Legal Expert Says 2011 Constitution Does Not Endanger Voodoo Faith

An on-going debate over whether the practice of voodoo is being threatened by the amended 1987 Constitution has stirred the embers of its practitioners' fears.


Voodoo, brought to Haiti by Congolese slaves, became entrenched in Haitian culture, early in its history.

In 1935, under the rule of Stenio Vincent, the 1935 Decree Law defined voodoo as a superstitious belief system and banned the practice of it. For over 50 years, the Decree Law was not tampered with. By 1987, though, the amended Constitution struck down the Decree Law with Article 297, invalidating the definition of voodoo as a superstitious practice. A presidential decree on April 4, 2003, further legitimized the voodoo faith. But in May 2011, Article 297 was annulled, and has given rise to fears that voodooists would suffer persecution for their beliefs.

Fanning the flames of fear, Head of the National Confederation of Voodoo in Haiti, Euvonie Auguste, declared the amended Constitution would unleash a wave of attacks against practicing voodooists, and they would need to use whatever means necessary to protect themselves.

Since then, Joël Turenne, Legal Affairs Director of the Ministry of Religious Affairs has responded, explaining "The constitutional amendment is and cannot be prejudicial . . . to the functioning of voodoo, or the rights of its adherents." To dispel any lingering doubts, Turenne said the Decree Law was never proclaimed, therefore, non-enforceable. Furthermore, he adds, the presidential decree of 2003 validates voodoo as a religion, and the misnomer superstitious practice bit the dust long ago.

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Read more: Voodoo, Religion, constitution, Culture, Slave, Faith, Stenio Vincent, Superstition, Law, Voodoo

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