
label of ``sect,'' including the Baptists, Mormons, Jehovah's
Witnesses and Seventh Day Adventists. We notice, as well, that
there is discrimination visited in France upon the Muslim
The U.S. State Department's Annual Report for Religious
Freedom, published last September, criticized this commission
report on the grounds ``It contributed to an atmosphere of
intolerance and bias against minority religions.''
Earlier this year, as has been noted, the Rapporteur of the
Parliamentary Commission was himself convicted by a Paris court
and denounced for research methods counted by the court as
``not serious.'' And yet the blacklist of this 173 movement
continues to circulate and is used to justify discrimination
against the groups.
In March, I was a member of an expert panel in a
nongovernmental hearing in Paris which drew more than 300
people from 38 minority religious movements to describe the
discrimination to which they had been subjected. I and the
other members of the panel were shocked at what we heard,
because it was evident that these individuals were being
targeted solely because of their religious beliefs.
I felt it necessary to bring the situation to the attention
of a wider audience and then sought to place a series of paid
advertisements in French newspapers in the form of Open Letters
to senior French officials. The Open Letters focused attention
on the violations of European and international human rights
standards caused by MILS, and they were, in turn, signed by
some 52 religious and human rights leaders, mostly American.
Four major national newspapers in France refused to publish
them. Only the national paper, France Soir, agreed to run them,
and on April 20 published our Open Letter to the President
American signatories of these ads included Lee Boothby, of
the International Commission for Human Conscience; Dr. Derek
Davis, Director of the J.M. Dawson Institute of Church-State
Relations at Baylor University; the board of the First church
of Christ, Scientist in Boston; Dr. Franklin H. Littell,
Professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Richard Stockton
College in New Jersey; Dr. David Little of the Harvard Divinity
School; Melissa Rogers, General Counsel of the Baptist Joint
Committee on Public Affairs; and representatives of many
Christian, Muslim and Jewish faith communities.
Such was the furor following publication of this Open
Letter that although France Soir had agreed to run the third
letter a week later, the paper not only reneged, but the chief
editor publicly stated that he had published this letter on
April 20 by mistake.
It is against this background that we come to a recent and
most disturbing development in France to date, the proposed
bill pending now before the National Assembly about which much
has been said. That bill is the subject of an Open Letter
published today in the International Herald Tribune, a letter
addressed to Prime Minister Lionel Jospin saying it is a
flagrant violation of fundamental human rights standards in
that it singles out and targets members of minority religions
even as a special category of citizens.
The bill's title proclaims its discriminatory intent, ``Law
Proposal Aimed at Reinforcing the Prevention and the Repression
of Groups With Sectarian Character.'' The proposed law is
essentially the product of the hysteria about minority faiths
brought about by MILS and its president, Alain Vivien.
Mr. Chairman, I would urge you and the Members of the
Committee to make the strongest possible representations to the
French Government that should this law pass, it will place in
question France's commitment to the Helsinki Accords. Such a
law would be a cancer on French democracy. Only by sending a
strong and unmistakable signal of Congress' intent to take firm
measures against violations of international human rights codes
will we be able to succeed in halting these reverses for
religious freedom in Europe.
I thank you very much for hearing my testimony, and I will
be happy in the dialogue to respond to your questions.
[The prepared statement of Reverend L'Heureux appears in
Chairman Gilman. Thank you very much, Reverend L'Heureux.
We appreciate your reference to the work of our New York
ancestors as well.
We will now move on to the next witness, Philip Brumley,
General Counsel of Jehovah's Witnesses. Mr. Brumley has
traveled all over the world in support of religious liberty.
We thank you, Mr. Brumley, for being here today, and you
may now proceed.
STATEMENT OF PHILIP BRUMLEY, ESQ., GENERAL COUNSEL, JEHOVAH'S
Mr. Brumley. Good morning, Chairman Gilman and Congressman
Gejdenson and to all of you on the House Committee on
Today happens to be a very special day. Most of you will
know that it is Flag Day. It is also a special day for all
lovers of religious freedom because it marks the 57th
anniversary of an historic Supreme Court decision, West
Virginia v. Barnette. In that case, the Supreme Court held that
it was unconstitutional to force children of Jehovah's
Witnesses to salute the flag. Most do not understand nor
necessarily agree with our position that while we owe respect
to the flag we may not salute it, but that decision stands as
irrefutable proof that this country does stand up and grant
religious freedom to all, including those of minority faiths.
One would expect that the situation would be similar in
Western Europe. Sadly, this is not the case, as has been
testified. Witness communities have been active in Western
Europe since 1890, over 100 years. There are approximately 1
million active Jehovah's Witnesses in Western Europe,
approximately 1,600,000 who also attend our services. During
World War II, hundreds of Jehovah's Witnesses paid the ultimate
price for not compromising their faith.
With this backdrop, it is surprising to see the treatment
Jehovah's Witnesses are receiving in Western Europe.
I begin with France because it is the epicenter of
religious intolerance of Jehovah's Witnesses. Two years ago
France imposed a 60 percent tax on all donations made to our
administrative center in France. They assert that we owe as
much as $50 million in unpaid taxes.
Here we see the level of sophistication of religious
intolerance. The French authorities will assert that Jehovah's
Witnesses are free to believe whatever we will, but their anti-
sect commission labeled us a dangerous religion and this had
the effect of declaring open season on Jehovah's Witnesses.
Let me give you one example of what happens now to
Jehovah's Witnesses in France. One of our ministers, Rene
Schneerberger, for decades has sent religious literature to
inmates in prisons throughout France. Recently those inmates
informed him they were no longer receiving the literature. When
he inquired as to the reason, he was given the following answer
by the Bapaume prison officials, ``Receipt of these magazines
has been suspended because of the sectarian nature of Jehovah's
Witnesses as recognized by the parliamentary commission.''
Regarding Belgium, let me inform you of the situation that
children of Jehovah's Witnesses routinely face in Belgium with
regard to religious intolerance. A teacher in the Ecole des
Pagodes issued a paper for class discussions and said this,
quoting, ``In Belgium there are 189 dangerous sects and 37 are
hard-core ones such as Jehovah's Witnesses.''
Now, how would you have felt if your children and their
faith were subjected to such scrutiny and intolerance in their
Some who are Jehovah's Witnesses in Belgium have lost
custody of their children just because they happen to be
Jehovah's Witnesses. In one case the judge states ``It
constitutes a grave danger for the children taking into account
the influence of the Jehovah-sect of which the mother seems to
be a member.'' Another judge was even more openly bigoted. He
said, ``Jehovah's Witnesses are not to be viewed as a religion
but as a movement of fanatics.''
