Here is what Pat Robertson actually said this week about Haiti:
Something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it. They were under the heel of the French . . . and they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, "We will serve you if you'll get us free from the French." True story. And so the devil said, "OK, it's a deal." . . . Ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after another, desperately poor. That island of Hispaniola is one island. It's cut down the middle. On the one side is Haiti; on the other side is the Dominican Republic. Dominican Republic is, is prosperous, healthy, full of resorts, et cetera. Haiti is in desperate poverty. Same island. They need to have, and we need to pray for them, a great turning to God, that out of this tragedy, I'm optimistic that something good may come. But right now we're helping the suffering people, and the suffering is almost unimaginable.
Pat Robertson has been pilloried by everyone, Christians included, for making reference to Haiti's ancient pact with the devil. No one, to my knowledge, has criticized the timing of his comments; rather all have criticized the truthfulness of his comments.
It's one thing to criticize him for making a true but untimely comment, to suggest that to mention this dark part of Haiti's past is insensitive and lacking in Christian compassion.
But that's not what he is being criticized for. He is being criticized for saying something untrue, and that's a whole different thing.
Robertson did not say that God caused the earthquake. What he said, if people actually listened rather than reacting with hysterical hissy fits, is that Haiti's grinding poverty is a result of its pact with the devil. "Ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after another, desperately poor."
It is a matter of historical record that Haiti's independence from France is, in fact, rooted in a pact with the devil made on August 14, 1791 by a group of voodoo priests led by a former slave named Boukman. The pact was made at a place called Bois-Caiman, and the tree under which a black pig was sacrificed in this ceremony is still a shrine in Haiti. Annual voodoo ceremonies are conducted every August 14 on this very site, essentially renewing the covenant with darkness each summer. An iron statue of a pig stands today in Port-au-Prince to commemorate the Boukman contract with the devil.
During the ceremony in 1791, a priestess was possessed by a spirit called Ezili Dantor and it was this spirit who received the offering of the black pig.
Hundreds of slaves drank the pig's blood and pledged to exterminate all the white Frenchmen on the island, while Boukman asked for Satan's help in liberating Haiti from their French overlords. In exchange, the voodoo priests offered to dedicate Haiti to Satan for 200 years. The slave rebellion drove the French from Hispaniola and Haiti declared its independence on January 1, 1804.
On national TV, Haiti's ambassador to the U.S. openly admitted, while criticizing Robertson, that Haiti did in fact enter in to this pact with the devil. In fact, he adds that America should be grateful for this pact, since the slave revolt that followed the creation of this pact prompted Napoleon to sell the Louisiana Purchase to the United States.
Prior to this slave revolt, under French colonial rule, Haiti was known as the "Pearl of the Antilles" for its singular beauty and the richness of its resources. It engaged in robust trade in cocoa, cotton, sugar cane and coffee and by 1780 was one of the richest regions in the world.
Tragically, however, the plantation system that made this wealth possible was built on the backs of slaves imported from West Africa who brought with them their occult practices of spirituality.
The 200 years, of course, expired on January 1, 2004, but on April 8, 2003 dictator and president Jean-Bertrand Aristide extended the pact by declaring voodoo to be an officially recognized religion in Haiti. Haiti is officially Roman Catholic, but as the BBC says, it is a common saying among Haitians that Haiti is 70% Catholic, 30% Protestant, and 100% voodoo.
Robertson then went on to say that we must hope that this crisis will lead to "a great turning to God" among the Haitians, and that "right now we're helping the suffering people," whose suffering is " almost unimaginable." As he spoke, a phone number appeared on the screen, which viewers could use to donate to the relief effort.
On his program, Shepard Smith of FOX News made harshly critical comments about Robertson. As he spoke, a phone number likewise appeared on the screen. It was the number for the U.S. State Department. In other words, the hard-hearted Robertson was actively soliciting relief aid while the compassionate Smith was handing out a number for government bureaucrats.
It's remarkable that well-meaning conservatives would criticize Robertson for saying these things.
1. Pat Robertson said that Haiti made a pact with the devil in exchange for freedom from slavery. This is historically true. No one in Haiti disputes this, and Haiti's ambassador confirmed it on U.S. television.
2. Robertson did not say that the earthquake was a result of this curse, or was God's fault. Instead, Robertson attributed Haiti's grinding poverty to this compact with Satan. Jesus himself said that the thief comes only to "steal and kill and destroy."
3. Robertson said he hopes this crisis will lead many in Haiti to turn to God, and that we need to pray to that end.
4. Robertson said that the unimaginable suffering of the Haitians should prompt us to come their aid.
Which one of these statements, exactly, can any believer in the Judeo-Christian tradition challenge? Secularists, and even many conservative commentators, appear to have falsely criticized Robertson for things he did not say, while paying little or no attention to things he actually did say. I'm sticking with Pat on this one.