February 5, 1983
Omaha Church of Scientology Breaks off Ties
by Lynn Zerschling
Omaha's Church of Scientology has severed all ties to the mother
church, some of whose leaders have been convicted of burglarizing and
spying on government agencies.
"What does this have to do with religion - burglary, espionage? How
does that better mankind?" asked Scott Duncan, executive director of
the 80-to-100 member congregation at 5016 California St.
Duncan said the church cut all legal ties to the Church of
Scientology last October - the first congregation in the country to
make that move. Since then, Duncan said, four congregations in
California have broken off.
He said the Omaha congregation, which renamed itself the Church of
Scio Logos, has been maintaining a low profile because of feared
harassment from the Church of Scientology leaders.
"We have put in a lot of precautionary measures," Duncan said.
Telephone calls are screened. A receptionist doesn't identify the
church to callers.
In recent weeks, Duncan said, about two dozen members of his
congregation have been receiving what he termed harassing telephone
calls from Church of Scientology members. He said the members were
told if they didn't rejoin the Mother church, "your eternity will be
Duncan said "spies" from the Church of Scientology have tried to
infiltrate his congregation.
"You feel threatened. There is an implied threat if you go against
them," said Duncan, 28, who has headed the local church for three
Because of a concern about retribution, he said, he only recently has
discussed the reasons for his church's break.
"We're not hiding anything," he said. "There's been a terrible mix-up
between the philosophy (of Scientology) and the irrational, illegal,
criminal actions of the Church of Scientology."
According to news accounts, those activities have included:
- the disappearance of the Church of Scientology's founder, L. Ron
Hubbard, 71, a Tilden, Neb. native, science fiction writer and
millionaire who was last seen in 1980. Hubbard's third wife, Mary
Sue, and some leaders claim to have heard from Hubbard. Hubbard's
estranged son said he thinks his father is ill and mentally
incompetent. Others said Hubbard is dead.
- In Hubbard's absence, some of his young followers have taken over
control of the church, purging longtime leaders.
- The Internal Revenue Service is demanding $6 million in back taxes
- About two dozen civil suits have been filed against the church by
former members who claimed to have been swindled, harassed or
- On Jan. 7 Mrs. Hubbard, 51, was sentenced by a federal judge to
serve four years in prison for her role in directing a conspiracy to
steal government documents about the church.
- Other church leaders have been convicted on charges stemming from a
church-directed program to burglarize, bug and infiltrate various
federal agencies that the church considered its "enemies." Those
agencies included the IRS, Federal Trade Commission, Drug Enforcement
Administration and the Labor, Justice and Treasury Departments.
- Under Hubbard's direction, a paramilitary organization was formed
that included secret police and a group to spy on the secret police.
Since it was founded 14 years ago, the Omaha Church of Scientology
has always gone its own way, Duncan said.
"L. Ron Hubbard is not some kind of guru that we're following
blindly," Duncan said. "That's not the case, at least for members of
this church. The rest of the church went into a kind of blind
following. My view of him is that he discovered something."
He said Scientology's aim is a world without insanity, criminals and
Series of Courses
In reaching those goals, Duncan said, church members take a series of
courses to obtain levels of spiritual attainment.
The Church of Scientology "charged an arm and a leg" for those
courses, Duncan said.
The average church member spends between $10,000 and $20,000, he
said. The total program would cost about $100,000, he estimated.
While Duncan called the teachings "priceless" and crucial to his
spiritual development, he said, "I think it's wrong to charge that
much... Scientology has been a business disguised as a church."