Five Evangelical churches in Cuba say they oppose same-sex marriage because the ideology of gender is totally foreign to Cuban culture or “the historic leaders of the Revolution.”
The Evangelical League of Cuba, the Eastern and Western Baptist Conventions, the Methodist Church of Cuba and the Assembly of God Evangelical Church explained their posture in a statement posted last week on their social networks.
The statement came as the legislative National Assembly gets ready to meet at the end of this month to consider changes to the 1976 Constitution.
“We want to make authorities aware of the dangers that same-sex marriage can present to the nation,” Dariel Llanes Quintana, president of the Western Baptist Convention, said in a telephone interview.
Llanes said the five denominations, which do not belong to the government-approved Cuban Council of Churches, asked authorities for permission to organize a march in Havana. The request was denied.
“We met with the officials responsible for religious affairs in the Communist Party, Sonia Garcia and Caridad Diego. They explained to us that the march could not be held, but that the constitutional reforms would be adopted after a broad debate by the people,” he said.
Llanes said the churches plan to use their temples and houses of prayer to explain their position to their flocks. Their statement described marriage as “a divine institution, created by God,” and “exclusively the union of a man and a woman.”
The religious leaders added that the ideology of gender “has no relationship at all with Communist countries” and listed the examples of the former Soviet Union, China, Vietnam and North Korea.
“That paragraph was included as proof that same-sex marriage does not exist in Communist countries,” said Methodist Bishop Ricardo Pereira Diaz. “You can't just pick from capitalism what's convenient to you. If the country is Communist, then let it be Communist.”
Pereira Diaz added that there's a danger for children in the ideology pushed by government entities such as the Center for Sex Education, known as Cenesex and directed by Mariela Castro, daughter of former Cuban ruler Raul Castro.
“In other countries, parents can send their children to private or public schools that are acceptable to their faith. In a country like ours, where education is ruled by the government and there are no alternatives, teaching a child something that is contrary to their faith is a violation of free will.”
Pereira estimated that more than 60 percent of Cubans oppose gay marriage and the ideology of gender.
The constitutional reforms are part of the changes that Raul Castro promised but failed to achieve during his 10 years at the head of the government. He remains head of the Communist Party and of the committee in charge of proposing changes to the constitution.
Some analysts consulted by this newspaper believe the reforms will allow small and medium private businesses, modify family law to recognize same-sex parents and make official the term limits currently in place, of two five-year periods that can be extended for one term.
Evangelical churches in Cuba have experienced rapid growth since the government's religious opening of the 1990s. The churches now have hundreds of “home temples” spread around the island.
LGBT activist Víctor Manuel Dueñas, a Pentecostal Church member exiled in the Netherlands, said he lamented that the churches' joint statement failed to mention the persecution of Christians in Communist countries.
“In the Soviet Union, North Korea and Cuba itself, being a Christian was practically considered a crime. Together with homosexuals, Christians were sent to concentration camps,” he said. “Those pastors should study a little history.”
Adiel González Maimó, leader of the Metropolitan Christian Church in Cuba, which supports the LGBT community, predicted Christian churches “will use all their power to block homosexual marriage.”
González Maimó, who is close to Cenesex, said the five churches' statement was “a manipulation” because it used “political elements” to reinforce their reading of the Bible.
“I am certain that the government will give them a forceful reply,” he added. “They are accusing authorities of being homophobic, after all that's been done on behalf of the LGBT community.”
“The word of God says very clearly that Jesus came to give us life in abundance,” he added. “When you take away the people's right to live his love, you are stealing the life and happiness that God wants for them.”