From the moment that Castro took hold in January 1959, churches were in trouble. The regime quickly launched a propaganda campaign against the faithful, describing Catholics as “social scum.” By the late 1960s, Christmas was banned on the island. Churches were shut down. Priests and their parishioners were silenced, arrested or placed under tight surveillance. One could not be a member of the Communist Party in Cuba (the only party legally permitted, including for any government jobs) without professing a belief in atheism.