Opinion | Stop the state supported intolerance and bigotry

Statement from the Church of Scientology in response to The Copenhagen Post article "Anti-cult conference planned in Scientology's backyard

Copenhagen has been chosen as the location for the annual FECRIS conference, a get-together of extremist bigots, many of them with unsavoury stories on their conscience when it comes to human rights. No government or agency calling themselves protectors or believers of human rights should be supporting this activity. Several FECRIS affiliated groups were taken to court on the grounds of hate speech or attempts to force members of new religious movements to give up their faith through kidnapping and deprogramming.  

The Churches of Scientology in Denmark protest against these foreign human rights violators coming to our country with their anti-religious hate and the fact that The Copenhagen Post uncritically promotes their campaign. Danish people are proud of being known internationally as defenders of human rights and religious freedom, The Copenhagen Post should do the same.

One of those who visited Copenhagen as part of this conference is the Vice-president of FECRIS, Alexander Dvorkin, from Russia. He has supported the Chinese government’s repression against Falun Gong and compared Falun Gong members to “cancerous cells”, thereby advocating implicitly their elimination. He has also recently been doing lectures, where he ridiculed the Muslims and their prophet. 

The Copenhagen Post provides lengthy quotes from the president of FECRIS, Thomas Sackville. What The Post however does not mention is that FECRIS is mainly a French group that receives over 90 percent of its financing from the French state. Many of their affiliated French groups are also heavily funded by the state. This is very peculiar, considering that the French state is said to be totally secular. Regis Dericquebourg, a French scholar, has studied FECRIS and found that in 2004 its board members were all from various anti-sect organisations and none of them in fact specialists in religion or in minority religious groups. He mainly sees FECRIS as an empty shell that would not survive if it only got contributions received as membership fees, as the associations from the different countries have very few members. Rather the whole objective of FECRIS is to combat faith minorities. 

The director of Human Rights Without Frontiers, Willy Fautre, has found that state neutrality and impartiality does not exist in five of the countries that have affiliated FECRIS organisations. In all five countries, the state and public powers take sides with FECRIS affiliates and finance their activities. He and several other scholars, who have done research into FECRIS recommends that the states stop financing the fight of organisations against specific faith communities. His conclusion: “The neutrality of the state and of international organisations like the United Nations, the OSCE, the Council of Europe and EU institutions towards religious and non-religious worldviews is fundamental if they want the individual freedom of thought and conscience and religious diversity to be respected, to make progress in their fight for equality and against discrimination, to safeguard social peace and cohesion, and to preserve public order and democracy.” 

If we want a tolerant and diverse Europe, the answer is that the European States stop their financing of the fight of FECRIS against specific faiths and beliefs communities in violation of article 9 of the European Convention of Human Rights.

For more information, please visit the website of Human Rights Without Frontiers.

The author is the spokesperson for the Church of Scientology in Denmark