Pastors in Cuba Being Monitored, Threatened, and Harassed by Communist Officials Despite Asking for Greater Protections

People walk near the Church of Our Virgin of Charity in Havana, Cuba, March 14, 2012. | (Photo: Reuters/Desmond Boylan)

Church officials in Cuba have asked for greater protections for their denominations but instead pastors are being monitored and threatened as believers face increased incidents of harassment by Communist officials, a persecution watchdog group reports.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide released its findings in a report on Thursday, noting that freedom of religion or belief continues to be violated in the country.

Both Protestant and Roman Catholic institutions have called for greater protections, but that has led to increased harassment of religious leaders, CSW has warned.

“Often this takes subtler, hard to document forms, and is focused on attempting to create divisions between and within religious groups,” the watchdog explained in its summary.

“Religious leaders who have taken on a leadership role in the campaign, both at the local and national levels, have reported that pressure on them remains high; over the past year many have chosen to flee the country and to seek refuge abroad,” it added.

“Leaders from the Roman Catholic Church and Protestant churches, both those belonging to and outside of the Cuban Council of Churches, report frequent visits from and meetings with state security agents and Cuban Communist Party officials. These visits and meetings seem to be intended to intimidate the religious leaders and make them aware that they are under close surveillance.”

The report includes several examples of the harassment churches are facing. It also noted that a number of church leaders from various denominations have reported on frequent visits from state security or Communist Party agents.

“Some have reported warnings from the agents and officials that the education of their children, or their own employment, could be threatened if the house church leaders continue with their activities,” the report says.

“In August a government official paid a number of visits to house churches linked to one pastor in central Cuba. The officials threatened the owners of the homes and pressured them to stop allowing their homes to be used for religious activity. Officials threatened one owner, an elderly woman, with criminal charges if more than 10 people met in her home at any one time.”

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Stoyan Zaimov