Pat Robertson’s Voodoo

If disaster strikes, you can pretty much count on religious broadcaster Pat Robertson to say something about it that offends much of the population. It’s not just Robertson, of course. You might recall Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., saying Katrina was about God wanting to smite Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour or something. Anyway, with the horrific news out of Haiti, that the earthquake there led to unbelievable loss of life and property, Robertson came in on cue. And news organizations spread the word immediately. Here’s how CNN reported it:

The Haitians “were under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon III and whatever,” Robertson said on his broadcast Wednesday. “And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, ‘We will serve you if you will get us free from the French.’ True story. And so, the devil said, ‘OK, it’s a deal.’ “

Now, explaining why Haiti is so poverty-stricken and troubled is a surprisingly challenging task. But what in the world was Robertson talking about?

The general approach being taken by the media seems to be 1) get Robertson’s quotes on air and in print STAT as they are ratings gold and 2) provide no context or explanation.

I wish we lived in a world where we had neither natural disasters nor Pat Robertson’s verbal disasters, but the media really like to cover him and he certainly represents a slice of religious thinking that should be covered. Even if I feel dirty writing about it.

The first thing that should be noted, but that many media outlets don’t, is that Robertson’s story wasn’t simply invented yesterday while he was on air. Let’s go to ABC News’ Jake Tapper who has the goods. After quoting Robertson extensively, he writes:

Robertson’s tale stems from a legend that Jean Jacques Dessalines, who led the Haitian revolution against the French Army, entered into a pact with Satan disguised as a voodoo deity in exchange for a military victory, which finally happened in 1803.

One minister of a Haitian-American church — who does not believe this legend — recently wrote about the frequent references in Haiti “to a spiritual pact that the fathers of the nation supposedly made with the devil to help them win their freedom from France. As a result of that satanic alliance, as they put it, God has placed a curse on the country sometime around its birth, and that divine burden has made it virtually impossible for the vast majority of Haitians to live in peace and prosperity in their land…The satanic pact allegedly took place at Bois-Caiman near Cap-Haitien on August 14, 1791 during a meeting organized by several slave leaders, under [Dutty] Boukman’s leadership, before launching what would become Haiti’s Independence War.”

Whatever one thinks of the veracity of this belief, it certainly should be included in stories about Robertson’s risible remarks. Another way to deepen understanding in these regular stories about Robertson is to provide some context for where he sits on the spectrum of religious broadcasters and evangelicals. Cathy Grossman at USA Today writes that he wasn’t just relying on this legend:

[H]e was also relying on his considerable talent for provoking attention, says Rice University sociologist Michael Lindsay.

Lindsay interviewed Robertson for his book, Faith in the Halls of Power: How Evangelicals Joined the American Elite. He says:

“Robertson is savvy and vastly underestimated by most observers. He knows exactly what galvanizes attention among his constituents and the larger American public. It’s a mix of earnest belief and showmanship. He says these things intentionally. He’s not a careless speaker.

“Why bad things happen when God is good is the great question people ask at times of tragedy and disaster. To Robertson, it has to mean that evil — personified by the devil — is at work.”

Very interesting. I love having some perspective such as this. Sometimes I wonder whether the whole Pat Robertson experience doesn’t fill some cosmic need that everyone has after a natural disaster or act of terror. We want to be angry, but in a safe way. Robertson provides this vehicle for anger that fits perfectly into the 24-hour-news cycle.

Anyway, Robertson actually issued a statement defending the actual remarks he made. You can read it here.

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  • Hudson

    Hmmm, reading that RFK, Jr. link makes me think you’re reaching for some false equivalence.

  • James N. Grenhart

    Several comments – the first about Mollie’s reference to Robert F. Kennedy and Hurricane Katrina. RFK was long dead (remember Sirhan Sirhan in Los Angeles) She meant to refer to D. James Kennedy the ultra-conservative pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Florida – and thank goodness his deity has called him home. …

  • Peter

    James, Mollie linked to the RFK Jr. article. While there wasn’t really any suggestion of smiting, she’s right about who said it. A false equivalence overreach, for sure, but she is correct about it being a RFK who said it, although there should have been a Jr. tossed in there.

