Church World Service & the Castros

on July 24, 2015

Church World Service, the semi-autonomous relief arm of the National Council of Churches, applauded this week’s normalization of U.S. relations with Communist Cuba.

“Years of dedicated, strategic and consistent ecumenical advocacy by CWS and our member communions and denominations have contributed to this milestone,” the CWS enthused. “Yet, more work lies ahead. Lifting the U.S. trade embargo would vastly improve the day-to-day lives of many Cubans. Let that be the next goal. This is a humanitarian issue that CWS will continue to focus on as lifting the embargo will greatly improve the lives of our sisters and brothers in Cuba.”

Last year, CWS hailed the impending normalization as a “significant step forward in human rights,” without explaining how. It urged revoking the state sponsor of terrorism designation that Cuba had under U.S. policy. And it celebrated Cuba’s release of a long imprisoned U.S. employee in exchange for U.S. release of Cuban intelligence agents. It also boasted: “CWS first provided support to Cuba in the form of food assistance in 1961, before the Bay of Pigs invasion.” CWS concluded that normalization “will improve lives.”

Well, maybe. But how notable, and typical, that CWS has nothing to say about real human rights for Cubans, like freedom of speech and religion, or changing a corrupt Marxist, state controlled economy that perpetuates poverty. It’s debatable to what extent if any U.S. recognition of the 56 year old Castro dictatorship will help average Cubans.

And how predictable CWS mentions the Bay of Pigs as part of its decades long narrative faulting the U.S. for Cuba’s horrors while never mentioning the many thousands the Castros have shot, tortured and imprisoned for decades as part of their police state. The Catholic Church advocated normalization of diplomatic ties but after decades of heroic and often sacrificial witness for human rights in Cuba. CWS has no such credit on its moral ledger.

IRD was founded in 1981 directly in response to the indifference of CWS and other Mainline Protestant institutions to oppression under Leftist regimes even when they persecuted the Church, as they always did. The Mainline curia’s inability to recognize intrinsic human dignity that mandates essential human rights for all people reflects a narrow, materialism that equates God’s Kingdom with state imposed egalitarianism at the expense of liberty.

So “boo!” to CWS and its co-religionists who have literally been on the wrong side of history for 50 years, continuously siding with tyrants and coercion over freedom and human decency. May they endure long enough to realize their terrible mistakes and apologize to the countless oppressed whose plight they ignored.

  1. Comment by Max Friedman on August 5, 2015 at 8:58 pm

    Mark: Look into the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and his Trinity United Methodist Church ties to Cuba. Lots of good stuff there. Wright liked Castro’s educational system (lots of little Elian Gonzalez’s), among other things.
    You might also look into Don Luce and others of the CWS in their support for the dictatorship in Hanoi during and after the war.
    The same for Clergy and Laymen/Laity Concerned (Luce, Rev. Richard Fernandez, Leviathan Magazine, etc). Key religious players in the Hanoi Lobby.
    The NCC was a major funder of the Hanoi Lobby through many of its supporting members, and has supported Marxist aggression and subversion in Latin America and Africa as well.
    It would me nice if IRD could reproduce David Jessup’s great study on how the religious Left funded anti-American organizations and communist causes. It is a real eye-opener, and further research by the Capital Research Center in the 1980’s provided massive lists of additional funding for leftist/Marxist causes.
    Nothing the NCC/CWS or even the WCC is designed to advance human rights and freedom. Never has been. Never will be as constituted.

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