Unification News for May 1997
Unification Church of Germany Fights the Government
Nina Makarova-Frankfurt, Germany
In 1995 the International Holy Blessing Ceremony was held in Frankfurt am Main, Germany as a part of the world-wide event. The event attracted a lot of media attention. It was very moving to see men and women from different parts of Europe and other continents joining their lives forever. As Siegfried Klammsteiner, the former German Unification Church leader expressed later, it was his best experience during the years of leadership. The worst came in October 1995, when Rev. Moon, the founder of the Movement, was denied to enter Germany.
The reasons given by the Ministry of Interior were nothing new: the Church is destructive for the youth, Rev. Moon's claim for world power is against the democratic constitutional order of the German Federal Republic.
In December 1995 the Unification Church of Germany sued the Government for violating the principles of religious freedom. The main argument: through the ban for Rev. Moon to enter the country the followers' right to receive guidance from their leader was restricted. It was clear from the beginning, that it would take at least 2 years for the court to make any decision. In response to the Church's appeal the defendant justified the action with a file containing 700 pages of documents, a summary of all negative information worked out by so-called sect-experts. ( Due to the close relationship between the Government and the mainstream religions after the arise of new religious movements official sect-experts were installed by the Catholic and Evangelic churches). All the points of accusations, mainly the old widely spread lies about "moonies" and their "sect", were proved by the Unification Church of Germany (with a help of American experts) to be wrong. One German professor of religious studies was requested to write an expertise on the confession and its teaching. That research was presented by the Unification Church to the court. However, it's not really possible to accelerate the court's decision. It will take time.
Meanwhile in 1996 a lawyers' council was held, when lawyers from Germany, France, the Netherlands and USA could meet with an expert on Schengen Treaty entry law. The Schengen countries have a common "black list", but each of the member countries has liberty to make an exception upon a request. It was decided to make such a request to the Netherlands. The answer has not come yet, but in case of a positive decision that would be a good chance to show Germany that not everybody is following its strange politics.
Besides that, we brought the case to the Human Right Committee of the United Nations. Siegfried Klammsteiner met the person who is working in the office of the UN Human Right Special Rapporteur. This Rapporteur will come in the second part of the year to Germany and he will be provided with information and suggested the people to meet.
Proclaiming True Parents
Last year the German Government organized a special Commission to investigate "so called sects and psycho-groups." In December the Unification Church of Germany together with other groups was asked to answer 18 questions and present itself in front of the Commission. On January 13, 1997, we were invited to the special hearing in the Bundestag in Bonn. Our representatives were very well prepared and as we could hear from the members of the Commission, that they were "positively shocked", how professionally it was done. Also it was clearly shown, that the UC of the 90-ties is very different from the image of the 70-ties, it developed and progressed a lot. The most inspiring for the members was a short presentation made by Christian Hausmann who summarized main ideas behind the Unification Movement and openly proclaimed that, according to that teaching, the Messiah is on Earth.
Recently we got 12 additional questions and we are working on detailed answers to that.
The brochure "Moon's Movement" In December 1996 the Ministry for Family, Children, Women and Seniors of the German Government published a negative brochure about the Unification Movement. Its content happened to be very similar to the 700 pages file, provided in response to the appeal concerning entry ban. Therefore, it has many wrong statements and interpretations of the UC beliefs and wrong descriptions of its practices. That became a reason to start another court case. Relying again on the support from the USA, all the points of accusations were rejected in a very solid way. We requested to accelerate the court decision and we expect that some kind of conclusion will be made during the month of May. The decision could be the following: no more distribution of the brochure is carried out and those copies which have been sent out already should be blacked-out.
To provide our lawyer with all arguments he needed our PR team is going to conclude the response to the brochure. Then it can be circulated. The English translation of the brochure itself is already available.
Our primary concern is how we can help Germany to come out of this "dead end" - a difficult situation with new religious movements. We see here two main problems. One is the relationship between the established churches and new religious groups. Today it is the so called "sect-experts" who lead the discussion in this field. Through this positive results can hardly come. The second is how the Government can find the way to handle the problem of new religions. As there is no clear enough separation between church and state the Government was misused by two big churches. It was pushed to use its power in order to create a negative image of new religious groups. The Unification Church is only one of the victims.
To solve these problems we would like to hold in Germany two international conferences on religious freedom. They are planned for autumn.
If we finally manage to change this sad situation that True Parents cannot enter Germany (i.e. all Schengen countries), it will mean a victory not only for Germany itself, but for the whole continental Europe. Even more: the fact, that in those "civilized" countries Rev. Moon is not allowed, is used by the Church critics and the media in other parts of the world, e.g. in Russia.
It goes without saying, that such a longtime and intense work, involving professional lawyers' help, demands substantial financial resources. For those who would like to support it, here is a bank account number: to Vereinigungskirche e.V. (Unification Church) Bank: Helaba; Account number: 25657008; Bank number: 500 500 00. Purpose: PR-Action.
Nina Makarova is on the staff of the Unification Church of Germany, PR office.
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