  • Judy Harrow

    Hello, Mollie and all

    Y’know, the question is not whether this devil worship thing did or did not happen. That presumes that, if it did happen, it was devil worship. Hatian tradition, in contrast, tells us that it was a ceremony of the indigenous religion of the folks kidnapped from Africa to Haiti and enslaved there, and that it inspired and empowered their successful revolution.

    Here is their description of the Bois Caiman ceremony:

    Bois Caiman (French, Alligator Woods, Bwa Kayiman in Haitian Creole), was the site of a historic meeting on the night of August 13-14, 1791, which culminated in a traditional religious ceremony led by Houngan Boukman Dutty and the sacrifice of a black pig by Mambo Marinette, possessed by the lwa Erzulie Dantor. (Marinette has now become a lwa in the Petro portion of the Vodou liturgy!) This ceremony provided the final impetus for the uprising of Africans which led to the only successful slave revolt in the Western Hemisphere, and to the Western Hemisphere’s first independant black republic. In 1991 then-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide held a re-enactment of the ceremony of Bois Caiman in the National Palace, provoking wide approval from the Vodouisant majority, and severe criticism from Protestant and Catholic Christian leaders, and members of the Haitian elite class. The annual celebration of the event attracts aggressive evangelical Protestant pastors who do not respect the provision for freedom of religion in the Haitian Constitution.


    The journalistic issue here is whether the press “gets” the religion of indigenous faith-keepers, or whether only the so-called “great” religions (or, in the case of bigots like Robertson, only Christianity) are worthy of respect.

  • CoffeZombie

    A couple things:

    1) Methinks some of these comments need to be removed as they are not in line with the policies of this site.

    2) While Robertson has certainly said some really dumb things in the wake of natural disasters, having watched the clip from the show I’d have to say this is really not one of them. In this case, I really think the media is making a mountain out of a molehill.

    Essentially, he is being misquoted. Not in the sense that they’re saying he said something he didn’t, but that they’re not reporting everything that he said. The impression one gets from the way his statement is being reported is that he was saying, “The Haitians deserved this; they made a pact with the Devil and they’re just getting their just rewards! Muahahahahaha!”

    In the context of the statement, however, it is apparent that Robertson’s group is 1) asking for prayer for the people of Haiti, and 2) sending aid to those people. He may have been offering the “curse” as a reason why the people of Haiti have suffered so much, but, at least, what he presented on television was a concern for the people of Haiti that they would repent of their sins and turn to God, and that his viewers would help them.

    Of course, these very suggestions will outrage most anyone in the media these days (as Brit Hume has recently learned)…

  • Dave

    Judy, thanks for the background on Bois Caiman. This board shows a remarkable respect for the facts about indigenous religion, for a non-Pagan site.

  • T Stanton

    Funny story – a pastor friend of mine was at Liberty U. during the 70s. He knew Falwell and he told me the exact same things about Falwell.

    “He always knew exactly what he was doing when he made inflammatory remarks – there was always reason.”

    These guys are likely more media savvy than just bat-poop crazy.

  • Chris Jarrell

    I truly believe as Christ followers instead of speaking about legends, myths or many cases unreliable information and answering the question of why…why did God do this? By the way God is Sovereign and He is the one that ultimately know. Instead of giving voice to why, because quite honesty we DO NOT know. We need to answer the question of what…what can we do as Christ follower to be people of action? What does God want me to do? What can I do to show the hope and love of Christ in practical ways? What can I do to be His tangible hands and feet to those that we are called to.

    Little less conversation and little more action. Let us do more and say less. Let us let the world know what we are for and not what we are against.

    Pat Robertson, does not represent me as a Christ follower…he does not speak for my world view and he quite honestly has become an irrelevant voice for our culture.

  • Mollie

    Let’s keep comments focused on journalism.