What about Germany? As the fall of communism drew near, the
East German officials granted Jehovah's Witnesses full
religious status, a status superior to the mere not-for-profit
status we enjoy in Western Germany.
When unification took place, we moved to have complete
religious freedom throughout Germany like the other majority
religions. A trial court and an appellate court ruled that we
were entitled to this status--it is called corporation of
public law status--but the high administrative court ruled
against us. For the first time, it said that we lacked the
degree of loyalty necessary for any religion seeking
corporation of public law status. They said that we lacked this
loyalty because we are neutral in political matters. This case
is now pending before the German Constitutional Court and we
hope for a favorable victory there.
Once again, let me show you the effect on local Jehovah's
Witnesses. For decades, one couple had been used to care for
foster children. When the Local Youth Office of the German
Government was informed by an anti-cult chairman that the
couple happened to be Jehovah's Witnesses, they moved to have
the children removed from this couple. This led to a 2-year
court battle that the couple ultimately won, but the Local
Youth Office has now refused to assign any new children in
Next, let me summarize briefly the situation in Austria.
For decades, we were moving through the political and the legal
court systems to obtain the same religious status as other
religions in Austria, and Mr. Chairman, just as we were getting
to the point of obtaining this religious status, the national
legislature of Austria convened and passed a new law. The new
law for the first time imposes a 10-year waiting period for any
organization seeking full religious recognition. The law
applies to nobody but Jehovah's Witnesses. No one else is
seeking this status at present. It was clearly passed with us
Again, let me move to the individual level of what is
happening to Jehovah's Witnesses. One of our brothers was
applying for a job for which he was well qualified and for
which he was going to be accepted, but when they found out he
was one of the Jehovah's Witnesses, he received the following
letter ``We thank you for your application but we are sorry to
have to tell you that we do not employ persons belonging to any
kind of sect.''
To just summarize a final matter, Sweden is complicating
our operations there because of not recognizing the concept of
voluntary work on behalf of religious endeavors. Although
Sweden has a much better record than the other four countries I
just mentioned, it is hampering our volunteer work to build new
Kingdom Halls because those who would serve as volunteers to do
this have to pay a tax on their labors as though it is a
Well, clearly something is wrong in Western Europe. What is
the solution? Well, Jehovah's Witnesses turn to the scriptures
first, and Isaiah foretold this: ``In the wilderness justice
will certainly reside, and in the orchard righteousness will
dwell. . . . My people must dwell in a peaceful abiding place
and in residences of full confidence.''
Jehovah's Witnesses recognize that the complete fulfillment
of that lies ahead in the future, but in the meantime, we call
upon this Committee and all governments to recognize our God-
given right to religious freedom that currently Western Europe
extends only to majority faiths.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Brumley appears in the
Chairman Gilman. Thank you, Mr. Brumley.
Your reference to the Supreme Court's decision in Barnette,
which not only came on Flag Day, but came in the midst of war,
reminds us how strong the impulse is to provide for religious
freedom in our own Nation. After all, that is why many of our
ancestors first came here to begin with, to look for freedom of
We will now avail ourselves of the digital video conference
facilities of our Committee and the facilities of our American
embassy in Vienna to hear our next witness. We thank the public
affairs staff of our embassy in Vienna for their assistance in
We will now call upon in Vienna, Dr. Robert A. Hunt. Dr.
Hunt has, since 1997, been the pastor of the English-Speaking
United Methodist Church of Vienna. He is a Texan by birth and a
graduate of the University of Texas, Southern Methodist
University, and the University of Malaya, where he earned his
Ph.D. Dr. Hunt has served congregations in Texas, in Malaysia
and in Vienna and has worked in New York and in Singapore. He
is a specialist in Christian-Muslim relations.
We know how happy you are in your own ministry, Dr. Hunt.
Nevertheless we are grateful that you are willing to share your
concerns about the present environment in which you are working
Dr. Hunt, please proceed.
STATEMENT OF THE REVEREND ROBERT A. HUNT, PASTOR, ENGLISH
SPEAKING UNITED METHODIST CHURCH, VIENNA, AUSTRIA (Via video
Reverend Hunt. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I want to
thank the Committee, as well, for inviting me to give this
testimony and to share some of the experiences that I have had
According to a statement of the Austrian Information
Service, dated January 20, 1998, the laws which regulate the
legal status of religious belief communities, especially the
law of 1998, while making distinctions among them, in no way
infringe on the rights of individuals or groups to choose their
religion and practice it in public and in private.
I would like to suggest that the right of religious freedom
cannot, however, be separated from the issue of the legal
status of religious communities or official or unofficial bias
against particular religious communities and practices.
It is my experience that even though United Methodists----
Chairman Gilman. We pause for technical difficulties.
Dr. Hunt, we are having some problem. You seem to be
disconnected. We will try to come back to you as quickly as we
I am going to--in the interim, we are going to call on
Congressman James E. Rogan, a Representative in Congress from
California, who is here today to introduce the next witnesses;
and if we are able to get Dr. Hunt back on the line, we will
Mr. Rogan. Let me tell you, as a Member of Congress, being
interrupted goes with the turf, but I especially thank you for
calling this hearing and giving me the privilege to take a
moment to introduce two witnesses to this Committee who are
The first witness literally needs no introduction. I am
sure she is familiar to all of the Members of this Committee.
Catherine Bell is the star of the hit CBS show, JAG. On that
show she plays a military attorney. I teased her yesterday, I
said you have the best of both worlds, you get paid for
pretending you are an attorney but you don't have to go through
the disgrace in life of actually being one. So I want to thank
Catherine for coming out.
She is a member of the Church of Scientology. She lives
near me in Los Angeles, and in her presentation she will be
reading prepared testimony of another great actress, Anne
Archer, who could not be here today.
The second witness that I wanted to introduce is an old
friend of mine, he is also a constituent, Craig Jensen from
Glendale, California. Craig is the CEO of Executive Software.
His company produces key software that enables disk operating
systems to run more efficiently. It is a core component of most
computer software operating systems. His company has
contributed much to our national economic expansion in the last
couple of decades.
Currently Microsoft plans to include Craig's software in
their Windows 2000 operating system. However, the Microsoft
product launch, while heralded around the world, is being
severely disadvantaged in Western Europe and, in particular, in
the Federal Republic of Germany. The origins of this imposition
relate to the fact that Craig Jensen a member of the Church of
Mr. Chairman, this Committee as a long history of acting on
behalf of religious freedom. Its work has carried the torch of
liberty to many new lands. It is in this spirit that I thank
you for inviting Craig, Catherine and the other witnesses
before this Committee and for giving me the privilege of making
this brief introduction of both of them.
Chairman Gilman. Thank you, Congressman Rogan. We thank you
for being here with us.
