Who Put the Church Into Cuba’s State Television?

Rogelio Manuel Díaz Moreno

church-state
Graphic: hungarianspectrum.wordpress.com

HAVANA TIMES — Over the past few weeks, several people had mentioned they had seen a film dealing with biblical issues aired on Cuban television’s Sunday movie segment. This past Sunday, I turned on my TV to catch the end of a feature film starring Russel Crowe and dealing with the myth of Noah’s Ark.

Many people complain of what minors are exposed to in certain TV programs that reflect realities they are uncomfortable with. Let us direct such criticisms at this film about the Flood as a mental exercise.

The god of the Old Testament gets angry because the world’s creatures (which He created) have behaved badly. Let us ignore the contradiction or inconsistency that stems from the fact this all-knowing god should gave predicted this turn of events the moment he booted Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden. He goes on to administer a (holy?) remedy: the veritable destruction of the entire planet, a flood that sweeps everything in its path, including children, women and old people. The film relies on much sensationalism and visual effects which succeed in conveying the traumatic message that one should not mess around with Jehovah the Exterminator.

Let us carefully go over this matter. It is by no means my intention to engage in an anti-Christian diatribe or anything of the sort here. I do, however, have reasons to be annoyed over the selection criteria used to air this film.

Cuban television is an official, State and public institution for which the government is fully responsible. And the Cuban State is secular, if we’re still to believe the constitution. Articles 8 and 55 of the constitution establish the separation of Church and State, equal rights for all creeds and religions and the freedom Cuban citizens have to profess any or no religion.

In view of this, it is questionable that an official of Cuba’s Radio and Television Institute (ICRT) should choose to broadcast materials that are partial to a specific religious doctrine, during a regular segment. It constitutes a violation of the religious freedom of those people that do not profess that particular creed. Incidentally, it also violates the freedom of those individuals who do profess it (in a less obvious manner), for it contradicts the neutrality that any public, collective or plural space ought to maintain.

I repeat – and will continue to do so for as long as it’s necessary – that I am not moved by any anti-Christian sentiments or a wish to censor religious discourse. I insist that people ought to have full freedom to consume, produce and divulge the religious materials they wish, as individuals or a congregation. Owing to the history of our people and culture, it will nevertheless be quite difficult to censor true works of art that stem from a religious background.

To mention some simple but solid examples: the paintings of saints at museums, the poetry of Saint John of the Cross, Gregorian chants, a sweet ave maria…these are part of a cultural heritage that we treasure, and the fervor it awakens in many of us is something we hope to convey to the new generations.

We should also not discard the possibility that, sometime in the future, some of the religious films and other contemporary artworks become a part of this heritage because of their merits. That said, we should not be too hasty and begin to use regular television segments to air works that are explicitly doctrinaire and which have not yet reached the status of lasting respectability in terms of their ability to awaken human emotion.

I again stress the responsibility of a secular State, which must treat all creeds equally. No one can deny the existence of similar works that are related to beliefs from Cuban religions, the Muslim faith, New Age creeds and others, similarly respectable ones in our country. Are we going to say that, since some have more practitioners than others, they ought to enjoy more rights?
This trend is coupled with those occasions in which State television has decided to broadcast Christian masses during Christmas. This is one way to begin naturalizing the discrimination against other creeds and atheists.

Let us not forget that a religious doctrine commonly conveys a package of moral and ethical concepts that do not wholly agree with those of other doctrines or of people who profess no religion, and that, all too often, these concepts are exalted to the detriment of the spaces and faculties of others. It is our duty as citizens to prevent and oppose this violation of our freedoms and rights.

To conclude, I commend any religious congregation for carrying out their worship and proselytism sincerely, through their own means, even those who look upon me as the most insignificant of beings. But I want the Church out of State television.


7 thoughts on “Who Put the Church Into Cuba’s State Television?

