By Carole Turner
I heard about the supposed pact that Haiti made with the devil from Twitter when it lit up a firestorm of tweets about Pat Robertson’s remarks blaming the earthquake that has devastated Port-au-Prince on this pact. I first thought, “What the crap?” I also thought, “Dang Pat, hush! You’re doing so much good through Operation Blessing. I know that you love the poor and hurting, and I know you help them.”
As one news commentator said, “He keeps saying stuff like that so he’s not gonna be remembered for Operation Blessing but for those kinds of comments.” To make matters worse, I had friends tell me that they “knew” about this pact. They said it was true, but none of them gave me a credible source of this obviously very important information. It’s just what has been passed down, generation after generation, so now it is believed in many fundamentalist circles as truth. That, my friends, is what I like to call Fundamentalist folklore.
So, I decided to investigate. I love history. I found some great articles, web sites and historical documents, concerning this issue. The best treatment of this topic is found in an article called, “God, Satan, and the Birth of Haiti“. I say “best,” because the author’s Haitian, he’s a Christian, it’s not a very long article, and he did a thorough investigation in 2005, before all the Pat Robertson controversy.
Here’s how he explains the historical context of the pact:
The satanic pact allegedly took place at Bois-Caman near Cap-Hatien on August 14, 1791 during a meeting organized by several slave leaders, under [Dutty] Boukman’s leadership, before launching what would become Haiti’s Independence War. This brutal period lasted 13 years until the last survivors of the French expeditionary forces, dispatched to Saint-Domingue with the sole purpose to re-establish slavery, were allowed by Dessalines to leave the island and return to Napoleon. Those who made it safely to France wrote and reported about the utmost bravery and supreme courage of Haiti’s indigenous army.
Obviously, the idea that Haiti was dedicated to Satan prior to its independence is a very serious and profound statement with potentially grave consequences for its people in terms of how they are perceived by others or how the whole nation is understood outside its borders. One would agree that such a strong affirmation should be based on solid historical and scriptural ground. But, although the satanic pact idea is by far the most popular explanation for Haiti’s birth as a free nation, especially among Christian missionaries and some Haitian Church leaders, it is nothing more than a fantasist opinion that ultimately dissipates upon close examination.
…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? I invite you to take with me a closer and possibly different look at the available records.
The really great thing about the information age in which we live is that with the click of a mouse, we can access historical documents, investigations into such far fetched claims and find the context of such Fundamentalist folklore. And we can quickly find valid sources to verify the bull-crapness of such claims.
1 Thessalonians 5:21 says, “Test everything. Hold on to the good.”
Carole is a writer, artist, singer and Orphan Care Advocate. She is married to Dean and mother of three children – one miracle of birth, one adopted from here in the States, and one just adopted from Ethiopia. She blogs at The Wardrobe and the White Tree.