The last sentence says, commerce will seek to resolve the issue through a
bilateral context with senior German trade officials et cetera. Well
excuse me, but we have the tools. We've got the WTO. And I think there
should be a world flushing of this issue. I think the Germans should be
held to account in the strongest terms possible, that we should use the
strongest, powerful measures of the United States now before more injury
is done to our business interests and to Mr. Jensen's company.
The Germans are going to understand this issue. Sure, they flew with us in
Kosovo; that's really important. We also fought to liberate Kuwait, and
they've turned their backs on us and they're jacking up the price of
gasoline; that's how they say thank you to the U.S. And I think the only
way that this nation can stand as a beacon for religious freedom is to
insist, in the strongest terms possible, through a WTO panel, get this
thing going, get the gears moving. Because I am sure that we would win it
on that basis as opposed to going along on some bilateral context. Your
MR. SEIPLE: Well, I'd be happy to take that recommendation back and give
it to the appropriate people to follow through on. The fact is we do not
have a specific case under this title 7 report. And when we get a specific
case then it can be pursued.
REP. MANZULLO: Yeah, but we have a written policy.
MR. SEIPLE: But you don't have a specific case to put against the policy.
My point is only this, I think it's premature to call them timid when they
haven't been able to apply what is now in the report. When a specific case
comes, and then if we sit on the sidelines or do less than our duty, then
I think it would be fair to say we haven't used the power that's at our
REP. MANZULLO: So Mr. Jensen, in his testimony, can state that his company
has lost any percentage of market share of one contract with the Germans.
Then what you're saying is that would be a sufficient threshold showing of
damage to bring the panel under the WTO.
MR. SEIPLE: I don't think I said that. But I would like to take your
suggestion on the WTO and put it against this particular incident which
has not yet been formulated into a case, on the federal level, that is
noted under our title 7 U.S. trade agreements.
REP. MANZULLO: Whenever the Scientologists have brought actions in
Germany, the courts there don't have the precendential tolerance that we
have in our country. So they get ordered in terms of whether or not the
court system could protect them there. But my understanding also is that
the officially recognized religions, the German exacts the 8 percent from
the people who belong to the organized religion. They run the money
through the government, and then the government doles it back out to the
That being the case, this appears to be the fact that perhaps they're
concerned that the fact that people would be attending the Scientology
philosophy would drop out of one of the officially organized churches -
doesn't make this an internal revenue issue from Germany. Then in turn, I
think that they use it to show that it's still another NTB, non-tariff
barrier that they're using to exclude American products. We need to expose
this big time, and put ultimate pressure on Germany to get them back off,
to get them to rescind that ridiculous contract with government
I'm going to send a letter to the German Ambassador to do that. Whenever
I meet with the members of the EU. This might even be a violation of the
EU agreement itself among the member countries. But we need to explore,
under the heaviest basis, to nip this type of religious persecution in the
bud now before people are really hurt.
MR. SEIPLE: I have no disagreement with that.
REP. MANZULLO: I appreciate your coming here. Thank you.
REP. GILMAN: Thank you Mr. Manzullo. Ms. Lee.
REP. LEE: Thank you Mr. Chairman. Let me just ask you very quickly a
question with regard to our foreign policy and the relationship between
religious discrimination and the treatment of minorities and government
policies, such as we have toward a country which we believe is engaged in
religious repression such as Cuba. When do you think that should kick in,
if it should kick in, in terms of sanctions and embargoes? When should the
mistreatment of religious minorities be the basis for us looking at other
countries to sanction or embargo, such as we have, like I said, for 40
years against Cuba?
MR. SEIPLE: I'm in agreement with many of the comments that have just been
made, in terms of when we kick in on the discrimination of minority
faiths. I think as soon as you hear it for the first time, as soon as it's
intimated, as soon as there's any sense that we have a situation that
could go further South, so to speak, we better yell loud and long. I think
we've learned this from our Jewish colleagues in terms of anti-Semitic
remarks that are made and examples of that throughout the world.
To sit back and to wait or to assume that someone is going to take it up
for you. We are the strongest nation in the world; we are the last
remaining super-power. And we now have legislation, to the point of
sanctions. There are very specific sanctions that are pointed out in the
1998 International Religious Freedom Act. And that's the guideline. That's
a high bar, it's a very high bar. We're not talking about that bar
relative to these four countries.
I think it's very fair to talk about the various avenues that we have
either from jaw boning, the role of diplomacy, to things like the WTO, as
was just mentioned. I'm a Marine; I believe when in doubt you attack
simultaneously on all fronts. I think that yes, you pull out the stops.
And you make sure that this kind of religious discrimination that we have
historical evidence where it has started in places in times past when all
kinds of really terrible things took place because no one stood up at the
REP. LEE: But when should the high bar kick in?
MR. SEIPLE: The high bar in the International Religious Freedom Act is
when a country either engages in or tolerates specific language -- engages
in or tolerates in an ongoing systematic and egregious way. So there has
to be intentionality, there has to be pattern, and there has to be
egregious behavior, which is further defined under the heading of
persecution. It's very high, and it's kidnapping, it's rape, it's general
mayhem, it's long term imprisonments and tortures without charges. And
again, we don't have that situation here. So this is not the bar that we
would use to go after and make our point, and put teeth into it with the
Germans or the French.
REP. LEE: Thank you Mr. Chairman.
REP. GILMAN: Thank you Ms. Lee. Mr. Smith.
REP. CHRISTOPHER SMITH (R-NJ): Thank you very much Mr. Chairman. I want
to welcome Ambassador Seiple and commend him on the extraordinarily good
job he is doing on behalf of religious freedom, and speaking out as he has
and traveling as extensively as he has been. He and his staff are doing an
extraordinarily good job, and I want to recognize that and thank you for
that great work.