We will now call upon Mr. Craig Jensen, the entrepreneur
who founded and is President and CEO of Executive Software.
STATEMENT OF CRAIG JENSEN, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, EXECUTIVE SOFTWARE
Mr. Jensen. Mr. Chairman and distinguished Members of the
Committee, thank you for giving me the opportunity to tell you
about an embargo of American products by the Government of
Germany. I will be presenting a brief summary of my views.
I am the CEO of Executive Software, a company I founded in
1981 in California. My company's products are in use in every
sector of the American economy, including right here on Capitol
Hill, and are sold extensively abroad as well.
I would like to point out that no other country on earth
can produce software of the quality and usefulness that
American software companies produce. In view of this, a foreign
embargo of American software products must be viewed as a
hostile act. Purchase of my products is restricted in Germany
by government edict. And now, the fact that Microsoft's new
Windows 2000 operating system includes a component developed by
my company is being used to justify a ban on the sale of
Windows 2000 in Germany.
Why? The official reason given is that my company is headed
by a member of the Church of Scientology. But what does my
religion have to do with selling software? Nothing. The German
Government makes no attempt to hide the fact that their embargo
is based on religious discrimination. In fact, the government
officials see nothing wrong with religious discrimination.
Simply put, I come here today to alert your attention to a
trade embargo justified on the grounds of government-mandated
religious discrimination. Let me give you the background.
In December, a German magazine article proposed a ban on
Windows 2000 on the grounds that I, as CEO of a Microsoft
supplier, am a Scientologist. The official German news agency,
DPA, sent out an international news story saying that my
involvement in Windows 2000 is ``of interest to the Catholic
Church, the other German states, the Office for the Protection
of the Constitution and German industry.'' A government
official from the Hamburg Ministry of the Interior fanned the
flames by boasting in the press that in Bavaria and Hamburg,
the government does not use services or products from companies
owned by Scientologists.
While such a blatantly discriminatory admission would be
condemned immediately in this country, in the climate of
intolerance created by the German Government, it is allowed to
That official heads an office called ``Working Group
Against Scientology,'' which created the so-called ``sect
filter'' which forbids employment or contractual relations with
individuals participating in the Church of Scientology. In the
end, the German Security Technology Office informed Microsoft
that they would not certify Windows 2000 for sale in Germany
because part of the program was produced by a company owned by
a Scientologist. Although the U.S. State Department has
repeatedly condemned the German Government's use of the sect
filters, the discrimination has not lessened. In fact, it has
Official German discrimination has broadened from
individuals to corporations and now to corporations who
suppliers employ or are owned by members of minority religions.
Official statements from the German Government have confirmed
that public bodies expressly ban purchases from companies owned
by or associated with Scientologists, effectively prohibiting
the purchase of U.S. products.
This year, for the first time, the U.S. Trade
Representative placed Germany on the watch list over its abuse
of Scientologists' rights. The inclusion of Germany in her
report shows that, in the view of the U.S. Government,
Germany's discriminatory practices are not only a blatant
violation of human rights, but a threat to American trade as
Mr. Chairman, I come to you today not just on my own
behalf, but on behalf of my friends, partners, and business
associates who are suffering at the hands of official German
bigots who can't stand the thought of anyone participating in a
sect or free church.
I also come before you on behalf of all members of the
Church of Scientology who are forbidden employment, political
party affiliation and even schooling for their children because
of their religious beliefs. I ask you to send a message to the
German Government that the Congress and the people of the
United States will not tolerate either human rights violations
of a religious nature or discrimination against American trade.
Perhaps the most effective action that you take at this
time is to give your full support to the resolutions on
Germany, H.R. 388 and S. 230, which call upon Congress and the
President to demand that Germany abide by international human
Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to appear
before this Committee, and I will be happy to respond to any
[The prepared statement of Mr. Jensen appears in the
Chairman Gilman. Thank you, Mr. Jensen.
We will now proceed with our final witness, Ms. Catherine
Bell, known for her television series of JAG. As a former
Marine Corps attorney, I am sure you don't hesitate to give us
straight testimony today. Thank you for being here.
STATEMENT OF CATHERINE BELL, ACTRESS
Ms. Bell. Thank you. Mr. Chairman, distinguished Members of
the Committee, thank you very much for holding today's hearing
and for the opportunity to testify.
In fact, I am here at the request of my friend and fellow-
actress, Anne Archer, whose professional commitments
unfortunately prevent her attendance at this hearing , to speak
on her behalf. With your permission, Mr. Chairman, I would like
to present the testimony she would have given had she been here
First, a word about my interest in this issue. Having been
born in London to an English father and a Persian mother, then
becoming an American citizen at a young age and spending most
of my life in the United States, I have learned that difference
is best celebrated, and never made a reason for division or
Therefore, when I first heard that government officials in
many were canceling the exhibitions and concerts of artist
friends of mine solely because of their religion, I was shocked
that such intolerance could be enacted by a Western government
which loudly proclaims its commitment to democracy.
Mrs. Archer has undertaken two fact-finding missions and
has been committed to combating religious discrimination
against members of minority religions in Germany for several
years. In addition to her fact-finding visits to Germany, she
has addressed large rallies for religious freedom and human
rights in Berlin, Frankfurt and Hamburg. In October 1998, she
raised the problem before the plenary session of the
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and she
has also taken up the issue with various members of the
Last October, she visited Congress again to welcome the
introduction of H.R. 388 and S. 230, regulations which now have
a combined total of more than 50 sponsors in the House and
Senate. The resolutions call upon the German Government to
comply with its obligations under international human rights
laws and to respect the rights of minority religions.
On behalf of Anne Archer, I would like to thank you, sir,
as Committee Chairman, as well as Congressmen Salmon and Payne
for introducing the resolution in the House, and Senator Enzi,
the principal sponsor in the Senate. Our thanks go also to the
many Members of this Committee who have cosponsored the
resolution. I trust that after today's hearing, those Members
who have not yet signed onto H.R. 388 will be motivated to do
Present in this room today are nearly two dozen German
citizens who have come here to witness the fact that an
official body would care enough to hear their personal
grievances and provide an open forum to air the facts about
governmental religious discrimination in Germany. I would like
to introduce some of them to you, and briefly recount their
personal stories of discrimination.
Mr. Carl Rohrig is a very talented graphic artists whose
work has been exhibited internationally and has appeared on the
covers of leading international magazines. He is here today
with his daughter, Marlene. Because of his religious beliefs,
Mr. Rohrig has been blacklisted and has had exhibits boycotted
or canceled. His bank accounts were closed without explanation
and his family threatened. He was compelled to send his family
abroad to rescue them from the discrimination and intolerance
they faced in Germany, and his children are now being schooled
in Denmark, not in their native country. In addition to the
disruption of Car's pursuit of happiness, he has suffered
economic damage totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars.
