U.S. State Department Statement on Cuban Religious Freedom  

   

Shaun Casey
Shaun Casey

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.[1]

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).”

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[1] 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.)

Rev. Phillip Perry Brown and Betsy Dickey Brown

Phillip Perry Brown
Phillip Perry Brown

On September 17, 1790, Phillip Perry Brown (my maternal third great-grandfather) was born in Bennington, Vermont to Nathaniel and Anna Perry Brown (my maternal fourth great-grandparents).[1]

At a young age, Phillip Perry and his family moved to Whitestown,  New York, where the father bought a tract of land and built a house in an area then “full of Indians and wild beasts,” but being rapidly settled. In 1804 the family moved to Augusta, New York. There Phillip Perry went to the “common school, in which reading, writing, spelling and arithmetic were taught” and eventually acquired “the habit of speaking extemporaneously with considerable grammatical accuracy.”

Betsy Dickey Brown
Betsy Dickey Brown

On September 27, 1809, Phillip Perry (age 19) married Betsy Dickey (my maternal third great -grandmother) (age 21) from the town of Augusta. They had nine children: Harley Philander Brown (1810–1863); Charles Edwin Brown (my maternal second great-grandfather); William Brown (1816-1869); Sarah Brown (1818-1879); Ann Brown White/Kelly (1820-1870); Phillip Perry Brown, Jr. (1823-1881); Adoniram Judson Brown (1826-1864); Elvira Mack Brown Swift (1829-?); and Wilbur Mission Brown (1833-1898).

In the summer of 1811 Phillip Perry “became much affected and very tender in view of my hopeless condition as a sinner” and “felt a strong conviction that the appointed time had come to carry out my long cherished intention to seek Christ and secure the salvation of my soul.” As a result, he was baptized on September 29, 1811 at the Baptist Church in Madison, New York. He became convinced that he should enter the ministry, but did not disclose this calling to anyone else and did not carry through with his intention.

In 1813 Phillip Perry and his wife moved to Smithfield, New York, where he and his brother-in-law for the next three years engaged in the business of supplying sand for glass factories near Peterboro, New York. On May 6, 1814, while shoveling sand they heard noise resembling distant thunder they believed to be artillery fire. Later they learned that it was artillery discharges in the Battle of Oswego, New York, which was 55 miles away.[2]

On February 27, 1820, on the same day his wife was baptized, Phillip Perry was asked to preach at a church meeting. He must have done well because the church thereafter granted him a license to preach when the regular pastor was not available and eventually hired him as their regular pastor. He served in this capacity for eight years, never earning more than $10 per year for his services. This was not easy work as “universalism and drunkenness . . . [made] the field peculiarly hard for spiritual culture” and rendered “my labors almost as barren of moral as of financial fruits.”

He, therefore, was forced to support his family through manual labor. After his ordination in 1821 he neglected these jobs for the next two years in order to study the Scriptures on his own. Eventually he “was aroused from [this] . . . enchantment” to find manual labor to support his family. He learned and practiced carpentry. In the winters he managed a saw mill and chopped and sold wood.

His ordination by a church council in the autumn of 1821 is instructive on the status of theological education at the time. After he had “related my Christian experience, my spiritual exercises in reference to preaching the gospel, and my views of Scripture doctrine,” one member of the council was skeptical because Phillip Perry had had no “Ministerial Education” like that provided by the new “School of the Prophets” at Hamilton, New York. This member, therefore, insisted that first Phillip Perry had to preach before the council.

After 15 minutes of meditation, Phillip Perry preached to the council on Luke 10:3: “Behold [said Jesus], I send you forth as lambs among wolves.”  The main points of the sermon were (1) the helplessness of ministers “as lambs;” (2) their dangers among “wolves,” who were foes without the fold and false brethren within the fold; and (3) the encouragement from the Great Shepherd.”  The council then unanimously agreed to his ordination.

Betsey Dickey Brown died on April 2, 1862 in Hamilton, New York. Thereafter Phillip Perry was remarried to Ann [unknown last name], and their marriage lasted until he died on September 23, 1876. Ann died on May 7, 1882.


[1] This post is based upon Charles E. Brown, Personal Recollections 1813-1893 of Rev. Charles E. Brown with Sketches of His Wife and Children and Extracts from an Autobiography of Rev. Phillip Perry Brown 1790-1862 and The Family Record 1767-1907 (Ottumwa, IA 1907). Another source is Carol Willits Brown, William Brown–English Immigrant of Hatfield and Leicester, Massachusetts, and His Descendants c. 1669-1994 (Gateway Press; Baltimore, MD 1994).

[2] The Battle of Fort Oswego on Lake Ontario was a partially successful British raid on an U.S. fort and village during the War of 1812.