Mr. Ambassador, you probably saw or may have seen on today's wire the
importance of the law committee of the French parliament is considering a
bill sponsored by the socialist party that would create a new crime of
what they call mental manipulation, and establish civil and criminal
penalties for activities by religious or philosophical groups that the
government officials deem to be unacceptable. As you know, this is the
latest French parliamentary action that threatened religious liberties of
French citizens. And our commission, in its ongoing dialogue with the
French, is urging that they reject this legislation. And I know you might
want to comment on that and other developments that you have in your
written testimony as well in regards to France.
I also, again, want to highlight for the record the case which I believe
illustrates our concerns. The great evangelical church in Neimes (sp),
which is affiliated with the Southern Baptists, was lifted by the French
Parliament as a dangerous group in 1997. Since then, they have
experienced continued harassment and discrimination, such as the church
being refused commercial bank loans, members losing their jobs, and cars
being torched in the parking lot of the church. Clearly, the French
parliament's lifting of a church in Neimes and a continuation of the
policies of intolerance have a negative effect on religious liberty in
France. And similar stories, as you've pointed out in your testimony, can
be told, as we've heard, in ongoing hearings in out Helsinki Commission.
I want to point out, I've talked to the ambassadors and visiting
delegations frequently from Western European countries, Eastern European
Countries, and Central European Countries. But further east where the rule
of law is not as well established, they continually site the examples of
countries like Austria as justification for their laws -- Russia, Romania,
the Ukraine, and Belarus have restrictive laws. And I was wondering if you
might tell the committee if there is a model law in any of the countries
of Europe that is positive. Because again, I think the zeitgeist, the mood
is towards a tightening rather than a relaxation towards religious
I plan on bringing it up and our delegation will bring it up at the OSCE
parliamentary assembly in Bucharest in July. We plan on being very
vigorous in that. But is there any examples of countries where, rather
than saying look at Austria -- because I can't tell you how many times
I've heard that, I'm sure you have heard that as well - we're just
following in Austria's footsteps or France's. Is there a country that's a
model that they might look at, and of course the United States shouldn't
be exempt from your answer.
MR. SEIPLE: Well, we're all working on this and we all have laws, and
maybe even enough laws on the books, not only our own laws but the
international covenants that we've signed. The question is not so much the
laws; it's how they're being implemented. We have the same laws, in many
respects, in Sweden as we have in Germany, but Sweden does it differently.
At the point of implementations they have taken the gentler, kinder route
that also corresponds to what they have signed up for on the international
And I think that's what we have to hold them to account for. Inherent in
the international instruments is the concept of mutual accountability.
That's why I feel emboldened to go into Paris and say you've got this
wrong, and by the way, if you want to come into the states and pick on us
that's okay too. But that's what it means to be a part of the
international community as it relates to human rights. And you're
absolutely right on the examples.
When something like this goes wrong in an established democracy,
especially democracies that take great pride in their history of
tolerance, we have a number of the rogue states, or semi-rogue states, who
point to that and say you know they do it, why can't we do it; you have
one relationship there another relationship here. In human rights,
inconsistency is the Achilles heal. And if we're not fair and right about
all of these countries and our approach to them, as it relates to human
rights, we will get in trouble.
The new French law, or the new French proposal -- I should say at the
outset that this kind of legislation has floundered in the past.
Obviously, we hope that this flounders as well. We just heard about it
yesterday; we talked about it in the State Department yesterday; we're on
this thing. The downside potential could be nasty. We're optimistic: we
think that this may only be a proposal and will not see the ultimate light
In terms of Pastor DeMeau and the work that he does down in Neimes, we
have been extremely close to him, as you have been. I've met with he and
his wife on a number of occasions. They're coming in at the end of this
month, we'll meet again. He has been a great person to converse with in
terms of the specifics, because he's at the end of the food chain; he's on
the sect list, never should have been there. So, he's a good example for
us to use.
What we would like, just as a starting point, would be for the French
government officials who are most interested in this battle against sects
to sit down with Pastor DeMeau and tell him why he's on this list. I think
that would bring a lot of these things to a head. To date, unfortunately,
the French have not done that.
REP. SMITH: This is just a very quick follow up if I could. Mr. Chairman,
in one of the hearings we had Willy Fotray (ph), the director of Human
Rights Without Frontiers from Belgium. And he went into great explanation
of the impact of European Freemasonry on this movement. It kind of
startled me because I have not done all that much research about what
Freemasons are doing in Europe. But he talked about many of their people
being behind some of these laws. What is your take on that? Do you have
any information on that?
MR. SEIPLE: I would not venture that at all; it might be, it may not be,
but it would be very unprofessional for them to suggest that. These are
mature governments; they can push back, whether it's the Freemasons or
some other interest group, they can push back if they want. I do think,
and I've said this before, I do think that there's a change in climate in
France. And I do think given their history and their proud history of
tolerance, and the growing understanding that they're into something that
doesn't portray them in their best light to the rest of the world.
I think we're going to see changes. I think we've started to see changes.
Again, that doesn't stop us from monitoring, and this potential for new
legislation makes that point.
REP. SMITH: Again, getting to what may be sources, if you or your staff
could at least look into that to see if there's any validity.
MR. SEIPLE: We'd be happy to.
REP. SMITH: Thank you Mr. Chairman.
REP. GILMAN: Mr. Ambassador, we thank you for being here. But before you
go, I know one of our members has an additional question. And I'm going to
ask Dr. Cooksey to preside; I have to attend another meeting for just a
few minutes and I will return. Dr. Cooksey.
