The Gospel According to Marx

by William Norman Grigg


In the forefront of those working to return Elian to Cuba is the National Council of Churches, a supposedly Christian ecumenical organization.

Last November, as the leaders of the National Council of Churches (NCC) gathered to celebrate the organization's 50th anniversary, they faced "a financial crisis and the question of what role they should play in an ecumenical movement [the NCC] once led but now has fallen behind," observed the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. A scant few days later, six-year-old Elián González was discovered adrift in the ocean, inspiring the NCC to mount a new "humanitarian" mission to rally its faithful: The Council committed itself to delivering Elián back to the prison state he had escaped at such peril.

Acting at the request of the government-controlled Cuban Council of Churches (CCC), the NCC is working "to obtain the release and return of Elián to his father, grandmothers and extended family in Cuba," according to an NCC press release. The language chosen by the NCC perpetuates the Cuban regime's fiction that Elián has been kidnapped and is being held against his will in the United States. Reverend Joan Brown Campbell, the NCC's outgoing general secretary, insists that the issue of Elián's return "is a moral one, a humanitarian one." Speaking to the press in front of the Cuban home of Juan Miguel González, Elián's estranged father, Campbell declared, "This is a very loving family.... We will work very hard to make sure [Elián] comes back very soon."

Ninoska Peréz of the Cuban-American National Foundation regards the NCC's "humanitarian" credentials as dubious at best. "If the NCC has such an intense humanitarian interest in Elián's family, why didn't they make any effort to contact Elián's relatives here in Miami?" Peréz asked THE NEW AMERICAN. "If they are so interested in reuniting Cuban families, why have they ignored repeated pleas from Cuban exiles in Miami who want to get their families out of Cuba?" Peréz specifically mentioned the case of José Cohen, a former Cuban intelligence officer whose wife and three children "have not been allowed to leave Cuba in spite of the fact that they have their visas in order. José has written to the NCC requesting their help in this case, and they haven't so much as responded to his request."

Castro Advocates

Founded in 1950 as the successor organization to the Federal Council of Churches, the NCC claims to be the ecumenical voice of "mainline" — that is, leftist — American Protestant denominations. The NCC's agenda has always been to promote Marxism in the latest fashionable theological guise — as "social gospel," "social justice," or "liberation theology." Writing in the January 11th Washington Times, investigative writer Kenneth Lloyd Billingsley points out that the NCC has long acted as "a lobby for the Marxist dictatorship of Fidel Castro." "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," notes Billingsley. "The first NCC statement [concerning Castro's Cuba] urged the United States to recognize the Castro regime."

In the late 1960s, Church World Service, the NCC's relief agency, established the Cuban Refugee Emergence Center in Miami, which was directed by James McCracken. When Cuban refugees began to condemn Cuba's Communist regime, the NCC condemned the program for "abet[ting] our government's efforts to discredit Cuba" and inspiring "hostile attitudes toward Cuba among U.S. congregations." The Council fired McCracken and replaced him with Rev. Paul McCleary, who helped establish a Cuban "advocacy" office in Washington. Billingsley notes that McCleary, the NCC's official in charge of "humanitarian" relief to refugees from Communist Cuba, "later testified in favor of Vietnamese 're-education camps.'"

Nor was McCleary the only NCC clergyman with a soft spot for the Communist approach to "re-education" through imprisonment. In 1977, James Armstrong — who would become president of the NCC a year later — spoke in favor of Cuba's "re-education through labor" camps. "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 where people are imprisoned for opposing regimes designed to remove inequities, as in Cuba," he claimed. Armando Valladares, the Christian poet who served 22 years in Castro's gulag, testifies that Cuban officials used pro-Castro statements by NCC representatives to torment their prisoners. According to Valladares, being forced to listen to the sanctimonious lies emitted by Marxists in clerical collars "was worse for the Christian political prisoners than the beatings or the hunger."

Left-wing Legacy

In 1969, the NCC General Board asserted that "there is an ethical distinction to be made between the violence used by the oppressed and that used by the oppressors." This "ethical distinction" was used by the NCC during the 1970s to justify its generous subsidy of Soviet- and Cuban-backed Communist insurgencies in Africa: In 1982, exposes by Reader's Digest and 60 Minutes revealed that the NCC had funneled $5.5 million to Communist terrorists in Zimbabwe,.Namibia, Mozambique, and Angola.

In December 1991, an NCC delegation conducted a four-hour meeting in Havana with Castro, who had been left in bad financial straits following a cut-off of subsidies from the Soviet Union. Although Rev. Campbell proudly told the Religious News Service that Castro "is still committed to the revolution," she lamented that "you do see in him a kind of tone of sadness, more sadness than desperation. He must feel that the dream of a strong and free Cuba in which everyone is fed is very difficult to carry out in the present situation." Perhaps inspired by the wistful sadness of the aging despot, the NCC leadership announced that it would embark upon a "humanitarian" campaign to end the U.S. embargo.

Rev. Oscar Bolioli, who heads the NCC's office on Latin America and the Caribbean, accompanied Rev. Campbell to Cuba to meet with Elián's father. "Most critics of Cuba's human rights record focus on the question of political rights, or what is called natural rights," Bolioli told THE NEW AMERICAN. "But there are also economic and social rights that must be considered. Cuba is actually very well advanced in matters of health, economic rights, and education rights, more so than most other Latin American countries." Rev. Bolioli contrasted Communist Cuba favorably with "America's materialistic, aggressive, violent society."

Not surprisingly, Bolioli also tries to place the most benevolent spin upon the Cuban regime's proprietary claim upon children. "Elián's father, like all Cuban parents, have to make the decisions regarding his children and their upbringing," Bolioli insisted. "The state is trying to give the socialist mentality to the child because that is what is necessary for the basic good of society. This is why the state has to limit the decision-making power of people." Asked why the regime refuses to permit free emigration of those who wish to leave, Bolioli offers this nugget of Stalinist rhetoric: "In Cuba's Marxist system, it is understood that the human resources are to serve that society, rather than other societies. It is understood that Cubans must render service to that community."

In the case of Elián González, the NCC is acting as an Underground Railroad in reverse — seeking, in effect, to enforce Castro's unwritten fugitive slave clause. Whether or not Elián is returned to Cuba, the NCC is clearly making a bid to recover its former prominence. Its new general secretary, former Democratic Congressman Bob Edgar, is working to rehabilitate the organization financially. Its new president, former UN Ambassador and Atlanta

Mayor Andrew Young, brings a sense of renewed commitment for Marxist "social justice." 

Young, it will be remembered, spent his tenure as UN Ambassador issuing anti-American statements that were eagerly amplified by the Soviet propaganda apparatus. In his 1977 Senate confirmation hearings, Young praised the Soviet-sponsored Cuban invasion of Angola for bringing "stability and order" to that African country in the mid-1970s. After the Shah of Iran was deposed (with U.S. help) in 1979, Young extolled the rabidly anti-American Ayatollah Khomeini as "a kind of saint." But the outrageous sound bites Young dished out as U.S. Ambassador to the UN were but modest footnotes to his televised statement of April 13, 1970 that "it may take the destruction of western civilization to allow the rest of the world to really emerge as a free and brotherly society...."

"I have seen the latter half of the 20th Century shaped by the NCC," proclaimed Young upon his appointment as president last November. The NCC's handiwork can be seen in Africa, where Marxist insurgents slaughtered millions and installed bloody-handed dictators with financial aid provided by the Council; it can also be seen in Cuba, where it has been complicit in the torment inflicted upon political prisoners — many of them Christian prisoners of conscience. The Council must not be permitted to shape the future of Elián González.




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