Framing Effects in the Coverage of Scientology versus Germany: Some Thoughts on the Role of Press and Scholars


  • Brigitte Schön University of Bonn



"Scientology might be one weird religion, but the German reaction to it is weirder still - not to mention disturbing." 2 This is how Richard Cohen of the Washington Post describes the controversy of Scientology vs. Germany, and he adds, "[...] the treatment of Scientologists is both inexplicable and troubling." 3 The inexplicable or rather as yet unexplained could usually be expected to raise the attention of scholars, especially if there is a troubling thrill to it. However, German scholars have mostly preferred to remain silent on the issue, and the few who spoke out published in German, but not in English.4 American scholars, on the other hand, quite often seem to have firm opinions on the issue, but what finally gets published are usually rather general evaluations. Although the controversy on the whole has gained widespread media attention, the actual causes of disturbance remain rather murky, especially if one decides to take a closer look.


Abel, Ralf Bernd. (1996). "Gutachterliche Stellungnahme zu der Frage: Ist das Menschen- und Gesellschaftsbild der Scientology-Organisation vereinbar mit der Werte- und Rechtsordnung des
Grundgesetzes?" Erstellt im Auftrag der Ministerpräsidentin des Landes Schleswig-Holstein. See also krasel/CoS/germany/abel.html.
Alonso Galan, Urbano. (1998). "Scientology: A True Religion." In: Scientology: Theology and Practice of a Contemporary Religion. A Reference Work Presented by the Church of Scientology
International. Los Angeles: Bridge Publications, pp.213-223.
Barker, Eileen. (1995). "The Scientific Study of Religion? You must be joking!" Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, vol. 34, pp.287-310.
Black, Alan W. (1997). "Is Scientology a Religion?" Australian Religion Studies Review vol. 10/2, pp.13-28; formerly on
Böhme-Dürr, Karin. (1998 a). "Die Entdeckung der 'ordinary Germans': Zum Gestaltungsraum amerikanischer Zeitungsjournalisten seit dem Ende des Kalten Krieges." In: Deutschland im Dialog
der Kulturen: Medien - Images - Verständigung. Edited by Siegfried Quandt and Wolfgang Gast. Konstanz: UVK Medien, pp.185-201.
Böhme-Dürr, Karin. (1998 b). Perspektivensuche. Deutschland in US-amerikanischen Tageszeitungen im Zeitraum 1976-1995. Konstanz: Universitätsverlag Konstanz.
Bundespresseamt. (1993). Das Deutschlandbild in den USA - das Amerikabild in Deutschland. Unpublished survey.
Church of Scientology International (ed.). (1994). Das Scientology Handbuch. Aus den Werken von L. Ron Hubbard. Zusammengestellt von Mitarbeitern der LHR Book Compilations-Abteilung der
Church of Scientology International. Kopenhagen: New Era Publications.
Church of Scientology International (ed.). (1996a). "Religiöse Apartheid 1996. Unterdrückung von Grundrechten religiöser Minderheiten in Deutschland." USA: Church of Scientology International.
Church of Scientology International (ed.). (1998b). Scientology: Theology and Practice of a Contemporary Religion. A Reference Work Presented By the Church of Scientology International.
Los Angeles: Bridge Publications, Inc.
Collins, Randall. (1995). "German-Bashing and the Theory of Democratic Modernization." Zeitschrift für Soziologie, pp.3-21.
Cremer, Wolfram, and Torsten Kelm. (1997). "Mitgliedschaft in sog. 'Neuen Religions- und Weltanschauungsgemeinschaften' und Zugang zum öffentlichen Dienst." NJW 1997, pp.832-837.
Cross, John T. (1997). "An Outsider's View of the Scientology Question in Germany." DeutschAmerikanische
Rechtsgespräche in Mainz 1997,
Dimock, Michael A., and Samuel L. Popkin. (1997). "Political Knowledge in Comparative
Perspective." In: Do The Media Govern? Politicians, Voters, and Reporters in America. Edited by
Shanto Iyengar and Richard Reeves. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, pp.217-224.
Drinan, Robert F., S.J. (1997). "Are the Expectations for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act
Being Realized?" Journal for Church and State, vol. 39, pp.53-66.
Eiben, Jürgen. (1997). "Erfolg um jeden Preis? Die Scientology-Organisation in der gesellschaftlichen und politischen Auseinandersetzung." In: Ministerium für Arbeit, Gesundheit und