  • Mike Hickerson

    After reading RFK, Jr.’s column, I think the main “false equivalence” is that Robertson’s comments are easier to understand. :)

    For those who, like me, are wondering why Haiti seems to be so much worse off than its neighbors and aren’t satisfied with Robertson’s explanation, Tracy Kidder has a helpful historical sketch in the NY Times, though it omits religion entirely. Has anyone seen good background stories that include Haiti’s religious history?

  • Judy Harrow

    Hi, Dave (#6)

    Yes, I know this site is generally fair-minded and respectful. That’s why I occasionally post here. I figured that people would appreciate an indigenous perspective on what happened at Bois Caiman, rather than wrangling over whether or not the ceremony ever took place.

  • Jerry

    I wish we lived in a world where we had neither natural disasters nor Pat Robertson’s verbal disasters, but the media really like to cover him and he certainly represents a slice of religious thinking that should be covered. Even if I feel dirty writing about it.

    I was struck by this paragraph. Why does the media need to cover someone like him unless to generate ratings and money? Why can’t the media cover how the vast majority are thinking and reacting at least ideally?

    Back in my youth, I was outraged at Richard Nixon’s references to a “Great Silent Majority”. But after so many decades I think there’s some truth that the biggest media bias of all is against the majority on every topic from abortion to natural disasters.

    Given the state of the world, this won’t change soon, but I’m doing what little I can by giving more attention to stories which throw a spotlight on the warm-hearted and generous reactions of the vast majority to this tragedy.

  • Peter

    Why does the media need to cover someone like him unless to generate ratings and money?

    While I agree with this sentiment, there’s also a tendency to downplay his significance by some conservatives and religious people. He made his comments on a television show on his own network. He owns the most powerful Christian conservative news network in the U.S. He runs a college/university. He has millions of supporters. He ran the most successful presidential race ever–even more than maybe Huckabee–by a former television preacher. He’s not a wahoo, as much as some in religious conservative circles would like us to pretend.

  • James N. Grenhart

    Several hours later: Susanna’s? post seems to have disappeared and my comment on her ‘belief’ that faith is more ‘real’ than rationality also went into the ether! I would also like to hear a response from RFJ Jr. as to his comments on Katrina (cf. the Peter principal as above @ 9.29 a.m. I find it somewhat incomprehensible that a Massachussetts Kennedy would make that kind of comment as opposed to … D. James)

  • James N. Grenhart

    Correction: from RFJ Jr. TO RFK Jr.

  • Mollie


    Comments should focus on JOURNALISM. Take a gander at our comments policy:

  • Peter

    Here’s is liberal writer Sarah Posner–who covers the religious right from a critical perspective at Religion Dispatches–on whether Robertson has influence.

  • Mollie

    As a Christian, I always wish that Robertson would put a sock in it and that the media would ignore him. But he really is an important figure and his views are representative of some segment of the population. They should be covered.

    And they should be covered well. As much as a reporter may personally find the views of story subjects reprehensible, that should have no bearing on how well they are presented, explained, analyzed, etc.

  • Mollie




    The MGMT

  • J. Lahondere

    I agree with what Peter said. Even if Robertson’s comments were cringe-inducing to me (I am a believing Christian), I have to admit that it’s important people know he said these things. It’s newsworthy, without a doubt.

    This man is a powerful force in the Christian community. Even if you take what he said in proper context, his words raise lots of important questions. Does Mr. Robertson believe that a supposedly Satanic ritual performed hundreds of years ago has some sort of connection to this massive earthquake? If so, how does that tie into the teachings of the Gospel and Christianity?

    I’m not trying to say I agree or disagree with him, or that Robertson is a bad man for saying these things. He clearly wants to help the people in Haiti. But this is one instance in which I don’t think the media has necessarily blown things out of proportion. If this is what (some) Christians believe, then people need to know.

  • Diane

    The Kennedy incident. He felt that Barbour was negligent for his actions/attitude toward climate change and that the result were that hurricanes hit the coast.

    Robertson did infer that Hati was responsible for the earth quake because of their pact with the devil years before, but he and his followers will help them out anyway.
    he makes me want to vomit.

