Despite Tensions, Evangelical Churches Booming in Cuba

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Fidel Castro’s government sent the Rev. Juan Francisco Naranjo to two years of work camp in the 1960s for preaching the Gospel in a Cuba where atheism was law and the faithful were viewed as suspect. For years, Naranjo’s church was almost abandoned, with just a handful of people daring to attend services.

Naranjo died in 2000 but on a recent Sunday, his William Carey Baptist Church was packed and noisy. Government doctors treated disabled children at a clinic inside. A Bible study group discussed Scripture in one corner of the building before a service attended by 200 of the faithful.

“In the 1960s, the few brothers and sisters who came here had to hide their Bibles in brown-paper covers,” said Esther Zulueta, a 57-year-old doctor. “It’s night and day.”

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