My Year of Short Stories: Dec 9th, For G-D So Loved Haiti by Susana Ferreira, The Believer Magazine, Dec/Jan 2018

This is not really a short story. In fact, it is a very long piece. An in-depth look at the colonization through evangelical missionaries and churches. It’s a frustrating look at the whole situation, as the traditional religion in Haiti is that of Vodou. It is passed down verbally for the most part, and after a couple centuries of persecution, the Vodou community is quite small, which is a shame, as Haitian Vodou teaches the preservation of what believers have over the attainment of heaven. Evangelical denominations over many decades have done everything they can to discredit and destroy major points of Vodou worship. For instance, there was once a tree deemed of great spiritual worth for the Vodou religion. In response, evangelicals propagated that the tree was devilish and possessed by Satan. Throughout history, Vodou has also been a religion of rebellion for the Haitian people. During the US’s occupation of Haiti in 1915, the occupiers outlawed drums and drum circles, as they were commonly used in both Vodou and political uprisings.

What I got from this piece above all else, however, is the profiteering nature of evangelicals in the wake of natural disasters. After the 2010 earthquake, a huge influx of evangelical megachurches sprung up around Haiti. Ones that constantly asked for donations from people who had already lost everything. Counterintuitively, tens of thousands of people flocked to these megachurches, donating hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars. When the author spoke with missionaries in Haiti they proclaimed their material achievements of “progress.” Roads, schools, hospitals, churches. “Where,” they asked, “are Vodou’s contributions to the country?” However, this question betrays their lack of understanding of the Haitian culture. The roads, schools, churches, and hospitals built by missionaries are for the express indoctrination of the populace. Vodou is a verbal religion. The practitioners are the schools and churches. Vodou believes in natural medicine, and so these practitioners are also doctors. While I have no illusions that western medicine DOES have a place, I can’t help but point an accusatory finger at missionaries in Haiti and accuse them of using natural disasters as a means to an end. This piece is informative, predictable in its futile conclusions, and a sad look at profiteering in the name of progress. (B)

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