Rev. Charles Edwin Brown’s Baptist Missionary Work in Iowa, 1857-1887

 

Rev. Charles E. Brown
Rev. Charles E. Brown

Rev. Charles Edwin Brown (my maternal second great-grandfather) and his family first went to Iowa for Baptist missionary work in 1842. He toiled at that work until 1851 when illness forced him and his family to return to their native New York State for recuperation.

In 1857 he and his family returned to Iowa to continue his missionary work, this time in the northeastern part of that State.[1]

The trip to Iowa this time presumably did not take a month like it had in 1842 although there is less discussion of the later journey in his memoirs.

Michigan Southern * Indiana Northern engine
Michigan Southern & Indiana Northern engine

All he mentions is taking an overnight voyage on the Great Lakes steamer “Southern Michigan” from Buffalo, New York to Toledo, Ohio and a train (the Michigan Southern and Indiana Northern Railway) to Chicago. Mrs. Brown and their three youngest sons continued by train to DeWitt, Iowa (not far from Maquoketa) while Rev. Brown went by horse and buggy to the latter town.

Howard County Iowa
Howard County Iowa

Rev. Brown soon learned that several Baptist families near the town of Vernon Springs in Howard County that abutted Minnesota to the north wanted to organize a church. He accepted their call, and he and his family made this town their home for the next 11 years and Howard County the site of his missionary work for the next 30 years.

This town then had a sparkling water spring, general store, post office, blacksmith shop, tavern, saw mill and a building for the county court house and about a dozen families. Soon thereafter the county seat was moved to another town, leaving its building for use as a school and church. The new Baptist church had an initial membership of 8 that grew to over 60 by 1860.

Baptist Church, Cresco
Baptist Church, Cresco

Today that church is located in the nearby larger town and county seat of Cresco, Iowa. Prominent in the sanctuary is a beautiful stained-glass window in honor of Rev. Brown. A panel states that he was “a Pioneer Missionary [who] settled in Iowa Territory in 1842 and continued in the work for nearly Fifty years, organizing Churches at many places in Illinois and Iowa” and that in “1857, He organized this Church, was its faithful Pastor for many years, and his revered example continues to inspire its membership.”

In 1858 Brown was elected as the very first Howard County Superintendent of Schools when it had only three schools and served in this position until 1861. He addition, he was a school teacher in the Vernon Springs, Iowa public school, 1858-1867.

The U.S. Civil War from April 1861 until its end in April 1865 was “a subject of absorbing interest and sleepless anxiety” for the people of Howard County. The War also affected the Brown family.

  • Brown’s eldest son, Charles Perry Brown (then 20 years old) in 1861 was the first volunteer from the County for Company D, Third Iowa Infantry. (In September 1862 Charles was home on leave during the U.S.-Dakota War in neighboring Minnesota as discussed in a prior post.)
  • In 1862 the Brown’s next eldest son and my first great-grandfather, James DeGrush Brown (then 17 years old) enlisted in the Sixteenth Regiment, U.S. Infantry (Regular Army), but a serious illness ended his service after a few months.
  • In early 1865 Rev. Brown was appointed the Chaplain of the 88th U.S.C. Infantry (and later the 3rd U.S.C. Artillery). In May 1866 he returned home to Vernon Springs to continue his pastoral work.

In 1868 Rev. Brown accepted a call to the pastorate of a Baptist church in Carroll County, Illinois, but he and his family returned to  Iowa and moved their home north to Lime Springs, but still in Howard County. There they helped build a new church and house. This was their home for the next 20 years except for another return to central New York in 1875-1876. During most of these years, he was not a full-time pastor although he did engage in pastoral work.

In his previously mentioned Fourth of July speech at Le Claire in 1845, Brown listed intemperance as the top domestic enemy. He elaborated at great length on this topic in a speech in Cresco, Iowa on January 3, 1875. He described intemperance as an “unsurpassed evil which entails upon the human family far more widespread and dreadful calamities than war, famine and pestilence combined.” It visits upon humanity “squalid wretchedness” and “untold and indescribable devastation, moral and physical.”

Iowa Capitol Building, Des Moines
Iowa Capitol Building,      Des Moines

In 1877 Brown was elected to the Iowa House of Representatives. He served one term and declined to run for re-election in 1878. He was especially proud of his resolution, albeit unsuccessful, to amend the State Constitution to authorize majority civil jury verdicts, instead of unanimous ones. He lamented, “So long as our legislative bodies are made up largely of lawyers it can scarcely be hoped that measures looking to simplify litigation–expediting and reducing cost–will meet with favor.”[2]

After his death, the Iowa House of Representatives on February 13, 1902, adopted a resolution proclaiming that his “life and character . . . command our love and esteem, and his public series to the state and country were of such distinction as to demand the respect and gratitude of his fellow citizens” and that the State of Iowa “has lost an able conscientious citizen.”

