Christian House Churches in Cuba Facing New Restriction Laws

Protestant Christians in Cuba are concerned about new regulations on house churches that may restrict religious freedom.
This month, new regulations concerning house churches in Cuba drawn in April 2005 will take effect. The new regulations require complicated and oppressive restrictions for religious meetings in home.

There are approximately 10,000 to 15,000 house churches in Cuba, according to Cuban Protestant pastors. The house churches are usually affiliated with “well-established denominations,” acting as a satellite church for the main congregations. The house churches consist of 30 to 200 members meeting regularly for service.

The new laws, called Directive 43 and Resolution 46, mandate that all house churches register with local officials to obtain permission to operate. House churches that do not receive authority to hold services do not have legal permission to operate.

Cuban Protestant Christians are expressing concerned because it is unlikely that all house churches will receive authorisation to hold service before October. In the past, there had been little success for house churches who have applied for registration.

Even once a house church receives authorisation it will still be subject to a number of restrictions, including the prohibition of any flags or signs on the exterior of the building that would identify it as a house church.

The legislation also states that the government has permission to supervise the church services, and if they find the services breaking the regulations, they have the right to suspend the church for at least 1 year.

In addition, the new laws state that there cannot be two house churches of the same denominations within two kilometers of one another, which will mostly likely result in the closures of some churches.

Christian Cubans are currently waiting for further news regarding the legislation.

Michelle Vu
Christian Today Correspondent