REP. BARBARA LEE (D-CA): Thank you Mr. Chairman. Let me just ask the
Ambassador a general question.
And I know we're concentrating today on focusing on the treatment of
religious minorities in Western Europe. But I was just curious in terms of
your knowledge with regard to any debate or concerns over the treatment of
ethnic minorities in Western Europe. I lived in Great Britain for a couple
of years in the s, and being an ethnic minority during that period was
quite a challenge, to say the least. And I haven't been following very
closely this issue. And since you're here and we're dealing with a very
important issue in terms of religious minorities, I was just wondering, as
you do your work and as you travel, how things are going or is there a
concern or debate, at this point, in Western Europe with regard to ethnic
MR. SEIPLE: I've been in many of the capitals on this issue and talked
with the NGO and the human rights faith based communities. I have not
heard; this is not to say it doesn't exist, but I have not heard a concern
in this regard. Whether that's good news or simply people are talking
about other things, I don't' know. We'd be happy to look into it and get
back to you on it. I think it's an appropriate question, but we have not
run into that in Western Europe as it relates to my portfolio and my
REP. LEE: I'd like to get some information on that if you have it.
MR. SEIPLE: We can do that.
REP. LEE: Thank you very much.
REP. COOKSEY: The gentleman from Colorado, Mr.Tancredo, has a question.
REP. THOMAS TANCREDO (R-CO): Thank you Mr. Chairman. Just briefly
Ambassador Seiple, I'm wondering as I sit here and listen to your
discussion and your analysis how we should go about trying to identify
those behaviors on the part of governments that we deem to be
inappropriate, as they relate to the particular religious entities within
their countries. And is it quite difficult because we are continually
addressing them on an individual basis, and we seem to not have a way of
establishing some overall framework in order to analyze the actions of
each government. Therefore, we can't really do anything except go to each
one and say we don't like it when you do this to them.
But I'm wondering if it would not be in our best interest, if it would not
satisfy our mutual goal here, to establish as the prime criteria for our
intervention, something like this -- an established definition for us to
use -- that governments should react only to actions and not thoughts. And
if that is unacceptable, certainly, we would elaborate upon that. But if
that basic understanding is the mutual understanding here, what do you
think the administration should do to implement that worldwide?
MR. SEIPLE: Well, I think if we reacted to actions not to thought and we
demanded certain actions not thought, we would certainly eliminate a lot
of paranoia around these issues. We would get into a much more real
discussion. We do have frameworks in which to look at this. We have the
framework of the legislation; we have the framework of our office; we have
the framework of the embassy system where there is ongoing, daily
discussion of these issues, even as we connect, maybe, in a less frequent
We've got the report, which is the high court of public opinion because
you folks have agreed to print it. It's not only on the web site, but it's
in hard copy. These are countries that are portrayed in here by region.
And so, you can read the problems --
REP. TANCREDO: -- and I have. And I don't mean to interrupt you, except to
say that I certainly understand the efforts that are ongoing to deal with
the specific problems that are identified in each country. But it just
seems to me that that is a very laborious process that could be, to some
extent, alleviated by a general definition that we could get everybody to
sign onto that isn't there in the legislation. In the legislation at
least, I've seen and that you referenced, talks about this issue in a way
that I still believe is open to some degree of subjectivity. And I'm just
wondering whether or not we can't come up with some language to implement
through the legislation and through EU agreements that would eliminate the
subjectivity. And that's actions not thoughts.
MR. SEIPLE: I think the quick answer, to eliminate subjectivity may not
happen in my lifetime. We do have lots of words written. There are a
series of articles, article 18s, in the universal declaration of the
ICCPR, and things that essentially came out of Europe over the last 50
years. They still have to be interpreted. The issue of national
sovereignty, as it relates to human rights, always has to get interpreted,
especially in some of those that can be most prickly on these issues.
I'm not sure how you short cut that without an ongoing process which
exists at many, many levels. I'm glad that our legislation was cast in the
framework of the international covenants. This is not a heavy-handed
American approach. It's an American feeling, a strong feeling, that we
need to put our considerable shoulder to the wheel of international
instruments that are already out there. But the OSCE does a really fine
job. There are formats, and forums, and conferences, and seminars to
advance this discussion. At the same time, we have to use the embassy
system. I mean it's just too good an infrastructure to bypass when we have
people who know these issues and know the host country and can speak on a
daily basis about them.
And then in terms of the finitude of resources, I think we have to use all
of them that are at our disposal. Having said that, I don't see us
creating dramatic changes, whole scale changes. I mean we wrote a good
law. If we sit back and think that the rest of the 194 countries are
waiting for this law to pass so they can jump in line, it ain't going to
happen. We're going to be taking baby steps, incremental steps, with lots
of countries. And it's going to take a long time, it's going to take a lot
of perseverance. These issues are not going to go away fast whether it's
our ally or our worst enemy.
Our commitment is to continue to pursue upon all of these levels,
simultaneously, in as much as we have resources to do, and people will
begin to see this is a good thing, this is in their best interest. I can't
believe for a second that these four democracies of Western Europe enjoy
being on the short end of a discussion where we have a better
philosophical rationale. It must be hard for them to make this case.
I can only imagine that they're looking for ways that they can change over
time without the sense that the Americans jammed it down their throats.
REP. TANCREDO: Thank you Ambassador, I appreciate those comments.
