Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Germans get it 

This is not just about Scientology, and it is not going to go away.


German historian likens Cruise speech to Goebbels

Jess Smee in Berlin
Monday January 21, 2008
The Guardian

The long-standing antagonism between Germany and the Church of Scientology escalated over the weekend when a high-profile historian compared Tom Cruise's performance in a Scientology video with the style of the Nazi propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels.

Guido Knopp, who has written a number of books on Hitler and his inner circle, said the video, which surfaced on YouTube last week, "inevitably" recalled Goebbels' speech in a Berlin sports stadium when he asked "Do you want total war?" and the crowd thundered "Yes!"

The Scientology footage shows Cruise, wearing a large medallion and speaking from a podium. "So what do you say, we gonna clean this place up?" he asks. He is greeted by zealous cheers.

"It may be the case that Cruise's delivery style is not uncommon in certain religious movements in the US," Knopp told Bild am Sonntag in an interview. "But for Germans with an interest in history, that scene where he asks whether the Scientologists should clean up the world and everyone shouts 'yes' is inevitably reminiscent of Goebbels' notorious speech."

Parallels with the Third Reich remain highly sensitive here. But Scientology has generated a visceral opposition in Germany - last month security ministers tried to ban it, saying it contravened the constitution - and Knopp's remarks found few critics yesterday.

Thomas Gandow, of the German Protestant church, who has previously compared Cruise to Goebbels, said the video revealed the actor's high standing in the organisation: "He is not your average sect member but rather a propaganda minister ... I still believe it: Tom Cruise is the Goebbels of Scientology."

Ursula Caberta, who leads a Hamburg-based research group into the Church of Scientology, said the latest video was "hard evidence" that the group was anti-constitutional.

...Germany has taken a very distinct stance among European countries towards Scientology, considering it not as a religion but as a commercial organisation.

The Church of Scientology, which is thought to have about 6,000 adherents in Germany, is closely monitored by Germany's Office for the Protection of the Constitution, which also tracks the activities of neo-Nazis, leftwing extremists and Islamist terrorists. Such scrutiny has prompted criticism from the US state department.

Cruise found himself at the sharp end of German hostility last summer when the defence ministry sought to obstruct the filming of Valkyrie, starring Cruise as the German resistance hero Claus von Stauffenberg.

Although the ban on using military sites was eventually scrapped, ministers criticised the project, citing Cruise's affiliation with Scientology. Even Berthold Graf von Stauffenberg, the count's son, joined in, dubbing Scientology a "totalitarian ideology".

The only problem with the German stance is the idea that there is some sort of distinction between a "religion" and a "commercial organization."

Like Exxon, Halliburton, Bechtel, the Assemblies of God (which, like all megachurches, turns a handsome profit), and the United States government--Scientology is a form of idolatry, the worship of power and profit.


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