On July 6 and 7, Shaun Casey, the U.S. Special Representative for [the Office of] Religion and Global Affairs at the State Department, visited Cuba to explore religious life on the island.
After visiting with the leadership of the Cuba’s Roman Catholic Church, other churches (Baptist, Evangelical, Presbyterian, Mormon, Assemblies of God, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Santeria, and Protestant house churches) as well as Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist faiths, Casey said he had witnessed “firsthand the vibrancy, dynamism, and diversity of the country’s religious communities.”
These rich conversations had “helped broaden the State Department’s understanding of the religious history, dynamics, demographics, and growth trends, as well as continued challenges in Cuba.” He learned “that the religious climate in Cuba has improved over the past decade and a half,” that some “challenges still exist for Cuban religious communities,” but that “change is a process that will not happen overnight, . . .[and] progress is happening.”
Casey also was impressed with Cuban appreciation of the re-establishment of U.S.-Cuban diplomatic relations and eagerness “for people-to-people connections to continue to strengthen and flourish between their country and the [U.S.].”
At the same time, Casey observed that “the U.S. government remains convinced that religious groups would be best served by a genuine democracy that includes an ability to freely profess and practice a religion (or no religion at all).”
 Casey, Religion in Cuba: Diverse, Vibrant, and Dynamic, DipNote (July 19, 2016). This blog has frequently commented on religious freedom in Cuba. (See “Cuban Freedom of Religion” in List of Posts to dwkcommentaries–Topical: Cuba.)
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