REP. COOKSEY: Before I introduce this next panel, I looked at your resume,
you have a very impressive resume, and I see that you are a warrior and a
fighter pilot, and our careers overlapped at the same time. Yours is a lot
more illustrious than mine, I was in the Airforce. I personally feel that
warriors make the best peacemakers, and you've been a leader in theology
and the seminary, and I think that makes you a great witness. I appreciate
your comments; I appreciate you being here; the committee appreciates your
being here, and you will be excused and we will have the next panel.
MR. SEIPLE: Thank you very much.
REP. COOKSEY: I will call the witnesses in the following order: Dr. Gunn,
the Reverend L'Heureux, Mr. Brumley, Dr. Hunt, Mr. Jensen, and Ms. Bell.
REP. GEJDENSON: Mr. Chairman, I think Ms. Bell is unaware that there's a
seat for her at the table.
REP. COOKSEY: On our next panel, the first witness is Mr. Jeremy Gunn. Mr.
Gunn has looked at issues of religious liberty from the perspective of the
U.S. Institute of Peace and the U.S. Commission on International
Religious Freedom. He has published widely on this subject. We're happy
that he was recommended to us by the committee of the minority. Dr. Gunn.
DR. JEREMY GUNN: Thank you to the members of the committee; it's an honor
to be here to provide testimony today. During World War II, Philipe
Shepier (ph) arrived in a small French town of Cherbonne for the purpose
of renovating an abandoned chateau to house and school Jewish refugee
children from Eastern Europe.
While Monsieur Shepier and the good people of Cherborne risked their lives
to save the refugee children, the French Vichy government sent police into
the villages of France to arrest Jews.
By October of 1940, the Vichy government issued a law defining Jews and
prohibiting them from holding certain types of employment, including
positions in government, law, police, the army, the press, and teaching.
The law subsequently expanded to prohibit Jews from engaging in most forms
of commerce. Jews were condemned as a group simply because they belonged
to the group. Such is the peculiar logic of prejudice; it does not require
individual culpability, it requires only the accusation that a person is a
member of the condemned class.
The Vichy government ultimately was responsible for arresting,
transporting, and delivering to the Nazis tens of thousands of European
Jews. In stark contrast, all but four of Monsieur Shebrier's 400 Jewish
children survived the war. One of Monsieur Shebrier's colleagues, Dr.
Michaelis (ph), had previously treated children who were housed in French
concentration camps before he came to Cherbonne. In 1942, while the war
raged, he wrote, "to examine the children of Cherbonne after having
examined the children in the concentration camps and to know in our sad
times the two faces of France. The true one is here in Cherbonne where
Monsieur Shebrier is working with such beautiful success to cure the
misdeeds of the other."
Unfortunately France, like all countries of the world, and I include the
United States, has two faces: the face of courage and toleration, and the
face of discrimination. There are several obstacles to the internationally
recognized freedom of religion and belief in France and other Western
European countries. Before criticizing them, it is also important to
recognize that these governments and people in Western Europe generally
believe in the rule of law in human rights. Much to their credit,
virtually all-European states have ratified the European convention on
Human rights, and the people of these countries have the option of taking
complaints to the European Court of Human Rights.
Although I will devote the bulk of my testimony to the problem of new
religious movements, this committee should not be under the impression
that this is the only or necessarily the most important of the obstacles
to freedom of religion and belief in Western Europe. Without attempting to
rank the problems in order, three other salient and interrelated problems
of freedom of religion and belief in Western Europe are; first, the
incorporation of Muslims into society; second, laws that discriminate
among religions; and third, the attitude of intolerance, including
But the one issue that has received increasing notice during the past few
years in Europe is what may be called the anti-sect movement. The most
serious problem regarding the anti-sect movement in Western Europe is in
France. In 1998, the French government established an agency entitled the
Inter-Ministerial Mission to Battle Against Sects. The mission is now
headed by the former French Foreign Minister Monsieur Alain Vivian (ph).
During the past few years, the French National Assembly has also issued
prejudicial reports on so-called sects that are shockingly unscientific.
Widely supported bills currently pending in the French legislature,
including one that was mentioned a few moments ago, call for increasingly
severe measures against sects. I will describe two interrelated problems
of the official anti-sect movement in France to illustrate how a
legitimate concern for human welfare can be diverted towards the taking of
illogical and discriminatory actions.
First, the language of prejudice uses pejorative terms as an appeal to the
listener's bias. The most commonly employed term by the anti-sect movement
is, of course, the term sect, which plays a role similar to that of racial
epithets. One common tactic by some in the anti-sect movement is then to
accuse they're ideological opponent of being members or fellow travelers
of the foreign group. I personally witnessed one telling example of this
tactic by the president of the inter-ministerial himself against a member
of an official U.S. delegation in France.
In April of 1999, a three-person delegation sponsored by the U.S.
Department of State Office of International Religious Freedom went to
France and other European countries. Shortly before the meeting, we were
advised that the president of this new inter-ministerial mission had
declined our request to meet with him. He did so on the grounds that one
of the members of our delegation was affiliated with the Church of
Scientology. Now, I am not a Scientologist and I knew that the other two
participants, Dr. David Little, and Karen Lord, council for religious
freedom at the Congressional Helsinki Commission, were not Scientologists.
The president later decided that he would in fact meet with us. But as we
were introduce to him, he remarked that he, "already knew" who Ms. Ward
was, and that he did not need to be introduced to her. Later in a meeting,
following a question by Ms. Lord, the president said that he would not
respond to her but would give a response to the head of the U.S.
delegation. Subsequently, Monsieur Vivian has repeated publicly, on
several occasions, that a member of this three- person delegation was
affiliated with the Church of Scientology.
