A random piece of mail, redux
by Franklin Clark, Reporter -- fclark@cadizrecord.com
Jun 26, 2013 | 720 720 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In September 2011, I wrote an editorial on what is still to this day the most random piece of mail I have ever received at the office – a 120-page German letter about the German government’s alleged mistreatment of the Church of Scientology.

Of all the editorials I have written, of all the controversial subjects on which I have opined, it is also the one that has garnered the most responses.

To this very day, people from small newspapers all around the country tell me they’ve received this same piece of mail, and that they found my editorial on the subject after a Google search.

And there’s been a recent upswing, from places like Newburyport, Mass., Andover, Mass., and Westfield, Mass. Why all the recent responses are from Massachusetts, I can’t even begin to guess.

Sadly, I don’t know if I still have the letter. My office is basically a black hole; even if it’s here, it’s gone forever. So I couldn’t translate it, even if I knew German. When I first received it, I only translated the first few paragraphs via Google Translate, which is hardly exact.

However, even with Google Translate, the author’s intent was crystal clear:

“Such a comprehensive discrimination and destruction of a small religious-ideological minority is unprecedented in the history of the liberal democratic state example. Here, public funds or tax money for campaigns of hatred and discrimination are used against German citizens who are simply members of a religious community, which are clearly parallels to Hitler’s time. The official reports and statements of politicians, authorities and a lot of other people are plain and clear: to eliminate the Church of Scientology and Scientologists.”

My response back then is still relevant.

“Scientology isn’t recognized as an official religion in Germany, whose government views it as an abusive business pretending to be a religion, and German domestic intelligence services have monitored their activities. Reasonable people can disagree on whether this is the right course for Germany to take, but it’s a far cry from what Hitler did. Of course, like all who have no good arguments, the author played the Hitler Card.”

It’s worth noting that Scientology is an officially recognized religion here.

It’s also worth noting, in the author’s defense, that German domestic intelligence services have monitored the organization’s activities, that are barred from membership in some major political parties and employers use so-called “sect filters” to expose a job applicant’s association with the organization, and that six or so years ago the German government considered banning the church altogether. Indeed, many Germans still favor banning them.

In the German government’s defense, the “Church” of Scientology has a history of abuse, and considers any critic to be a “suppressive person” who is therefore “fair game” for ruin at the hands of church officials.

And I can think of no other religion where followers have to pay thousands of dollars to learn its basic tenets.

My main question – how this mail reached The Cadiz Record and the offices of other small American newspapers – remains valid.

Franklin Clark is a reporter for the Cadiz Record and can be reached by email at fclark@cadizrecord.com.
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