As a recent example: In January this year, Mr. Rohrig held
an exhibition of his work in Neuberg, Bavaria. The town's
cultural director learned that Mr. Rohrig is a Scientologist
and demanded that the gallery director cancel the exhibition.
When the director refused, the city government publicly called
for a boycott of Mr. Rohrig's exhibition, resulting in a
financial loss to him of more than $20,000 because several
clients canceled their purchases of his paintings and prints.
Mr. Hans Schorr, another Scientologist who is here today
with his family, worked for 20 years as a journalist, producing
highly regarded reports for Bavarian and national German
television on the central issues of the day. After his
religious affiliation became known, all work suddenly dried up.
In the end, he had no choice but to leave Germany, and he and
his family now live here in the United States.
Finally, I would like to introduce Ms. Antje Victore, who
in 1997 became the first German Scientologist to be granted
asylum by a U.S. Immigration court on the grounds that she
faced ruinous religious persecution if she had to return to
I understand that on behalf of all those experiencing
discrimination in Germany, the members of my religion who are
here today wish to present a petition to you, Mr. Chairman,
asking for the full support of your Committee behind H.R. 388.
In addition, Mr. Chick Corea, who had hoped to be here
today, but is prevented from attending by a physical
impairment, has requested that his written testimony and
evidence regarding German officials continuing denials of his
right to perform in Germany be included in the record.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Corea appears in the
Hearing these accounts of discrimination, you may well ask:
What remedies are available through the courts? Though the
German courts do act to some degree as guardians of the
constitution, Germany's want of antidiscrimination legislation
leaves them poorly armed to remedy a pattern and practice of
religious intolerance that has soaked into the bureaucratic
culture. By contrast, due to the efforts of Congress, we are
fortunate in the United States to enjoy strong
antidiscrimination laws. When Deutsche Bank in New York fired
an employee solely because of her membership in the Scientology
religion, she was able to obtain not only financial
compensation, but to extract an apology from the bank. In
Germany, no comparable remedy would have been possible against
In Germany schools today, children are taught, by order of
the government, that members of certain religions are evil. I
have seen some of the so-called teaching materials that are
used. They are highly offensive and calculated to breed
intolerance and hate. On a personal note, I receive a lot of
letters from people in Germany who watch JAG, the TV series in
which I play a U.S. Marine Corps attorney. I would hate to
think that due to reaching such hateful propaganda, they might
be made to think less of the program or of me.
Nor is discrimination in Germany a problem only for
Scientologists. Mormons, Charismatic Christians, Jehovah's
Witnesses, Orthodox Jews and others also suffer a climate of
religious intolerance in Germany. Officials of both state and
Federal Governments here continue to discriminate against
thousands of law-abiding members of minority religions, many of
them American in origin.
It is unfortunate that the German ambassador has chosen not
to appear today. It is my understanding, Mr. Chairman, that the
Ambassadors of Germany, France and Austria were all invited. I
further understand that the German Government also refused to
appear before the Commission for Security and Cooperation in
Europe when it held a hearing into religious intolerance in
September 1997. However, the Ambassador has not hesitated to
discuss his government's position on Scientology with members
of the press and with certain members of this Committee in
private. It is my view and that of Anne Archer that the
Ambassador's repeated refusal betrays the fact that there is
neither defense nor justification for his government's
Following the hearing on German official discrimination
conducted by the Helsinki Commission in September 1997, the
German Government said that it would deploy its foreign
intelligence agency on U.S. soil to inform Americans about my
religion. We have no way of knowing yet if this legally
impermissible plan was carried out, but we hope not. Our point
is that if German officials had a clean human rights record
vis-a-vis minority religions such as mine, they would not shy
away from the scrutiny of a public forum.
As I have looked deeper into these issues and have studied
the extent of the discrimination, I have become alarmed to
learn that intolerance has been carried across the border from
Germany into some other countries of Europe, notably, France.
French officials have stigmatized members of 173 religious
minorities, including the Baptists, as ``sects.'' The French
Government has set up a special unit to ``fight against''
minority faiths, headed by an individual with a long history of
intolerance who has described our precious First Amendment as
``crazy.'' His self-professed goal is to legislate which
religions a person may and may not believe.
Today's growing religious discrimination in Central Europe
as spawned several years ago in Germany by the Kohl
administration. Unfortunately, the government of Chancellor
Schroeder has taken no steps to reverse those divisive policies
and propagate religious freedom and pluralism. Forums such as
today's are essential to drive home that we will not only speak
out against these governmental abuses, but take firm action
against them. The resolutions in Congress--H.R. 388 and S.
230--deserve the full support of this Committee. And given the
spread of religious intolerance to other European countries, I
believe a resolution is needed calling upon countries such as
France, Austria and Belgium to respect international human
rights laws, especially as regards religious freedom.
I ask you, Mr. Chairman, to give serious consideration to a
resolution of this kind in the near future.
Chairman Gilman. Thank you, Ms. Bell, for your testimony.
Ms. Bell. I have a little bit more.
Chairman Gilman. Yes, please sum up.
Ms. Bell. While we continue to speak out, of course, we
must keep open the doors to a dialogue. Anne Archer and I share
the desire of many here today to bring the Governments of
Germany and France to the discussion table, and persuade them
to open a genuine dialogue with the minority religions whose
members worship in those lands. In the end, only dialogue can
resolve this problem.
Mr. Chairman, Members of the Committee, thank you.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Bell appears in the
Chairman Gilman. Thank you, Ms. Bell, for being here and
for your testimony and for your requests which we will honor
and take a good, hard look at.
Dr. Hunt, you are back with us again. We apologize for the
interruption which is something that was beyond our control but
we hope that you can give us your testimony now.
Dr. Hunt, please proceed.
Reverend Hunt [continuing]. Thank you. I will continue
where I left off.
It is my experience that even though Methodists are a
state-recognized religion, they do not live free from official
and unofficial bias. I have encountered this in trying to book
hotel rooms for church retreats, notably being told by the
private owners of certain small hotels that they would not
engage having a sect in their hotel. In a more official and
larger hotel, it was possible to book rooms for our church
retreat, but only after demonstrating that we were a state-
recognized religion; and I cannot say that the same hotel would
have rented rooms to a nonrecognized religion.
I have also encountered problems, as I say, in my statement
in making visits to different prisons. In one case, I was
simply turned down and told that I must be part of the Catholic
group, Caritas. In another case, I had to get permission from
the Roman Catholic chaplain first. I would not generalize here;
I have been given access to other prisons.
