How American Evangelicals Helped Stop Same-Sex Marriage in Cuba
August 26, 2019 8:50 AM   Subscribe

The Evangelical church has gained a huge amount of political power in Cuba, and LGBTQ people are dealing with the consequences. A year ago, most LGBTQ Cubans would have been eagerly anticipating the expected legalization of same-sex marriage. In July 2018, the Cuban National Assembly proposed a new constitution that included amended language (Article 68) that would make same-sex marriage legal. But that December, the government withdrew the amendment from the draft, largely because of strong backlash from evangelical churches...The new evangelical alliance is gearing up for a renewed fight against marriage equality: In 2020, the government will reconsider the “Family Code” within the constitution.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis (20 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
It's very hard for me to maintain a positive view of religion, or even a neutral one, in the face of things like this. I realize that there are many people who quietly practice their faith and even do good in the world in the name of their religious beliefs. But there's just so much harm done in the name of religion.

I DGAF what people believe so long as they keep it to themselves/don't use it as an excuse to hurt others. But I'm fed up with people who want to punish other people for their interpretation of their invisible sky bosses instructions... I just want it to stop. If you think that the whole of creation was invented by somebody who then decided to make it a sin for two men or two women to love one another, that's your problem. Leave everybody else alone and suffer quietly on your own.
posted by jzb at 9:17 AM on August 26, 2019 [36 favorites]

US evangelicals: bringing good tidings of great joy which shall be to only the correct people.
posted by sgranade at 9:27 AM on August 26, 2019 [1 favorite]

Is there anything proselytizing can't fuck up.

Sorry, I have nothing constructive to add. As a non-christian, this shit is breathtaking to me.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 9:33 AM on August 26, 2019 [7 favorites]

> In fact, millions of dollars from American evangelical organizations

Mess the place up with an 59 year embargo to the point of threatening Canada and Europe's sovereignty for not playing along, except don't step in when this happens. U-S-A! U-S-A!
posted by Quindar Beep at 9:46 AM on August 26, 2019 [8 favorites]

There is no corner of the world they won't try to poison with their hate. It makes me think of that creepy AF Sherwin Williams "cover the earth" with paint logo. It's going find a way into every crevice, suffocating everything it touches.
posted by treepour at 10:14 AM on August 26, 2019 [7 favorites]

The insane American fundamentalists kind of operate like the cigarette companies, now. After pushing them hard for years they faced pushback on their most obviously toxic products (though maybe not for long!), so instead they focused on exporting them to other markets to great success.

I know evil exists everywhere. But I feel like we didn’t deal with this particular manifestation, here, and now it’s grown, and it’s spreading.
posted by schadenfrau at 10:17 AM on August 26, 2019 [7 favorites]

The article says that Cuban evangelical churches will often have a financial patron church in the USA.

Any enterprising Cubans want to go in on a grift with me?
posted by Sauce Trough at 10:17 AM on August 26, 2019 [7 favorites]

Also, this kind of thing is why I don't ever give religion or religious people the "innocent until proven guilty" benefit of the doubt. If I find out you're religious, I automatically assume you want me dead or at the very least stuffed into a closet and forever silenced unless you indicate to me otherwise.
posted by treepour at 10:18 AM on August 26, 2019 [18 favorites]

Only rapists, kin-fuckers and pedofiles practice this kind of hatred, all under the blanket fort of religion. The blanket forters have so much money to spend on covering their misdeeds. This split personality phenomenon is PTSD from generations of abuse and brainwashing. The poster boy for this has to be Steve King. It is amazing to me with all the Cuban embargoes, Cuba wasn't perceive the infiltration of blatant, organized mental illness as a form of warfare. Hurting LGBTQ is grievous, but only the tip of the nasty, anti human, capital iceberg.
posted by Oyéah at 10:26 AM on August 26, 2019 [2 favorites]

I'm slightly surprised that this is happening in Cuba, because I'd thought (1) there'd still be a lot of hostility to anything American financed social initiatives (Yanqui go home) and (2) Traditional Marxism (Religion is the opiate of the masses).
Like if you told me that Opus Dei style conservative catholicism was driving prejudice in Cuba, I'd find that credible... I just find it weird that red Cuba would be giving any consideration whatsoever to American backed evangelical churches.
posted by LeRoienJaune at 11:00 AM on August 26, 2019 [6 favorites]

Since when does the communist party allow churches to gain political power?
posted by TrialByMedia at 12:17 PM on August 26, 2019 [1 favorite]

I know it's fun to hate evangelicals, but this article is annoyingly short of backing for its assertions:

Claim: "millions of dollars from American evangelical organizations funneled into Cuba’s conservative, religious communities are funding a groundswell of action meant to dial back a decade of progress made by LGBTQ Cubans."

How do we know that? Well, there's a vague quotation from Andrew Chesnut--“Both the moral and financial support of U.S. Evangelical denominations and agencies has been crucial to backing Cuban Evangelicals in their campaign to oppose gay marriage on the island.” He does actually study Latin American Christianity, although mainly death rituals. He doesn't say how much financial support this is, or how much of it goes specifically for anti-LGBTQ stuff, rather than just donations to the general operating fund of sister churches, and I don't think he actually knows.

The most prominent example to date has been the backlash to Article 68, in which evangelical churches effectively pressured the Cuban government to revoke it from the draft constitution. Methodist, Baptist, and Pentecostal churches organized a petition against it that gathered 178,000 signatures. 178,000! That's a whopping...1.5% of the Cuban population. Pretty amazing that they were able to win out against the other 98.5%. Especially when you consider that evangelicals in Cuba make up, um, wait, here it is..."An estimated seven to 10 percent of Cubans are Protestant or evangelical." Protestant or evangelical. So who knows how many are actually evangelical, since there are plenty of liberal Protestants around. How many churches organized the petition? We aren't told that, either! Three? 17? 159? No idea.

