German Scientology church drops court challenge; adds human rights declaration to bylaws

BERLIN: Germany’s branch of the Church of Scientology said Tuesday it had dropped a legal battle in Muenster to prevent the nation’s domestic intelligence services from monitoring its activities.

The organization said in a statement it “felt it was time to reflect on the whole purpose of this battle of legal material and reach a sensible solution.”

The North Rhine-Westphalia Higher Administrative Court in Muenster refused last month to hear an appeal to a February ruling allowing the intelligence agencies to continue observing the Scientologists.

German authorities suspect Scientology of maintaining “ambitions against the free, democratic basic order,” according to the February ruling.

The organization has now added a declaration on human rights and democracy to its bylaws, and has someone to lead its human rights program in Germany, said German Church of Scientology spokeswoman Sabine Weber.

The organization has long battled to end the surveillance, saying it is an abuse of freedom of religion, and the U.S. State Department regularly criticizes Germany in its annual Human Rights Report for the practice.

Germany’s top security officials reiterated in December that they consider Scientology to be in conflict with the principles of the nation’s constitution. They asked state officials to begin gathering information to consider whether they have sufficient grounds to seek a ban on the organization.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Tuesday May 6, 2008.
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