Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
After the revolution, religious practice was greatly restricted in Cuba. Officially the
Cuban government adopted a policy of promoting atheism. Over 80% of the is-
land's Catholic priests and Protestant ministers eventually left Cuba and the at-
tendance of mass and participation in other religious activities almost evaporated.
By the 1990's Cuban society had become almost completely secularized.
Nonetheless, there remained a very small group of devoted followers and after the
fall of the Soviet Union, as restrictions against religion were lessened, the number
of people identifying themselves as religious believers began to expand. As of
2013, the government recognizes the right of citizens to profess and practice any
religious belief. Attendance and participation in religious activities is still extremely
low, but there is a movement towards people identifying themselves as belonging
to particular religious affiliations.
Hard statistics are difficult to come by, but it is estimated that the largest religious
affiliation on the island is Roman Catholicism. There is also a high prevalence of
West African religious practitioners, particularly for the religions of Santeria and
Yoruba . These are commonly referred to as syncretic religions, as they are based
on a mix of Christianity and West African beliefs, as well as inspirations from other
Protestantism, Judaism and the Jehovah's Witness movement also have a small
presence in Cuba.
Interesting Note: On occasion you will see men and women walking around Cuba
wearing completely white clothing. Sometimes they are even holding a white sun
umbrella or wearing a white head scarf. These are practitioners of the Santeria reli-
gion and they are wearing white as part of their initiation process of becoming San-
teria priests or priestesses. They must wear white for one full year and limit their
contact with people who have not been initiated into the religion.
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