Soziales NRW: Die Scientology-Organisation. Methoden und Struktur, Rechtsprechung und gesellschaftliche Auseinandersetzung. 2. Bericht, Köln, pp.25-46.
Entman, Robert M. (1993). "Framing: Toward Clarification of a Fractured Paradigm." Journal of Communication 43(4), pp.51-58.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ). (Jan. 18, 1997). "An Open Letter to Helmut Kohl." Reprint from International Herald Tribune, Jan. 9, 1997.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. (March 11, 1997). "Ungewöhnliche Kehrtwende einer Behörde.
Wie Scientology in Amerika die Steuerbefreiung erreichte."
Frankfurter Rundschau (FR). (Nov. 22, 1996). "Der Staat muß die denkbar größte Toleranz üben.
Zur Debatte um Beobachtung von sogenannten Sekten und Psychogruppen. Ein Positionspapier von
Bündnis 90/Die Grünen - auch zu Scientology."
Frankfurter Rundschau. (March 15, 1997). "Seltsame Post aus Washington."
Frankfurter Rundschau. (July 30, 1997). "Scientology versus Germany: Religionsgemeinschaft, Gewerbebetrieb oder Verfassungsfeind? Claus Leggewie und Alexandra Lagalée analysieren die
Hintergründe einer Kampagne."
Freedom Magazine. (no date). "The Rise of Hatred and Violence in Germany." Published as a public service by Freedom Magazine. No date, no place.
Gamson, William. (1992). Talking Politics. New York: Cambridge Press.
Gamson, William A., and Andre Modigliani. (1987). "The Changing Culture of Affirmative Action." In: Research in Political Sociology. Edited by Richard Braungart. Greenwich, CT: JAI
Press, pp.137-177.
Gans, Herbert J. (1980). Deciding What's News. A Study of CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, Newsweek and Time. London: Constable.
Gitlin, Todd. (1980). The Whole World is Watching: Mass Media in the Making and Unmaking of the New Left. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press.
Greenawalt, Kent. (1993). "The Role of Religion in a Liberal Democracy: Dilemmas and Possible Resolutions." Journal of Church and State vol.35, pp.503-519.
Hanson, Ralph E. (1997). "Objectivity and Narrative in Contemporary Reporting: A Formal Analysis." Symbolic Interaction vol. 20/4, pp.385-396.
Horwitz, Paul. (1997). "Scientology in Court: A Comparative Analysis and Some Thoughts on Selected Issues in Law and Religion." DePaul Law Reviewvol. 47, pp.85-155.
Hubbard, L. Ron. (1993). Introduction to Scientology Ethics. Los Angeles: Bridge Publications.
Iyengar, Shanto. (1989). "How citizens think about national issues: A matter of responsibility."
American Journal of Political Science vol. 33, pp.878-900.
Iyengar, Shanto. (1991). Is anyone responsible? How Television Frames Political Issues. Chicago
and London: University of Chicago Press.
Iyengar, Shanto. (1997). "Framing Responsibility for Political Issues: The Case of Poverty." In: Do
the Media Govern? Politicians, Voters and Reporters in America. Edited by Shanto Iyengar and
Richard Reeves. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, pp.276-282.
Joffe, Josef. (1997). "Germany vs. the Scientologists." The New York Review of Books, April 24, 1997, pp.17-21.
Kahneman, D. and A. Tversky. (1984). "Choice, Values, and Frames." American Psychologist vol. 39, pp.341-350.
Keil, Hartmut. (1992). Deutschlandberichterstattung in den Abendnachrichten der Fernsehanstalten ABC, CBS und NCB 1988-1990. Forschungsbericht für die Herbert-QuandtStiftung.
München: Amerika-Institut der Universität München.
Kuklinski, James H., Ellen Riggle, Victor Ottati, Norbert Schwarz, and Robert S. Wyer. (1991).
"The Cognitive and Affective Bases of Political Tolerance Judgments." American Journal of
Political Science, vol. 35/1, pp.1-27.
Laycock, Douglas. (1994). "Free Exercise and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act." Fordham Law Review, vol. 62, pp.883-904.
Leggewie, Claus, and Alexandra Lagalée. (1997). "Scientology - Gewerbebetrieb oder
Verfassungsfeind?" Blätter für deutsche und internationale Politik, August 1997, pp.979-989.
Lichter, Robert S. (1993). "American Television Coverage of Germany July-December 1993. A Report Submitted to the German Embassy". The Center for Media and Public Affairs, Washington