Another type of bias has been reported to me by other
members. In one case, a member of our church felt that the
judge in a child custody case, as well as a court-appointed
psychologist, showed prejudice against him by referring to him
as a fundamentalist and a member of a sect because he was a
Methodist. Apparently, they were not aware that ours is a
In another case, the member was surprised to find that if,
as a divorcee, he married a Roman Catholic religious
instruction teacher, she would lose her job. Although her
education and salary are paid by the state, if she wishes to
remain employed, her right to marry, and thus his, hinges on a
Roman Catholic marriage tribunal and, presumably, a priest's
approval of her future spouse. Such a situation can hardly fail
to be coercive. It puts the resources of the state at the
disposal of a religious group purely for the enforcement of its
own idiosyncratic beliefs.
The problem of bias is unfortunately rooted in Austrian
law. At a symbolic level, it is telling that the Austrian
courts still display prominently a crucifix, a symbol hardly
calculated to inspire confidence by non-Catholics in an
unbiased judicial system.
The Austrian Government distributes a document entitled, in
English translation, ``Sects, Knowledge Protects,'' which
attempts to define religion and then distinguishes between
three types of religious groups. Some are able to obtain legal
entity status. Others are given legal recognition as churches
whose activities are in the public interest and, thus, receive
public support, and then there are groups regarded as dangerous
One cannot escape the effect of this official bias by
simply keeping one's religious identity secret. Every resident
of Austria must declare their religion on a Meldezettle, or
required residency registration, with the police, and you must
present a copy of this for every activity from signing a
housing lease to opening a bank account to even purchasing a
mobile telephone. So you cannot keep your religion private, and
you cannot keep it private in an unbiased environment.
I would just add quickly here that the United Methodist
Church of Austria in its annual conference last week adopted a
short statement on the book ``Sects, Knowledge Protects'' and I
will just read it for you in English translation.
``We strongly disagree with the law and office being set up
by the Austrian Government for documentation of sects and their
activities. We do not see any need to do this. If illegal
action is taking place, existing criminal law, civil law and
consumers rights should be called on to correct it. We
challenge the majority churches to clarify their position on
And if I can add just one other thing, Congresswoman Lee
was interested in whether there was a relationship between
religious freedom and discrimination against ethnic and racial
minorities. I would just have to say, my congregation is one-
third African one-third Asian, and one-third European and
American. And several times privately people have characterized
us as a sect based on the large number of African members of
the church; and in one case--again, in trying to rent rooms for
our church--we were told, we know that all those Africans must
be sect members. So there is a link here in Austria between
these two things.
In closing, let me just say I am not unhappy to live and
minister in Austria as an American and a Methodist. The
majority of my relationships with Austrian society are happy
and positive, and yet I don't think there can be any apathy on
this issue. No country is so far along in its social evolution
that it cannot, given the right circumstances, revert to
religious bigotry and intolerance. And our commitment to
freedom requires us a continual and disciplined self-
examination and honest appraisal of our friends.
I want to thank the Committee Members. I want to thank you,
Mr. Chairman, for this opportunity. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Reverend Hunt appears in the
Chairman Gilman. Thank you, Dr. Hunt, and again we
apologize for the interruption. We hope you can stand by for
questions of the panelists and possibly questions of yourself.
Will you be able to do that?
Reverend Hunt. Yes, I will.
Chairman Gilman. We will now proceed with questions by our
colleagues of our panelists, and we will start with Mr. Salmon.
Mr. Salmon. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am going to start my
first question with Mr. Jensen.
I am just curious. Have you considered a lawsuit?
Mr. Jensen. Congressman Salmon, the answer is, yes, I have
considered a lawsuit. I would prefer to use communication,
diplomacy, speaking out here at Congress, rather than going to
court. That is my personal view.
If these methods don't work, then I would consider pursuing
that course of action.
Mr. Salmon. It is really interesting, about 3 years ago we
were able to get this same resolution that you have alluded to,
Ms. Bell, the resolution that I have cosponsored with
Representative Payne, we were able to actually get it out of
this Committee, got it to the floor and there was so much
confusion and misunderstanding about what exactly we were
trying to accomplish and there was a lot of really anti, I
think, or very discriminatory rhetoric that came from Members
on the House floor, as I listened to them talk about
Scientology, the Church of Scientology in particular.
And one of the concerns that has been raised--and Mr.
Jensen, I kind of privately talked to you about this the other
day--is information that has been sent to virtually every
Member of this Committee from the Lisa McPherson Trust, and I
mentioned to you I was going to ask that question. You are
familiar with what this trust is all about.
Do you have any thoughts on some of the allegations that
have been raised by this group, and if so, what are they?
Mr. Jensen. Congressman, contrary to its characterization
as a foundation, the Lisa McPherson Trust is a profit-making
body, and all the charges brought in their case were dismissed
recently. That has been covered in the newspapers in the last
Mr. Salmon. So all of the charges or all of the allegations
that they have made have been dropped?
Mr. Jensen. That's correct, dismissed by the court.
Mr. Salmon. OK.
I think the other point that I would like to make is that
my personal feeling when people within religions do things that
are unseemly, or even illegal, to me, the recourse that we have
in this country is not to stomp on the religion, it is to
prosecute the bad actors within the religion; and virtually
every religion that I know of has had problems. Ecclesiastical
leaders in virtually every religion have done things that
offend people, and some have done things that we consider to be
illegal in this country; and our course of action in this
country has always been, when people do things that violate the
law, they are prosecuted, and there is justice within our court
system. But the answer has never been and should never be in a
free society that respects freedom of religion to paint with a
broad brush, and then use that as a reason for discrimination.
I am just curious, do you have any thoughts?
Mr. Jensen. I agree completely, Congressman, and I
particularly agree with the comment made earlier by one of your
colleagues that people should be judged on their actions and
not on their thoughts. In this country, we cherish the freedom
to believe as we choose, and whether someone disagrees with
your particular beliefs or not, a good American will die for
your right to believe in what you choose.
The Germans don't share that view. They are a very young
democracy and the stench of religious intolerance there is at a
high point today. I believe that the problem in part stems from
the collapse of church and state in Germany, something we are
not familiar with and have never experienced in this country.
When you put a member of one religion or one belief system in a
position of power within the government, an abuse is bound to
occur. So I don't think it is really a problem of one religion
versus another, or anybody actually doing anything wrong, but
rather a conflict of beliefs that is backed up with the power
Mr. Salmon. Thank you.
Dr. Gunn, you have spoken about some of the problems that
you have seen firsthand throughout various countries in Europe.
I am just interested in your thoughts on, as a U.S. Government,
what do you see as recourse that we could possibly pursue?
