German punk magazine Ox have withdrawn their support for The Briggs German and Austrian tour over their objections to Joey Briggs' connection with Scientology. Unlike the United States where the group is recognized as a tax-exempt religion, the Germany government has refused to certify the organization and a 2007 Government report even accused the leaders of the group as ""seeking to reduce or deny basic constitutional and human rights, such as the right to human dignity, the right to self-fulfillment and the right to equal treatment."
The promoters posted a statement in German but have also provided us with an exclusive English statement about the cancellation. Excerpts here:
Joey Briggs is a member of Scientology. Joey himself talks openly about his membership [and] our collective, together with the owner of the [venue] decided we didn't want to present an artist to our crowd that is associated with this. [They] directly exploit the hopes and dispair of people that are often in a dark place in their life when they are approached. The main goal is quite obviously to gain money. [Scientology is accused] of being anti-democratic; members [are] being brainwashed and tied to the organization by facing huge amounts of debt. We feel that those practises violate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
As a collective putting on shows there are many individuals involved and therefore also different tastes, despite punk rock as a common ground. So when a show is put on, it's usually booked by one or two people, with the rest of us helping out doing flyers, cooking for the show, doing doors and whatnot.
Today we found out that singer/songwriter Joey Briggs is an avowing member of Scientology. Germany's Ox Fanzine pulled out of presenting his tour and it was because of their statement we learned about it. Joey himself talks openly about his membership in at least one interview. Mails were sent, calls were made and our collective, together with the owner of the bar that would've hosted the show, decided we didn't want to present an artist to our crowd, that is associated with this organization. We are talking about an organization that directly exploits the hopes and dispair of people that are often in a dark place in their life when they are approached. The main goal is quite obviously to gain money. The accusations range from Scientology being run anti-democratic, members being brainwashed and tied to the organization by facing huge amounts of debt, in case they want to leave (e.g. return money for classes they first got offered for free) to punishing members, if they violate the rules or don't live up to the expectations (e.g. the "Rehabilitation Project Force" → working camps as punishment!). We feel that those practises violate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
We have nothing personal against Joey Briggs, nor do we think, that he's out on tour to spread the message of Scientology, but as an active member he ideologically and financially supports the supression of people and an organization that stands against our beliefs. This is not an internet witch hunt of the scene police, but it just wouldn't feel right to us. It's obvious that the cancellation is short notice and that the Austrian bands he's on tour with put a lot of effort and passion in booking the trip, so that's unfortunate. We are still in touch and see how things go and maybe we don't have to cancel the whole show.
Extreme Life Wasting (DIY collective from Regensburg, Germany)