The Devil in Haiti

The Devil in Haiti

The commentators are still letting Pat Robertson have it over his suggestion that somehow Haiti had the destruction coming because of that nation’s “pact with the Devil.” And Robertson deserves the criticism. Much of the negative commentary, however, doesn’t get at the real problem with Robertson’s theology of Satan. I’m sure the Devil is happy with what has been happening in that desperate country. What Robertson does not realize, however, is that Satan’s “pact” there is many-faceted. And this distorts his understanding of how God deals with Satan’s tactics.

It has been said that Haiti is 95% Catholic, 5% Protestant—and 100% voodoo. The percentages in that assessment may be a bit off, but there is no question that voodoo-ism is a major reality in Haiti’s culture. And, given my theology, I’m sure that this pleases Satan.

But the Devil also works in other ways as well.  Haiti has long been held in the grip of an oppressive political system that  has fostered one of the worst economic systems in the world. The poverty of Haiti is beyond comprehension to those of us who live with the comforts of a place like North America. All of that too must make Satan happy. In politics and economics too, we wrestle with principalities and powers.

Haiti’s desperate political-economic misery grieves the heart of Jesus. My wife and I heard that message in a poignant way when we visited Haiti in the early 1980s. We were traveling in a van with some Christian Reformed relief workers on the route from Port-au-Prince to Cap-Haitien. It was a hot day, and the road was rough. At one point, driving through some hills, we pulled over to get some water from a spring at the side of the road.

It seemed like a remote spot, but suddenly a group of six children appeared. They spoke pleadingly to us in Creole, obviously asking for money. We had been told by our Christian Reformed hosts not to respond to those requests. Wherever we had gone in towns and cities,  we were surrounded by pleading faces and outstretched hands, and we had learned simply to shake our heads and move along.

That’s what we attempted there at the side of the road, but one young man—a boy about 11 or 12 years old—would not let us dismiss them so easily. He had detected that one of our hosts spoke Creole, and he stood tall in front of his group of friends and launched an oration, passionately gesturing angrily toward our group. Our host listened carefully, and then at a certain point smiled, reached into his pocket and gave the young man some money to distribute to his friends.

“What happened there?” I asked the Christian Reformed relief worker when we closed the doors of our van. “The kid preached a brief but eloquent sermon to me,” he said with a grin. “He said that his priest had been teaching them that Jesus cares about the poor, and that those who refuse to respond to the needs of the poor are not friends of Jesus, but are agents of the Devil.”

I wish Pat Robertson could hear that kind of sermon from a Haitian kid. It would give him a clear picture of how Satan is at work in Haiti and what it means to line up with the cause of Jesus. God is indeed upset about Haiti’s “pact with the Devil.” But sending earthquakes to make life even worse for kids like those we met at the side of the road is not God’s way of countering the work of his Enemy.


  1. Eloquently put. Thank you.

    Comment by Mark Baker-Wright — January 19, 2010 @ 11:00 am

  2. I really want to know… please help me. I have heard so much criticism of Pat’s comments, and accusations that he thinks God is judging the Haitians with the earthquake.
    When I heard his statements….before I heard any critique… he seemed to be clearly saying that Haiti’s pact with the devil was the reason for their poverty and oppression… not that the earthquake was God’s judgment on them, and that our response is to get help to them as fast as possible… (he said it on a telethon to raise support for them).

    I have heard more self righteousness from those who are accusing Pat of self righteousness than I can stomach. I am not a fan of Pat Robertson, but the attack against him from “Christians” is just about as un-Christian as anything I have seen.

    Please instruct me in my error…. maybe I didn’t hear him correctly…. or missed something he said.

    Thank you,

    Comment by Bruce — January 19, 2010 @ 11:54 am

  3. […]   […]

    Pingback by Fuller President Dr. Richard Mouw’s Thoughts on Haiti « The Burner — January 20, 2010 @ 4:25 pm

  4. AMEN, AMEN.

    Comment by Jennifer Wilcox Cummins — January 26, 2010 @ 6:55 am

  5. Many people have been quick to blast Pat Robertson for what he said, or just write him off as a fool for bringing up a ‘pact with the devil’. My first thought was, ‘what is he talking about!?’. However, most people haven’t looked into what he said, or any responses regarding this subject. I would encourage you to watch this video of the Haitian Ambassador’s response to Pat Robertson’s comments. Notice that he never denies his country made a pact with the devil, but that their pact with the devil ultimately benefited the United States:

    Comment by Jeff — January 28, 2010 @ 12:41 pm

  6. The situation is even more complex than it sounds. First, there is no doubt that God himself sent this earthquake to make the life of Haitian kids even worse. Such acts of God are always hard to interpret. Then, the Haitians themselves allowed this destruction to come upon themselves through sin. Third, we are not allowed to make that kind of judgement ourselves, and need to be particularly careful not to offend unbelievers with what we say. Christ used language that offended the religious only, but never the afflicted.
    And yes, we should do all we can to help the poor and the afflicted and feel compassion, and do it just because God likes to show partiality to them and commands it.

    Comment by Konstantinos Kalpakidis — January 29, 2010 @ 10:35 am

  7. Dear Bruce,
    I would really love to see this pact that all of you non-Haitians seem to be referring to. Maybe Mr. Robertson was a witness when it was made. I would suggest that you find Haitian books on Haitian history and try to understand the History of African slaves, how they worship and communicated, and how they fought and won independence not only for Haiti but also helped many of the other islands win their independence. You may want to learn how the Catholic church indroctrinated the slaves, yes Satan is at work in Haiti as he is at work every where else. Was it a pact with the devil that caused 9/11, did God turn his back to allow the tsunami or did China deserve the earthquake. Whether it’s referring to Haiti or something else I think that we should strive for knowledge and leave this ignorance behind. Whether Mr. Robertson was “trying to help” is quite questionable, somehow I fail to see how he helped, this was an amazing moment when the world came together for one cause. Boy did he miss an opportunity I think it’s about time people speak up against his foolishness, can’t say that I am surprise whenever he opens his mouth it’s always something devisive. It’s people like him that makes it so hard to tell the world about christianity.

    Comment by Nyslie — February 4, 2010 @ 12:14 am

  8. I wrote about Pat Robertson a few days ago. I completely agree with what you are saying about the root of the problem being theological. He used some poor words but overall if it wasn’t for the grace of our Lord we would all be cursed.

    Comment by Andrew — February 4, 2010 @ 3:51 pm

  9. When will the day come that Christians, especially ones in leadership, refrain from sticking their own dirty fingers in wounds that are busting open? That is one of the biggest problems that the church faces today! Christians do not know how to build one another up. There is such discord, strife, and envy within the church — why do you need to add to it?

    Mouw, did you even watch the video? It honestly made me drop my head in disbelief, but he was talking directly to Christians. You are in a position of authority and all you are doing is setting the example of how to be critical and dogmatic. Fuller doesn’t need that, Christians in America don’t need that. Robertson did not use his better judgment in saying that over his broadcast, even if it was true, but he was optimistic in believing something good would come out of this disaster. Operation Blessing, a ministry of CBN has been down there since the disaster hit, with medical relief, clothing, food and materials for aid. A ministry that yes, Pat Robertson started.

    Being a president at Fuller, I would expect much more wisdom and understanding. An explanation of the real meaning to his words instead of the mockery and slander you used.

    “And Robertson deserves the criticism.”
    Sir, even if he is off, I only pray your words don’t come back and bite you. “Life and death are in the power of the tongue.”

    And why do you look at the speck in Pat Robertson’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

    I would encourage you to check yourself before you write a blog tearing someone down. If that is all you are going to do, then maybe you should think about who you truly serve. Your words and ‘Blogs’ are shaping the mindsets of young student at Fuller (at least those who read it.) There are much better ways of saying what you said.

    Comment by C. Doyle — February 6, 2010 @ 8:48 pm

  10. I am in total agreement with your position on Haiti’s so-called “pact with the Devil” and your critique of Pat Robertson’s remarks.

    I did have the bitter privilege to lead a Compassion Radio disaster assistance team to Port-au-Prince just days after the January earthquake, and we connected and worked with Haitian Christians who were not only victims of the disaster, but vigorous workers in reaching out to their suffering neighbors. In the course of that experience, I came to know Dr. Dieumeme Noelliste, a native of Haiti, a Professor at Denver Seminary and Director of the Vernon Grounds Institute of Public Ethics there, and former President of the Caribbean School of Theology in Kingston, Jamaica. I subsequently scheduled him for a Compassion Radio interview where we discussed Haiti’s history, voodoo, its place in Haitian culture and religion (including Christianity) and the accuracy of Pat Robertson’s claim. His response sucked alot of the venomous power out of Robertson’s claim; i.e., it’s not as simple as Robertson asserts. There isn’t space here to state his argument. But the interview can be heard by going to our Compassion Radio website and listening to the archived interview of Feb. 11, entitled “Haiti: the Background.”

    I submit that the kind of “quick draw and shoot” statement that Robertson made is both irresponsible and unhelpful to the cause of Christ. As evangelicals, we can do better than that. Thanks for not only the words you speak, but the spirit behind them!

    Comment by Norm Nelson — May 3, 2010 @ 4:36 pm