Typically, a totalitarian regime has an official religious council, whose members serve a couple of purposes: They pretend to the outside world that the regime allows religious freedom; and they help keep the natives in line. The Castro dictatorship has such a council: It’s called the CCC, or the Cuban Council of Churches. Its spokesmen are stooges of the dictatorship. They denounce genuinely religious or independent-minded Cubans. And they travel abroad, spreading the regime’s lies.
In February, six CCC officials arrived on Capitol Hill, to do their work. Yes, incredibly, they were given a platform at the heart of our liberal democracy. The officials were hosted by Senator Jeff Flake (R., Ariz.) and Representative Jim McGovern (D., Mass.).
Christian Solidarity Worldwide has just released a report on Cuba. Those who wish to know the facts about religion in that country can read the report here.
I will quote from the executive summary:
Despite government claims of increased respect for religious freedom, reported violations of religious freedom in Cuba continued to increase dramatically over the 19 months covered by this report. From the beginning of 2014 to mid-July, CSW recorded 170 separate religious freedom violations, many of which involved dozens of victims. This followed the record of 180 documented cases in 2013, compared with 120 in 2012 and 40 in 2011. Religious groups across the spectrum all reported varying degrees of hostility from the government. Only a few reported any notable improvement.
Government agents continued to employ more brutal and public tactics than witnessed in the first decade of the millennium. CSW continued to receive regular reports of severe and sustained harassment and sporadic reports of violent beatings of Protestant pastors and lay workers in different parts of the country. Week after week, scores of women were physically and violently dragged away from Sunday morning services by state security agents.
When I think of the senator and the congressman and the platform they provided for the Castro officials, I think of something that Cuban dissidents have long told me: “It’s one thing if people in the Free World don’t support us. We may not like it, or understand it, but okay. But why do they have to lend support to the dictatorship that persecutes us?”
Christian Solidarity Worldwide strikes me as true to its name. May their work bear fruit. And even if it doesn’t — that work is still honorable.