Catholic Church Faces Battle to End Co-Mingling Faiths in Haiti
According to Langlois, Voodoo is a religion of the poor, who have no money to pay a doctor when they fall ill. So they seek the services of a Voodoo priest, who can petition Voodoo spirits for healing. Other intercessions for money and fortune-telling also take place.
In the 1940s, Catholics waged war on Voodoo to eradicate it. They built a pyre of Voodoo masks and drums, burning them. Stories of the strange religion reached Hollywood that characterized it as a religion of devil worship, whose activities included creation of zombies, the living dead. But by 1987 under the new Constitution, Voodoo re-emerged and in 2003 was legally declared a religion.
The Catholic Church's stance is Haitians can't be both voodooists and Catholics; they must be one or the other. A Haitian-American anthropologist challenges the Catholic Church's prerogative to impose its values. He adds "Voodoo was born in Haiti . . . Catholicism is imported . . ."
If connection is the defining principle of religion, Voodoo's legitimacy is unassailable. As one voodooist put it, "I feel more connected with Iwa than when I go to Church."
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