The chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) argues that the recent death of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro is an opportunity for the government of the island nation to take a look at itself and improve its religious liberty landscape.
USCIRF chair Rev. Thomas Reese maintains that the commission would be the first to acknowledge that things are a lot better in Cuba today than they were after the revolution – when there was a nationwide crackdown on churches and believers. However, he tells OneNewsNow that the country needs to continue improving.
"We still have situations in Cuba where the government is interfering in the internal affairs of religious groups, harassing religious leaders and church goers – and it's even preventing some democracy and human rights activists from participating in religious activities,” Reese pointed out on USCIRF's press release. “It's [also] threatening to close and confiscate church properties – in fact, it has done that."
The expert on religious liberty matters is concerned about smaller groups that are being scrutinized.
"The [hardest hit are] Assemblies of God and others – some of the protestant groups [and] home churches that get picked on and harassed by government officials."
Reese insists that UCIRF must continue to press Cuba. He hopes that the island nation will realize that it has to follow the international standards of human rights and religious freedom if it wants to participate in the world economy – and be respected in the world community.