Celebrity Scientologists Tell Congress Germany Persecutes Them

WASHINGTON - America's celebrity Scientologists are stepping up their criticism of the German government for its treatment of church followers.

In a visit to Capitol Hill yesterday, actress Anne Archer, singer Isaac Hayes and jazz musician Chick Corea complained that U.S. and German members of the Church of Scientology are facing constant persecution.

The celebrities claim businesses, schools and festivals are turning away Scientologists.

The Germany Embassy called the criticism exaggerated and objected to attempts by the Hollywood community to compare the discrimination to the Nazi persecution of Jews - something 34 celebrities who are not Scientologists did last month in a full-page ad in the International Herald Tribune.

The German government does not consider the Church of Scientology a religion, but a business that must be regulated.

"There's so much rumor, misunderstanding and hostility about Scientologists being spread by the German government that people's lives are being ruined," Archer said at a news conference.

Hayes, best known for the theme song of the movie "Shaft," said he has been warned by a record promoter that he should not advertise his beliefs.

"It leaves you with the feeling, when is the next shoe going to drop?" Hayes said. "Will I be the next on the list?"

Rep. Donald Payne, D-N.J., introduced a House resolution yesterday condemning the German government for discrimination against Scientologists, and the celebrities joined his news conference in support.

The State Department in its annual human-rights report noted the Church of Scientology had come under increased scrutiny by German federal and state officials, who don't like the organization's secrecy and have accused it of brainwashing members and recruiting people simply to make money.

Scientology teaches that technology can expand the mind and help solve human problems.

The church, founded 40 years ago by the late science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, claims 8 million members worldwide. It has fought for years to be accepted as a church. It has had legal status as a church in the United States since 1993.