Most Haitians are Roman Catholic, while a growing number claim to be Protestant (estimates range from 20 to 30 percent).  But surveys have found the vast majority of Haitians – regardless of religious affiliation – hold at least some Voodoo beliefs.

Voodoo (also Voudou) can be loosely defined as a patchwork of spiritual beliefs, practices and superstitions imported by African slaves more than two centuries ago and melded with parts of Catholicism.  Compared to most major world religions, it is loosely structured and often improvised by its practitioners. It is also not well understood.

Voodoo most often takes the form of animism (the belief that everything in nature has souls or spirits) and syncretism (a blending of animism with other religious faiths such as Christianity).  Voodoo is practiced in varying degrees.  Some Haitians are thoroughly secular.  Others only nominally believe in superstitions and “wives’ tales” with Voodoo roots.  And still others practice it zealously – particularly Voodoo priests, priestesses, and witch doctors.

As with any religion, Voodoo is also subject to manipulation by its leaders, who sometimes use it to gain power, abuse others, and fatten their wallets.

We believe that any religion that does not acknowledge Christ as the Son of God and Savior of the world ultimately leads us astray.  As such, Voodoo spiritual beliefs are a real and powerful obstacle to a close relationship with God. We also believe that Christ has overcome the world – including Voodoo – and that He invites everyone to believe in Him.

 

Voodoo and Haitian History

As the story goes, the Haitian revolution kicked off on a night in 1791 at a place called Bois Caiman.  A group of slaves, led by a Voodoo priest named Boukman, met together and vowed to overthrow their white oppressors.  According to accounts, someone sacrificed a pig and the assembled group drank the pig’s blood.  Eight days later, the uprising began.

It is often said that during this ceremony, Haiti’s soon-to-be leaders made a pact with Satan, dedicating the land to him for 200 years in exchange for victory.

This story is taken as fact by many Christians, both Haitian and non-Haitian, and is often given in response to the question, “Why is Haiti so poor?”  The details of the Bois Caiman meeting are, in fact, challenging to either prove or disprove, because very little historical account exists surrounding the gathering. Historians and scholars have not found any written record of a satanic pact being made, but many today continue to hold these beliefs

The French were defeated after more than a decade of struggle.  When Haiti’s founding fathers drafted various versions of the nation’s constitution, it included no language about Satan or even Voodoo.  The Constitution of 1807 established religious freedom but made Roman Catholicism Haiti’s official religion – stating that no other religion (including Voodoo) could be practiced in public. Many scholars believe, however, that the declaration of Catholicism as the official religion was largely a political move by then President Toussaint L’Ouverture to appease various European powers.

In the 20th and 21st centuries, many Protestant missionaries came to the country.

In a controversial move in 2003, Haiti’s Catholic president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, made Voodoo an official religion in the country, giving certain Voodoo ceremonies such as marriage equal standing with Christian ones. Many historians believe that Aristide’s decision, like L’Ouverture’s before him, was also largely to curry political favor.

Proponents of the Bois Caiman devil-pact theory say Haiti has lost God’s blessing, as evidenced by Haiti’s status as the Western Hemisphere’s most-destitute and least-stable country. Critics of the theory say it ignores historical factors of Haiti’s poverty, such as discriminatory foreign policies, unfair trade practices, and a tradition of corrupt and oppressive rulers. Whatever the true case may be, the truth is that the God who created the universe offers hope and redemption that no other religion can, through his Son Jesus Christ.

One thought on “Religion in Haiti”

  1. Bullshit—-religion was only a way to keep people that were being robbed by the people in power that were abusing poor people by keeping them in constant fear to let them feel like they were going to be spiritually condemned to hell and to subdue them into obedience and not retaliate against the empowered thieves in their country
    And almighty God would punish the wicked thieves at the end of their wicked evil LIVIES and only he could take revenge against the abusers and the people that were being abused would receive their reward anD ever lasting life after their own death!!! Such media Cheryl bull’shit!!!!! Good story from the Jews like sleeping beauty!!!! They were the authors of the written. Bible think good and hard about it!!! And they were the ones to ordER the death for Jesus Christmas son of god!!! And there the ones that have all the money and high positions in the professional work field in our country—-how come they prospered and Hati with their voodoo didn’t!!!!! Sounds pretty contradictory in religious theory!!!! WAKE up die right and come out of your comma!!!! Once you have used up all your energy your gone and dried up like a dead leaf—-why do you think that the wrote in the bible after you die no more tears or sickness or sorow for your life—because all the Jews have worked you to death and took all your money as well as your energy—away from yourself!!!!

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