  • Christopher W. Chase

    Some of the news stories out there are beginning to give some small context for Rev. Robertson’s comments. It is important to note (I haven’t seen a journalist say this yet) that many scholars of Vodou highly dispute both the story and importance of the 1791 Bois Caiman event. Other accounts say that it was not Erzulie who possessed the attendant woman, but Ogoun, the lwa of warriors. If more journalists were familiar with North American slave revolts and histories, they could enlarge their context by revisiting the American Nat Turner–another self-proclaimed “angel of death” who revisited the sins of the slaveholders on their children during his revolt. Note that the journalistic story I referenced spells the term Hollywood-style: “Voodoo” rather than Vodou or Vodoun.

  • David

    I for one was glad to hear a little context for Robertson’s comments. They weren’t as bad as the press made them out to be (surprise!)

    100 years ago it would have taken us weeks to find out about this info.
    50 years ago, it would have taken a few days
    20 years ago, it would have taken until the evening newscast or next morning newspaper.
    Today, we heard within minutes or hours.

    We do have a responsiblity to react with speed since we have been given ‘technology.”

    “To whom much is given, much is required”, right?
    I blogged about this over at and have a list of 15 reputable relief agencies.

    David Rupert
    Red Letter Believers Blog
    “Salt and Light”

  • Sally

    What Robertson said was lame and the reporting on his comments was valid to bring some attention on folks like him who tarnish the character of truly religious caring people. If you can’t day something nice, don’t say anything at all especially in a terrible tragedy like this. Of course the media will pick on this kind of talk, callous words like this invite scrutiny. Careless insults from Robertson were uncalled for and just brings shame on all evangelicals to be associated with this over-the-hill Gringe.

  • Raphael

    The Catholic church spread the story throughout the 19th century of Haitian vodun as devil worship. The Haitian revolution was terrifying to European and American slave-holders, who were afraid of the precedent it would set for other slave societies. That’s why the U.S. and Europe refused to recognize the new Haitian government for decades (the U.S. didn’t recognize Haiti until during the Civil War when there weren’t any southern representatives in Congress to hold up establishing diplomatic relations). This fear of people of African-descent overthrowing European colonialism and establishing a new nation was also why the Catholic church withdrew all activity from Haiti after the revolution.

    People who practice vodun obviously aren’t doing it to worship the devil–they are worshiping their loas, or gods–so the whole idea that Robertson’s statement might have any truth to it is ridiculous. He is apparently absolutely ignorant of history: I mean, Napoleon III? Seriously? He’s in power in France almost a hundred years after the period that we are talking about here.

  • Matt Sullivan

    What is wrong with what he said? It is a blessing to have to build good buildings in place of the bad ones. Haiti is voo dooistic.

    But it is not God who brought the earthquake, it is earth plate movements.

  • S.P. Gerety

    I was really disappointed by NPR’s coverage of this:

    I’ve listened to them for too long to expect unbiased coverage of Christianity, but this was just shockingly bad.

    Immediately following the earthquake, the vast majority of Americans NPR found on the ground to interview were from various Christian aid organizations. These men and women have given their lives to serve Haiti’s poor in the name of Christ, but as far as I can tell NPR made no mention of Christianity until Mr. Robertson made his regrettable statements.

  • Herb Brasher

    A bit more religion reporting on the country of Haiti itself would help to counter ridiculous statements like Robertson’s. The percentage of evangelicals in Haiti is about the same as in the U.S., according to a missionary who served there many years. There is a regular prayer meeting in (what was) the presidential home, and Preval himself has links to IVF. But I guess we cannot expect that kind of precise, in-depth, religion reporting in the press, but rather just focusing on such far-out statements that are embarrassing for evangelicals like myself. We do have balanced evangelicals who could correct such statements, but they they have a hard time getting a TV voice. I don’t think that is so much because the media is biased, but just because error almost always makes a more interesting story than the truth.

  • Christopher W. Chase

    ABC News has just published a frontpage 3 page webarticle on Vodou in Haiti without including a single source or quote from any Vodouists. Its completely unbelievable. At least the author quotes Elizabeth McAlister, a very well regarded scholar of Vodou and Haitian religion. But that is no substitute for actual religious voices. Nor does the article explain “spirit” worship–none of the Lwa are named or discussed. It does nothing but replicate racist media stereotypes of Haiti–you might as well go rent James Bond’s “Live and Let Die.” Any article that would mention accusations of “devil worship” ought to at least mention who the Vodouists actually think they are worshipping or expressing religious relationships with.