Well, here's a damning quote--“the world would end if marriage were redefined as not between a man and a woman and for the purposes of procreation.” The evangelicals sure are using some extreme rhetoric, based on this line straight from...oh, wait. It's not straight from anything. It's not a quote from the petition, or some literature, or a sermon. Nope, it's the impression given to "LGBTQ rights pioneer Norma Guillard Limonta". It's her sense of what evangelicals are saying, because apparently it's just too much trouble to actually find a poster or a brochure or read the petition or have any primary source at all.

Following their successful effort to have Article 68 removed,--yes, let's just attribute that to them, based on...well, stuff.

evangelical churches set their sights on the Conga Against Homophobia and Transphobia—Cuba’s version of a pride parade. In May, the 12th annual conga was cancelled by the government, citing “international and regional tensions.” One of the organizers of the event told el Nuevo Herald that the celebration was actually cancelled “to avoid confrontations with Christian groups,” who organizers feared would counter-protest and start a street riot. One! organizer said they cancelled to avoid confrontations with Christian groups. Did he have the evangelicals in mind, who miiiiiiiiiiight be 7% of Cubans? Or was he also thinking of the 60% of the population who are Roman Catholic? Who knows? The article doesn't say. Did the majority of organizers see things the same way, or was it just this one guy? I don't know! Does the author? She doesn't say!

Most Cuban evangelical churches have a “sister church” in the U.S. that supports them financially and, as Cuban LGBTQ rights activist and Baptist seminary student Adiel González Maimó emphasized, “That money comes with ideological conditions.” Oh, a student says that, huh? A student. Not even a pastor, or a board member, or some document Cuban churches sign. No source except a seminary student says so. Swell. Meanwhile, the "sister church" link goes here, to an American Methodist conference webpage, and, as you may know if you follow religious news, American Methodists aren't exactly known for being anti-gay. That link says "the Florida UMC Conference continually helps with resources, sending food, clothing, shoes, medicine, musical instruments, whatever is needed. The conference also helps with water treatment systems, seminary support and help for retiring pastors." Is there anything, anything at all, about money going to anti-LGBTQ causes or being conditioned upon maintaining opposition to same-sex marriage? Nope, not at all.

In another move that signals an organized evangelical opposition to the status quo, just a month ago, a group of seven evangelical churches broke off from the Cuban Council of Churches (CIC) and established their own splinter group, the Alliance of Cuban Evangelical Churches. Leaders of the new group maintain that the CIC doesn’t represent their beliefs, which include a “defense of Biblical values” and the view that marriage should be defined as a union between a man and a woman. Ah, yes, the opposition is so entrenched that a total of, um, seven entire churches broke away for the Council of Churches to make their own super-tiny anti-gay group. The Cuban Council of Churches wasn't opposing gay rights, so a few extremists started their own group--and that is being used as evidence of evangelical commitment to opposing gay rights.

This is shamefully hackish reporting. Is it possible that the tiny, tiny evangelical minority in Cuba are actually the major force in maintaining the ban on same-sex marriage. Maybe? I guess? But it seems unlikely that they could wield that kind of power, and there isn't an iota of actual evidence in this article to say otherwise. It sure is fun to rage against the fundies, though, so why expect actual backing for these claims?
posted by Pater Aletheias at 12:23 PM on August 26, 2019 [9 favorites]

it's very hard for me to maintain a positive view of religion, or even a neutral one, in the face of things like this.

Weirdly, the new atheism movement made me feel more positively toward religion. Or rather, I started to think that "religion" wasn't a very helpful category. It covers such a wide variety of beliefs and actions, and none of the good or the bad are unique to the religious. About the only thing in common between the progressive Christians I've known and these assholes is (some kind of a) belief in Jesus. Add in other faith traditions and all generalizations break down.

Certain types of religion are harmful and bring out the worst in people. Beliefs aren't exempt from critical or moral evaluation just because they're religious in nature, and religion can certainly make things worse. But I think it's worth not painting everyone with the same brush.

(I say as someone who has definitely gotten a lot of grief from the bad religious types.)
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 12:49 PM on August 26, 2019 [5 favorites]

Treepour: When I drive by Sherwin Williams I always say "COVER THE EARTH." in a deep ominous voice and cackle
posted by captain afab at 1:08 PM on August 26, 2019 [3 favorites]

Is it possible that the tiny, tiny evangelical minority in Cuba are actually the major force in maintaining the ban on same-sex marriage. Maybe?

The National Rifle Association claims to have 5 million members as of Dec 2018. That's 1.5% of the US population. Yet they win against the other 98.5% of the population when it comes to their pet issues.

I don't find it that hard to think that a small, vocal minority that is well organized and willing to make a public stink about issues can affect policy well above what their membership numbers might suggest. It happens all the time. The NRA is just the first such group to spring immediately to mind as I sit here typing.
posted by hippybear at 6:19 PM on August 26, 2019 [10 favorites]

"It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds."
- Samuel Adams
posted by bryon at 10:05 PM on August 26, 2019 [4 favorites]

That's a great quote and true, however, credit where credit is due, its origin is Diane Ackerman, not Samuel Adams.
posted by kokaku at 8:14 AM on August 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

178,000! That's a whopping...1.5% of the Cuban population.

A Guardian article from February described this as "an unparalleled event in Cuba".
posted by great_radio at 8:46 PM on August 27, 2019

Thanks, kokaku!
posted by bryon at 9:20 PM on August 27, 2019

« Older When people say we're going to hell, I say "Thanks...   |   Created in a captivating blue Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments