Earthquake Blamed on Haiti’s “Pact with the Devil”

Pat Robertson has caused anger and bafflement (as ever) with the claim that the devastating earthquake in Haiti is just the latest disaster to hit the country as the result of a “pact with the devil” supposedly made by Haitians to rid themselves of French rule.

This supposed pact has been obsessed over before by neo-Pentecostal Christians who regard spiritual causality as the directing force behind world events. In 2004, The Revealer noted the views of Terry W. Snow, country director of Youth with a Mission, who described the pact but also announced that it was at an end:

2004 will be the official ending of the 200 year pact known as the Boukman Contract. (See below for more details.) Made by a slave named Boukman, 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. On the night of August 14, 1791 the sacrifice was made and the contract agreed to. However, it wouldn’t be until January 1, 1804 that Haiti was recognized as the first independent black nation in the world.

…On the night of August 14, 1791, the slaves sealed that unity in a ceremony held in the woods at Bois Caiman, not too far from Cap-Haitien. A pig was slaughtered, and all of those present drank of the blood of that pig and together pledged 200 years of service to the spirits of the island in exchange for victory over the French. An iron statue of a pig sits in Port-au-Prince to commemorate that event.

On the night of Aug. 22, they began a war by setting the entire Northern Plain on fire, and hunting down and taking vengeance on the plantation owners. Years of battles followed—against France, Spain, and even England—but in the end they got their victory, proclaiming independence on Jan. 1, 1804. As a nation, they have been mostly faithful to their deal with the devil. And in exchange, the spirits have given them nearly 200 years of turbulent and often miserable history.

“…our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12

In fact, the details of the ceremony at Bois Caiman are difficult to establish and interpret, as the nineteenth-century sources added a romantic anti-Christian slant and elements from Classical paganism. David Patrick Geggus’ book Haitian Revolutionary Studies has a chapter-length discussion, which can be accessed on Google Books [UPDATE: There’s also this essay, by Markel Thylefors (noted by Mark Joseph)].  It may perhaps have been a Dahomean blood pact; of course, neo-Pentecostal Christians regard all non-Christian religions negatively (with some exceptions made for Judaism), but the idea of a “pact with the devil”, suggestive of Satanism and of identification with evil, is an ignorant, lurid, and polemical interpretation of the event. And as an explanation for Haiti’s various problems – let alone the latest tragedy – it is both risible and in bad taste.

Snow is still in Haiti, and looking on the bright side post-earthquake:

…During our time of prayer this morning we felt God saying that this is the start of new beginnings in Haiti. That in this time of need when most people hit rock bottom, that they will look and see that their voodoo god is not real and cry out to God.

President Aristide’s state recognition of voodoo was decried by American missionaries as an attempt “to rededicate Haiti to Satan”, and, as I blogged in 2004, there was rejoicing when he was forced to flee the country.

UPDATE: A Haitian pastor named Jean Gelin considered the story in 2005:

I was born and raised in Haiti, and I am a graduate of the State University in Port-au-Prince. I am also a believer in the Lord Jesus-Christ in accordance with the Bible. In all of my studies of Haitian history, however, I have yet to find a good evidence of even the idea of Satan’s assistance in the Independence War, let alone a satanic pact.

For quite some time now, several articles on the Internet have mentioned the existence of an iron pig statue in Port-au-Prince as a monument to commemorate Haiti’s so-called pact with the devil through Vodou. The statue would be in remembrance of a pig that was killed during the gathering by the African slaves. In an effort to know more about that rumor, I contacted several authors about the exact location of the pig statue that’s incidentally nowhere to be found in the country. Their answer was complete silence, a simple apology, or just the removal of the reference from their texts.

…I would not be surprised if the satanic pact idea (followed by the divine curse message) was put together first by foreign missionaries and later on picked up by local leaders. On the other hand, it is equally possible that some Haitian church leaders developed the idea on their own using a theological framework borrowed from those same missionaries who subsequently propagated the message around the world. Either way, because of this message, Haiti has been portrayed as the country born out of Satan’s benevolence and goodwill toward mankind. Shouldn’t such a fantastic idea be tested for its historic validity and theological soundness?

UPDATE 2: It should be recalled that the “Boukman Contract” is far from being the only instance of neo-Pentecostals taking an aspect of a national culture and using it to construct a narrative of demonic activity. In June, I blogged on C. Peter Wagner’s view that Japan had “invited national demonization” due to a special Shinto ceremony that occurs when a new Emperor comes to the throne.

UPDATE 3: Rachel Tabachnick has more on the neo-Pentecostal background to the Haiti “devil pact” story at Talk to Action.

41 Responses

  1. God is the same yesterday today and forever!!!

    • Yes, there is only God, whose nature is Lovingkindness for his creations.

      In Haitian religion, the Deity is called Bon Dye, and is recognized as the same God of the Bible.

      The Loa are spirits which can be thought of as similar to ministering angels and interceding saints.

      Vodou is the religion of Haiti, and they should be justly proud to have retained so much of their African culture through so many trials.

      Nor is it Christian only to offer charity to those whose share one’s faith. Did the Samaritan ask the injured man to become a Samaritan in exchange for his help?

      Follow your faith and live by its precepts, and honor those who are true to their own.

      • vodou is not merely a religion. it is at the core of haiti’s african heritage. it is the point at which all aspects of this cultural heritage converge. Bon Dye is not a deity. He/ she is the supreme being. He/she is God.

        To be haitian is to be touched by the powerful force of this religio cultural heritage , knowingly or not.

  2. Haiti would be one the most powerful countries if they became christian not catholic CHRISTIAN and no dealing with voodo!

    • Ya I agree, this whole catholic thing is not really founded on Biblical truths but on Human religious traditions based on human judgement and perception.

    • there would not have been a haiti without vodou

  3. Haiti was a powerful Black country standed on its own, now, she is the poorest and weakest country in the hemispher because of satanic symbol of independence.

  4. Pat should should do the right thing and choke to death on one of his many Rolex watches. He is a pox on his followers. I believe his “religion” is the Assembly of Fraud.

  5. […] Robertson’s use of neo-Pentecostal vulnerability to the bizarre claims is well-explored by Richard Bartholomew. […]

  6. Christians like Kamicia and Evens sure are funny! I mean, it’s a pity they’re mentally ill and all, but they’re great entertainment value.

    • Please note: not all who say they are Christian actually ARE Christian (eg. Catholic Church the last 1500 years). They are far from God and Jesus if they have hate in their heart for anybody. Jesus said “Love your enemy.” Anyone can love someone who loves them back, that seems obvious, but if you love someone who hates you, that is the Christian way (just look at the first 200-300 years of Christian church history).

  7. Pentecostal Church promises riches to people if they convert to Christianity. It is a trick that worked in South Korea with many lobbyists divesting USA dollars into South Korea and it suits South Koreans.

    Maybe the Haitians should do the same.

  8. The only ‘satanic’ being interfering with Haiti is the USA, constantly sticking its nose into their affairs and either propping up some monster, like Poppa Doc or tossing out a democratically elected one they don’t like.

    It’s just my opinion, but I believe that certain USA crime syndicates, like the Shrubs of Maine and the Arkansas carpet-baggers use Haiti as a transshipment point for cocaine coming out of S. America that is ferried to the USA and Europe.

    So having a non-functioning government and some of the poorest people on the planet helps those gangsters run their drugs out of Haiti.

    • If you believe the United States is so evil and terrible, why are you here? Please move, maybe to Haiti, where things will be better for you.

  9. I will not judge anybody. I will not point a finger. I will pray for the people of Haiti. They along with ALL humans are God’s creation.

  10. I’m here Smitty because I was born here and love this nation and hate to see it being taken over by greedy bastards who don’t give a tinker’s damn for We the People, except to use them as pawns in their activites.

    I loved my country so much I served time with the US Army’s 82nd Airborne.

    Tell me, what service branch did you spend your time paying back your love of this country in?

  11. More on that SOB Robertson, who never met a dictator he didn’t like…. as long as their was money BIG money involved.

    Operation Blessing, also financed entirely through charitable donations from Robertson’s cult following, has proved to be a more shaky financial venture for Robertson. First, he used the airplane and resources brought in by Operation Blessing to fly to Zaire (Democratic Republic of the Congo) to purchase diamond mines for Robertson’s company African Development Corporation, to harvest so-called blood diamonds produced by near slave labor.