  • http://n/a John S

    I saw Robertson’s comments reported this morning, and I knew as soon as the teaser started to run that it was going to be quite unflattering to Robertson. My expectations weren’t unfounded. The expressions on the local news folks clearly indicated the same disgust, disdain and dismayed delight as most posters here have shared.

    I’m not a fan of Robertson, he’s not my cup of tea. But his treatment by the media in this is disgraceful. The problem isn’t what Robertson said, aside from his timing. It’s this:

    All the media are treating his statements as pure fancy, bordering on lunacy. Not that what he said might be, even probably was wrong, but rather, that it must be wrong. Many Christian commentators have made the same error, which is more egregious on their part.

    The Bois Caiman ceremony is apparently a well established historical fact. Who the supernatural/metaphysial participants were is a question outside the realm of journalism, but to act as if there is no way the gist of what Robertson said could be true isn’t journalism, it’s prejudice. Prejudice compounded by pride for Christians. “There’s no way God would do that.”

    Sorry, but God has busted out of every box I’ve put him in, and building new boxes for Him is getting old. Robertson could very well be right, or not. Journalists shouldn’t be making assumptions one way or the other.

    btw, for Christian media types who object to Robertson’s comments, how is God punishing a nation today for throwing in with Satan any more unbelievable than the Doctrine of Original Sin? It is, perhaps, the similiarity of the two that so offends the secular media, and perhaps discomfits many Christian media figures. And if one isn’t capable of mustering a defense that holds Robertson might be right, how strong a defense of Original Sin can one make?

    Yup, the secular journalists laugh at Robertson, secure in the worldly certainty that only superstitious yokels could possibly think as he did. It is, I suppose, an understandable defense mechanism for those who are unwilling to grapple with the implications of what the mere possibility of Robertson being right means. Such laughter though isn’t journalism. It may be, though, an opportunity for planting some seeds. A simple question to the laughing or scornful journalists: “How can you be sure he’s wrong?”

    I don’t pretend to know why God allows this natural disaster to strike, and not that one. Why one person lives and another doesn’t, etc. But I not going join the secularists’ pile on when another Christian reminds us that God is sovereign, even if the other Christian may be wrong about God’s role in a specific event.

  • don

    This is a reply to John S. There is NO way that what Robertson said could be true. It violates the laws of reason and logic. So all thinking people of the world have every right to call him out on this. It’s not piling on, it’s talking about logic and human reason, not to mention compassion.

    If God is going to judge Haiti because of what a few assembled people did over a hundred years ago, and since most of us would have as a concept that God plays fair and is impartial……then

    By that logic. Let’s look at America. And keep in mind, I’m not the one saying this. I have heard many conservative CHRISTIANS make this statement,”That if God does not destroy America, then he owes Sodom and Gommerah an apology. It has been estimated (depending on who you want to believe) that there are between 10,000 and 100,000 abortions each year in America. Most fundamentalist Christians consider abortion MURDER. And going by logic again, since the United States constitution makes it LEGAL to have an abortion, and then (by Christian belief) Murder babies, this seems to me just as “evil” or more evil than signing a deal with an alleged devil. Wonder ow many babies each year do Haitians kill? Probably not as many as we do in the good old USA. So getting back to my point. If you want to use the logic of Pat Robertson, then ask Pat why we aren’t having an earthquake a day in America. And do I need to point out how much porn, drugs, booze, and adultery goes on in the good old USSA too? So if Haiti is being judged, by that logic, our country should be having an earthquake about every 5 minutes- forget once a day. It is my belief that God does not intervene in things like earthquakes. Earthquakes in Haiti are caused because Haiti sits directly over a major fault. It has nothing do do with GOD. Look it up. Most intelligent people know about earthquake faults. And one last thing, on a more funny and lighter note. The thing I also thought the most crazy about the 700 club was when Pat would have a word from God about some lady in Kansas being healed of something. Thank you Jesus he would say. Well if Pat was really hearing from Jesus, how come he never would say. Mary Beth Wilson, at 123 Park Street. That lesion on your leg is healed and you don’t need to go see Dr. Bowen tomorrow. Was I the only one who saw through this carnival trick?