  • September 11, 2014 at 3:15 am
    Permalink

    An Arc was dicovered some time ago,via satelite frozen in ice at an elevation inaccessible even today. So, what do we make of that? Dont shoot the messenger. Freedom has its cost.
    That said, The Hatians who gave a tree to the one who I would not speak of, if only to diminnish , and what of Haiti?Enough said.
    So, Cuba in a system that allows for clear thinking free of the political dillusions expressed by the puppets of the media moguls, provides a different kind of freedom
    that allows for GOD and stories that express GOD’S values which parralel the Cuban path of life. So what is wrong with that?
    Those with the GOD rule.
    Thank you

  • September 7, 2014 at 5:35 pm
    Permalink

    Separation of church and state is the only way to go. Hope Cuba continues with it. Here, in the USA, we are supposed to be guaranteed it.
    Who would want to live in a theocracy Christian, Mulsim or Jewish, all are and would be oppressive.

  • September 4, 2014 at 2:49 pm
    Permalink

    Let’s not get our knickers in a twist. The “Noah” movie was loosely based on the book of Enoch, which is not part of the biblical canon. It is entertainment, hence the big Hollywood budget. Even the director himself is a self-professed atheist. The way the movie is portrayed is less religious doctrine and more like relating an old mythical tale. Would it make a difference if it were set in ancient Greece and instead of Yahweh, they spoke of Zeus?

    And here’s the thing, you always have the choice to change the channel or turn the tv off. That’s why I no longer subscribe to cable here – lots of channels but nothing to watch.

  • September 4, 2014 at 12:39 pm
    Permalink

    Firstly, the book of Genesis is a holy book to Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

    But secondly, the Russell Crowe Noah movie is not a specifically religious movie – it is entertainment loosely based on the story from the Bible. A number of Christians objected to the movie because of that. The films director described it as the “least biblical biblical film ever made.”

  • September 4, 2014 at 11:57 am
    Permalink

    Rogelio, the reason God punished the world with a flood is not a contradiction. Man is given a choice. With choices there are consequences. God DID know Man would fail but as God, He allowed Man to fail and then the flood. This is not the venue for further discussion on that issue however. Allowing a film about what some believe as fact and others may choose to see a myth is not a violation of Church and State. On the contrary, you are free to watch this film as purely entertainment. As a Christian, I may choose to view it for its deeper meaning. The crime here is not that ICRT chose to air the film on Cuban television. The crime is that they did so in violation of the copyright rights of the film’s producer. Do you think ICRT sent the production company Regency Enterprises a check before airing the film?

  • September 4, 2014 at 11:45 am
    Permalink

    Rogelio, I was somewhat interested by the part where you say:
    “beliefs from Cuban religions, the Muslim faith, New Age creeds and others”
    I cannot recall seeing Muslims in Cuba – no burkhas etc. Because of the state imposed policies inhibiting immigration, Cuba has not received the influx of Islamic peoples that practically all the free democratic countries have.
    Islam and that religion’s various sects has been unable to resolve its own dire problems and has burdened the rest of the world with them. The Sunni/Shia rift is particularly dangerous, but because of “political correctness” politicians will not speak publicly about it although the consequences affect or threaten to affect those who elected them.
    It is time for the rest of the world to say to Islam at large:
    Resolve your own problems, don’t continually dump them on the rest of us.
    As infidels – that includes all non-muslims – we are entitled to make that request. I note that within the last two days, American Secretary of State Kerry has said that:
    “Islam is a peaceful religion.”
    The proof of the pudding is in the eating and the reality of Islamic strife around the world – in Russia, in the whole of the Middle East, in China, in Europe contradicts the view expressed by Mr. Kerry (was that his tongue I saw in his cheek?).
    Equality of the sexes is contradicted by Islam.
    Homosexuality and Lesbianism are forbidden by Islam
    Human rights as defined by the UN are denied by Islam
    How many viewing the world wide strife motivated by Islam can concur with Mr. Kerry’s expressed view.
    It is said in defence of Islam correctly that:
    “Not all Muslims are terrorists.”
    But, what percentage of terrorists are Muslim?

  • September 4, 2014 at 10:21 am
    Permalink

    AWESOME!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *