Scientologists pitch tent at festival, make pitch to New Bedford

NEW BEDFORD — The controversial Church of Scientology set up camp at the Whaling City Festival yesterday, maintaining it can help solve the city’s violence and drug problems.

“The plan is to get scientology solutions everywhere,” said the Rev. Robert W. Castagna, the church’s community outreach director, who presided under a bright yellow tent at Buttonwood Park.

He said those solutions include learning about issues underlying violence, such as family values and literacy. He also advocated following the teachings of the late L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology’s founder.

Revered by followers who include actors Tom Cruise and John Travolta, critics say Hubbard was a cult leader, charlatan and con artist.

Consumer Alert: Scientology is a hate group

While the Church of Scientology tries to present itself as a decent organization (referring to itself as “the most ethical group on the planet,” those targetted by the cult should be aware of the following facts:

Among other unethical behavior, hate- and harassment activities are part and parcel of Scientology. Hatred is codified, promoted and encouraged in the cult‘s own scriptures, written by founder L. Ron Hubbard.

Scientology’s unethical behavior: learn about the cult’s ‘Fair Game‘ policy

More of Scientology’s unethical behavior: the cult’s ‘dead agenting‘ policy

New Bedford resident Kristen Schofield, a volunteer minister and member of the Scientologists since 1997, dismisses the criticism.

“If you really understand what’s going on you can really get the answers,” she said.

It was Ms. Schofield who asked church representatives to come to New Bedford after witnessing violence on her doorstep.

“We have a lot of shootings, drugs and a lot of gun violence,” she said. “I was really fed up with the problems that were happening. I could actually see drug dealings … going on in front of my house.”

“It got me worried that nothing was being done,” said the South First Street area resident. “This a step in the right direction.”

Mayor Frederick M. Kalisz Jr., who was visiting the festival yesterday afternoon but hadn’t been to the Scientology tent, said he is willing to listen to what the Scientologists and other faith denominations, have to say.

“Many solutions can be found through the faith-based community,” he said, adding that his community liaison Walter Moniz planned to stop by the tent and he might, as well.

“These are folks who are making a presentation in conjunction with the festival,” he said. “Allow people to make their own judgment.”

The tent, which has been to other cities across the state, opened at 4 p.m. yesterday but initially, at least, drew little attention. Mr. Hubbard’s books and pamphlets were for sale and offered in English, Portuguese and Spanish.

The Rev. Castagna also was seeking people to sign up as volunteer ministers. He said they didn’t have to join the church formally.

He added that the Scientologists aren’t setting up shop permanently in the city yet, but volunteers like Ms. Schofield could help that happen.

“At this moment we’re just trying to show people what we have to offer,” he said.

Vacation? Short break? Day trip? Get Skip-the-line tickets at GetYourGuide.


(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
The Standard-Times, USA
July 10, 2004
Joao Ferreira, Standard-Times staff writer

Religion News Blog posted this on Saturday July 10, 2004.
Last updated if a date shows here:


More About This Subject



Our website includes affiliate links, which means we get a small commission -- at no additional cost to you -- for each qualifying purpose. For instance, as an Amazon Associate, Religion News Blog earns from qualifying purchases. That is one reason why we can provide this research service free of charge.

Speaking of which: One way in which you can support us — at no additional cost to you — is by shopping at