  • Steve

    There is a problem that comes up when one says that a given disaster is judgement from God or that the people deserve what happens to them. It is forgotten that there are also Christians in Hatiti and that they are equally affected. Disaster hapen, plain and simple. During 9/11 I heard the people say, “Nuc them till they glow and shoot them in the dark.” Very big problem is that people from all faiths died there and the persons that did it come from countries that have strong unground Christian churches that would be affected if the countries were Nuc’ed. The lines are no longer (if they ever have been) so plainly drawn. THe response to the Disasters around us including Katrina should be, “This has happened, now what will those that name the Name of Jesus, do for those that are stricken?” I wish people would close their mouths and stop pronouncing judgement and help the people of the world that are in need no matter what the reason. Personaly, the media is always ready to publish outrageous statements made by “Christians” but slow to show the world that true Christians have always been at the center of providing help and love to the lost and dying world.

  • Joel

    Robertson did infer that Haiti was responsible for the earth quake because of their pact with the devil years before, but he and his followers will help them out anyway.

    Diane, I don’t think he even went that far. I think the implied distinction between the Haitian rebels of 200 years ago and the Haitian people of today is clear to everyone except journalists. It’s exactly like saying that overlogging in the nineteenth century is why we have erosion problems today. The only difference is that Robertson’s statement involves the supernatural. And that it came from Pat Robertson, which by default makes it either stupid or evil or both.

  • Samantha

    The world should condemn Pat Robertson, NOT the Haitian people. Televangalists are not religious people, they are business people. Adding a 200 year old legend to his vengeful God teachings to induce hatred, fear and bigotry is nothing short of EVIL. One must assume that it is to reduce the possiblity of funds being sent to these poor, suffering DESERVING people from already financially hurting Americans that have not been donating to his bank account in the fashion to which he has become accustomed. Not to mention traveling to Haiti to help out and discovering the people are not devil worshipping, zombies, but suffering children of God deserving of his love and mercy.

  • Joel

    One must assume that it is to reduce the possiblity of funds being sent to these poor, suffering DESERVING people…

    Like the millions of dollars worth of funds that Robertson’s own organization is sending? Come now, Samantha. Why must one assume anything of the kind?

  • Mardeven

    I don’t know why the media is so hard on Rev Pat Robertson but I will tell you a story. A man went to his doctor for some heart problem he was having for some time.
    The doctor after having examined him told him that he has got high cholesterol.
    The doctor said:-“This is because of your eating habits, you are eating the wrong things and too much of it” and pointing to the protruded man’s belly he continued and said “you need to stop your gluttony and start eating the right thing and in reasonable proportion.
    Guess what? That man got offended and said to the doctor:-“Do you mean I am a glutton.” After that he left slamming the door behind him thereby rejecting the doctor’s recommendation. My question is: – Who is the stupid guy in this story?

    Well Rev. Pat Robertson never said that this earthquake was God’s judgment. Rather by analyzing the various misfortunes of this nation and examined its history he made the comments which is causing such an uproar. He was just pointing to the root cause of these misfortunes and not only of the earthquake. To those who are skeptical about the consequences of making a pact with the devil, please watch this video:-

    The fact is the Haitian leaders back then did make a pact with the devil. Anyone can verify this claim. On 14 August 1791, a black slave and witch doctor named Boukman led the slaves in a voodoo ritual. They sacrificed a pig and drank its blood to form a pact with the devil, whereby they agreed to serve the spirits of the island for 200 years in exchange for freedom from the French. The slave rebellion commenced on 22 August 1791, and after 13 years of conflict, the slaves won their independence. On 1 January 1804 they declared Haiti the world’s first independent black republic. To this day an iron statue of a pig stands in Port-au-Prince to commemorate the “Boukman Contract”. This Pig Statue is proof of what has happened 200 years ago.

