Leipzig Award










Laudatio for Dr. Norbert Blüm
by Robert S. Minton

"Once freedom is attained it must be cherished, nurtured and protected from those who would strip it away"

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, and especially to you, Dr. Blüm. It is indeed a pleasure to be here in Leipzig today to address the European-American Citizens Committee for Human Rights and Religious Freedom. Furthermore, it is my great honor, as the recipient of last year's award, to give the commendation speech for you, Dr. Blüm, and to present you with the 2001 Leipzig Human Rights Award.

This human rights award began only last year. It was initiated as the "Alternative Charlemagne Award," because the committee wanted to point out that the European values for which the original Charlemagne Award stood could not be reconciled with former President Clinton's support of the totalitarian Scientology organization.

When Leipzig was selected as the location for the presentation of the award, the experience took on added significance, both for the European-American Citizens Committee for Human Rights and Religious Freedom and for me. Leipzig is the place where freedom was reborn in the former East Germany. We are standing in the shadows of the St. Nikolai Church, where the call to freedom in East Germany began with a handful of people, then grew to hundreds and finally to hundreds of thousands in the streets surrounding this Stock Exchange Building, all demanding freedom. Those events that occurred in Leipzig not so long ago confirm that obtaining freedom is always hard work that requires courage and sacrifice. We also know from history that once freedom is attained it must be cherished, nurtured and protected from those who would strip it away.

Dr. Blüm, you have been a visionary politician and leader who has demonstrated a keen sense of history. It was more than 20 years ago, when almost all the problems with modern sects and cults were regarded as purely individual or psychological in nature, that you stated we were dealing with a political challenge. Many people, particularly politicians in the United States, have yet to comprehend your very important message. But it is the duty of all of us here to follow your example and help our politicians to understand the simple fact that Scientology is an aspiring totalitarian political movement.

In January 2000, I established an organization called the Lisa McPherson Trust in Clearwater, Florida. As I have walked through the streets of downtown Clearwater amongst hundreds of Scientology Sea Org members, I have often been reminded of something that Hitler saw as early as 1929 as being the "great thing" of his movement. What he saw as great was the fact that sixty thousand men "have outwardly become almost a unit, that actually these members are uniform not only in ideas, but that even the facial expression is almost the same. Look at these laughing eyes, this fanatical enthusiasm and you will discover . . . how a hundred thousand men in a movement become a single type." It is at times eerie that the Lisa McPherson Trust is surrounded by the Sea Org in Clearwater, but it is also a blessing. It is a blessing because our mere presence undermines the most fundamental element of this totalitarian entity, namely, the isolation of Scientology's fictitious world from reality. 

During the 18 months we have been in Clearwater, we constantly hear Scientology's cries of religious persecution and demands for freedom and tolerance. We hear those same cries from Scientology in Europe today. And, I ask you who, in 1981, made the following statement: "The enemy of freedom is the one who today is himself calling for freedom and tolerance… Such calls for freedom are only masks for slavery and terrorism... Even religious groups, or those who call themselves such, could be totalitarian; therefore I hear their messages of world government initiatives and world salvation with suspicion, primarily because they are connected with efforts for commercial power. We want to remain a free society." Yes, I believe we all guessed correctly that it was Dr. Blü m who made those remarks. 

These comments of yours, Dr. Blüm, gave new clarity and introduced a political dimension into the phenomenon of destructive cults. When you introduced the concept of totalitarianism early on in the debate about destructive cults you enabled your contemporaries to understand that the objective of these entities was the transformation and subjugation of human nature itself. This is not acceptable in a democratic society, because we can only be equal members of society on the strength of our collective decision to guarantee ourselves mutually equal rights. I applaud you, Dr. Blüm, not only for being a staunch defender of human rights, workers rights and democratic ideals, but also for your integrity in exposing Scientology's new brand of totalitarianism, which is cloaked in the sheep's clothing of religion and psychotherapy.

But there is more. Through your example and your protection, you have enabled others to express themselves openly and critically. The members of the committee and I are also grateful to you for being the patron of the Eastern European seminar at the Berlin Dialogue Center in 1996, which played an important role in creating awareness of the new threat of cults in the post- totalitarian environments of middle and eastern European countries. You have openly demonstrated many times that you believe public office and civic involvement belong together of necessity, and your involvement and patronage of that seminar was particularly important to many of our friends and partners in Russia and eastern Europe.

And finally, Dr. Blüm, back in 1981 you said, "We quite certainly agree, whatever our value judgment may be about the new cults, that no reduction at all in the guarantee of tolerance in Article 4 of our Constitution (i.e. religious freedom) is permitted. We staunchly insist on that. But I'll add that any organization that invokes this tolerance for itself must also respect the dignity of people and the free development of the personality, as these are founded in the Basic Law… Basic Law also has a third function, because fundamental rights are not only to protect the citizen against government intrusion, but also the state must protect the individual citizen from third parties that can harm the individual's rights -- criminals, foreign attacks in the event of war, fraud by commercial enterprises, and even cults… The freedom to profess religion is part of the basis of our liberal culture. We do not want this free environment to turn into a jungle."

Dr. Blüm, you are a protector of freedoms and democratic ideals who has distinguished yourself by your selfless public service to your country and constituents, by your clarity of thought and your insights into the dangers we face, and your courage in speaking openly about the destructive cult issue when no one else was doing so. We humbly thank you with this award, which is an expression of our utmost respect for all that you have done to further the cause of freedom and to protect the human rights of all citizens.

Thank you Dr. Blüm!





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