Pat Robertson Under Fire for Haiti Remarks

by | Jan 14, 2010 | Charisma Archive

Christian broadcaster Pat
Robertson has come under fire for remarks he made Wednesday on his 700 Club
program suggesting the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that devastated Haiti Tuesday
was a consequence of a pact Haitian leaders may have made with Satan 200 years
ago.

“They were under the heel of the French, you know Napoleon
the third and whatever, and they got together and swore a pact to the devil,”
said Robertson, founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN). “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.’ And they kicked
the French out. The Haitians revolted and got themselves free. But ever since
they have been cursed by one thing after another.”

Robertson said the Dominican
Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, is “prosperous,
healthy, full of resorts, etc.,” while Haiti is “in desperate poverty.”

“They need to have and we need
to pray for them a great turning to God and out of this tragedy I’m optimistic
something good may come,” he continued. “But right now we’re helping the
suffering people, and the suffering is unimaginable.”

Robertson’s comments have been
widely circulated on the Internet and became the No. 4 topic on Twitter
Wednesday, according to BBC World Service. Prominent Christian leaders Robert
Jeffress of First Baptist Church of Dallas and Samaritan’s Purse founder
Franklin Graham publicly condemned Robertson’s statements.

“He must have misspoken,”
Graham said, according to ABC News. “But we need to get on the path of
helping people right now. God loves the people of Haiti. He hasn’t turned His
back on Haiti.”

In a statement posted on the CBN
Web site, spokesman Chris Roslan said Robertson’s comments stem from the story
of a 1791 slave rebellion led by Boukman Dutty at Bois Caïman. According to the story of the “Boukman Contract,”
Boukman led the slaves in a Voodoo ritual, where they sacrificed a pig and
drank its blood to form a pact with the devil. They allegedly agreed to serve
the spirits of the island for 200 years in exchange for freedom from the
French. After 13 years of conflict, the slaves won their independence. 

“This history, combined with the
horrible state of the country, has led countless scholars and religious figures
over the centuries to believe the country is cursed,” Roslan said. “Dr.
Robertson never stated that the earthquake was God’s wrath. If you watch the
entire video segment, Dr. Robertson’s compassion for the people of Haiti is
clear. He called for prayer for them.”

Roslan noted that CBN’s
humanitarian arm, Operation Blessing International, has ongoing work in Haiti
and launched a major relief and recovery effort this week to help earthquake
victims. He said the ministry has sent a shipment of medical supplies worth
millions of dollars to Haiti, and a disaster team was expected to arrive in the
nation Thursday.

Joseph L. Williams, CEO of New
Directions International, a North Carolina missions organization that has been
working in Haiti since the 1980s, said there has long been controversy over
whether the story about the pact with Satan is true. But he said there is no
denying that Voodoo has had a grip on the nation since it became a republic in
1804. In 2003, former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide declared Voodoo the
national religion, calling it “an essential part
of national identity,” according to news reports.

“The reality is, whether [the
nation was dedicated to Satan] or not, Voodoo became the national religion, and
the people had been steeped in that for two centuries,” Williams said.

But during bicentennial events
in 2004, Haitian Christian leaders led a national campaign to “break Voodoo’s
curse” on the nation, Williams said. That year, he assisted pastor Jean
Chavannes Jeune, who sought the Haitian presidency in 2005, in hosting
the first-ever national prayer breakfast at the national palace, as well as
national prayer event in Port-au-Prince “to claim that going forward Haiti
would be a Christian nation.”  

“They had quite an enthusiastic
and symbolic breaking of Voodoo on the island,” Williams said. “I believe by
faith that [the curse was broken], and I think the Haitian Christian leadership
believes that’s what happened as well. No doubt.”

Though Voodoo is still prevalent
in the nation, Williams and Jeune believe Haiti’s problems are political.

“That’s why you’re seeing with
this earthquake just an absolute inept response from the government,” Williams
said. “Until the government gets their act together-and obviously we believe as
Christians the only way that’s going to happen is if they put the Lord
first-Haiti is never going to be the nation it could be. The people, many of
them are saved and many of them are on fire, but they’re just oppressed people.”

Despite the flap, one Christian
leader publicly came to Robertson’s defense Thursday morning. The Rev.
Gary Cass, head of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, said Robertson’s
comments were “well within the bounds of historic Christian theology.”

“Maybe that’s the real problem
after all,” Cass said. “Man is offended by the fact that he is not God. They
resent God’s providence. A simple reading of the Bible shows how God uses
natural disasters to further His purposes. Earthquakes, floods, famine, locusts,
etc. they’re all there, but man hates it.

“Rather than humbly
acknowledging that God’s ways are not our ways, man rails against and accuses
God. The last thing they will do is cry out for His mercy in Jesus Christ.”

Pointing to Robertson’s work in
Haiti through Operation Blessing, Cass said people should “do what Pat is doing
and bless the poor people of Haiti.”

Robertson is well-known for making controversial remarks. He was widely
criticized for calling for the assassination of President Hugo Chavez and for
saying Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered a debilitating stroke in
2006 because of his role in “dividing God’s land.” Robertson
ultimately apologized for both remarks.

He made separate claims that Hurricane Katrina and the
Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were the result of God’s judgment on America
for immorality.

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