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Is vodou a religion

Since the January 12, 2010’s earthquake, vodou and its adepts have been under heavy fire. Throughout history, many world renowned theologians have either omitted or added certain element to vodou lore in order to diabolize it.

They usually resort to non-religious approach to demonize it, and transform its believers into sorcerers. However, if we refer to religion as a psychological, cultural and social phenomenon, we would understand that vodou like Hinduism is more than a religion: It is a way of life.

St- Domingue‘s enslaved Africans, away from their motherlands, in their inhuman conditions, were constrained to exclusively rely on their ancestral rites for comfort, and inner freedom. Their rituals were their sole rallying cry to plan an assault against slavery.

Thus, the Haitian Voodoo was born out the need to liberate oneself from mental, psychological and environmental slavery. This normal response was in tune with Bergson’s dynamic religious concept.

The vodou is a natural religion based on creative impulse for survival, and fully engaged in the pursuit of a harmonious social organization. Without doubt, vodou is also Nietzscheist in terms since Nietzsche himself admitted that religion with its capability to bring forth new values is superior to his nihilist philosophy. Vodou is” right on the money”.

Instead of classifying vodou as a religion, some critics prefer to associate it with occult practices. Indeed, voodoo shares many similarities with Catholicism.Like Catholicism, it worships one God who is invisible, omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent.

While Catholicism has other deities (saints) , serving as intermediaries between man and God, Vodou has lwa for intercessors. Saints and lwa serve the same purpose by intervening to God on behalf of believers who incessantly ask for favors.

For Immanuel Kant, those ceaseless requests represent the perfect meaning and the ultimate essence of religion. Then, why certain people do not see vodou as a religion like Catholicism and Islam?

Maybe they use vodou’s animal sacrifices as a non-religious manifestation to diabolize it . Ironically, those same people have no qualm with Abraham choosing to sacrifice his son, Isaac, instead of a ram. They neither ever mention Aid el-Kebir, a Muslim Holiday during which every family must sacrifice a sheep. Why Christianity and Islam are religions, and voodoo is not?

Therefore, we are forced to believe that the assaults against the Haitian voodoo come from a ideologically slanted group who sees religions in hierarchical terms and arbitrarily see Christianity as the ultimate reality.

Oh no! Metaphysically speaking, there is no hierarchy among religions. They all serve the same role and purpose. Today, against all odds, voodoo remains a way of life for millions of Haitians.

And as Emile Durkheim ‘s description of religion, Vodou reflects the spirit of the land ,its people and their struggles. Even Karl Marx sees religion as a society’s main pillar. If vodou is not a religion, there are millions of people in Haiti who are religionless.

In all fairness, if Protestantism is associated with the development of capitalism, Confucianism with the crib of China’s political ideal, virtue and education, and Islam with Arab nationalism, Vodou should be viewed as slave’s resistance’s symbol, black emancipation’s beacon and universal freedom’ s emblem?

We deliberately choose not to touch on vodou’s religious practices , their meanings, and its adepts’ psyche. In our humble opinion, they are impenetrable, untouchable and elusive like those of all the other religions. As we all know, from immemorial times, myth and mysticism are religion’s mystical entities. And vodou can not be an exception.

In sum, the Bible itself says that things are revealed to men, but the secret things belong to God. To those who believe that they have the moral authority to judge others’ religion, we can humbly refer them to one of Christ famous verses: “.Let He who is Without Sin Cast the First Stone).

Haitian Times

Haitian Times

The Haitian Times was founded in 1999 as a weekly English language newspaper based in Brooklyn, NY.The newspaper is widely regarded as the most authoritative voice for Haitian Diaspora.
Haitian Times
May. 05, 2012

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