Monsieur Vivian's assertion is, in a word, false. I am certain that he
cannot prove his assertion. I challenge him to provide evidence to support
it or to issue an apology to Ms. Lord and the United States. But the most
important issue, however, is not that Monsieur Vivian made a false
statement that was designed to discredit Ms. Lord or the U.S. efforts to
promote religious freedom. The important issue is that his manner of
responding to questions about religious discrimination exemplifies the
tactic of much of the anti- sect campaign: the use of uninformed,
provocative, and false allegations for the purpose of discrediting people
His attack was not an aberration; it had unfortunately become a standard
rhetorical device to discredit those who believe that the anti-sect
movement is going too far. I give some additional examples in my prepared
The language of prejudice also reveals itself in such terms as
"infiltration" to described the real or imagined employment of a "sect"
member in a business or government office. When Catholics are members of
the reformed church or teach in school they are called employees, but if
they are members of the groups under attack they are called infiltrators.
This is a use of simply pejorative language.
Second, there are illogical methods of prejudice that come to play, and
I'd like to identify four now. One, the methods of prejudice do not
consult scholars familiar with issues related to new religious movements,
but relay instead on anti-sect activists. By failing to consult scholars,
the reports, particularly in France and Belgium, present an a-historical
and caricatured view of new religious movements.
Two, the reports of the anti-sect movements relay on statements made by
accusers and disgruntled former members. But they refuse to accept the
considerable evidence that most, although not all, adherents of the new
religious movement generally report positive and beneficial experiences
with the group. This was in fact the conclusion of both the Swedish and
the German governments' investigation into new religious movements.
In a telling repudiation of this methodology employed by the anti-sect
movement, a French court recently found Jacque Gayal (ph), president of
the 1999 parliamentary investigations, liable himself for defamation
against Anthropostasy (ph). As reported by the newspaper Le Monde, the
courts held back his parliamentary report and his statement, which was not
"a serious investigation." Monsieur Gayal, for making the statement about
Anthroposifists, was fined 20,000 francs and ordered to pay 90,000 francs
The French anti-sect movement typically refuses to engage in dialogue with
the group that they are attacking. This refusal to engage in a discussion
with the groups that are under attack is an approach very different from
that recommended by the Swedish government, for example, which strongly
recommends dialogue with groups rather than polarization of the issues.
That is also the recommendation made by the Organization of Security and
Cooperation in Europe.
Three, the principle documentary evidence in the French reports are secret
allegations contained in files at the security division of the French
police. Four, the reports use examples of alleged misdeeds of some people
in some group and then broadly condemn the entire groups or even sects
generally. The fallacy of this type of analysis can be easily illustrated
by reference to the recent criminal conviction of Jacque Gayal himself.
The springs have not been kind to Mr. Gayal since being sentenced for
committing a criminal offense and defamation against religious minorities.
The same year Monsieur Gayal was condemned, in 1999, the fraud committed
by a sect was, ironically, convicted by a French court in May of this year
for influence peddling and was sentenced to one year in prison and fined
100,000 francs. If we were to apply the same analysis to Monsieur Gayal
that he applies to the new religious movements, we would then need to hold
REP. GILMAN: -- Dr. Gunn, I dislike interrupting you. You are exceeding
your time and I would hope you could summarize your statement.
DR. GUNN: Yes, thank you. It would be the same as holding the French
inter-ministerial mission responsible for the actions of Monsieur Gayal.
I'd like to make 4 short recommendations. First, the Department of State
should monitor much more closely and vigorously anti-sect movements on
both a bilateral and multilateral basis. Second, based upon my experience
working in the State Department, I must also suggest that Congress take
seriously its responsibility for fully funding the State Department. From
my own observations, personnel in the State Department are overworked and
under supported. There is a need for more time and resources in the State
Third, Congress could assist the department by promoting genuinely
international approaches to human rights. Fourth, I believe that the
religious community in the United States can be much more helpful in
supporting religious freedom abroad. While all faiths in the United
States can help, those that are widely practiced and respected in Europe,
particularly Catholicism, Lutheranism, Orthodoxy, and the Reform Church
can play a very helpful role in promoting tolerance.
I don't know how long the anti-sect movement is going to continue in
France. The Vichy government continued in France for 4 years, and I hope
the life of the anti-sect movement does not have much longer. Thank you
REP. GILMAN: Thank you Dr. Gunn. Since time is running and we want to hear
from all of you, and then we want to have a dialogue with our members, I'm
going to ask you if you try to keep within the 5-minute rule that we have.
Your full statements have been made part of the record. We'll now proceed
to our next panelist, Reverend N.J. Skip L'Heureux. Reverend L'Heureux is
Executive Director of the Queens, New York Federation of Churches, is a
moderator of the Religious Liberty Committee, the National Council of
Churches. He's a Methodist pastor with wide experience in ecumenical work
and religious freedom questions. We welcome your proceeding Mr.
REVEREND N.J. L'HEUREUX: Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the
committee, thank you for inviting me to testify today about the worsening
problem of religious intolerance in France. I'll present here a short
summary of my testimony.
It was 343 years ago on December the 27, 1657 that residents of Flushing,
Queens began a letter to then Governor Peter Styvesant by declaring, and I
quote, "You have been pleased to send up onto us a certain prohibition or
command that we should not receive or entertain any of those people called
Quakers because they are supposed to be by some, seducers of the people.
For our part, we cannot condemn them." The Flushing remonstrance is the
earliest declaration of religious liberty on these shores, focused on
securing that liberty not just for self but for individuals and groups
other than the ones making the declaration.
