What are the historical reasons for the popularity of two contradictory worldviews in Haiti, Vodou and Catholicism? What elements of Vodou and Catholicism are alike, and how are they drastically different? What is the connection between indigenous African religions and Vodou? And why has religion in Haiti evidenced an accelerating rate of change in recent decades? Roots of Haiti’s Vodou-Christian Faith: African and Catholic Origins answers these questions and more in its examination of the highly unique and often-misunderstood religious practices in Haiti.
Reaching back half a millennium to the European conquest of the island of Haiti, author R. Murray Thomas inspects the origins and nature of these two competing and complementary religious traditions: the traditional African faiths brought by the slaves who were imported to Haiti to labor in the fields and mines, and the Catholicism promoted—often violently—by Spanish and French colonial authorities. Following a historical background, the subsequent chapters focus on the organization of Haitian religion, spirits, creation belief, causes and ceremonies, maxims and tales, symbols and sacred objects, sacred sites, religious societies, and the future of the Vodou-Christian faith.
- Provides a history of Haiti's unique religious tradition that explains how Spanish and French colonizers established Catholicism in Haiti and identifies how the connections between Vodou and African indigenous religions formed over the past five centuries
- Proposes seven "principles of accommodation" that enable Vodou-Catholicism to be regarded as a cohesive, rational system by the vast majority of Haitians
- Presents information culled from hundreds of references from the professional literature as well as interviews with two university professors who are both authorities on Haitian Vodou-Christianity and practitioners of the faith