Voodoo

With the upcoming missions trip that I am taking to Haiti, I decided this year to do a bit of research onto the topic which really confused me.  That would be the mixture of religions among the people of Haiti.  With me being one who focuses on apologetics, I thought this would be an appropriate issue to tackle for my friends who read regularly in order to inform, as well as learn about a world religion.

The first thing to note is that voodoo for the most part is nothing like what is portrayed in the media or Hollywood.  It portrays voodoo dolls and the sort which is not a part of this voodoo.  Voodoo essentially is a religion which has been around for a few hundred years dating back to the origins of Haiti.

Haiti was a french colony which was at one time the most wealthy colony in the world due to its use of African slaves.  (Interestingly, Haiti is now the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.)  When these African slaves were around, they were able to practice their religion, but it was not accepted by the Roman Catholic church – the Frenchmen – and they were forbid to practice it, yet they took it underground and it continued.  Soon, the slaves rebelled and voila, we have Haiti.  (For an in depth study of the history of Haiti…just Google it…)

So, its origins are a few hundred years old.  Going into Haiti, after hearing different stories of the spiritual oppression and evil feeling, I guess I had assumed that all voodoo was like that of Hollywood.  Just a few minutes of research revealed otherwise.  

First, voodoo is actually an official religion of Haiti.  Sounds like a great place already huh?  Voodoo is a religion which worships a distant and uninterested god (Bondye) and a series of Loas, “lesser deities”.  There are a whole lot of Loas which are worshipped.  Where it seems to get very odd, thus accounting for the demon possessions that I and others have heard about is how the people in voodoo want to become “possessed” by the loa of their choice.  The loa comes at “rides” or “attaches” themselves to the practicer, and then it is supposed to bring a sort of blessing to this person.  There is also some sort of dealing with animal sacrifice to appease the loas.  There are loas for everything, resembling the polytheism of Greece and Rome back in the day.  

There are two types of voodoo.  The peaceful side is “rada voodoo” which prays to the peaceful and nice loas.  Then there is “petro voodoo” which is the “more evil” voodoo that prays to the angry loas.  This side is supposedly the side that deals with black magic and curses.  The statistics that I saw said that rada was about 95% practiced and the other 5% was the petro voodoo.  

After understanding that this voodoo wasn’t particularly worshipping Satan and hating every person, I began to realize a little bit about it.  To me, when you compare voodoo to the pagan practices we find in the Pentateuch, they seem to have a lot of similarities.  

While the understanding of the religion made me realize that it wasn’t directly worshipping Satan, after talking to my father (who has been going in close to 10 years, sometimes twice a year) I came to realize that it still has much to do with the worship of demons.  While no website or book would really say this directly, this is what a lot of it comes to be.

One of the other interesting aspects of this, is that voodoo and the Roman Catholic church are working hand in hand in Haiti.  There are many people who attend mass and then go and worship the loas.  This is a common practice.  In fact, while we were in Haiti, we walked outside of one of the Catholic churches where some people had tables set up to sell Catholic candles, ropes, and beads.  Right beside this, on the same table were beads, candles, and ropes used in voodoo worship.  It’s sad that its become so corrupt.  

Here’s the deal: the Christians in Haiti face a very tough battle.  They present the truth of Jesus Christ in their message, but right down the road you have another message being presented.  I stated previously that they are the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, but they are some of the richest people ever because they have Christ…this is so true.  But, when you have nothing and you look for anything, the thought of such a religion that deals with evil and hatred at times is a scary thought.  The message doesn’t go without being accepted only, but it is opposed.  Satan uses these forces to his benefit.  God has done an amazing and powerful work in the country just since my father has been going in, but if you even search for Haiti online, you don’t find positive stories.

It’s a corrupt country.  It’s a poor country.  The people there suffer.  The message they need to hear and accept is the true message of Christ.  “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  No man comes unto the Father but by Me.”  No other religion can fill the void in their lives.  

PRAY FOR HAITI!  Pray for our trip.  The eight of us will hopefully be able to have an impact in our short time there, but we do need your prayers.  

Also, keep the people of Haiti in your prayers as today they are being pelted by Hurricane Gustav.

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  1. August 27, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    Haiti is a very religious country. Haitians have been through a lot as you know. The French, who would have been Catholic, worked them to death rather than provide them with health care which would have been more expensive. They were forced to attend Catholic mass on Sunday, the only day off. Naturally, they drew comparisons between African faiths and the Saints. This is when the blending of Christianity and Vodoun began. You’ll have a hard time finding a Vodouisant who doesn’t strongly believe in Jesus. Vodoun is cultural in that it is a way for Haitians to say that there is a part of their soul that is Haitian and they want to keep it that way. Personally, I dont think it makes their faith less real, just different.

  2. August 27, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    Sorry, that is to say there is a part of the soul that is African.

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