    Interestingly, Robertson’s diamond venture shows that he really doesn’t have a problem with dictators per se – as long as he can make some money from them. To win diamond mining rights, Robertson developed a close and friendly relationship with dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, most notorious for his collaboration with the CIA in the assassination of Congolese national liberation movement leader Patrice Lumumba in 1961.

    According to a 1996 interview with a former pilot for Operation Blessing, of 40 flights to Zaire in the mid-1990s, only one or two were really related to the humanitarian work that Operation Blessing claimed to its donors would be its main work. The rest, the pilot admitted, were related to developing the blood diamond business.

    That same year, Robertson used the donations of his flock to set up an offshore mining company in the Cayman Islands called Freedom Gold Limited. The purpose of setting the company offshore, of course, was to avoid taxes and to make its connections to Robertson more difficult to trace.

    According to a 2001 Washington Post story, in 1999, Robertson’s Freedom Gold signed a business deal with notoriously corrupt and brutal dictator Charles Taylor of Liberia allowing Robertson’s company to explore and receive gold mining rights in that country.

    The deal gave Taylor 10 percent ownership of the company, which was founded with donations by Robertson’s faithful following in exchange for a five-year exploration concession and a 20-year mining claim.

  12. This is the prayer. It is a classic war prayer.

    “The god who created the earth; who created the sun that gives us light.The god who holds up the ocean; who makes the thunder roar. Our God who has ears to hear. You who are hidden in the clouds; who watch us from where you are. You see all that the white has made us suffer. The white man’s god asks him to commit crimes. But the god within us wants to do good. Our god, who is so good, so just, He orders us to revenge our wrongs. It’s He who will direct our arms and bring us the victory. It’s He who will assist us. We all should throw away the image of the white men’s god who is so pitiless. Listen to the voice for liberty that sings in all our hearts.”

    • Yeh all you lot are the same. Your god that created animals …

      When are you so called church people going to speak up for the animals .
      Your all shameful

  13. The zealots always welcome a large scale human tragedy. Somehow, without fail, YHWH gets glory out of every disaster.

    Here, the Rev. John Piper, a popular Christian author, glimpses God’s majestic Sovereignty, and perhaps a little of His Holiness, in the collapse of a Minnesota interstate bridge.

    • E. E. Evans-Pritchard on African beliefs:

      the concept of witchcraft provides [the Azande] with a natural philosophy by which the relations between men and unfortunate events are explained and a ready and stereotyped means of reacting to such events.

      Change “witchcraft” to “sin” and you’ve got Piper – and one reason for continued interest in religion.

  14. an article about the far more “earthly” reasons of the impact of the earthquake by Peter Hallward: … I suspect, that Robertson & Co. supported the “voodoist” Duvalier-regime due to its anti-communist credentials

  15. I wonder how many Christians it takes to pay for one of Pat Robert$ons Rolexs?

  16. people make remarks about pat robertsons comments on the earthquake in hati but do they know what gods word says about sorcery magic and voodoo worship which that country has it’s deep spiritual beliefs in. but lets also look at all the disasters that have happend over the last 10 years shcool shootings 911 floods in new orleans storms that have wiped out homes taken lives and other calamities that have taken place what is the cause ? god is loving but he hates our sin and he will and is judging sin god is giving people a chance to turn to him and repent of there sins romans 6 23 tells about the payment for sin and also the gift that god gives for repenting from sin if you read in the book of matthew chapter 24 versus 4 to 13 tells of the events that happend in hati and in the last 10 years also read2 timothy chapter3 1 to 5 it tells you about the hearts of man kind in the time we live in. then consider the statement of rev.roberston

    • would you attribute the miracles of jesus to demonic power?

      did the God of the isrealites magically cause fire to devour an evil group like those who resided in Gommorah and sodom.

      the ability to tap unseen forces and harness them for welfare however one defines it is a feature of all religions. Vodou is one. so is Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism etc.

