Maura In The News

They Blinded Crime with Science
Scientologists Tackle Bums, Gang Violence
by Paul McMorrow

After four homicides in the span of one May week, Boston Police Commissioner Kathleen O'Toole was in need of some serious anti-crime divine intervention. The Commissioner convened a meeting of 30 Boston ministers and pledged a redoubling of Boston's faith-based crime prevention efforts, but despite all the talk, the bodies continued to pile up.

Last week, God, the ministers and the BPD got a little help from an unorthodox source: old friend L. Ron Hubbard and the Church of Scientology.

The Scientologists, according to their Community Outreach Director, Rev. Robert Castagna, could not sit idly by while drugs, violence and illiteracy continued to rend Boston's social fabric; the city's year-to-date homicide count had just reached 29 (it had risen to 31 at press time), and something had to be done about it.

And something could be done, Castagna argued. At least, that was the message emblazoned on the side of the Scientologists' big yellow tent, which was parked on the Boston Common last week. Inside the tent, officially called the Scientology Volunteer Minister Cavalcade, Scientology volunteer ministers spoke with 2500 members of Boston's crime-loving public, urging them to please stop shooting each other.

We realize that there is violence, illiteracy and drug use, but we want to put out some solutions, explained Castagna. Something can be done about it! In spite of violence, there are solutions. The public is distraught, they feel apathetic; we have solutions.

Castagna likens the Scientologists' current outreach to the ongoing collaboration between O'Toole and the Black Ministerial Alliance, as well as to the partnership between the city's ministers and police that helped stem the tide of Boston's early '90s crime waves. The Scientologists, he says, are looking to establish collaborations with clergy, police and civic groups. When you collaborate, you actually solve problems. We want to take our church in that direction.

At this point, if it helps Boston's youths lay down their guns, O'Toole isn't ruling anything out. Although she could not get to the tent's ribbon-cutting ceremony, she sent BPD Night Supervisor Bobby Johnson in her place. Other dignitaries hoping that the Scientologists can do something about it included at-large City Councilor Maura Hennigan and child actor Patrick Renna (the big-boned, redheaded kid from The Sandlot).

BPD spokeswoman Beverly Ford said that there was nothing sinister about Johnson's appearance at the tent and that the commissioner welcomed the Scientologists' efforts in the context of the BPD's anti-crime faith partnerships.

Theodore Boddie, director of the new Codman Square Scientology Volunteer Ministry center, pledged to do anything he could to help Boston's hooligans turn their lives around. We have a terrific new police commissioner in Kathleen O'Toole, who is aware that the police can operate much more efficiently when working with religious and community leaders, he said. The commissioner's goals of making Boston a safe and crime-free city align with The Aims of Scientology, and we intend to help her as much as possible.

Renna sounded an equally hopeful note. Boston's my home town and I don't feel that I can sit back after the 29th homicide of the year has just occurred. The works of Scientology religion founder L. Ron Hubbard regarding drug awareness, literacy and morality have made me successful and have kept me on the right path. This is what this community needs!

According to Castagna, lives are being changed already. One person came through the tent, drunk and homeless. One of the ministers helped him with what we call a 'locational' - he looked at the grass and trees until he became more oriented to his surroundings. He had a realization. He realized that he had no purpose in life; he went out and started helping others. He had actually found a purpose in life. Many, many people were helped there this week.

Sharon Shenkar, a Scientologist volunteer minister who manned the tent last week, described it as a smashing success. We had a great turnout, a real great cross-section of people. Scientology handles the root of a lot of the problems that cause crime. You can help one person momentarily, and six months later they won't be doing well. This week, we were teaching people that someone might have a problem with crime and drugs, and that can be traced back to literacy. Something happened to make them not feel good about themselves. You wouldn't normally put the two together. People feel frustrated, and that leads to drugs and crime. I've seen small miracles in that area alone.

Several people came in with problems with study, technology and relationships. It's about having techniques that work, having a philosophy that works permanently. It's not a band-aid. It's the biggest relief to have help permanently. It just works.


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