EDINBURG, TX (CA) – The moral leadership of Cuban Christians is gaining them respect in the eyes of state officials, according to a U.S. missionary leader who visited Cuban churches in January.
“The state is gradually recognizing the positive moral strength of the evangelical church and is showing a new openness to the churches’ request for standing before governmental agencies,” says Gordon Johnson, president of Rio Grande Bible Institute and Language School in Edinburg, Texas.
In addition, Cuban believers also have come to be known as honest and productive workers. A state co-operative farm director told a Cuban pastor, “I would rather have 15 pastors work for me than 300 non-believers who would fight, rob, and not do much work.”
Johnson, who has made 24 trips to Latin America, says that a change in attitude toward evangelical churches was noted in 1985 when a Brazilian Catholic priest, Frei Betto, interviewed Fidel Castro. “For the first time, Castro spoke of religion not necessarily as the “opiate of the people,’ but as a possible positive force in building a socialistic state. This acceptance of’religion’ has lent a certain credence to evangelicals,” says Johnson.
In Fidel y la Religión (Fidel and Religion), the book containing the transcript of those interviews published in December, 1985, Castro takes the position that the state does not need to be blatantly anti-church. In fact, he said that the state could benefit from the church as protecting certain areas of morality. Castro thought if Lenin were alive today, he would agree with this position.