Freiburg Administrative Court decision of June 6, 1994

VG - 4 K 758/93

Scientology Community of Freiburg - complainant
City of Freiburg - Public Codes Office - accused

in the matter of Order denying use of street

The complaint is dismissed.

The complainant bears court costs.
The complainant objected to the accused's ordinance by which the complainant was denied use of public land the the
complainant's own purposes.

The complainant is not a registered association. The complainant is a legally self-sufficient mission of the internationally operating Scientology Church. The purpose of the association is the dissemination of the belief of Scientology as corresponds to the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard. The complainant maintains offices at 4 Loewen Str. in Freiburg. At the end of 1991, persons were observed by the accused in downtown Freiburg who were asking pedestrians, "Do you want to improve your personality?" and "What do you know about Dianetics?" The pedestrians who answered the questions were offered a free personality test in the offices at 4 Loewen Str. There they were shown recruitment films for Scientology and Dianetics and given a personality test. Besides that, material advertising books and courses was exhibited, books were sold, and people who expressed an interest were recommended courses in Basel, Switzerland, for which they would have to pay money. Besides that, one person was given a flyer which advertised an invitation to go to 4 Loewen Str. for "Dianetic Counseling."

With its letter of November 28, 1991, the accused made the "Dianetic Counseling" in Freiburg aware that its activities were viewed as commercial activity and that advertising on the street was an illicit special use. ...

Upon that, the complainant's court representative announced to the accused that he represented the Dianetic Information Center of the Frieburg Scientology Community, and presented his case that accosting pedestrians by its missionaries was recruitment for a religious denomination which was protected by Art. 4 of Basic Law. He said that was not commercial activity. A meeting subsequently took place.

On January 28, 1992, the accused issued an order which prohibited the complainant, the complainant's members and Dianetic Counseling staff from accosting pedestrians on public rights-of-way in Freiburg and inviting them in for an informational or sales talk or to take a personality test in their offices. The order was made effective immediately, with a fine possible for violations. The basis of the order stated that the complainant's activity, on the whole, was commercial Accosting pedestrians on the street was a special use of public right-of-way for which no permit existed. Neither was there a prospect of getting such a permit.

There was said to be no conflict between this decision and Art. 4 of Basic Law which guarantees freedom of religion. Even though the members of Scientology regarded their activity as missionary work, and the status of Scientology was partially acknowledged in literature and legal decisions as religious, the activity of a religious association is also under jurisdiction of commercial law when it came to individual, commercially significant actions. The external appearances of the activity and the intentions to make a profit which are behind the activity are relevant. Since people were being referred to courses which required payment of money in Basel, Switzerland, the activity was also commercial. Additionally, it is questionable whether providing life assistance programs, liberation from spiritual stress and the improvement of personality would be covered under Art. 4 of Basic Law as religious. In the forelying instance, that question can remain open, because accosting pedestrians on the street presents a completely religious-neutral situation. In making these verbal approaches in Freiburg, no references were made to practice of religion and no intention to proselytize was visible.

This verbal approach of pedestrians on the street constitutes a special use which is not permitted for the complainant nor for comparable organizations in Freiburg.