The Words of the Fefferman Family
Schengen Ban Likely To Be Overturned
November 9, 2006
I'm happy to report that a major positive ruling has come down in the German case relating to our efforts to overcome the Schengen ban that keeps Father and Mother out of most countries in Europe.
The ruling makes it clear that the ban is not justified under German law and makes it very likely that the government will have to rescind the ban.
I am pasting a translation of the German court's press release for your reading pleasure.
For me this is the near-culmination of a long struggle that was at the center of my mission for the last 8 years. I'm happy, but still a little numb. Feeling like I won't quite believe it until I see Father and Mother in Berlin or Frankfurt with my own eyes.
Translation from German to English by a government certified translator
Supreme Court of Germany Press Release
Nr. 109/2006 from November 9th 2006 Verdict of October 24th, 2006-11-09 2 BvR 1908/03
Successful Constitutional Complaint by the German Unification Church against the Entry Ban for the Moon Couple
Mr. Moon is the founder of the worldwide Unification Church, whose members in Germany are organized as an association, which is litigating the case. At the end of 1995, the Moon Couple intended to enter Germany as part of a world tour. The program envisioned Mr. Moon to deliver a speech with title "The True Family and I" under the auspices of another association associated with the plaintiff; furthermore the Moon Couple wanted to hold council with their members. In order to prevent this from happening, the Border Police of Koblenz, upon request from the Ministry of Interior, listed the Moon couple with the Schengen Information System as prohibited from entering the Schengen countries, initially for a period of 3 years. The listing was renewed continuously, the last prolongation was in 2004. The legal complaint by the plaintiff, challenging the lawfulness of the listing, remained unsuccessful in the cases with the administrative courts.
The 2nd chamber of the Second Senate of the Supreme Court of the Federal Republic of Germany overruled the verdict by the Upper Administrative Court, because it was based upon an unfounded understanding of the sphere protected by Art. 4 Para.1 and 2 of the German Constitution (Religious Liberty and the Right of Free Religious Practice). The case was thus handed back to the Upper Administrative Court.
The verdict is largely based on the following elaborations:
The Upper Administrative court rejected the complaint by the plaintiff, because, in its view, the planned visit of the Moon Couple did not be of specific importance for the communal practice of religion and did not have any specific religious content for the members of the plaintiff. By doing so, the court based its decision on evaluating genuinely religious concerns, belonging to the internal affairs of the plaintiff, which governmental institutions are not supposed to deal with. Concerning the question, what would be the significance of a personal encounter by the members of a religious community with their founder or spiritual leader, only the understanding of the community itself can be authoritative. Thus Art, 4 Para 1 and 2 of the German Constitution deal with the central question of caring for and promoting matters of faith and denomination; governmental institutions are not to evaluate these as a matter of principle. The intended visit by the Moon Couple also was supposed to serve – as part of the plan – the purpose of fostering contact among the believers and their religious founders, which, according to the understanding of the Unification Church, does have religious significance. In view of the central role the founder enjoys, as is the case with any religions centering on such a person, special reasons would have been necessary to justify any different opinion.
However Art. 4 Para 1 and 2 of the German constitution does not grant a right of entrance for persons willing to enter, nor a right to a religious community wishing anybody to enter. However it is mandatory to consider the self-understanding of the religious community as much as possible. Taking into consideration the interests and concerns of the plaintiff in doing the listing in the Schengen Information System and its binding character to all Schengen member states, it has to be duly considered that in accordance with the Schengen Agreement the listing implies the existence of dangers for public security and order or national security. It is not obvious that a visit by the Moon Couple would entail such dangers that would justify the continuation of the listing of the Moon Couple, when considering the interests of the plaintiff. As far as the Ministry of Interior bases its decision to forbid entry upon contradictions between the content of believes by the plaintiff and the value system of the constitution, it has to be clarified that religious communities, their belief system and other matters of purely internal concern, in principle are not bound to follow the views and values, which the state deems appropriate according to the constitution. This should not play a role in governing the balance between Religious Liberty on one hand and closing the border on the other.
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