Tuesday, Evangelicals violently disrupted a traditional religious ceremony in the Cite Soleil slum, located just outside the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince. According to AFP:
Police said a pastor urged followers to attack the ceremony, resulting in a crowd of people throwing rocks at the voodoo followers.
American foreign policy is handicapped by a narrow, ill-informed and "uncompromising Western secularism" that feeds religious extremism, threatens traditional cultures and fails to encourage religious groups that promote peace and human rights.
While our foreign policy at a governmental level may be "handicapped" by secularism, the private sector is screwing up by pushing their religious agendas, retarding efforts to actually do a greater good.
In the wake of January 12 earthquake, hundreds of religious groups headed to Haiti bringing food, water and aid, some including solar powered Protestant bibles and their own religious tracts in their care packages. Scientology "Volunteer Ministers" interfered with medical personnel in attempts to recruit. It's a huge dog pile as minsters of God ply Haitians with various versions of salvation.
The Chicago Council on Global Affairs recommended:
Empowering government departments and agencies to engage local and regional religious communities where they are central players in the promotion of human rights and peace, as well as the delivery of health care and other forms of assistance.
Local and regional should mean traditional and indigenous, not just the missionary groups. Catholicism and vodou--the official spelling-- are the Haiti's traditional religions, and about half the country's population practice some form of vodou along side other faiths.
KWTX reports that religious tensions have increased since the earthquake and the attack was carried out by Haitian Christians.
Voodooists gathered in a seaside slum where thousands of earthquake survivors are living in tents and depending on food aid.
Praying and singing, the group was trying to conjure spirits to guide lost souls when a crowd of evangelicals started shouting.
Some threw rocks while others urinated on Voodoo symbols.
When police left, the crowd destroyed the altars and Voodoo offerings of food and rum.
Dr. Christos Kioni, the Florida-based vodou expert profiled in Christine Wicker's book Not In Kansas Anymore wrote us:
Rosemond Aristide, police inspector in Cite Soleil, told AFP that
The violence fundamentalist have engaged in upon the practitioners of Vodou in Haiti is fueled by a sectarian demon. It is the same spirit that spurs Muslim radicals to engage in terrorist activities in the Name of Allah, it is the same spirit that fanned the flames of the Inquisition and Crusades. Christians have long ago abandoned their faith in the authentic teachings of Christ that God is Love
he has since spoken with the pastor, who agreed to allow voodoo ceremonies to take place there. However, Aristide could not explain why no arrests were made nor provide further details.
"Agreed to allow"? This is a faith practiced by almost fifty percent of the population! Tuesday's violent eruption of religious intolerance may lead to bigger problems. Max Beauvoir, voudou's supreme leader, has already noted that aid provided by Evangelicals is not being distributed to those of other faiths.
Voudou high priest Beauvoir sees Tuesday's attack as an unfortunate act of war, telling AFP
It will be war -- open war. It's unfortunate that at this moment where everybody's suffering that they have to go into war. But if that is what they need, I think that is what they'll get
Dr. Kioni adds:
I agree with my friend and colleague, The Supreme Servitor of Vodou, Ati Max Beauvoir, that this attack by the evangelicals is a declaration of war...We are mobilizing our forces to meet this demonic spirit head on; bullets nor pious, hypocritical prayers have no power where Vodou is concerned.
Acts of religious intolerance have no place in the world, let alone in a disaster area, reflecting poorly on the faith represented. Religious aid workers in Haiti should provide relief with respect for those in physical need by leaving faith out of the mix.
Dr. Kioni adds:
Vodou will be recognized and accepted as a valid and legitimate system of spirituality just as the Wiccan and Pagans have been accepted. Freedom of Religion is a right and no man nor religious organization has a corner on God nor salvation.
An expanded version can be found on La Figa at Firedoglake.com