Mr. Gunn. I think that one of the important problems the
United States has in Europe is that there is often an immediate
reaction to statements, recommendations by the U.S. Government.
So sometimes those harsh statements actually play into the
rhetoric of those who are--who support the antisect movements.
So I would urge strong diplomacy, but also clear words to make
clear what is happening.
I think with the case you mentioned earlier, with the
United States Trade Representative, I believe that is one that
should be pursued vigorously and the United States should be
prepared to say that the action taken against Scientologists in
Germany is a barrier to trade and in violation of the WTO.
Mr. Salmon. I agree Dr. Gunn.
One last point: Do you share the optimism that things are
getting better that was given to us by Ambassador Seiple?
Mr. Gunn. I think it is a mixed story. I would have said it
I believe there are some signs for optimism. I don't think
it is right over the horizon.
Let me say something positive about Germany. I think that
in many regards the kind of problem we are talking about has
diminished significantly in Germany. A wide range of groups
were subject to the same type of discrimination that
Scientologists have been going through during the last year.
That has been moderated to some extent in Germany, partially
through the release of the Enquete Commission report, which
backtracked significantly over what it had said before; and
that the German Parliamentary Commission concluded--said,
first, that the word ``sect'' should not be said to describe
them, which is an advance. And they also said that these groups
are not, per se, dangerous and they should be treated on a
case-by-case basis. That is an extremely positive step.
That said, there continues to be the kind of problem we
have heard described today.
Mr. Salmon. This list of 176, I am not sure if that is the
correct number, but this list that was created, what is the
status of that? Is it something that the government uses to
constantly monitor, or is it something that pretty much has
gone by the wayside?
Mr. Gunn. In France, there is a list of--sometimes it is
called 172 and sometimes it is 173, and that has to do with how
the list was prepared; but that is from France. The government
as an official institution does not necessarily use that. The
Interministerial Mission Against Sects constantly refers to
that list. They also say that that list is not an exhaustive
list, so that there are other groups that could be pursued as
French courts--when there have been cases where the
prosecutors have used that list, French courts have, as far as
I know, consistently said that list does not constitute the
basis for any governmental action. So it was in a parliamentary
report; it is not a legal document in that way in France.
Chairman Gilman. The gentleman's time has expired.
Mr. Ackerman. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
For purposes of clarification, I am sure that Congressman
Salmon said that churches should get rid of their bad actors;
that was not an artistic reference in any way, shape or form.
Let me welcome the panel and thank you all for your
testimony. If I could be parochial for one moment, Mr.
Chairman, I would like to personally welcome Reverend L'Heureux
from my hometown of Queens, New York City, and thank him for
the great work that he does year round for all people, and the
inclusiveness and the moral leadership that he exerts; and
especially for referencing the birthplace of religious freedom,
where I grew up, in Flushing, New York, and the work of John
Bowne--and the Bowne House on that one block, it should be
Not only do we still have that active Quaker Meeting house,
but we have an African church, we have two churches of
different Christian denominations, one Orthodox synagogue, one
Islamic mosque and three Buddhist temples; and that is within a
very short--maybe three-quarters of a mile, all on that one
I call to the Chairman's attention that when we were on a
CODEL and we were in Germany, the Chairman did forcefully bring
this issue up with various members of the government in Germany
and was very forceful about the opinion of most of us on this
Committee, I believe, and what we thought was in America's best
interests and the interests of fairness and religious freedom
and tolerance in America. We made our points. I don't know that
we scored any victory at all, but they know that some of us, at
least, are focused on it.
I think the testimony that we have heard here has to be
highlighted and profiled. I am not sure what you do besides
being here today, which is very important. Maybe you have to
try to garner the attention and support of the labor movement
in this country, which seems recently to have a powerful
interest in religious freedom in other countries. Maybe we can
condition our trade relationship with other countries on this,
whether we give them permanent normal trade status; or maybe
you can just get yourself in more trouble in China. That seems
to get a lot of attention.
One of the things that the officials in Germany were using
to make whatever points they thought they were making was that
this particular religion of which we speak today, Scientology,
in their view was not a religion and was just basically a Ponzi
scheme to take money from unsuspecting people. We argued that.
But how do you respond to that? Anybody on the panel, maybe
Mr. Jensen. Congressman, I think ``my lady doth protest too
much'' when the Germans say there's a Ponzi scheme or something
like that. In Germany, they don't have religious freedom; they
don't have separation of church and state. They have declared
certain religions to be official state religions, and all
others are referred to as sects or free churches; and my
understanding is that ``free'' means, that religion or church
is not controlled by the government.
So I am not surprised that they would use such derogatory
terms to refer to my church. Personally I am offended by it.
It is nothing new. This sort of thing has been going on in
Germany a long time. I have been losing sales and contracts in
Germany for 10 or 11 years simply because I am a member of a
minority religion and no one makes any bones about it. They
boast of the fact. They use sect filters. I have a whole
binder, full of documents, here--and there is a sample of one
over on the board there--which require you to declare that you
are not only not a member of the Church of Scientology but you
have never even read a book by L. Ron Hubbard.
Now I can't see anything so offensive about reading a book.
Why should that be a disqualification for employment or
participation in the electoral process?
Mr. Ackerman. I thought we were past the time where, in
Germany, we had problems with books.
But nonetheless, I strongly agree with you and recall that
this country was founded by people who seemed strange to other
people, no matter from whence they came. We were really founded
by the weirdos and whackos of the world in the view of the
majorities in other places.
My district, I guess they still have a tendency to elect
those people to public office. But it becomes a very dangerous
game when we try to define on any particular basis where
people, by virtue of their free will, want to associate and
consider themselves as a religion. Who is to judge that they
are not? I mean, there are some pretty strange practices. There
are some groups that wear beanies and won't turn the lights on
on Friday nights when it gets dark. That does not mean that my
religion is not a legitimate religion, no matter how strange
that might seem to others.
So I just want to thank the panel for your persistence and
know that you have many member friends here.
Reverend L'Heureux. Congressman, may I comment on your
The question initially was in terms of the accusation of
financial improprieties in a Ponzi scheme for wealth
acquisition. In different forms, but with equal virulence, the
same accusations have been made in history against almost every
major religious group.
In my own lifetime, I can remember hearing that kind of
bigotry espoused against the Roman Catholic church. The
slanderous and anti-Semitic remarks regarding Jewish wealth,
for example, fall within that category. It is an easy way to
hook bigotry in a way that will target it against some other
group and marginalize them.
