Holidays in Haiti

With John Kerry‘s hair looming large on the newscape, Haiti has been returned to its “place” in the hierarchy of places that matter, or rather, don’t. Left unanswered are serious questionsfrom serious people about whether Bush administration officials Roger Noriega and Otto Reich orchestrated a coup. And left entirely unasked by most of the press are questions about the peculiar timing of events — a violent rebellion that coincided not only with Lent, but with the parading music festival known as Rara, which grows, writes scholar Elizabeth A. McAlister, “out of the Afro-Haitian religious complex called Vodou and is used to launch political criticism of local and national leaders.” (Read more about McAlister’s take on Rara at Afropop Worldwide.)

Meanwhile, the evangelical missionaries at Youth With a Mission saw another omen for action in Haiti before the shooting started: “2004,” writes Terry W. Snow, “will be the official ending of the 200 year pact known as the Boukman Contract…. Made by a slave namedBoukman, who was considered to be a great witchdoctor, the contract surrendered the Haitian people to spiritual slavery through a voodoo ceremony, in exchange for their physical freedom.”

As far as many evangelical missionaries and interventionist political conservatives are concerned, Aristide‘s greatest crime was not his corruption so much as his endorsement of Vodou. Their concern is not only spiritual, but physical. Elizabeth Kendal of World Evangelical Alliance writes: “Christian Aid reported recently… ‘One ministry spokesman in northern Haiti said five of its pastors had been murdered recently. He blamed it on the strong influence of Voodoo in the area. No other details were available.'” Lowell Ponte, writing in demagogue David Horowitz‘ magazine Front Pageclaimed two years ago that Aristide’s affection for Vodou had led the former Catholic priest to take a literal blood bath.

What’s most interesting to The Revealer about these ideas and charges is that they recognize Vodou as “real” far more than any political gesture Aristide could have made. But even as evangelicals raise the spectre of Vodou’s power, they ignore its self-proclaimed meanings, slotting this “other” religion into Christian theology.

In the interest of some deeper thinking The Revealer is providing (with no endorsements nor blood baths for anyone) a few links to Vodou resources we think are worth examining: Vodoun Culture; ReligiousTolerance.Org’s definition; an introduction by Bon Mambo Racine Sans Bout Sa Te La Daginen.

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