The world has generously given and pledged over $200 million dollars in aid to Haiti. I gave like so many people because it seemed like the right thing to do. However, today I read in the newspaper that structured religious groups, such as Baptists, Catholics and Jehovah’s Witnesses and others are deeply opposed to the Voodoo religion and are considering withholding food from Voodoo practitioners. Voodoo has been practiced in Haiti since the 17th century. It was brought by the slaves from West Africa and combined with the Catholic saints.
In the News and Observer article, Voodoo priest, Max Beauvior, was quoted as saying, “I hope this does not start a war of religions because many of our practitioners are being harassed now, unlike any other time that I remember.” And Pastor Frank Amedia of Touch Heaven Ministries, who has been distributing food, was quoted as saying, “We would give food to the needy in the short term, but if they refused to give up Voodoo, I’m not sure we would continue to support them in the long term because we wouldn’t want to perpetuate that practice.”
It’s interesting that we withhold our help and generosity when we feel that our support condones behavior we find ‘unsavory.’ It is difficult to see people beyond their actions and forms, and remember that we are cut from the same cloth. Fear often plays into this. Fear that we are leading someone astray by condoning their actions. Fear of failing God. But when we react to anyone with fear instead of love, we have forgotten to see the light of God within them. I don’t practice Voodoo, attend church or follow a structured religion, but I love God. There are many paths to God, and I wouldn’t try to dictate which path you or anyone follows.
I am deeply saddened that this opportunity to love and help has been turned by some into an opportunity to put more seats in the pews. The article claimed that some Voodoo practitioners have said they’ve converted to Christianity for fear they will lose out on aid. Say hallelujah and pass the gravy.