Christian children are particularly being targeted by authorities in Communist Cuba, according to the latest report from the independent United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.
Researchers found “community officials discriminate against Christians in employment and schools, including denying some Christian children food in schools”.
In 2017, Cuban authorities prosecuted a church pastor and his wife for seeking to home school their children so they could receive a Christian education. The pastor was charged with “acting contrary to the normal development of a minor” and sentenced to one year of correctional labour, which was reduced to six months of house arrest on condition his children attended a government school. The pastor was also banned from leading his church, and ordered to take up a low-paid government job checking the local the water supply for disease.
The report, released on 25 April 2018, also reported that authorities threatened church buildings with confiscation or demolition: “In some cases, the officials confiscated property deeds, leaving the religious communities vulnerable to charges of maintaining illegal properties and the risk of such properties being destroyed or confiscated.”
Government restrictions on new buildings mean that many Protestant congregations meet as “house churches” in private homes. However, since 2005, house churches have been required to register with the government and submit detailed information on their members and activities. They are not allowed to hold more than three meetings per week.
The government also places restrictions on the import of religious literature: in April 2018, the Cuban government’s Religious Affairs Department returned to the USA a shipment of 17,000 NIV Bibles, whilst accepting only KJV Bibles.