Bishop finds some light in Cuba

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March 22, 2004|4:59 am

Among the countries with the most Christian persecution, Cuba ranks among the highest. However, a recent Alabama Methodist Bishop recently returned from the mostly closed off country and found some light within the communist regime.

“The church is alive and growing,” UMC Bishop Robert E. Fannin told the Birmingham News in a recent interview. Referring to the Cuban leader Fannin said they were “very open to us, very appreciative of what the United Methodist Church does in Cuba.”

Fannin went to Cuba meeting Caridad Diego who is the director of religious affairs in the Cuban government. They discussed relations between the Cuban Methodist Church and the government. Fannin himself is the vice chairman of the World Methodist Council’s world evangelism division.

Before, the Fidel Castro’s government seized church property when it took power. Now, Fannin said, the government is easing restrictions and even returning some property it took during the Communist revolution.

Recently, Cuba was ranked number 24 on the Open Door USA’s “Word Watch List” specifying which countries Christians are most persecuted. Although the government has eased restrictions, not all denominations have been as successful in negotiating with the government.

“It’s more receptive to certain churches,” Fannin said. “We're trying to work with the government to give us permission for new churches. You still have to get permission to do everything you do.”

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