Statement on Religious Liberty in Cuba from the Cuban Council of Churches
“…Therefore, love truth and peace.” Zechariah 8:19
Havana, June 19, 2020
The Council of Churches of Cuba (CIC by its acronym in Spanish) is a fraternity of churches, ecumenical movements and other Christian institutions that confess the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Savior, according to the Scriptures of the Old and the New Testament; and they strive to realize their shared vocation, the Glory of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
The Council of Churches of Cuba has included 50 institutions in its membership. The most diverse perspectives of Christianity are evident among its members, such as Orthodox, Lutheran, Reformed, Quaker, the Salvation Army, Moravian, Presbyterian, Nazareth, Pentecostal, Baptist, Episcopalian, NGOs, centers, movements, and Seminaries for the training of pastors and laypeople.
We also work with all churches in Cuba, whether they are members or not of the Cuban Council of Churches, including the Catholic Church. All these actions and programs make an impact over a million Cubans every year; we also have a network of over a thousand voluntary promoters in the whole country.
Our mission is to further spaces of reunion, celebration, reflection, and training of churches, ecumenical movements, and other Christian institutions as a visible expression of the unity which God calls in Jesus Christ in the service of our people.
We cultivate fraternity and unity in the Christian Church in Cuba through implementing participatory programs, coordinated for the ecclesial and social context. We are a space of dialog and encounter among churches, ecumenical movements, and institutions of Christian inspiration, centers, and similar organizations. We promote an ecumenical expression of service for the community. We stimulate the training and biblical-theological upgrading to contribute to be a witness amid our reality. We foster an ecumenical expression of service to the community. We encourage the biblical-theological training and improvement to participate to the testimony in our reality. We commit to awareness with the Realm of God and its justice, in favor of life and integrity of creation.
The Council of Churches of Cuba is one of the many organizations of the Cuban civil society that works and lives with fulfillment and religious freedom.
Christians and religious believers of diverse denominations live in harmony and experience the diversity of Faith by the different traditions, cultures, and experiences.
The present administration of the United States has strengthened the policies of the blockade, discrimination against, persecutions, and sanctions that are part of a long list of actions designed to asphyxiate Cuba and to topple its political-economic system, violating its sovereignty.
One of the most recent attacks is related to the topic of religious freedom. They have falsely accused Cuba of restraining religious freedom, by placing our country in a list of countries where – according to them – there is no religious freedom. Moreover, they have approved 50 million dollars to this end, with the justification that there is a problematic situation in Cuba in this matter and paying individuals and groups to articulate such false discourse.
All these manifestations and actions completely ignore the reality of society and religions in Cuba.
During consecutive 79 years, CIC has lived at the service of churches and of the people. Some undeniable truths are the following:
Our churches and religions grow every day, not only in the number of parishioners and infrastructure but in contributions and work in social action. They also grow in the unceasing joint efforts in the search for a better world and specifically for a better nation; based on the solidarity, love, peace, service, work and mutual assistance that are the signs at present of the Reign of God.
The Cuban State and Government guarantee and promote balance and opportunities for development on an equal basis of all religions present in the country (Baha’i, Jews, Islam, Cuban Religions of African Matrix such as Yoruba, Abbakua, as well as Christians, Buddhists, and Spiritists).
Many international events and programs are carried out in our country, and many are the brothers and sisters of Faith of all latitudes of the world who bear witness and experience the revival, vitality, and expansion of the Cuban Church.
During the last 50 years, Cuba has been characterized by a projection of balance and pacific coexistence among religions in their most extensive diversity.
The Cuban Church today is a vibrant church, full of children and youth with high educational levels because they have received free and accessible education for all. Musical and art groups make churches and worship time an exceptional part of the life of the believer. These young people have been trained in Art Schools and universities, which evidences how Cuban educational programs have helped to have a church nourished by professionals. Many pastors and religious leaders are better trained to serve the Lord as they graduate from university majors other than religious programs across the country. In this way, the state and social and cultural institutions contribute to religious liberty.
CIC is a member of several non-governmental and Christian international organizations and collaborates and works with other organizations, such as
- The World Council of Churches (WCC)
- The National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States
- The Church World Service (CWS)
- Global Ministries
- ACT Alliance
- Religions for Peace
- Global Network of Civil Society Organisations for Disaster Reduction (GNDR)
- Latin American and Caribbean Network for Rights of Girls, Boys, and Adolescents (REDLAMYC)
- Bread for the World
- Diakonia Sweden
- Christoffell-Blindenmission (CBM)
- Joni and Friends
- The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF)
- Berlin Missionary Society (Berliner Missionswerk)
- Lutheran World Federation
- World Association of Christian Communication (WACC)
- United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Cuba with consultative status
- Latin American Council of Churches (LACC)
- United Biblical Societies (UBS)
The same as all religions and churches in Cuba, CIC maintains a permanent relationship of exchange with many churches in the world: Canada, the United States, Central America, Mexico, South America, the European Union, Asia, Africa.
Many churches in the United States work in unity with the Cuban churches and collaboration in several topics; namely,
- Programs of sustainable development in agriculture and food safety
- Water and sanitation – installation of water purification systems
- Joint workshops, camps, biblical schools
- The building, maintenance, and remodeling of churches, halls, and spaces for Sunday schools
- Distribution of Bibles and religious literature
- Joint work with people with disabilities
- Programs of support for the elderly and the vulnerable sectors of society
- Working on the areas of women and gender and youth
- Prison chaplaincy
- Community life and health
- Humanitarian response to emergency and risk prevention
- A comprehensive ecumenical training program
- People with HIV program
All these actions are carried out with churches from many parts of the world, but above all, with partnerships with sister churches from the United States. It is a sincere relationship, of real sharing among Christians where everyone contributes and shares as equals. It is the beautiful testimony of the Gospel of Christ, which we preach going above all barriers in the Truth of Christ that calls us to live and share.
According to the total of its population, Cuba has received more Bibles than many other countries. In the last few years, between 2013 and 2018, over 1 million Bibles, New Testaments, and other religious materials have been distributed along with the country. Since its beginnings in 1966, the Council of Churches has distributed over 4 million Bibles, a similar quantity of new Testaments, 9 million biblical passages and the same materials, 7 million treaties, and over 8 million journals, calendars, and other literature. These come from several sources: the United States, Canada, Brazil, China, Korea. They are received in containers or by air cargo, always free of taxes; they are distributed immediately and in an expedite way after they arrive in our country.
These materials are distributed in the most equitable way among all denominations. They have been taken to public libraries, even Braille Bibles and articles for people with hearing disabilities. Audio materials are also distributed.
We maintain close relations with the United Bible Societies (UBS), participating in all their spaces and opportunities as well as with the American Bible Society.
Visitors from many countries participate as donors, and many visit Cuba and, together with their partners, distribute Bibles, other materials, and consumables and supplies for churches. Many of these visitors come from the United States.
On average, around 6 to 15 different projects are developed annually. Some of them are directed towards a specific audience, such as people with disabilities (e.g., the translation of the Scriptures into Cuban Sign Language).
All member and nonmember organizations that receive our services and that interact with us have a national and international scope. We develop our work in Cuba and outside the country in the social, ecclesial, and religious spheres.
Accusing Cuba of restraining religious liberty is false and malicious. Religious freedom in Cuba is full, real and daily lived by hundreds of thousands of believers, leaders, pastors, families, youth, boys and girls, the elderly, people with disabilities, men and women, that with their Faith make a better home for their families and their neighborhoods.
In the peace and the love of Christ,
Rev. Antonio Santana Hernández. President
Rev. Joel Ortega Dopico. Executive Secretary