Reverend Jim Winkler, President and General Secretary of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, adressed a letter to the Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo to express concern that Cuba has been and continues to be listed on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom’s “Special Watch List”.
In the text, Reverend Winkler explained the nature of American and Cuban Christians’ relations and that, through various visits of high-level church delegations and other exchanges, they “have witnessed first-hand the freedom by which Cubans are allowed to express their faith”. “Over these years, we have built a relationship of trust, and based on this trust we know that what we have seen with our own eyes is a genuine faith and robust church life”, he added.
According to the letter, actions like the listing of Cuba on the “Special Watch List” have set back positive trends in Cuba, mainly those related to the rapprochement with the United States. “Religious freedom exists in Cuba, and this action by our government reflects an unfortunate denial of this reality, and only reinforces worsening trends in the relations between our two countries”.
The National Council of the Churches represents 40 million Christians in the United States, with 38 member churches. The institution has a close relation with the Cuban Council of Churches. Reverend Winkler acknowledged that the benefits of the Cuban Council of Churches’ programs and services wouldn’t be possible without religious freedom. In this regard, he expressed that “the funding given over to undermining such a reality not only facilitates the denigration of this history, it serves to impede the ministries provided by the churches to the Cuban people. It also threatens the burgeoning interfaith reality on the ground”.
Reverend Winkler concluded his letter by saying: “To include Cuba on the “Special Watch List” is an egregious lapse of judgment on the part of the US Government. I would therefore request that the country be removed from this list”.