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Mark Tooley December 12, 2011
The following article and image, reposted with permission, appeared on the Front Page magazine website.
The National Council of Churches (NCC), which still hasn’t figured out it sided with the wrong side during the Cold War, recently visited the isolated communist outpost of Cuba. And the NCC discerned the major problems between Cuba and the U.S. are America’s fault, specifically the trade embargo and the U.S. imprisonment of five Castroite spies.
Tut-tutting over all the “challenges” that divide the U.S. and Cuba, the NCC’s general secretary lamented: “And hanging over all of this is the U.S, embargo/blockade and the imprisonment of the Cuban Five, both of which our American churches have forcefully condemned.” Preaching in the Episcopal Church cathedral in Havana, the Rev. Michael Kinnamon regretted “continued U.S. animosity toward Cuba.”
More accurately, the U.S. sustains “animosity” against the 52-year-old tyranny that has impoverished and imprisoned the Cuban people. But the NCC, like most of the Religious Left, has never been able fully to differentiate the tawdry remnant of the dictatorship Fidel Castro built from the people it oppresses. The only oppressor meriting NCC condemnation is the U.S. The NCC delegation met with Cuban President Raul Castro, brother of the founding tyrant. No doubt there were plenty of hugs.
The NCC’s November junket to Cuba included the Presiding Bishop of the U.S. Episcopal Church, along with a United Methodist bishop, top officers of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the President of the United Church of Christ and a Greek Orthodox bishop, among others.
At a press conference in Cuba, Kinnamon admitted Cuba-U.S. relations “are complicated in an election year.” And he boasted that “since 1968 the position of the NCC (on normalization) has been strong and consistent, taken out of our faith position of reconciliation.” The NCC stance for U.S. diplomatic and trade ties to Cuba might be defensible if it were willing to espouse human rights for Cuba. But even during some of Fidel Castro’s worse repression of religion, the NCC has remained largely silent. Indeed, Castro’s dictatorship was across the decades virtually the only repressive regime in Latin America the NCC would not condemn. Only rightist repression has ever seriously merited the NCC’s concern.
Although apparently not mentioning the plight of any religious dissidents who suffer in Cuba, the NCC delegation did loudly protest the U.S. captivity of the “Cuban Five” intelligence operatives arrested in 1998. The spies, employed at the U.S. Key West Naval Air Station, were transmitting data on U.S. military activities to Castro’s regime and were also monitoring anti-Castro émigré groups in Florida. Cuba’s 1996 shoot down over international waters of a “Brothers to the Rescue” plane, killing two, originally prompted U.S. surveillance of the “Cuban Five,” who were believed to have facilitated the shoot-down.
In a news release, the NCC nonchalantly complained the “Cuban Five” were imprisoned “even though” they were merely “monitoring the activities of Cuban expatriate counterrevolutionaries plotting against the Cuban government.” Evidently spying on anti-Castro activists is one form of espionage the NCC is willing to back. Kinnamon complained: “They should not have been tried.” Evidently medals and first class tickets home would have been more appropriate, to the NCC chief’s way of thinking. He and the rest of the NCC group met with the heroic wives of the “Cuban Five.” Kinnamon announced: “We ache with them for this situation that weighs so heavily.”
In an apparent bid for seeming impartiality, the NCC delegation also cited the plight of Alan Gross, a U.S. citizen and USAID contractor in a Cuban prison since 2009 for bringing telecommunications equipment to Cuba’s Jewish community. Kinnamon, who visited the prisoner, carefully cited Gross’ “sense of being unjustly accused” and insisted: “I am not here to pass judgment but I care about him as a person ― the humanitarian issue.”
Cuban National Assembly President Ricardo Alarcón urged Kinnamon and the other U.S. ecumenical visitors to “pray” and “beg for a miracle” that the U.S. finally will end its unjust embargo against Cuba. “It [the embargo] is only trying to turn people against a revolution they support by provoking hunger, suffering and desperation,” he explained. Alarcón also boasted that his regime is introducing some market reforms “without abandoning the principles of socialism,” no doubt cheering to his visiting Religious Left audience. Kinnamon hailed Alarcón, who is a communist and an atheist, as an “honorary ecumenist.”
In a sermon to a Cuban seminary, Kinnamon complained of “all of the torture practiced under the Bush administration, including at Guantanamo.” Of course, he did not mention all of the torture that Cuba’s own regime has routinely practiced across 52 years. Kinnamon also condemned “Republican presidential candidates” who are “convinced that a huge wall along America’s southern border will keep us safe” and that a “continued blockade against Cuba makes us more secure.” No doubt the Cuban state controlled media were generous in their attention to Kinnamon et al.
More accurately in his Cuban sermon, Kinnamon, who is retiring from the NCC, admitted that U.S. once Mainline denominations that comprise the NCC have suffered steep decline and are no longer influential. (Although he still inaccurately claimed the NCC represents 50 million church members.) Citing the Episcopal Church’s recent membership drop to below 2 million, for the first time in over 60 years, Kinnamon confessed: “When the presiding bishop speaks, few politicians pay any attention.”
The Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop was with Kinnamon on his Cuban trip. What did she think about his comment? Perhaps she reminded Kinnamon that in truth, “few politicians pay attention” to him or the NCC either, except for maybe appreciative Cuban communist apparatchiks.
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