Skip to comments.The ceremony at the Bois Ca´man (Haiti and voodu and Robertson)
Posted on 01/14/2010 12:37:41 PM PST by La Lydia
Call Pat Robertson crazy or, worse yet, insensitive for his remarks following the earthquake in Haiti. To a reasonable person (by which I mean an NPR listener's self-concept), the notion Tuesday's 7.3 magnitude earthquake was punishment for a 200 year old pact with the Devil sounds crazy or, worse yet, insensitive. This perhaps particularly so to a reasonable person recalling Robertson's remarks along similar lines following 9/11. The trouble for critics of Robertson's insensitivity (I have seen no sympathy for the devil troubling him), is that Haitians say much the same thing themselves.
The commonly accepted date for the start of Haiti's slave revolution against the French is August 22, 1791, the date a voodoo priest named Dutty Boukman presided over a ceremony at Bois Caïman. Whether or not such a ceremony ever took place is beside the point, it is an important part of Haiti's national mythology and, I would argue, Haiti's national mystique.p>
Most reasonable people would be skeptical as to the efficacy of Boukman's ritual in its own terms. This is because most reaonable claim to respect cultural difference but actually think voodoo is superstitious bullshit. Academics would attribute the power of Boukman's rite - and its memory - to revolutionary theatre not to divine - let alone infernal - intervention. That most Haitains really do believe in voodoo does not trouble reasonable people in the slightest; reasonable people could not care less what Haitians think about anything, let alone a 200 year old voodoo rite.
What reasonable people do care about is pretending to celebrate religious diversity but actually kicking religious diversity if it is of the Christian variety. Pat Robertson's real crime was aesthetic. If he had expressed much the same views while sacrificing a chicken to the gods he would have gotten a pass, even a pat on the head.
Here is what bothers me about the criticism leveled at Pat Robertson by reasonable people, including the criticism off all too many reasonable conservatives: If it is fine for Western academics to celebrate "the voodoo revolution" as part of Haiti's rich historical tapestry, to stage reenactments of Boukman's voodoo ceremony in New York as revolutionary theatre, it seems turnabout is fair play should a Bible believing evangelical have the temerity to identify vodoo spirits with demons and a voodoo ceremony as a demonic rite. Haitian's themselves have traditionally made this identification themselves, albeit as a syncretic borrowing of European devil imagery into their West African spirit worship.
By all means dismiss Robertson's beliefs as nonsense if you will but do not blame the man for doing what the Left cannot quite manage, taking Haitians at their word about their own history. Jihadis everywhere are familiar with the problem; no matter how many times they try to tell us why they want us killed or converted the Left insists these doctors and engineers and billionnaire's sons are revolutionary proletarians with a colourful religious vernacular. Only a few latter day Crusaders have the courtesy to respect Muslim beliefs concerning holy war for what they are and to take jihadi statements as to their intentions at face value.
To place Robertson's analysis in context, tell me how the Left's version of witchcraft - vulgar economic reductionism - is any less condescending, any less inappropriate to the ongoing horror for survivors.
Haiti's cultural traditions also have their part to play in making the standard of living there lower than anywhere in the Caribbean and most of Sub-Saharan Africa. The prevailing belief in voodoo continues to mean that many Haitians reject modern medicine in favour of more traditional practices. A visit to the village witch doctor is for many Haitian parents the first port of call when their child falls ill. Without access to clean water and without treatment for basic illnesses the child mortality rate in Haiti is one in five, with diarrhoea, malaria and TB the most common causes of death.
Ironically for the only country ever to have had a successful slave revolt, child enslavement is also a culturally accepted practice in Haiti.
“Whether or not such a ceremony ever took place is beside the point,”
Whether something happens or not is always superfluous to the story
Thank you so much for posting this! I feel exactly the same way. Secularists (and even some conservtives) who attack "wacky" American Biblical Fundamentalists automatically give a pass to everyone and everything else under the sun because it's "quaint" and "we don't have the right to judge." Hypocrites.
Ouch! Did think I’d see anyone defending the Rev’s remarks. But he does have millions of followers. How sad...
I’m not a fan of Robertson so have not followed this story closely at all, but from what I heard he just mentioned the “pact with the devil”. Did he actually say the earthquake was punishment, or has the MSM just inferred this from his statement?
Haiti is over 90% Christian.
What is truly evil is that the grinding poverty has been largely ignored, tolerated by corrupt Haitian leaders, and exploited by the colonists. If the “pact” was indeed made, is irrelevant as what the Haitians “believe” through ignorance and suffering is what has to a great extent limited the progress of that nation (just as it has here).
The fact that another natural disaster has heaped more misery to an already suffering people is simply the event that triggered a response in those who have blithely ignored the existence of the conditions in the Western Hemisphere. What is really the mark of the devil is the indifference and that is happening throughout the Western Hemisphere (and the US/Canada/Venezuela, Mexico, Cuba, Brazil -- countries that could certainly spare a dime or could have in the past).
