WBUR

East Boston Religious Leaders Organize To Oppose Casino

BOSTON — Religious leaders from more than 30 churches in East Boston have launched a community campaign opposing construction of a proposed casino at Suffolk Downs.

After months of meetings and discussions, the Friends of East Boston, as the ministers from different faiths and ethnic heritages call themselves, gathered Monday at the Central Assembly of God Church.

“A casino in East Boston is probably one of the worst things that could happen to our community,” said Father Thomas Domurat, of Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church.

“The main reason that I oppose the casino is that it promotes gambling addictions, and will bring other harmful elements into our community,” he said. “We can do better than this.”

Friends of East Boston group members (Bruce Gellerman/WBUR)

Friends of East Boston group members (Bruce Gellerman/WBUR)

The casino will bring traffic problems, says the Rev. Alicia Climaco, from Iglesia Profetica Ciudad de Sion.

Meanwhile, the Rev. Claudio Yeme warns that a casino in East Boston will financially ruin families and the community.

Friends of East Boston hasn’t raised a single dollar to defeat the proposed $1 billion casino. Organizers call it a David and Goliath effort.

Pedro Morales, an Eastie resident and Harvard Divinity School student, is coordinating the church-based group.

“Hear the call of unity from this community and come stand with us against the casino,” Morales said. “But more importantly come stand with us for families, for a future together. We will not be reduced to a casino town.”

Friends of East Boston hopes to collect 5,000 signatures and present the petition to Suffolk Downs in the hope developers will withdraw their casino proposal.

If that doesn’t work, the group plans to rally voters in church pews. Easties and residents of Revere vote on the casino plan Nov. 5.

Suffolk Downs is one of the three sites in eastern Massachusetts being considered for a casino.

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