One of the House members said on that occasion that Brown was “a man of excellent judgment, strong character, and of a progressive nature, and could have attained a high place in the commercial world, but preferred rather to devote his life to the betterment of his fellow men.” Another Representative said, “Throughout his life, whether in the cabin or more pretentious dwelling, he was always the same social, devout Christian gentleman, practicing in his daily walk those precepts he sought to inculcate in others. He was intensely loyal and patriotic and when his conclusions were reached upon any subject, they were definite and positive. He advocated his religious and political opinions with earnestness, sincerity, and fidelity, and he was never vacillating or uncertain. He had a clear head and a strong mind.”

The economic importance of the U.S. development of railroads in the latter part of the 19th century is seen by three of the Brown’s sons being initially employed by the Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway.  William Carlos Brown (W.C. or “Will”) was in its Minneapolis’ trainmaster’s office; James DeGrush Brown was an engineer; and George Lyon Brown was a trainman. In September 1871 George (age 18) was killed in a railroad accident.

In the Fall of 1882 a diphtheria epidemic broke out in northern Iowa, and two of Rev. Brown’s grandchildren died of the disease.

Frances Lyon & Charles E. Brown
Frances Lyon & Charles E. Brown

On June 12, 1887, Frances Lyon Brown (my maternal second great-grandmother) died at age 74 in Lime Springs, Iowa. Her husband said, for “nearly fifty years, she was my constant companion and helpmeet [sic]. Her cheerful, sunny disposition made itself felt through all these years, in the lonely cabin on the frontier, or the more comfortable home in the East. Whatever of success attended my labors in the ministry, and the success attained and positions of honor and trust gained by our sons, are largely due to the loving care and instruction of the sainted wife and mother.”

Rev. Brown died at age 88 on July 23, 1901 in Ottumwa, Iowa.


[1] This post is based upon Charles E. Brown, Personal Recollections 1813-1893 of Rev. Charles E. Brown with Sketches of His Wife and Children and Extracts from an Autobiography of Rev. Phillip Perry Brown 1790-1862 and The Family Record 1767-1907 (Ottumwa, IA 1907). Another source in that book is J.W. Wendell’s “Lest We Forget,” a Memorial Discourse in Honor of Rev. Charles E. Brown, Oct. 6, 1901.

[2]  Brown might be pleased to know that his great-grandson (the author of this blog) was an attorney who was an active member of the Minnesota State Bar Association’s section for alternative dispute resolution, which sought to develop and promote less expensive and more conciliatory ways to resolve legal disputes.

Rev. Charles Edwin Brown’s Recuperation in New York, 1851-1857

Frances Lyon & Charles E. Brown
Frances Lyon & Charles E. Brown

A prior post discussed the 1842 travel to the Iowa Territory by the 29-year-old Rev. Charles Edwin Brown (my maternal second great-grandfather) along with his wife, Frances Lyon Brown (my maternal second great-grandmother), and their two young sons to engage in Baptist missionary work. This they did for the next nine years, as described in another post.

In 1850, however, Rev. Brown became very ill with “inflammatory rheumatism,” and the next year he and his family returned to his native State of New York to recuperate.[1]

For the first year they lived with his father, Rev. Phillip Perry Brown, the Pastor of the Baptist Church in Holland Patent and my maternal third great-grandfather. Over these six years Rev. Charles E. Brown himself served as a Baptist pastor of churches in Steuben, Russia and Norway, New York.

When Rev. Charles E. Brown joined the Norway church as its pastor, he discovered that his predecessor had divided the church with his “extreme anti-slavery views.” Although Brown was also against slavery, he sought reconciliation and harmony within the church. Indeed, the members of the church “agreed that all agitation on the subject of discord [slavery] shall cease in private and public.” His sealing of his lips on slavery seems strange in light of his passionate plea against slavery in 1845 in Iowa.

While in Norway, the Brown’s twin sons, William Carlos and George Lyon Brown, were born on July 29, 1853. (In the early 20th century William Carlos or “W.C.” became the President of the New York Central Railroad, and his amazing railroad career will be covered in subsequent posts.)

In July 1857 after regaining his health and at the request of the Baptist Home Mission Society, Rev. Brown returned to Iowa for missionary work in the northeastern part of that State.


[1] This post is based upon Charles E. Brown, Personal Recollections 1813-1893 of Rev. Charles E. Brown with Sketches of His Wife and Children and Extracts from an Autobiography of Rev. Phillip Perry Brown 1790-1862 and The Family Record 1767-1907 (Ottumwa, IA 1907).