Los Angeles Times (LAT). (Jan. 11, 1997). "Celebrity Group Takes On Germany Over Scientology."
By Mary Williams Walsh.
Los Angeles Times. (Jan. 27, 1997). "U.S. Challenges German Stand on Scientology." By Thomas Lippman
Los Angeles Times. (Feb. 18, 1997). "Albright Plays Down Dispute over Scientology." By Tyler Marshall.
Los Angeles Times. (March 13, 1997). "Scientologists Take Offensive in Reich Land." By Alexander Cockburn.
McClosky, Herbert, and Alida Brill. (1983). Dimensions of Tolerance. What Americans Believe
About Civil Tolerance. New York: Russel Sage.
Nelson, Thomas E., Rosalee A. Clawson, and Zoe M. Oxley. (1997). "Media Framing of a Civil
Liberties Conflict and Its Effect on Tolerance." American Political Science Review, vol. 91/3, pp.567-583.
New York Times (NYT). (Nov. 7, 1994). "Scientology and Its German Foes: A Bitter Conflict." By Craig R. Whitney.
New York Times. (March 9, 1997). "Scientology's Puzzling Journey from Tax Rebel to Tax Exempt." By Douglas Frantz.
New York Times. (Nov. 8, 1997). "U.S. Immigration Court Grants Asylum to German Scientologist." By Douglas Frantz.
Richardson, James T. (1995). "Minority Religions ("Cults") and the Law: Comparisons of the United States, Europe and Australia." U. Queensland Law Journal.
Richardson, James T. (1998). "Legal Status of New Religions in the United States. Lessons for
Germany?" Paper presented at "Debating New Religions", conference by CESNUR/REMID, Marburg, March 27-29, 1998.
Richardson, James T. and Barend van Driel. (1997). "Journalists' Attitudes Toward New Religious
Movements." Review of Religious Research vol. 39/2, pp.116-136.
Schmidt, Dagmar, and Jürgen Wilke. (1998). "Die Darstellung des Auslands in den deutschen
Medien: Ergebnisse einer Inhaltsanalyse 1995." In: Deutschland im Dialog der Kulturen: Medien,
Images, Verständigung. Edited by Siegfried Quandt and Wolfgang Gast. Konstanz: UVK Medien, pp.167-181.
SPIEGEL. (6/1997). "V-Leute gegen den Psychokonzern." pp.76-79.
Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ). (Aug. 10, 1996). "USA setzen sich für Scientology ein."
Süddeutsche Zeitung. (Nov. 23, 1996). "Merkwürdig, ärgerlich, nicht beruhigend: Die Deutschen
und Scientology". By Richard Cohen, Washington Post.
Terkildsen, Nayda, Frauke I. Schnell, and Cristina Ling. (1998). "Interest Groups, the Media, and Policy Debate Formation: An Analysis of Message Structure, Rhetoric, and Source Cues." Political
Communication, vol. 14, pp.45-61.
van Driel, Barend and James T. Richardson. (1988). "Print Media Coverage of New Religious
Movements: A Longitudinal Study." Journal of Communication, vol. 38(3), pp.37-61.
Wallis, Roy. (1977). The Road to Total Freedom. A Sociological Analysis of Scientology. New York: Columbia University Press.
Washington Post (WAP). (Dec. 25, 1994). "Scientology Fiction. The Church's War Against Critics - and Truth." By Richard Leiby.
Washington Post. (Jan. 30, 1995). "Germany, Church of Scientology: Feuding in Print and Political
Arena." By Rick Atkinson.
Washington Post. (Nov. 15, 1996). "Germany's Odd Obsession with Scientology." By Richard Cohen.
Washington Post. (Jan. 14, 1997). "U.S. Celebrities Defend Scientology in Germany." By William Drodziak."
Washington Post. (Jan. 27, 1997). "U.S: Criticizes Germany on Scientology. Report Will Attack
Policies That Target Members of the Church." By Thomas Lippman.
Wilson, Bryan. (1996) "La Scientologie et le rapport." In: Pour en finir avec les sectes. Le débat sur
le rapport de la commission parlamentaire. Eds. Massimo Introvigne and Gordon Melton. Paris:
Dervy, pp.277-287.
Wilson, Bryan. (1998). "Scientology: An Analysis and Comparison of its Religious Systems and
Doctrines." In: Scientology: Theology and Practice of a Contemporary Religion. A Reference Work
Presented by the Church of Scientology International. Los Angeles: Bridge Publications, pp.111- 145.
Wright, Stuart A. (1997). "Media Coverage of Unconventional Religion: Any 'Good News' for Minority Faiths?" Review of Religious Research, vol. 39/2, pp.101-115.




How to Cite

Schön, B. (2015). Framing Effects in the Coverage of Scientology versus Germany: Some Thoughts on the Role of Press and Scholars. Marburg Journal of Religion, 6(1).