      Stupidity, shallow mindedness, and the arrogance of western people is to blame for tagging the symbol of evil on other cultural ways of making sense of and controlling —the inexplicable.

  17. Why don’t you dig deep into your Christian pockets and quit the moralising and help out some kid who’s not going to have any kind of family, Christian or otherwise. Peace to all.

  18. […] Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion has several very interesting quotes as well as links to more resources: This supposed pact has […]

  19. […] Earthquake Blamed on Haiti’s “Pact with the Devil” Pat Robertson has caused anger and bafflement (as ever) with the claim that the devastating earthquake in Haiti is […] […]

  20. There is simply too, too much proof of the pact made with the Devil for Haiti to gain their independance. Too much to question the reality of it all. In addition, the ambassador to Haiti spoke live with a news correspondent and never denyed the pact, but he did say that because of the pact the US was able to purchase Louisiana for $15,000,000,000. Now think about it, Hurricane Katrina, another national disaster occurred there as well. Not to mention the independance was gained at the same time Haiti experienced another great earthquake… This is proof of God’s existence pure and simple.

  21. No matter how you slice it, God is real and his son Jesus Christ is coming back……sooner than you know…Pat Robertson is compelled to speak the truth he is mandated and appointed to teach the people of God’s word and how salvation is gained by the acknowledgement and committment to his son Christ the Savior. If people think this is bad, wait until God pours his judgment upon the United States, I guarantee you that people are going to be looking for Pat Robertson to pray for them then. Just like they did when 9/11 happened, the Sunday after the attack, churches all over this country were filled to the rafters. This is real and so is God’s word.

  22. Oh for cryin’ out loud, cdg, pull your head out of your nether regions. There is ZERO ‘proof’ for a ‘pact with the devil’. Zip. Zero. nada. it all comes from nonsense dreamed up in the tiny little minds of delusional, hateful as*hats like yourself and Pat Robsertson, greedy jerk (or did you not read about Robertson’s shenanigans over blood diamonds?)

    And, sweet cheeks, about hurricanes. Hurricanes are a natural weather phenomenon of the Caribbean and Gulf regions. If you bothered to read anything about history, you would know there is a long, long record or hurricanes that have, at times, caused a lot of destruction. Go to the library and check out “Isaac’s Storm” by Erik Larson, which is an interesting account of a hurricane that destroyed the city of Galveston TX in 1900. Now, please note cdg, TX was NOT a part of the Louisiana Purchase. And, please recall in 1992 Hurricane Andrew hit Florida and caused a lot of damage. Also not part of LA purchase.

    OK I will quit feeding the moronic troll now, as they are generally impervious to little things like FACTS and REALITY.

  23. Psalm 24vs 1 and 2 The earth is the Lords and everything in it,the world, and all who live in it.
    for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.
    What ever happen if we like it all not God is All knowing All powerfull and All present.
    He is in control of Haiti He is God

  24. Voodoo is evil. There is no doubt about it. In some cults, human sacrifice is still acceptible even if not still practiced. My best friend is from Togo and he grandson of a voodoo priest. His father became a Christian in his youth. He said that Jesus called him to go back to his village and cut off the head of the wooden idol to their snake god and throw it at the feet of the eleders at a voodoo worship gathering. His father then proclaimed loudly to the whole voodoo congregation that Christ was the one and only God and that the voodoo gods were merely demons. Most of this town became Christians after this, and my friends father became a pastor to lead them. My friend had many stories of how his father had come face to face with voodoo oppression in Togo and Benin. In one such story, his father fought the astrally projected spirit of a voodoo sorcerer. He overcame him by the power of Jesus. Every word of this is true. I know this man personally and I know his character. I have seen enough supernaturally things in my own life, having gone to places such as India, to know that all these things are possible and have happened. Praise be to the Lord Jesus. Only he can save. And I pray for the beautiful people of Haiti that they would break free from the oppression of the evil spirits they have evoked for all of these years. I pray that they would turn their country over to the Lord Jesus Christ.

  25. […] against serious accusations coming from a number of local Evangelical preachers who claim that they hold the blame for causing this natural disaster. Why do some people insist on laying the blame on those who are […]

  26. ignorance

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