France is a signatory to international human rights laws protecting
religious freedom. Unfortunately, the French government policy is so far
in violation of these tenets that its officials have set up an office
called the Interministerial Mission to Fight Against Sects, commonly known
as MILS. MILS has drawn deep from the wells of hostility filled by the
American anti-cult movement and by its long campaign of malicious
vilification of new or religious religions. In France, a 1996
parliamentary commission report stigmatized some
religious movements with the pejorative label of "sect," including the
Baptists, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses and Seventh Day Adventists. We note
as well that there is discrimination visited in France upon the Muslim
The U.S. State Department's Annual Report for Religious Freedom published
last September criticized this commission report on the grounds, and I
quote, "It contributed to an atmosphere of intolerance and bias against
minority religions." Earlier this year, as has been noted, the rapporteur
of the parliamentary commission was himself convicted by a Paris court and
denounced for research methods counted by the court as, quote, "not
serious." And yet the blacklist of this 173 movements continues to
circulate and is used to justify discrimination against the groups.
In March, I was a member of an expert panel at a nongovernmental hearing
in Paris which drew more than 300 people from 38 minority religious
movements to describe the discrimination to which they had been subjected.
I and the other members of the panel were shocked at what we heard because
it was evident that these individuals were being targeted solely because
of their religious beliefs. I felt it necessary to bring the situation to
the attention of a wider audience, and then sought to place a series of
paid advertisements in French newspapers in the form of open letters to
senior French officials. The open letters focused attention on the
violations of European and international human rights standards caused by
MILS, and they were in turn signed by some 52 religious and human rights
leaders, mostly American.
Four major national newspapers in France refused to publish them. Only
the national paper (Francois ?) agreed to run them and, on April the 20th,
published our open letter to the president, Jacques Chirac. American
signatories of these ads included Lee Boothby (sp) of the International
Commission for Human Conscience; Dr. Derrick (sp) Davis, director of the
J.M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Relations at Baylor University; the
Board of the First Church of Christ Scientist in Boston; Dr. Franklin H.
Littell (sp), professor of holocaust and genocide studies at Richard
Stockton College in New Jersey; Dr. David Little (sp) of the Harvard
Divinity School; Melissa Rogers (sp), general counsel of the Baptist Joint
Committee on Public Affairs; and representatives of many Christian, Muslim
and Jewish faith communities.
Such was the furor following publication of this open letter that although
Francois had agreed to run the third letter a week later, the paper not
only reneged, but the chief editor publicly stated that he had published
this letter on April 20 by mistake.
It is against this background that we come to a recent and most disturbing
development in France to date, the proposed bill pending now before the
National Assembly, about which much has been said. That bill is the
subject of a letter, an open letter, published today in the International
Herald Tribune, a letter addressed to Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, saying
it is a flagrant violation of fundamental human rights standards in that
it singles out and targets members of minority religions even as a special
category of citizens. The bill's title proclaims its discriminatory
intent, "Law Proposal Aimed at Reinforcing the Prevention and the
Repression of Groups with Sectarian Character."
The proposed law is essentially the product of the hysteria about minority
faiths brought about by MILS and its president, Alain Vivien.
Mr. Chairman, I would urge you and the members of the committee to make
the strongest possible representations to the French government that
should this law pass, it will place in question France's commitment to the
Helsinki Accords. Such a law would be a cancer on French democracy. Only
by sending a strong and unmistakable signal of Congress's intent to take
firm measures against violations of international human rights codes will
we be able to succeed in halting these reverses for religious freedom in
I thank you very much for hearing my testimony, and I'll be happy in the
dialogue to respond to your questions.
REP. GILMAN: Thank you very much, Reverend L'Heureux. We appreciate your
reference to the work of our New York ancestors, as well.
We'll now move on to our next panelist, Philip Brumley, general counsel of
Jehovah's Witnesses. Mr. Brumley has traveled all over the world in
support of religious liberty. We thank you, Mr. Brumley, for being here
today, and you may now proceed.
MR. BRUMLEY: Good morning, Chairman Gilman and Congressman Gejdenson and
to all of you on the House Committee of International Relations.
Today happens to be a very special day. Most of you will know that it's
Flag Day. It's also a special day for all lovers of religious freedom
because it marks the 57th anniversary of an historic Supreme Court
decision, West Virginia v. Barnette. In that case, the Supreme Court held
that it was unconstitutional to force children of Jehovah's Witnesses to
salute the flag. Most do not understand, nor necessarily agree, with our
position that, while we owe respect to the flag, we may not salute it; but
that decision stands as irrefutable proof that this country does stand up
and grant religious freedom to all, including those of minority faiths.
One would expect that the situation would be similar in Western Europe,
but sadly, this is not the case, as has been testified. Witness
communities have been active in Western Europe since over 100 years. There
are approximately 1 million active Jehovah's Witnesses in Western Europe,
approximately 1,600,000 who also attend our services. During World War II,
hundreds of Jehovah's Witnesses paid the ultimate price for not
compromising their faith.
With this backdrop, it's surprising to see the treatment that Jehovah's
Witnesses are receiving in Western Europe. I begin with France because it
is the epicenter of religious intolerance of Jehovah's Witnesses. Two
years ago, France imposed a 60 percent tax on all donations made to our
administrative center in France. They assert that we owe as much as $50
million in unpaid taxes. Here we see the level of sophistication of
religious intolerance. The French authorities will assert that Jehovah's
Witnesses are free to believe whatever we will, but their anti-sect
commission labeled us "a dangerous religion," and this had the effect of
declaring open season on Jehovah's Witnesses.
