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ARD TV drama sparks Scientology's ire

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Photo: DPA
11:34 CET+01:00
Trouble is brewing between the Church of Scientology and German public broadcaster ARD ahead of the TV premiere of a drama portraying the controversial faith as dangerous and unethical.

Bis nichts mehr bleibt,” or “Until nothing remains,” is the dramatised true story of a family torn apart by the religion, and Scientology officials may try to ban its broadcast on March 31, daily Süddeutsche Zeitung reported on Monday.

Scientology spokesperson Jürg Stettler told the paper that members of the church were not invited to a supposedly secretive press screening of the film last week, and ARD has tried “everything so that we don't see the film before broadcast.”

“It is a violation of ARD's programming guidelines, what they're planning to spread,” he said. “The station is required to support religious tolerance, not the opposite.”

Until now, no German television station has directly addressed Scientology in such a fashion, which is designated as an anti-constitutional organisation in the country.

The film's message is clear, the paper reported, portraying Scientology as a dangerous totalitarian organisation in direct conflict with democratic society.

Now the group is making its own documentary and plans to show it within the next two weeks in Hamburg or Munich.

“We will show that the so-called expert engaged by ARD Ursula Caberta is feeding the media false information,” Stettler said, adding that the film's reportedly true story is fabricated.

“Exactly the opposite of what ARD shows is the truth,” he said.

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But ARD subsidiary SWR, which filmed the drama along with Teamworx, rejected the organisations claims.

“We intentionally made a feature film and not a political analysis of Scientology, because we wanted to reach as many people as possible,” SWR film department head Carl Bergengruen told the paper, though he did add that the story was indeed a “true story.”

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