    Well the devil is not a nice guy. Just because you made a pact with him, he does not feel obligated to bless you. In fact as the Lord Jesus said the devil has come to steal, kill and destroy. This is what the devil stands for. But there is HOPE for the people of Haiti because our Lord Jesus has crushed the devil under his feet on the cross for us and if we would just believe in the Lord Jesus we can overcome this curse and break the pact with the devil. So as Christians we need to pray for the people of Haiti and do everything we can to bring them to Christ and help them break this curse and this pact with the devil.

    Coming back to the video link above, I just want to relate the story of the young missionary that God sent to a village in an African country. Upon arriving she noticed that the people there were very poor and in addition to this there has not been a single drop of rain for years with the result that food was scarce and the people were starving. She then led the people into repentance and turn to The Lord Jesus. Guess what happen just after they have done this, rain started to fall.
    Here is the link again to this video:

  • http://n/a John S

    There is NO way that what Robertson said could be true. It violates the laws of reason and logic. So all thinking people of the world have every right to call him out on this.

    It violates neither the laws of reason nor of logic, although it certainly offends the sensibilities of those who pride themselves on their understanding of the laws of reason and logic, aka “thinking people of the world.” You are free to clarify what “laws of reason and logic” it violates, but I doubt if a serious examination of the matter will turn any up.

    If God is going to judge Haiti because of what a few assembled people did over a hundred years ago, and since most of us would have as a concept that God plays fair and is impartial……then

    Re-read what I said about Original Sin. God does not play “fair and … impartial” If He did, then He wouldn’t have gone to the cross.

    So if Haiti is being judged, by that logic, our country should be having an earthquake about every 5 minutes- forget once a day. It is my belief that God does not intervene in things like earthquakes.

    “Belief”, not conclusion, not founded on reason or logic. (btw, we do have an earthquake about every 5 minutes or so, they’re just usually pretty small.) The problem with your formulation is that it requires God to bring the hammer down on us. It puts Him in a box, rendering the God of Creation a mere mechanatron. Pull sin lever A, hammer falls. Pull sin lever B, earthquake, etc, etc.

    Since most journalists subscribe, at least unconsciously, if not consciously, to a materialistic worldview, reacting based upon such a image of God is understandable from them. I’ll venture that much of their reaction is based on such sentiments.

    But when Christians adopt the same worldview, something is wrong. The same God who died on the cross also waxed Sodom and “vexed” Moses’s foster brother, the Pharoah. He allowed His Chosen People to be taken into Babylon, and brought them out. He created the universe. He certainly can and does intervene in the affairs of man and in the natural world.

    There is a problem that comes up when one says that a given disaster is judgement from God

    Very true. I personally would need a whole lot more than simply Pat Robertson’s claim to convince me that this disaster is God’s judgement. Starting from the a priori position that a) God is sovereign, and b) God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, reason and logic are going to demand a whole lot more than the collective gasps, snickers and poo-poos of “thinking people” to convince me that this disaster could not be God’s judgement.

    It is forgotten that there are also Christians in Hatiti and that they are equally affected. Disaster hapen, plain and simple

    I don’t recall any promises to Christians that they’ll be free of the challenges of living in a fallen world, whether those challenges are merely the natural world proceeding along at its tumultuous leisure, or the challenges of human sinfulness. As a result, I fail to grasp how you can conclude that the obvious fact that Christians were as tragically affected by this natural disaster as non-believers proves that God couldn’t be exercising judgement.

    There is one possibility though that nobody has considered, one that proves fairly firmly that God couldn’t possibly be involved in this calamity. With all the judgement of one another that we down here are tossing about, how could He possibly get a word of judgment in edgewise, much less a whole earthquake?

    A disaster like this commonly gives rise to one question: “what can I do to help?” Robertson’s claim/speculation can set one to considering another question, equally or perhaps even more important: “am I right with God?”

