Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Unofficial Pastors, Half Free

Unofficial Pastors, Half Free / Luis Felipe Rojas
Posted on May 27, 2013

The U.S. State Department's annual report on religious freedom in the
world noted a slight improvement in Cuba, but placed the country as one
of those who remain on the black list, along with China, Iran and North

Cuba improved in practice, says the document, but it also presents the
complaints of groups and independent pastors who claim to be monitored
by the government and suffer occasional arrests.

Pastor Manuel Alberto Morejon Soler, general supervisor of the Christian
Alliance and a resident of Havana, has a different view. To Morejon, the
Office of Religious Affairs and the Cuban Council of Churches (CIC) come
together and help each other with censorship and surveillance.

The pastor, who is defines himself as an independent, says that "only
the official churches are benefiting from the support of the Office of
Religious Affairs [of the Cuban Communist Party] and CIC, as the Bibles
and other resources entering the country and are distributed by these

A year ago, this pastor, with the 'apostle' Carlos Montoya Palomino, of
the same denomination, asked to attend some meetings of the ICC in the
interest of evaluating whether or not to join it. It has been over
twelve months and they have not yet been sent the official invitation.

"Several years ago the Cuban government froze an account of $ 26,000
belonging to the Seminary of the West Baptist Church in Villa Clara, and
that nothing is said about this," the pastor reported.

Morejon Soler does not see the improvements highlighted in the State
Department report and he believes that the 2012 reporting period, "was
very repressive." While there is a refusal to allow independent churches
on the island to have their own media, churches and other denominations
covered under the umbrella of CIC may buy cars, rent phone lines and
enjoy other benefits.

The Christian Alliance received an offer to transfer the donations they
received in the United States, but finding themselves in a legal limbo,
they are unable to issue paychecks, according to pastor Morejon. He
concludes, "They are not just bureaucratic procedures, rather they are
very sophisticated and have us tied hand and foot."

Having Faith is a heroic act

Carlos Montoya Palomino believes that faith in Cuba is a luxury. He says
it as someone who has gone through numerous vicissitudes.

It is precisely the "Lack of an Act of Worship and Religious Association
that gives human beings the right to wear their faith freely clearly
that makes it more difficult to live full freedom in Cuba," Montoya adds.

27 May 2013


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