Let me give you one example of what happens now to Jehovah's Witnesses in
France. One of our ministers, Renee Snerberger (sp), for decades has sent
religious literature to inmates in prisons throughout France. Recently
those inmates informed him that they were no longer receiving the
literature. When he inquired as to the reason, he was given the following
answer by the Valpan (sp) prisons officials: Quote, "Receipt of these
magazines is being suspended because of the sectarian nature of Jehovah's
Witnesses, as recognized by the parliamentary commission."
Regarding Belgium, let me inform you of the situation that children of
Jehovah's Witnesses routinely face in Belgium with regard to religious
intolerance. A teacher in the Ecole Pageau (sp) issued a paper for class
discussions and said this: Quoting, "In Belgium, there are 189 dangerous
sects, and 37 are hard-core ones, such as Jehovah's Witnesses." Now, how
would you have felt if your children and their faith was subjected to such
scrutiny and intolerance in their classrooms?
Some who are Jehovah's Witnesses in Belgium have lost custody of their
children just because they happened to be Jehovah's Witnesses. In one case
the judge states, quote, "It constitutes a grave danger for the children,
taking into account the influence of the Jehovah's sect of which the
mother seems to be a member." Another judge was even more openly bigoted.
He said, "Jehovah's Witnesses are not to be viewed as a religion but as a
movement of fanatics."
What about Germany? As the fall of Communism drew near, the East German
officials granted Jehovah's Witnesses full religious status, a status
superior to the mere not-for-profit status we enjoy in Western Germany.
When unification took place, we moved to have complete religious freedom
throughout Germany, like the other majority religions. A trial court and
an appellate court ruled that we were entitled to this status. It's called
corporation of public law status. But the high administrative court ruled
against us. For the first time, it said that we lacked the degree of
loyalty necessary for any religion seeking corporation of public benefits
status. They said that we lacked this loyalty because we are neutral in
political matters. This case is now pending before the German
Constitutional Court, and we hope for a favorable victory there.
Once again let me show you the effect on local Jehovah's Witnesses. For
decades, one couple had been used to care for foster children. When the
local youth office of the German government was informed by an anti-cult
chairman that the couple happened to be Jehovah's Witnesses, they moved to
have the children removed from this couple. This led to a two-year court
battle that the couple ultimately won, but the local youth office has now
refused to assign any new children in their care.
Next let me summarize briefly the situation in Austria. For decades, we
were moving through the political and the legal court systems to obtain
the same religious status as other religions in Austria. And Chairman,
just as we were getting to the point of obtaining this religious status,
the National Legislature of Austria convened and passed a new law. The new
law, for the first time, imposes a 10-year waiting period for any
organization seeking full religious recognition. The law applies to nobody
but Jehovah's Witnesses. No one else is seeking this status at present. It
was clearly passed with us in view.
Again let me move to the individual level of what is happening to
Jehovah's Witnesses. One of our brothers was applying for a job, for which
he was well-qualified and for which he was going to be accepted. But when
they found out he was one of Jehovah's Witnesses, he received the
following letter. Quote: "We thank you for your application, but we are
sorry to have to tell you that we do not employ persons belonging to any
kind of sect."
To just summarize a final matter, Sweden is complicating our operations
there because of not recognizing the concept of voluntary work on behalf
of religious endeavors. Although Sweden has a much better record than the
other four countries I just mentioned, it is hampering our volunteer work
to build new kingdom halls because those who would serve as volunteers to
do this have to pay a tax on their labors, as though it is a taxable
Well, clearly something is wrong in Western Europe. What is the solution?
Well, Jehovah's Witnesses turn to the scriptures first, and Isaiah
foretold this: "In the wilderness, justice will certainly reside, and in
the orchard, righteousness will dwell. My people must dwell in a peaceful
abiding place and in residences of full confidence." Jehovah's Witnesses
recognize the complete fulfillment of that lies ahead in the future, but
in the meantime, we call upon this committee and all governments to
recognize our God-given right to religious freedom that currently Western
Europe only extends to majority faiths.
REP. GILMAN: Thank you, Dr. Brumley. Your reference to the Supreme Court's
decision in Barnette, which not only came on Flag Day but came in the
midst of war, reminds us how strong the impulse is to provide for
religious freedom in our own nation. After all, that's why many of our
ancestors first came here to begin with, is to look for freedom of
MR. BRUMLEY: Well said.
REP. GILMAN: We'll now avail ourselves of the digital video conference
facilities of our committee and the facilities of our American Embassy in
Vienna to hear our next witness. We thank the public affairs staff of our
embassy in Vienna for their assistance in this endeavor.
We'll now call upon, in Vienna, Dr. Robert A. Hunt. Dr. Hunt has since
1977 been the pastor of the English-speaking United Methodist Church of
Vienna. He is a Texan by birth and a graduate of the University of Texas,
Southern Methodist University and the University of Malaysia, where he
earned his Ph.D. Dr. Hunt has served congregations in Texas, in Malaysia
and in Vienna, and has worked in New York and in Singapore. He is a
specialist in Christian-Muslim relations.
We know how happy you are in your own ministry, Dr. Hunt; nevertheless,
we're grateful that you're willing to share your concerns about the
present environment in which you're working in Vienna. Dr. Hunt, please
PASTOR HUNT: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I want to thank the
committee, as well, for inviting me to give this testimony and to share
some of the experiences that I've had in Vienna.
According to a statement of the Austrian Information Service dated January
20th, 1998, the laws which regulate the legal status of religious belief
communities, especially the law of , while making distinctions among them,
in no way infringe on the rights of individuals or groups to practice it
in public and private. I would like to suggest that the right of religious
freedom cannot, however -- (inaudible due to static interference on the
line from Vienna).
REP. GILMAN: We pause for technical difficulties. Dr. Hunt, we're having
some problem. You seem to be disconnected. We'll try to come back to you
as quickly as we can.
