Cuba and Religion
When most people think of the Caribbean, Latin America and most of the Western Hemisphere in terms of religion, they typically think of Christianity or, more specifically Catholicism. Spain and the Spaniards who came over during the nation’s conquest throughout the region spread Christianity, which is why it is such a dominate religion in South America and in many island nations. In Cuba, up until 1959, this proved to be the case. In fact, around 80 percent of the national citizens proclaimed themselves to be Christian. When communism took over though and a new national regime took over, Cuba and Christianity almost completely cut all ties between one another. Almost.
By 1961, the United States had placed a trade embargo on Cuba based on its communist government and its connection with the Soviet Union. In order to escape the new regime at the time, many of the top religious paster and mentors in Cuba fled, leaving the Caribbean’s largest island nation nearly void of any Christian teachings. By 1990, most of the Christian faith had left, leaving the country with just a two percent Christian following.
The trade embargo made it extremely difficult to bring in any kind of learning and teaching material for pastors. While many look towards Cuba as a haven for antique cars due to the inability to bring in new vehicles and replacement parts, this affected nearly every industry in the country. It made it especially difficult for Cuban pastors to dig deeper into the bible, as they didn’t have the assistance of other worldwide pastors and teachers to help.
Slowly but surely though, the Christian faith has started to take root and blossom. Most sermons are given scattered throughout the countryside, in roadside shacks and away from the prying eye. Very few actual churches remain within the major cities, and those that do remain are not necessarily used for services. Thanks to several different missionary groups though, new resources have started to trickle into the country little by little, giving current pastors and new pastors access to some information and learning materials they did not have previously.
Currently, the trade embargo between Cuba and the United States still exists. However, external pressure is starting to lift and the U.S. government has started to shift away from this stance with Cuba. With the recent opening of the American embassy in Cuba, hopes to stop the embargo all together is coming to fruition. This is allowing the continual growth of Christianity and to allow it to spread to a new generation, many of whom have never had access to it before.
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