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Christian charity warns of growing control over Cuban churches

by Sophie Drew

Concern is growing over the control the government is having on churches in Cuba.

Seven months ago, the authorities snuffed nationwide protests, detaining several hundred protestors, including Christians and church leaders. 

Following the violent crackdown on the anti-Communst protests, the government has tightened its control over the church, prompting the country's return to the Open Doors World Watch List of worst countries to live as a Christian.

Despite avoiding a place of the list for more than a decade, Cuba is now regarded as the 37th most dangerous place to be a Christian. 

A Cuban pastor, who partnered with Christian charity Open Doors, has described the situation for believers. 

He said: "Many pastors took to the streets and protested, and these pastors were arrested. Many today are still in jail."

"Although we did not agree with many laws, first we did not agree with the ideology of the system. We really live in a tense moment. The government now wants the churches to be closed and that activities with the people of God not be carried out. And all of this is a way to stop the Church's vision and mission."

Many of those detained during the protests are still awaiting trial. 

One detained pastor appeared in court shortly before Christmas, accused of 'disrespect', 'assault', 'criminal incitement' and 'public disorder'. 

He faces a ten-year sentence for his 'crimes' - his wife says the prosecution didn't deliver any evidence at the trial. 

Despite the return to the World Watch List, researchers found that the trials of the last year have spurred a sense of Christian community amongst believers.

Pastor Perez said: "This crisis has made us see that pastoral unity is necessary and we are holding meetings with pastors of different denominations, allying ourselves, uniting us, because we know that God has something beautiful for Cuba and that all this repression of hell will trigger a revival in our nation."

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