Pat Robertson Not Alone in Demonizing Haiti
This myth of being dedicated to the devil has been used to demonize Haitians since they rebelled in 1791 against their French colonial slave masters, and claimed independence in 1804. The ongoing religious/political myth fueled the belief that the pact with the devil would expire after 200 years and be renewed sometime between 1991 and 2004.
Haiti has been portrayed as a nation of people who ritually sacrifice children and attack their enemies with voodoo dolls and "zombies." Historians debate whether the "Vaudoux" or "Vodou" ceremony in which leaders of the slave rebellion are supposed to have participated actually took place. Regardless, Haitian voodoo is not devil worship, unless viewed in the context that all non-Christian religion is demonic. Much of the mythology around Haiti is a product of imperialism, political intrigue, and Hollywood.
Leslie G. DesMangles, associate editor of the Encyclopedia for Africa and African American Religions states,
"But unfortunately, in popular literature and films the term voodoo has been misconstrued as sorcery, witchcraft, and in some cases cannibalistic practices, all of which are false and have kindled many foreigners' prejudices not only about Vodou, but about Haitian culture in general."
The Haitian revolution against their French masters put the "fear of God" into colonial empires around the world. It was believed that the rebellion could not have possibly been achieved by any other power than the devil himself. The myths were embellished by people like Sir Spencer St. John, a British consul to Haiti who published the 1886 book The Black Republic. He claimed that "Vaudoux" practicing Haitians were cannibals who sacrificed children. St. John's writings were widely published to support the claim that Haitians were not capable of self-rule. The characterization has since been used to justify "recolonizing" Haiti's land and economy as a source of low wage labor, a struggle which continued for generations.
The mythology of Haiti has played a significant role in its recent political struggles. While many people go to Haiti to provide humanitarian relief, there have also been floods of missionaries, of both the religious and political variety, who have responded to the call to save Haiti from the pact with the devil.
A report from DAWN Ministries publicized "spiritual warfare" battles that were used to counter voodoo celebrations in Haiti. DAWN stands for Discipling A Whole Nation, and the reported "holy invasion" was under the auspices of AD 2000, a 1990s missions movement to evangelize the world by the year 2000.
The following report from the Haitian bishop Joel Jeune recently reached us via Gerry A. Seale, General Secretary of the Evangelical Association of the Caribbean and Regional Coordinator of the AD2000 Movement.Note that despite his title of "bishop," Joel Jeune and the other participants of this "holy invasion" are charismatic evangelicals. C. Peter Wagner was the head of the prayer track of AD 2000 and Beyond.
Following is an example of the propaganda used to promote Haiti's National Day of Prayer in 1997, sponsored by "Vision Haiti."
"Last week a baby was stolen from the hospital in St. Marc. The reason the child is to be sacrificed to appease the Voodoo gods for the so-called special day of celebration. There are generally two ways they sacrifice children. One is in a large grinding pot. They place the child in the pot and proceed to grind the child while still alive. The other way is even more demonic as they hang the child upside down by his feet and place a large bowl beneath him. The child hangs until dead as the body releases its fluids into the bowl. The bowl is then placed in the sun to dry. Afterward, the priest takes what is left of the young child and grinds the body into a powder to use for his Voodoo ceremony.
This gruesome account is similar to other unsubstantiated stories that I have seen over the years used by aggressive charismatic missionary programs. The emotional appeals are used to solicit funds from churches and individuals. Another example of publicity touting the work of Vision Haiti can be found at this link.
In 2003 Jean-Bertrand Aristide, then president of Haiti, recognized voodoo as an official state religion. Link to the BBC report. Subsequently Christianity Today published an October 2003 article reporting that this had created fears among some Christians concerned that Aristide might be planning to "renew the 200-year old pact with the devil." Christianity Today also repeated the infant abduction story although they stated that it was "unconfirmed."
It is difficult to determine the extent of the role that these religious controversies have played in Haiti's chaotic politics but in 2003 there were numerous calls for Aristide's ouster from outlets with ties to right wing evangelicals. Front Page, published by neo-conservative David Horowitz published "Haiti, Victim of Clinton's Old Black Magic" by Lowell Ponte.
But forces may be in play that are both deeper and darker than what the international press is reporting. We might be witnessing a struggle of "principalities and powers."
