Afro-Cuban drums, Muslim prayers, Buddhist mantras: Religious diversity blooms in once-atheist Cuba

(National Catholic Reporter. Luis Andrés Henao).

The 1959 Castro-led revolution installed an atheist, Communist government that sought to replace the Catholic Church as the guiding force in the lives of Cubans. But 65 years later, religion seems omnipresent in Cuba, in dazzling diversity. The bells toll on Catholic churches and the call to prayer summons Muslims in Havana. Buddhists chant mantras as they gather at a jazz musician’s home. Jews savor rice, beans and other Cuban staples for Sabbath dinner. Santeria devotees dance and slap drums in a museum filled with statues, paying homage to their Afro-Cuban deities. It’s also visible in the growing ranks of evangelicals who worship across the island, in the faith of LGBTQ+ Christians who sing at an inclusive church in the seaport of Matanzas, or in the pilgrims who travel to the remote shrine of Cuba’s patron saint in the shadow of the Sierra Maestra mountains.

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