I wish that our celebration of American religious freedom
were so complete and universal, but alas it is not because we
have had difficulties here, many of them historic, occasionally
One of the tragedies that I see in this current environment
is that much of the antisect movement in Europe--France and
Germany, that I am familiar with personally in particular--
arises because of the work, for the last four decades here, of
the American anticult movement. It has been rendered
economically deficient in this country by legal judgments that
have bankrupted the cult awareness network and one of their
leading kidnapper deprogrammers.
And now I believe, much like the tobacco industry, they are
taking their product and exporting it elsewhere for their own
benefit. And the relationship between Alain Vivien, in
particular, with American anticult groups is rather interesting
considering that he, along with other officials, will denounce
what the American Government might say about France, but
welcome what this group of anticultists would say.
Chairman Gilman. Thank you, Reverend L'Heureux, and thank
you, Mr. Ackerman.
The gentleman from Illinois, Mr. Manzullo.
Mr. Manzullo. Thank you very much. I would like to center
on the trade aspects of this situation, because unfortunately
there is not much that can be done legally. When a country is
discriminating against members of certain religions, it becomes
a sovereignty issue; but when it becomes a trade issue that
results in harm to American companies, then it does become our
legal obligation to get involved.
Mr. Jensen, you stated in the last 8 to 10 years that you
were losing sales and contracts as a result of discrimination
against you because of your beliefs. Do you recall the
testimony of Ambassador Seiple, who said that Commerce has not
been able to quantify the harm or injury of any and therefore
elevate this complaint to that of requesting the panel?
I note with great, total disbelief the statement, the
official statement from the German Government who was invited
to appear here, but declined and sent a communique. It said
recent assertions about German Government measures concern a
small area of public procurement, specifically the awarding of
government contracts for staff and management training. They
are not focused on membership in Scientology, but are instead
designed to ensure that techniques which seek to
psychologically manipulate or oppress individuals are not used
for training or consulting purposes. The measures are limited
to government contracts. There are no regulations affecting
bidding for private sector contracts.
I guess, therefore, if you are a Scientologist in Germany
and you follow the reason of this letter, you can
psychologically manipulate or oppress as long as it doesn't
involve governmental contracts. This is written by a diplomat.
And I was just discussing with Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen--
and she is the chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Trade and
International Economic Policy of this Committee, and we are
very much interested in seeing if you can quantify--can you
tell us if you can document loss of contracts based on this
present policy of Germany?
Mr. Jensen. Yes, Congressman.
Mr. Manzullo. Or other companies, as well, based upon your
Mr. Jensen. Yes, Congressman Manzullo, I can document that.
I will be happy to provide that to the Committee.
Chairman Gilman. If you can provide that to the Committee,
we will make it part of the record.
[The information referred to appears in the appendix.]
Mr. Manzullo. I presume it would be proprietary for you to
go into detail as to each contract and each loss, or is there
something that you wish to share generally?
Mr. Jensen. In some cases it is not difficult at all. A
communication from Volkswagen, for instance, saying that they
not only will refuse to honor our contract, but demand a refund
for all purchases of software they had ever made because of the
fact that I am a Scientologist. I told them I would be happy to
comply if they would put that in writing, at which point they
settled for a cessation of business and forgot about demanding
There are other cases more recent.
Mr. Manzullo. Were there any American-based companies that
were there, or branches rather?
Mr. Jensen. Daimler Chrysler is one. We have a copy of
their sect filter up on the wall there. There have been others,
such as the Ford Motor Company, GE Capital, and another company
here in the United States, that do business in Europe, have
ordered their German subsidiaries to stop using the sect
filters and have written to us that they have stopped doing
But when it comes to my own personal situation, the
discrimination I referred to earlier was just on my own
products, and that might come to millions of dollars worth of
losses. I am not sure exactly what I could document in Germany.
But today, with this Microsoft situation, the German Government
is threatening to boycott or put a ban on the Microsoft Windows
2000 operating system because of my involvement as a
Now, that, according to studies on the benefits of
migrating to Windows 2000, would be a $50 billion hit on the
German economy, simply because of the inefficiency of systems
they would have to use instead.
So, yes, I can supply numbers; yes, I can supply
documentation, but you would also have to look beyond a
specific transaction toward the chilling effect on business, as
well as one's personal life.
What will happen the next time Microsoft needs a component
in their operating system? And I have been a terrific supplier
for them. For 7 years now, we have done business well together,
but someone sitting around that table in the future is going to
say, well, remember we had this problem with the Scientology
Mr. Manzullo. We look forward to meeting with you. I know
there are several members on this panel that would like to meet
personally with you and go into great depth as to the harm it
has given to your company.
Chairman Gilman. Thank you, Mr. Manzullo.
I now call on our distinguished subcommittee chairman on
economic policy and trade, the Congresswoman from Florida, Ms.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Thank you so much, Mr. Chairman; and
following on Mr. Manzullo's remarks, in our trade subcommittee
we would look forward to the opportunity to discuss the issue
of sect filters and what has been happening with discriminatory
trade practices in Germany, France or other countries. And so
we look forward to getting that information from you, Mr.
I had the opportunity to meet with you and some of the
others in the panel yesterday afternoon, and we look forward to
following up on that to see if our trade subcommittee could
help you in any way, at least highlight this issue of
discrimination against those who hold religious views that are
not popular or in accordance with the majority-held beliefs.
And certainly in this country, that was founded upon religious
freedom, we would frown on such practices; but especially when
they interfere with commerce in a manner which is, on the face
of it, very discriminatory.
So we look forward to getting that information from you.
And I know that as the other panelists were talking, Ms.
Bell was writing some notes, so I don't know if you wanted the
opportunity to say something. I think when Mr. Ackerman was
asking a question of some of the other panelists, you looked
like you wanted to say something.
Ms. Bell. I did, and most of it was actually said by
Congressman Ackerman, but the one thing that I wanted to point
out is, he was talking about the Germans saying that they
didn't think Scientology was a religion, but I wanted to point
out the fact that Scientology has been recognized as a religion
by all of the world, by the U.S. Government, by Australia, New
Zealand, South Africa, recently Sweden. So it has been
recognized as a religion.
And again, it goes back to what Congressman Ackerman was
saying, that it is really not the place of the state or the
government to decide whether it not it is a religion; and
again, the bottom line is that the freedom to practice your own
beliefs whether or not they agree with it, or think it is a
religion or whatever, you should have freedom and the ability
to practice what you believe, especially by a country that
claims to be democratic.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. That is interesting that many of those
statements were not echoed during the South Carolina primaries,
as some candidates visited Bob Jones University. It is like
``Animal Farm,'' all animals are equal, just some are more
equal than others. But I do not espouse those beliefs of Bob
Jones University, but perhaps some of those folks who make
those statements about religious freedom would apply it
Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity and thank you
for an excellent presentation. We look forward to working with
them in our trade subcommittee to see how we could be of help.
