Contract with sect triggers dismay
February 26, 2000
Frankfurter Neue Presse
Frankfurt. The controversial Scientology Organization wants to advertise its goals from Monday to Wednesday in the Cafe of the Frankfurt Schirn Art Building. That was confirmed yesterday by the Director of the Art Building, Hellmut Seemann. At the same time, he said he regretted that no legal grounds were available on which to prevent the gathering. The contract had been agreed upon by the Cafe’s lessee, Klaus-Peter Kofler. Kofler himself could not be reached on Friday to get his opinion.
According to Seemann’s statement, the Scientologists did not show up under a cover name, but under the designation of Scientology. A procurator in Kofler’s business, Kofler & Company, Inc. agreed to the renting. „It could be that Kofler himself was not even involved,“ said Seemann, „but he could at least distance himself from the organization by donating the rental income to a charitable organization.“ Scientology will pay Kofler 45,000 marks rent for the three days. Kofler told the „Frankfurter Allgemeinen“ newspaper that cancelling the contract was not possible because of the amount.
The Frankfurt Superintendent for Schools, Education and multi-cultural opportunities, Jutta Ebeling (Greens) criticized the gastronome for his conduct in an open letter. It said that he bore the responsibility that „this sect was being made presentable“ and that it was advertising its „cynical tricks“ while she, Ebeling, was doing everything „to hinder access of sects to youth.“
According to advertising leaflets, the organization wants to present video presentations, a photography exhibition and „live demonstrations“ at its gathering, entitled „What is Scientology?“.
A letter of protest to Kofler was also written by Frankfurt’s Director of Culture, Hans-Bernhard Nordhoff (SPD). He said he learned of the arrangement at the Schirn Cafe „with great dismay.“ „The Schirn Art Hall and the neighboring cafe understandably appears as a unit in the public picture; gatherings in your Cafe will therefore always be identified with our renowned art hall,“ wrote Nordhoff. Although it was not legally possible for him to interfere with this use, he appealed „very urgently“ to Kofler to conscientiously review as to whether Scientology recruitment operations were legal in the Schirn institution and the culinary operation, said the culture director.
Frankfurt sect expert and spokesman of the Evangelical Church, Kurt-Helmuth Eimuth, could hardly imagine that Kofler had deliberately slipped into the contract with the „cynical organization,“ because it is well known in gastronomy that such behavior could be „absolutely ruinous to one’s image,“ said Eimuth. According to what he has observed, the activities of the sect in Frankfurt in recent times „have wilted considerably.“ He said that criticism was having its effect.