14ymedio, Havana, 23 February 2019 – The Communist Party of Cuba categorized the Baptist pastor Carlos Sebastián Hernández Armas a “counterrevolutionary” for a sermon in which the pastor called on the faithful of his congregation to oppose the new Constitution that will be submitted to a referendum this February 24.
Sonia García García, an official of the Office of Religious Affairs of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, telephoned Dariel Llanes, president of the Baptist Convention of Western Cuba, to inform him that Hernández Armas “going forward will not be treated as a pastor but as a counterrevolutionary. ”
The complaint was shown on his Facebook profile by Hernández Armas himself, secretary general of the Baptist Convention, and confirmed to this newspaper by Llanes. This newspaper tried to communicate by telephone with the Office of Religious Affairs but García was not “available” for press inquiries.
“The official demonstrated outrage at my message last Sunday, when I spoke to the church, with over 200 brothers gathered, that it is a Christian duty to vote NO on the new Constitution,” the pastor wrote.
According to the text, the official told the president of the Baptist Convention that she “does not understand” how it is possible that Hernández Armas occupies positions of responsibility in the organization.
“I have been categorized as a counterrevolutionary since 2004, when leading the church of Yaguajay we recovered the temple and the pastoral house in a story that’s too long to tell, but in which the Government was for years an accomplice of its thieves and then stole the bordering land”, adds Hernández Armas.
According to the pastor, it’s about persecution for his religious beliefs and the friendship he has with Pastor Mario Félix Lleonart and Oscar Elías Biscet, well-known opposition leaders.
The Baptist Convention of Western Cuba was one of the evangelical churches that appealed to the Government to prevent the approval of the controversial Article 68 of the constitutional project on equality of marriage.
In the document, subscribed by the Evangelical League of Cuba, the Baptist Conventions of the West and East, as well as the Methodist Church and the Evangelical Assembly of God Church, it was affirmed that “gender ideology” has no relation whatsoever with Cuban culture “nor with the historical leaders of the Revolution.”
The Commission that drafted the constitutional reform was in charge of substantially modifying the article due to the supposed majority rejection that it received during public consultations. To generate consensus, the Commission announced that an amendment to the Family Code should be ratified by another referendum within two years.
“We are living a very delicate situation in Cuba right now. They (the Communist Party) are very angry, they have put pressure on religious communities to support this constitutional project, but if we do that, we are going against our faith,” a high representative of the Evangelical Church on the island who requested anonymity for fear of reprisals against his organization told this newspaper.
“In Cuba there are still many people with dignity who love this country and God. We will be firm in following Christ even if we are persecuted for it,” he added.
The Christian, Evangelical and Catholic Churches have openly manifested their opposition to the constitutional referendum, as have LGBT groups, opponents and human rights activists.
A recent message from the Catholic Conference of Bishops laments “the exclusion” in the constitutional text “of other forms of full realization of the human being different from those of socialism and communism.”
According to the bishops, “a Christian cannot be forced to submit to a conception of reality that does not correspond to his human conscience enlightened by faith.”
Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria
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