    That’s a question that unsettles secularists, which is why they attempt to discredit the one who’s starting the thought chain rolling. This is just like how a bad fire in one’s neighborhood will spur most folks to check their smoke detectors and fire extinguishers, or get some if they can. Disasters, whether natural, economic, physical, medical, or emotional, spur reassessments. And the answers from some reassessments are too unpleasant, so many folks would rather quash the question than deal with the answer.

    Some of those folks are journalists…

  • Sally

    John is long winded trying to justify Robertson’s words by suggesting all he was asking is “am I right with God?”, but this is more than another insensitive fumble by the TV evangelist. These are not some off-the-cuff remark, but scripted infomercials targeting hot buttons to pry open pocketbooks. Haiti is probably more religious than the US, RC mainly. All those folks have now after the earthquake is religion and Robertson can’t take that away from them. Robertson is rightfully being criticized for reinforcing prejudices, as some suggest against the RC faith. While the American revolution is seen by us as throwing off the yoke of tyranny, Haiti’s revolution was seen as a slave rebellion because of obvious differences Robertson was alluding to.

    No one should cut Robertson any slack for his remarks.

  • Joel

    All those folks have now after the earthquake is religion and Robertson can’t take that away from them.

    Absolutely. They should rise up in indignation and cast his millions of dollars’ worth of aid back in his teeth for his insolence. What are food and medicine measured against an old man’s gaffe?

  • http://n/a John S


    I’m not trying to justify what Robertson said, the man grates on me as well. I’m simply taking issue with how he is being treated by the MSM journalists, and offering my take on part of the why he’s treated that way.

    While the American revolution is seen by us as throwing off the yoke of tyranny, Haiti’s revolution was seen as a slave rebellion because of obvious differences Robertson was alluding to.

    Nooo, it was seen as a slave rebellion because it was a slave rebellion. Unlike the American Revolution, the Haitian revolutionaries were slaves. Not freemen, including slaveholders, like our revolutionaries. Unfortunately, slave rebellions have a long history of being especially brutal, although I don’t know if the Haitian Revolution carried on the tradition. The Haitian Revolution is in some ways even more impressive than our own, because they were starting with much, much less than our Founders. And they were subsequently treated reprehensibly by their former colonial masters.

    Of course, those who object to Robertson’s theory are free to come up with their own explanations of why Haiti has persistently been a failed state for more than a century. I don’t recall seeing any on the news, but since all I can get is my local Fox affiliate (no, not Fox News, just the local affiliate), I don’t know whether the MSM has bothered to do more than mock Robertson.

  • Roland

    Haiti, Pat Robertson, and that Story about a Pact with the Devil:

  • Sally

    I guess since slavery is OK with you and Robertson, tyranny is OK for black slave rebels but not for North American rebels. Haiti has been exploited ruthlessly for cheap labor and their only deal with the devil was our support for anti-communist presidents for life we installed down in Haiti. Historical ignorance is not an excuse for Robertson.

    Robertson was blaming the victims. Robertson was intentionally demeaning a Catholic country and worse he was insulting the African culture we helped to import there.

    We should be disgusted by Robertson trying to raise money off of his subtle blend of hate and hype, and we all know only of fraction of the money he raises will go to help the Haitians.

  • M. Woodling

    I have an article which is too long to post here.
    Comparing the Legends of Bois Caiman

  • M. Woodling

    Mardeven said on January 16, 2010, at 1:59 am : “To this day an iron statue of a pig stands in Port-au-Prince to commemorate the “Boukman Contract”. This Pig Statue is proof of what has happened 200 years ago.”

    Yes, this statue is offered as “proof” of Satanic pact in Christian retellings of the events at Bois Caiman 1791.

    It is notable that Robertson said nothing about the statue.

    There is no iron statue of a black domestic pig in Port-au-Prince. There never has been such a statue, which honors the “Boukman Contract.”

    For more information, see
    Dr. Jean R. Gelin, God, Satan, and the Birth of Haiti
    Part One Dr. Gelin is a licensed minister of the Church of God and holds a Ph.D. in plant sciences and works as a scientist in agricultural research. He serves as an assistant pastor for a young Haitian-American church in the United States.