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Cuban Pastor Denies Church Lock-In is Political Protest


People stand next to 'Fountain of Life' Pentecostal Church in Havana September 9, 2011.

People stand next to 'Fountain of Life' Pentecostal Church in Havana September 9, 2011.

A group of evangelical worshipers and their pastor say they locked themselves into their church in Cuba three weeks ago for a spiritual retreat.

The son of the pastor told reporters by telephone Tuesday the worshipers are following instructions from God to pray. He said this is not a political protest nor a suicide pact.

But friends and relatives of the church-bound congregation have expressed fears about what could be going on inside the building and how the retreat may end.

And the controversy is further complicated by the fact that pastor Braulio Herrera was officially dismissed from his post last year by church leaders.

Cuban authorities sent a medical team to examine the people holed up in the church, including a number of children and four pregnant women, to verify everyone was in good health.

Authorities have also cordoned off the area, a move they say is to protect the worshipers from any incidents. They say they are working to resolve the situation.

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