In the interim, we're going to call on Congressman Rogan from California,
who is here today to introduce the next witnesses. And if we are able to
get Dr. Hunt? back on the line, we'll interrupt you.
REP. JAMES ROGAN (R-CA): Being interrupted goes with the turf. But I
especially thank you for calling this hearing and giving me the privilege
to take a moment to introduce two witnesses to this committee who are both
The first witness literally needs no introduction. I'm sure she's familiar
to all the members of this committee. Catherine Bell is the star of the
hit CBS show, "JAG." On that show, she plays a military attorney. I teased
her yesterday. I said, "You have the best of both worlds; you get paid for
pretending you're an attorney, but you don't have to go through the
disgrace in life of actually being one." (Laughter.) So I want to thank
Catherine for coming out. She is a member of the Church of Scientology.
She lives near me in Los Angeles. And in her presentation she will be
reading prepared testimony of another great actress, Ann Archer, who could
not be here today.
The second witness that I wanted to introduce is an old friend of mine.
He's also a constituent. Craig Jensen from Glendale, California. Craig is
the CEO of Executive Software. His company produces key software that
enables disk operating systems to run more efficiently. It's a core
component of most computer software operating systems. His company has
contributed much to our national economic expansion in the last couple of
Currently, Microsoft plans to include Craig's software in their Windows
2000 operating system. However, the Microsoft product launch, while
heralded around the world, is being severely disadvantaged in Western
Europe, and in particular in the Federal Republic of Germany. The origins
of this imposition relate to the fact that Craig Jensen is a member of the
Church of Scientology.
Mr. Chairman, this committee has a long history of acting on behalf of
religious freedom. Its work has carried the torch of liberty to many new
lands. It's in this spirit that I thank you for inviting Craig, Catherine
and the other witnesses before this committee and for giving me the
privilege of making this brief introduction of both of them.
REP. GILMAN: Thank you, Congressman Rogan. We thank you for being here
We'll now call upon Mr. Craig Jensen, the entrepreneur who founded, and
president and CEO of Executive Software. Mr. Jensen.
MR. JENSEN: Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the committee, thank
you for giving me the opportunity to tell you about an embargo of American
products by the government of Germany. I will be presenting a brief
summary of my views.
I am the CEO of Executive Software, a company I founded in 1981 in
California. My company's products are in use in every sector of the
American economy, including right here on Capitol Hill, and are sold
extensively abroad, as well.
I would like to point out that no other country on Earth can produce
software of the quality and usefulness that American software companies
produce. In view of this, a foreign embargo of American software products
must be viewed as a hostile act. Purchase of my products is restricted in
Germany by government edict. And now, the fact that Microsoft's new
Windows 2000 operating system includes a component developed by my company
is being used to justify a ban on the sale of Windows 2000 in Germany.
Why? The official reason given is that my company is headed by a member of
the Church of Scientology. But what does my religion have to do with
selling software? Nothing. The German government makes no attempt to hide
the fact that their embargo is based on religious discrimination. In fact,
the government officials see nothing wrong with religious discrimination.
Simply put, I come here today to alert your attention to a trade embargo
justified on the grounds of government-mandated religious discrimination.
Let me give you the background. In December, a German magazine article
proposed a ban on Windows 2000 on the grounds that I, as CEO of a
Microsoft supplier, am a Scientologist. The official German news agency,
DPA, sent out an international wire story saying that my involvement in
Windows 2000, quote, "is of interest to the Catholic Church, the other
German states, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, and
German industry," unquote. A government official from the Hamburg Ministry
of the Interior fanned the flames by boasting in the press that in Bavaria
and Hamburg, the government does not use the services or products from
companies owned by Scientologists.
While such a blatantly discriminatory admission would be condemned
immediately in this country, in the climate of intolerance created by
German government, it is allowed to pass. That official heads an office
called Working Group Against Scientology, which created the so-called
"sect filter" which forbids employment or contractual relations with
individuals participating in the Church of Scientology. In the end, the
German Security Technology Office informed Microsoft that they would not
certify Windows 2000 for sale in Germany because part of the program was
produced by a company owned by a a Scientologist.
Although the U.S. State Department has repeatedly condemned the German
government for its use of sect filters, the discrimination has not
lessened. In fact, it has gotten worse. Official German discrimination
has broadened from individuals to corporations and now to corporations
whose suppliers employ or are owned by members of minority religions.
Official statements from the German government have confirmed that public
bodies expressly ban purchases from companies owned by or associated with
Scientologists, effectively prohibiting the purchase of U.S. products.
This year, for the first time, the U.S. Trade Representative placed
Germany on the Watch List over its abuse of Scientologists' rights. The
inclusion of Germany in her report shows that in the view of the U.S.
government, Germany's discriminatory practices are not only a blatant
violation of human rights, but a threat to American trade, as well.
Mr. Chairman, I come to you today not just on my own behalf but on behalf
of my friends, partners and business associates who are suffering at the
hands of official German bigots who can't stand the thought of anyone
participating in a sect or free church. I also come before you on behalf
of all members of the Church of Scientology, who are forbidden employment,
political party affiliation and even schooling for their children because
of their religious beliefs.
I ask you to send a message to the German government that the Congress and
the people of the United States will not tolerate either human rights
violations of a religious nature or discrimination against American trade.
Perhaps the most effective action that you can take at this time is to
give your full support to the resolutions on Germany, H.R. 388 and S. ,
which call upon Congress and the president to demand that Germany abide by
international human rights law.
Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to appear before this
committee. And I'll be happy to respond to any questions.
REP. GILMAN: Thank you, Mr. Jensen.