Friedrich Griess, Member of GSK, Austria, President of FECRIS
Thank you, Mr. Senator, for having so clearly expressed your view of the subject which concerns us all here. Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends:
About 140 people from 22 nations are gathered here today to listen to reports from various countries, to become acquainted with each other and to support each other in the common concern to ban the danger of a new totalitarianism. They are mostly from European countries, with a few exceptions, whom I cordially welcome:
- Mrs. Ayelet Kedem from Israel
- Mrs. Pamela Lichtenwalner from the United States
- Mr. Chuck Beatty from the United States
- Mr. Michael Kropveld from InfoSect/InfoCult, Canada who will compare the approach of different countries to cult-related issues at the end of the day.
As the basic pillars of the new Europe, we desire democracy, freedom, peace and justice. There still is much to be done, but we believe that with respect to this, we are on the right path both in the Council of Europe and in the European Union.
Unfortunately, certain forces are sawing at these basic pillars. “Go to hell with this society. We create a new one”, wrote L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of scientology, already in 1961. Democracy and science have just brought misery to mankind, and true freedom consists in obeying his commands without contradiction. Civil rights are only granted to those who follow the leader’s or guru’s doctrine without any reservation. Those who do not agree may be “lied to, deceived … or also destroyed”. Hubbard’s followers think that they, by recently opening the new branch in Berlin, have “paved the street to parliament”, in Brussels they have settled close to the European headquarter and I am afraid that something similar will happen in other European capitals.
Other similar groups do not value peace, on the contrary they desire total war when all people not belonging to their group will be slaughtered, and when such a war is over they alone will rule the earth. Forced marriages are also considered as normal in groups that claim to be Christian. Other such groups promise impossible things such as overcoming the force of gravity or the raising people from the dead.
The slogans of such totalitarian groups are very similar to those of Nazi times that fascinated many people: “Don’t think – just obey. We are the only worthy people on earth. Destroy all enemies.” The terrible consequences of these slogans which still have some followers today should be known. Unfortunately there are people today who are still attracted by shows of new totalitarian groups. Even if the objectives of such groups are disguised under religious masks they hide political goals which should not be played down as was the case in the twenties of the past century with the writings of a certain Austrian corporal.
Germany carried out pioneer work in this field when it held a Commission of Inquiry at the end of the nineties. An outstanding example was also France with its law “About-Picard” of 2001 and the newer parliamentary investigation about the influence of cults on children and youngsters. In my home country Austria, after a boom in the nineties, the present efforts are unfortunately perceived by the public as hardly noticeable. In other European countries, the situation varies a good deal.
With the confidence that our common efforts will help to defend the principles of democracy, freedom, peace and justice, I inaugurate this conference and invite Mrs. Antje Blumenthal, member of the German Bundestag, to speak.