Chairman Gilman. Thank you, Chairman Ros-Lehtinen.
Mr. Rogan, the gentleman from California.
Mr. Rogan. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let me just say I am
sorry I missed your hearing. I am also running off to a hearing
about human rights in Afghanistan.
Let me just say for the record, we expect more of Western
Europe than we do of Afghanistan. We expect more of Western
Europe than we do of totalitarian societies; and the fact that
there are still some of the issues that you have raised today--
and I know about the issues that you are talking about and will
read your testimony.
It is outrageous that countries as educated and as
industrialized and as democratic--supposedly democratic--are
participating in the kinds of discrimination that we find in
these countries; and the United States should be this squeaky
wheel when it comes to the violation of these people's rights,
because we are talking to other countries that supposedly stand
for this higher standard.
And I appreciate your leadership, Mr. Chairman, in calling
this hearing. Thank you very much.
Chairman Gilman. Thank you, Mr. Rogan, for joining us. I
have just a few brief questions.
Dr. Hunt, you have been so patient. Allow me to ask you a
question. Do you see a linkage between the antisect movement
and the rise of political extremism in Austria, in France,
Germany and Belgium? And I address that to any panelist that
may want to respond.
Reverend Hunt. I am not certain about the other countries.
I think in Austria there is certainly a link. The recent
political campaign which featured prominently images of real
Austrians as opposed to, apparently, not real Austrians is
certainly based on a climate that tries to characterize the
kind of Germanic Catholic personality as being truly Austrian
and all others as being not really quite Austrian; and I think
that kind of political extremism and nationalism is certainly
related to the rise of actions against sects.
Chairman Gilman. Any of our other panelists?
Mr. Brumley. I would concur with the thought that there is
a linkage. The situation in Europe reminds me of a sad chapter
in our country in the McCarthy era where one was accused of
being a Communist without any facts. He had to go through
infinite details to prove a negative that he was, in fact, not
Well, the sect commissions have done--they are essentially
doing the very same thing, based on unsubstantiated reports,
unfounded prejudices. They stigmatize somewhat.
Jehovah's Witnesses have found that, for example, during
the audit of our operations in France, we came out squeaky
clean. They found no impropriety whatsoever, even though they
were certainly looking for it. But we feel subjected to that
same type of scrutiny, that we have to prove we are not a
dangerous sect. Instead of assuming we are doing something
correct, we found--and I know you understand this as well--our
recourse has been through the courts. As we go through the
court system in France and in Germany, we have typically won
the decisions, but in this court of public opinion, in the
press, this stigmatization continues.
Chairman Gilman. Does any other panelist wish to comment?
Reverend L'Heureux. Just a brief comment to echo what was
said a second ago in terms of the role of government not to be
a definer of what is orthodox or correct in belief.
Moments before this Committee hearing convened this
morning, I understand that the government in Paris conducted
yet another raid on the offices of the Church of Scientology
there. In a series of raids that have removed computer disk
drives and records, and appear some weeks later to return them
with no particular charges being filed, no reason given as to
why the raids occur; and this kind of pattern of brutal
harassment is really evidence of a kind of a totalitarian
aggression against religious movements.
Chairman Gilman. Thank you. Does any other panelist wish to
If not, let me ask Reverend L'Heureux and Dr. Gunn, what
should our government do to deal with the situation in France?
Reverend L'Heureux. Well, to speak out loudly and a little
bit more loudly than we have been doing. I recognize the
problem that has been stated many times here, that sometimes
the official statement of the government is not well received
in Europe, and France and Germany in particular, as an
intrusion into their sovereignty. But the issue needs to be
raised. Silence often gives consent to the kind of misconduct
that we have chronicled this morning. There is no way for us to
avoid the responsibility of being forthright.
The other is to avoid in every way possible participating
in a division that the antisect, anticult people would want us
to do to sort of throw away certain groups and allow them to be
trampled, because somehow they have been stigmatized or
demonized as not religions. Again, the test is that government
is simply not qualified to make a determination of orthodoxy.
The behavior standards that were mentioned are correct. If
there are crimes committed, if there are misdeeds done by
individuals, they need to be called to account. If, in fact,
there is some kind of a criminal conspiracy in a way that is
detrimental to the society and in violation of the laws,
certainly that ought to be prosecuted.
That is not what we are dealing with here. What we are
dealing with is the vague innuendo that leads to blacklisting,
that leads to loss of employment, that leads to loss of
schooling, that leads to loss of child custody; and these acts
are intolerable, and we must denounce them.
Chairman Gilman. We thank you, Dr. L'Heureux.
Dr. Gunn, did you want to answer?
Mr. Gunn. It is very difficult in France. The
Interministerial Mission Against Sects frequently employs anti-
American rhetoric in order to justify its position, thinking
that that plays well in France. So sometimes strong statements
by the United States can backfire.
France has a lively tradition of intellectual dissent, and
it has a lively tradition of trying to bring down people who
promote intolerance. I believe that there has been, during the
last year, a rise in those particular groups, and I assume
those are the people to whom Ambassador Seiple was referring.
Two very famous French historians have taken positions on this.
The leading French scholar has now taken a position. Some
important French journalists have taken a position on this.
They are still voices in the wilderness.
The kind of thing I think the United States could do to
help would be to encourage those sorts of voices to be more
pronounced in what they are doing, whether it is including
American academics to deal with their colleagues abroad, or
American religions to deal with their coreligion abroad, to let
them know what the consequences are of discrimination.
Chairman Gilman. Thank you very much.
Would any of the other panelists care to add any thoughts
before we conclude?
Mr. Brumley. Just to say that this fall is pivotal for
Jehovah's Witnesses. We have a case pending before the Council
of State in France and another case pending in Germany. Both
decisions should be handed down this fall. This is certainly a
time to be watchful to see what France and Germany will do. If
they hand down favorable decisions, then the optimism espoused
by Ambassador Seiple would be well justified. An adverse
decision certainly brings down a black curtain.
Chairman Gilman. Thank you very much. Did you care to say
something Mr. Jensen?
Mr. Jensen. Yes. I would just like to urge the Committee
and all the Members of Congress to support H.R. 388 and S. 230.
Chairman Gilman. We will certainly give a lot of attention
I can't thank the panelists enough, Reverend Hunt, for your
being with us in Vienna. We wish we were there with you for the
moment; I hope your weather is good.
And thank you all for taking part. Catherine, Mr. Jensen,
Mr. Brumley, Reverend L'Heureux and Dr. Gunn, thank you for
joining us, and Committee stands adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 1:15 p.m., the Committee was adjourned to
reconvene at the call of the Chair.]
A P P E N D I X
June 14, 2000
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