Good afternoon. I am introducing a resolution that urges the German government to eliminate religious discrimination within its country because I believe, as a matter of general government policy, NO religion or belief should be discriminated against. Anytime the government collects or allows businesses to collect and use information that marks an individual as being different, it is discriminatory and it is wrong. This is a human rights issue. An individual or a group should be allowed to worship in private without public repercussions.
A letter sent to me from the Department of State in August, states "Wherever it may occur, discrimination against an individual or group is a fundamental human rights violation, and the United States government is still very concerned about incidents of discrimination in Germany." The Department of State Human Rights Reports on Germany have disclosed discrimination based on religion or belief in Germany in such forms as: exclusion from government employment and political parties; the use of "sect-filters" (required declarations that a person or company is NOT affiliated with a particular religious group) by government, businesses, sport clubs, and other organizations; government -approved boycotts and discrimination against businesses; and, the prevention of artists from performing or displaying their works.
One religious group in Germany that has been the subject of the State Department reports is the Christian Community in Cologne (CCK), an 1,100 member Church headed by an American pastor, Pastor Terry Jones. I have seen statements from Pastor Jones, along with other reports and news stories, that indicate that the CCK has been the subject of discrimination since 1992. For example, the CCK has been subject to harassment by government "sect" commissions, threats of violence, and members being denied jobs and child custody because of their Church affiliation. Other minority religious groups that have been discriminated against include Muslims, Scientologists, and Jehovah's Witnesses.
I also am aware of the possibilities of United States companies based in Germany being coerced by the German government to discriminate against American and other employees based on their beliefs. We have a number of German companies conducting business in the United States. I do not want to see these discriminatory practices imported to our country. This issue of government discrimination is not solely contained within the borders of Germany.
The resolution that I am introducing urges the German government to enter into a constructive dialogue with minority groups subject to government discrimination based on religion or belief. It also calls upon the president to assert the United States' concern to Germany regarding government discrimination based on religion or belief.
If the goal of a world functioning under a flag of democratic freedom is to be realized, the leaders of the free world must set the example. Germany is a leader in the European and world communities. Germany also is a strong United States ally. It is my hope that the German government will allow its country men and women to be leaders of a free society where an individual's beliefs are the sole decision of the individual rather than a matter of state.