- The Washington Times - Monday, January 10, 2000

The National Council of Churches (NCC) wants to send refugee Elian Gonzalez back to Cuba. This should come as no surprise since the NCC does not represent American Protestants and has long served as a lobby for the Marxist dictatorship of Fidel Castro.
The NCC was founded in 1950 as a repackaging of the old Federal Council of Churches, a body dedicated to ecumenism and the social gospel. Though the New York based NCC gives the impression that it represents American Christians, its member bodies amount to only about half of American Protestants and a fourth of American Christians overall. Major NCC groups such as the Presbyterians, Methodists and Episcopalians have been losing members in recent decades. An examination of NCC policy statements and resolutions confirms that the NCC leadership is far to the left of the rank and file of its own denominations.
The Council took no official notice of Mr. Castro's rise to power in 1959 and remained silent while Mr. Castro aligned his regime with the Soviet Union, quashed human rights and brutally repressed dissent exiling, imprisoning or executing nearly two-thirds of his original revolutionary Cabinet. By 1968, when the NCC finally broke silence, nearly a million Cubans had fled the island. The first NCC statement urged the United States to recognize the Castro regime.
Church World Service, the NCC's relief arm, set up the Cuban Refugee Emergency Center in Miami but when exiles began speaking out in local churches and to the press about Cuban human rights, NCC officials said the program "abetted our government's effort to discredit Cuba" and "encouraged humanitarian sentiment that generated hostile attitudes toward Cuba among U.S. congregations."
The NCC fired James McCracken, head of the refugee center, and replaced him with the Rev. Paul McCleary, who helped set up an "advocacy" office for Cuban affairs in Washington, and who later testified in favor of Vietnamese "re-education camps."
In 1977, a year before his election as NCC president, Methodist bishop James Armstrong led a delegation of American church officials to Cuba, where they supported the regime's repressions. Said their report: "There is a significant difference between situations where people are imprisoned for opposing regimes designed to perpetuate inequities, as in Chile and Brazil, for example, and situations were people are imprisoned for opposing regimes designed to remove inequities, as in Cuba."
On its return from Cuba in 1977, the first official NCC delegation said they were "challenged and inspired" by Cuba and flatly denied that the Cuban regime persecuted Christians. The NCC stood in sharp contrast to Amnesty International, which asked to see those the group described as "the longest term political prisoners to be found anywhere in the world."
In other reports, Amnesty International mentioned imprisoned poet Armando Valladares, who noted that Cuban officials used pro-Castro statements of American clergy to torment prisoners. "That was worse for the Christian political prisoners than the beatings or the hunger," Mr. Valladares wrote. "Incomprehensibly to us, while we waited for the embrace of solidarity from our brothers in Christ, those who were embraced were our tormentors."
In 1980, the NCC published a book claiming that "Cubans are the only Latin Americans who have broken with dependent capitalism and its accompanying dehumanization of the common people." Further, the efforts of the Cuban government "affirm that the gospel's command to feed the hungry and preach good news to the poor is being fulfilled."
That is the ethos of the current NCC leadership, which also supports lifting the U.S. embargo. Family reunification has nothing to do with it. The NCC leadership believes that Elian Gonzalez will be better-off under socialism in Cuba, better-off without the right to free speech, free association, and freedom of movement the bourgeois capitalist vices that the NCC believes dehumanize people.
Cuba confirms that nations that are barren of liberties are also barren of groceries. But the NCC believes Elian will be better-off under a regime of shared scarcity. The Council's stand can only be described as loathsome, the direct opposite of the most Christ-like figure in this episode, Elian's mother. She died that her son might be free.
That heroic sacrifice should be respected and Elian Gonzalez should stay here. Meanwhile, the National Council of Churches should drop its religious affiliation and register as an agent of the Cuban government.

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