The U.S. State Department and several congressional representatives, academics, and actors have criticized Germany for recent government moves to restrict Scientology.

Chancellor Helmut Kohl's Christian Democratic Union party expelled three of its members in December because they belonged to the Church of Scientology, the movement founded in 1954 by L. Ron Hubbard, the late American science-fiction writer.

Also in December, the German government established a government office to coordinate efforts to keep Scientologists from holding key public teaching and counseling jobs. German Labor Minister Norbert Bluem has suggested Scientologists should be forbidden from holding any government job. The government contends that Scientology is a money-making scheme that seeks world domination.

In a January full-page ad in the Paris-based International Herald-Tribune, 34 U.S. entertainment figures, including Dustin Hoffman, Goldie Hawn, and Oliver Stone, likened Germany's action to Nazi persecution of Jews in the 1930s. The ruling party has launched boycotts against the films of two Scientologist actors, Tom Cruise and John Travolta.

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