Tags: Tom | Cruise | Banned | for | Religion

Tom Cruise Banned for Religion

Wednesday, 27 June 2007 12:00 AM

The German Defense Ministry announced this week that it would not allow Tom Cruise to film in locations it controls.

The reason was not national security. It was not because filming in these locations is generally prohibited.

Only one reason was offered for denying the film company permission to film: Mr. Cruise is a Scientologist. Defense Ministry spokesman Harald Kammerbauer said the filmmakers "will not be allowed to film at German military sites if Count Stauffenberg is played by Tom Cruise, who has publicly professed to being a member of the Scientology cult."

Count Stauffenberg was the German officer who opposed German treatment of the Jews and attempted to assassinate Adolf Hitler in 1944. But when the bomb he planted in a briefcase exploded, Hitler was wounded, not killed, and Stauffenberg was executed for his role in the failed plot. The code name for the project was Valkyrie, which is the name of the movie in which Tom Cruise is slated to star.

Scientology has been recognized as a religion in the United States. In Germany, they call it a cult. Whatever you call it, the film Mr. Cruise is set to star in has absolutely nothing to do with Scientology. Mr. Cruise is an actor seeking to work in his craft, and the Germans are seeking to prohibit him from doing so because of his religious views.

If any country should be sensitive to the harms of religious discrimination, it is Germany. Germany's past not only includes the death camps, in which 6 million Jews were murdered because of their religion, but an earlier period of discrimination in the 1930s, in which Jews were prohibited from owning businesses, property, and earning a livelihood because of their religion.

Now, no one is suggesting that Germany has plans for any final solution for Scientologists, but its record of discrimination against those who happen to believe in a religion that offends them is a painful reminder of that earlier period.

In 1933, Jews were banned from owning land and serving as newspaper editors.

In 1934, Jews were banned from the German Labor Front, and from receiving health insurance.

In 1935, Jews were banned from serving in the military, and Jewish performers were required to join Jewish Cultural Unions.

In 1937, Jews were prohibited from certain professions, including teaching, dentistry and accounting.

In 1938, Jewish doctors were prohibited from practicing medicine, Jewish lawyers were prohibited from practicing law, Jews were required to register their property, and Aryan "front ownership" of Jewish businesses was banned. Kristallnacht followed, the night of mass destruction of Jewish businesses, for which Jews were then fined 1 billion dollars. None of this happened in secret.

The world watched, silently. After all, the victims were only Jews.

"In general, the Bundeswehr (German military) has a special interest in the serious and authentic portrayal of the events of July 20, 1944, and Stauffenberg's person," the Defense Ministry spokesman added, as if to justify the pre-emptive denial of permission. But no question has been raised as to the seriousness of the film, or the authenticity of its portrayal of German history. It is only the private religious beliefs of the star that are at issue.

Of course, "Valkyrie" can still be made even if the German Defense Ministry denies access to its locations.

It can be filmed in another country, or on a Hollywood sound stage. But the idea that Germany would deny an artist the right to practice his trade because of his religion, much less in a movie about those who had the courage to challenge Hitler, makes one wonder just how much they have learned from their terrible past.

Not enough, in my book.

COPYRIGHT 2007 CREATORS SYNDICATE

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The German Defense Ministry announced this week that it would not allow Tom Cruise to film in locations it controls. The reason was not national security. It was not because filming in these locations is generally prohibited. Only one reason was offered for denying...
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Wednesday, 27 June 2007 12:00 AM
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