NCC, CWS, other Christian leaders ask
Obama to ease
travel restrictions to Cuba
New York, December 19,
2008 ̶ NCC General Secretary Michael
Kinnamon joined Church World Service Director John McCullough and
more than a dozen other Christian leaders Dec. 18 in asking
President-Elect Barack Obama to ease travel restrictions to Cuba
that have made it harder for religious delegations to visit or
support church partners there. U.S. religious institutions now
qualify for only limited travel licenses, and some have been
unable to obtain even those.
group went a step further, urging the new Administration to lift
the ban on travel to Cuba for all Americans, restoring full
diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba, and
ending a 46-year-old trade embargo.
decades the U.S. policy toward Cuba has had unfortunate
consequences for the Cuban people, while denying important
freedoms to Americans," the church leaders’ letter said. "It has
failed significantly in its stated objective to precipitate change
in the Cuban government."
The faith leaders said hostility between governments has also
disrupted historical bonds between churches in the U.S. and Cuba,
at a time when Cuban churches are growing rapidly and need support
from their Christian counterparts in the U.S.
"We are convinced that it is time to change the ineffective and
counter-productive U.S. policy toward Cuba," the letter said. "We
urgently request you to change the Cuba policy of the United
States in ways that will assist the churches in their work and
benefit all Americans."
Signers, in addition to Kinnamon and McCullough, included leaders
from the Alliance of Baptists, American Baptist Churches USA,
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Church of the Brethren,
Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America,
Mennonite Central Committee, Progressive National Baptist
Convention, Presbyterian Church (USA), Reformed Church in America,
United Methodist Church and United Church of Christ.
Bob Allen of
Associated Baptist Press contributed to this story.