This article not only included the claim that Haiti had been dedicated to the devil by slaves, but also quoted a 1998 article by "historian" Joel Ruth in World Net Daily. Ruth claimed that through Bill Clinton's friendship with Aristide, Clinton had been able to procure services of voodoo sorcerers in order to win the 1992 election. The article is written as if it is inside information coming from Haiti. However, the claims are of the absurd type made by those who exploit mistaken notions about voodoo, and Joel A. Ruth appears to be a specialist in "Clinton mythology."
Another example of the Haiti mythology was in the online American Daily in March 2004, now published by "Move Off," The article "Government of the Devil, by the Devil, and For the Devil," was written by Tom Barrett. He begins by stating,
"Haiti is the only country in the entire world that has dedicated its government to Satan."
Barrett also repeats the claim of the baby being abducted for ritual sacrifice and also cites as his source a conversation he had with Bishop Joel Jeune at a Gospel Crusade Ministerial Fellowship meeting. Barrett is also a minister and publisher of "Conservative Truth.org" which bills itself as "The Antidote to the Liberal Media."
In a current video by Jim Glynn of Heart of God Ministries, he explains the claimed pact with the devil of Haiti’s people and its consequences. Link here. Glynn continues this explanation in a series of video presentations. [1, 2, 3 ] This idea that a nation or ethnic groups can be literally cursed or demonically possessed, therefore causing poverty, corruption, and other calamities, has gained credibility in some evangelical circles. Current events are seen through the lens of a cosmic struggle between light and dark - charismatic Christians vs. an array of literal demons and principalities.
The introduction of "Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare" and other evangelizing techniques into missions work has given widespread legitimacy to this dualistic and demon haunted view of the world. C. Peter Wagner, head of the New Apostolic Reformation, along with his colleagues including Ed Silvoso of International Transformation Networks and George Otis, Jr. of Sentinel Group, introduced an entire genre of movies and books teaching these concepts.
The Transformations series produced by George Otis, Jr. has been used to teach millions worldwide that they have a mandate to purge these demons from the earth. The movies show prototypes of the mini-utopias that can be achieved when a community is "transformed" and charismatic Christians take "dominion" over government and spheres of society. The nationwide effort touted as the prototype for this type of dominion is Uganda. In communities around the globe there are prayer marches, and around-the-clock prayer centers founded on the ideology that participants must literally repel the demons from their communities. (See Bruce Wilson's new movie showing the impact of the Transformations movement on Uganda, including the proposed anti-gay legislation.)
Sadly there are a number of organizations like Operation Blessing whose leadership demonize the people claim to serve. And they will be quite happy to take your donation in support of humanitarian relief for Haiti. Operation Blessing has been a recipient of U.S. faith-based funding and was also listed as a FEMA charity during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Hopefully Americans will contribute generously, but wisely, when they send their donations to aid Haiti. There are numerous reputable religious and secular humanitarian organizations who do not demonize those in need of aid.
Additional Notes from the Author
-See Richard Bartholomew's article on the same topic. He has additional examples including YWAM's claims about Haiti's "deal with the devil."
-In 2006 the partnership that Bishop Joel Jeune had with sponsors Paul and Jan Crouch of Trinity Broadcast Network, ended in a feud and resulted in a multi-million dollar hospital project being abandoned before completion. Link to LA Times article.
-Note that demonization of others is not limited to non-Christians. It was under the auspices of AD 2000 and Beyond that Wagner's prayer warriors conducted a 1997 spiritual warfare battle against the "Queen of Heaven," the demon they believe blocks Roman Catholics (and Muslims) from converting to charismatic Christianity. The testimony of the prophetess for the expedition is still posted on Transforming Melbourne, including her claim that the spiritual warfare may have helped to bring about the death of Mother Teresa. Link to Killing Mother Teresa with their Prayers.
-This "transformation" ideology has spread to The Salvation Army which is now partnering with Wagner Leadership Institute (WLI) to provide training for the Salvation Army's War College students in the U.S. and Canada. WLI is headed by C. Peter Wagner of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) and Apostle Stacey Campbell of the NAR is on the Salvation Army's international Board of Reference. See this link to a video of Stacey Campbell, which might help those who have not ever observed these type of charismatic manifestations, to understand the intensity of the movement. Standing around her in the video are many of the top Apostolic and Prophetic leaders in the NAR. Todd Bentley, who the Apostles were anointing in this ceremony, is "slain in the spirit" and lying on the floor.
Pat Robertson Not Alone in Demonizing Haiti | 29 comments (29 topical, 0 hidden)
Pat Robertson Not Alone in Demonizing Haiti | 29 comments (29 topical, 0 hidden)