Religious freedom in Cuba? It’s complicated.

Last week I mentioned that discussing many topics concerning Cuba is quite complicated. Among those is the subject of religious freedom. It’s not hard to find articles in the United States decrying the lack of religious freedom in Cuba. You can find examples of church people who have had a hard time in Cuba, like the evangelical pastors who got in trouble with the law for homeschooling their kids.

On the other hand, most Cuban Christians that I know feel that they have much religious freedom. I commented about that on Twitter the other day, and one Cuban preacher responded: “I have preached the gospel for 24 years in a small town in Havana called Cojimar. I have never, ever been questioned about my religion by the government.”

What I’ve been told is that the churches that focus on preaching the Bible have had few problems. My Cuban friends say that the ones who have problems with the government are the ones who receive pressure from their denominations in the U.S. to speak out against the Cuban government.

I do know that I have never been told to change my preaching while in Cuba. Never been told to avoid this religious topic or that one (as far as the government is concerned, at least; let’s not talk about the opinions of visiting church members from the States!). I have faced restrictions, both from the U.S. government and the Cuban government. But none of those had to do with questions of faith.

One recent incident was very telling to me. About three weeks ago, two activists from the LGBT community filed a complaint because some evangelical artists were being allowed to perform in public spaces and had been sponsored by two government-run companies. The complaint was filed under the principle of separation of church and state.

In other words, the complaint was filed because the government was seen as promoting the Christian religion.

Religious freedom in Cuba? It’s complicated.

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