Interview with Thomas Gandow
Interviewer: Before the show I had the opportunity to speak with Thomas Gandow. He is responsible for the subject of cults within the protestant church in Berlin-Brandenburg, he's a Scientology expert and he's heading the Centre for Dialogue in Berlin. In a litigation before the district court of Brandenburg the [german section of the] Church of Scientology admitted to having observed the Cult Commissioner.
Good evening, Mr. Gandow!
Thomas Gandow: Good evening.
I: You were observed by Scientology. How did this come about?
TG: For eight months I provided a hiding place for an Ex-Scientologist and his Spouse who were preparing for a litigation, they had to take part in in the US and they are being persecuted by Scientology, because Scientology wants to prevent them from relaying their experiences with this organization.
I: Would you say, that there really is something like a direct damage by Scientology?
TG: A lot of people were strongly damaged in a material sense. Some people are damaged on a psychological level, they go crazy and there are a lot of cases, in which people died at Scientology. I'm thinking of the German Konrad Aigner, the American Lisa McPherson or of Frenchman Patrice Vic, these are people who died at Scientology, while in their care and while receiving their treatment.
I: Then why has Berlin – one has to say: especially Berlin – stopped to observe Scientology by the Verfassungsschutz, which in a way almost suggests to Scientology to go to the capital now.
TG: Well, in all honesty, my imagination doesn't completely suffice to give an explanation for this. Hardly a year after the Berlin Senate lost in court and was told they couldn't use anymore undercover agents against Scientology, the mayor invited Scientology spokesperson Tom Cruise to the city hall and let him put his name in the golden book of the city. I can only consider it a success of Scientology's public relations, if the Berlin Senate on top of this also declared cults were no subject for Verfassungsschutz. Of course they are and federal Verfassungsschutz [made a good choice] by observing Scientology and Scientology is one of six areas of activity for federal Verfassungsschutz. The people in Berlin are... blind. Love makes you go blind.
I: This somehow is in tune with recent news in newspapers from two or three days ago in England, especially London, which were that the Labor Party had in a roundabout way – Tom Cruise had a part in this as well – received money. Do you think that this is the form of lobbying Scientology will be doing now?
TG: That's exactly what we expect to happen. Scientology wants to become respectable. They want their name to be heard in connection with prominent politicians, with movie stars. And for this goal they manage for the highest institution within the Labor Party to invite them to have a booth at the party convention and the Labor Party also received money for this. And in Brussels the lobbying central achieved that there was no real outcry when of all people the director of the Hannah Arendt Institute for Research on Totalitarianism spoke at the totalitarian Scientology Organization.
I: One might presume: Berlin has traditionally been the bridge to the east, also to the former eastern bloc. The former GDR [German Democratic Republic, the former communist state in eastern Germany] has supposedly a tendency to atheism, non-religiousness. Is it possible, that Scientology is now saying: Look, here we have got a huge area for redevelopment?
TG: Yes. Scientology is a scientific philosophy, that's at least what they claim to be and Scientology's knowledge is being transferred by training courses. So they can easily pick up from there. They didn't manage to do it as planned in our eastern parts, because of our resistance, but in Bulgaria it's a totally different story: Texts by Hubbard were being distributed by the Academy of Sciences there. In Russia this happened: Someone who had received Scientology training, Mr. Kirijenko, became Prime Minister for 100 days. So, I'm not surprised anymore about the growing global influence of Scientology, after I heard of what's possible in Russia.
I: It starts very small, if one may say so, namely at schools, which Scientology seems to have picked as a new object of desire.
TG: There's a special advertising group in Berlin, consisting of 150 Scientologists, who obliged themselves to work in Berlin for three months. Now, of all places in front of [Scientology's] new headquarter there's a bus stop, where pupils of several schools have to change buses. And Scientology's advertisers approach these pupils, no matter their age. So there's also a danger for individuals, especially for youths.
I: Thanks a lot for this conversation, Thomas Gandow.
This text is a translated transcript of a TV Interview from 15. 1. 2007 in 3sat Kulturzeit.
Possible later changes of the issue are not considered.
Copyright © by Pfarrer Thomas Gandow, HTML and Links by Ilse Hruby
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