This business of making a "deal with the devil" has a counterpart in the expression "Faustian bargain".
More recently the idea popped up in two Presidential campaigns as "devil is in the details", which, as I recall, was perfectly acceptable to the Leftwingtards and their running dog lackeys ('cause their boy won eh).
Regarding using voodoo rather than modern medicine I have the same complaint about the Church of the First Born. Bill Clinton's mother ran away from those people in fact ~ his baby-daddy was an elder in the congregation in Hope, Arkansas.
Obama himself has plenty of relatives over on the Dunham side of his family who are still into Church of the First Born nonsense, and his baby-daddy's family even got involved in Mau-Mau, and that, as I recall, involved folks murdering other folks and then drinking blood out of their skulls.
And Pat Robertson said what?
Lot of voodoo and Santería in Colorado? I know there is some Santería in Denver. Voodoo is a syncretic religion, as I noted in my keywords. That is, it is a synthesis or combination of the polytheistic pagan beliefs and practices of several West African tribes, and Roman Catholicism. Some of those African “gods” are identified with the dark side. I think the best way to describe the religious practices of most Haitians would be as a cake. The frosting, which covers most of the cake, is RC, but the cake itself is voodoo.
So, they agreed to pay the French a pricey indemnity for their loss of slaves in Haiti ~ in return they got diplomatic recognition as well as access to international trade. The French moved back in to run the sugar business, and the country got poorer and poorer as it paid France the huge indemnity over 100 years.
Along the way they found out that folks who joke about "Poor Mexico, so far from God and so near the United States" weren't really joking.
The US was "invited in" (however that happens) and next thing you know we occupied the country for several decade. They didn't get better.
We've occupied it several other times as well and each time they've managed to sink further into poverty, disease and degradation.
Now the earthquake ~ whatever problems they had they just got a bunch more.
No doubt they'll agree to all sorts of things and Obama will make all sorts of promises, and it's dollars to doughnuts Haiti will find itself worse off than if they'd simply told the foreign devils to stay away!
I do believe Santeria as practiced in Cuba INCLUDES Hindu elements.
The Bible is pretty clear that worship offered to pagan deities, such as those of voudu, actually goes to demonic beings. This is what Paul said, and he was speaking primarily of the Roman/Greek deities.
Anyone who wishes is welcome to not believe this, but it is what the Bible says.
Pat Roberrson wrote a book about the history of the New Woprld Order twenty some odd years ago that was lavishly footnoted, beautifully written, and a book every person should read. Underestimate Pastor Robertson’s intellectual abilities at your own peril. His servitude to God is rarely equalled.
I cannot recommend his book highly enough.
I don’t know much about the Haitian culture but I know a little about Christianity. As a Christian at the very least prayers should be offered for the suffering of these people. If you can give more help or comfort that would be great. I see nothing Christian in blaming their suffering on the sins of their Fathers.
His timing may have been off, but if you study Haiti’s political history, it is horrifying.
If you understand the relationship between liberty, prosperity, and rule of law, it should be no surprise that Haiti goes from horror to horror and never gets any better.
It is to Christians. Conjuring demons and spirits is specifically prohibited in the Bible.
Now I’ve got another reason to think Pat Robertson is senile. How can you not like a guy named Dutty Boukman?
Haiti’s main problem, IMHO, has nothing to do with religion. Strangely, I think it has to do with Haiti becoming independent too soon in the grand scheme of things, in 1804. Had Haiti remained a French colony, say, to 1962, when Jamaica got it’s independence it would have gotten from the French a developed infrastructure and much stronger institutions.
As this article suggests, there is a fair amount of fact and history to justify what Robertson said.
Where I have difficulty is in his calmly explaining that this is why God did it. As a Christian, I have religious problems with that. In the first place, no one but God fully understands all of the reasons for His providential acts. As the saying goes, He works in mysterious ways.
I don’t think there’s any question that there’s a lot of evil in Haiti. Violence, witchcraft, voodoo, animal sacrifices, and dealings with demonic forces. Probably some human sacrifice, as in parts of Africa. Also plenty of tyrannical governments. Most Haitians are poor for a reason—because their culture and society are dysfunctional and, yes, often evil.
But just because some leader may have made a pact with the Devil 200 years ago doesn’t necessarily mean that the country suffers under God’s curse today. Yes, it suffers in part because so many of their leaders have been selfish and evil. Children suffer for the sins of their parents because the parents leave a mess behind them. But God doesn’t keep them that way for centuries—they choose to keep themselves that way.
As for the earthquake, it was a natural event. Was there some other reason why God may have let or enabled it to happen now? I don’t know. But I wouldn’t want to risk saying that I am in on God’s secret plans, and know why He did it. To me, that would be a foolish sin of pride.
I don’t think Robertson means to gloat over this disaster. Rather, he means to warn them that they’d better straighten out. But he is presuming to know things that no human being can know.