Glorying in Destruction

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For the most part, mainstream media has moved on from earthquake-ravaged Haiti, few want to dwell on the chaos and misery that still permeates the country. Even fewer want to think about the quiet religious war that is now raging amidst the tent cities and humanitarian efforts.

“But in the three months after the earthquake, the relationship among faiths has evolved from one of rare unity to a fight for the Haitian soul. All hope to increase followers even as they assign blame for the quake. In the makeshift camps, along rubble-filled streets, Protestant preachers are battling Catholics as well as followers of Vodou, hoping to lure more congregants. “When I hear some of the Protestant churches in the neighborhoods, you have the impression that only Catholics lost people in the earthquake,” said William Smarth, a theology professor and diocese priest who was part of the liberation theology movement that helped oust former dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier.”

While the United Nations pledges money for Haiti’s reconstruction, and the government, along with major aid organizations, try to shift away from handouts towards a slow rebuilding of its economy and infrastructure, several protestant Christian groups are flooding in to exploit the chaos and win souls.

“The new airport is a surly chaos of duffel bags and boxes. Most of the people milling helplessly appear to be groups of American fundamentalist Christians. There are a lot of kids on God-sanctioned adventures dressed in African safari gear and T-shirts proclaiming their goodness. They are excited and crass … a group of excited Baptists passed huge bags of beef jerky over the heads of the people they were coming to offer holy succour to.”

There seems to be an almost unconcealed glee from some corners of protestant Christianity over Haiti’s circumstance, witness this gloating, chipper, editorial from Cindy Jacobs in Charisma Magazine.

“On December 31, 2009, the Holy Spirit spoke through me and said: “I’m going to shake the earth. You will begin to see earthquakes—I am going to shake everything that can be shaken. Look where the earthquakes are hitting because God is going to release a wind of Pentecost in those places.” Since that time we have seen an increase in earthquake activity on a large scale. Haiti experienced horrible devastation during a recent quake. But afterward, the president called for three days of fasting and prayer for the nation. This was a miracle in a country that had formerly been dedicated to voodoo. With only five days’ notice, Christian leaders were able to gather about 1,000,000 people for a prayer meeting. On that day, the winds of Pentecost did indeed blow. Three thousand people were saved—among them 101 voodoo priests. It seems the back of the strongman of the occult was broken in that land, and I believe a new Haiti will arise.”

Yes, hundreds of thousands of people have died, but the “miracle” is that prayer is happening and (alleged) Vodou priests are converting. Only a person who has never experienced true personal horror or tragedy could be so blithe about so much death. Who is this happy doom-sayer? It turns out that Cindy Jacobs is a Third Waver, and one of the leaders of C. Peter Wagner’s New Apostolic Reformation. You know, the folks who regularly engage in spiritual warfare against Pagans, and helped nurture the career of Sarah Palin. When she isn’t putting a smiley face on mass tragedy, Jacobs shares a stage with Virginia’s Republican attorney general, burns indigenous art, and casts out homosexual spirits.

The question now, is with Haiti “awash” with Christian aid organizations and missionaries, how many are simply there to help and show charity, to witness through their good works, and how many are busy calculating the number of souls they can add to their tally in a quest to transform Haiti into a protestant-dominated nation.

“…religious leaders feel an urgent need to act while Haitians’ hearts are open to spiritual transformation, said the Rev. Revenel Benoit, who leads approximately 200 Lutheran churches in Haiti…”

I’d feel more optimistic about all this if “open to spiritual transformation” didn’t simply seem to be a somewhat crass euphemism for easily influenced due to post-traumatic stress, and there weren’t reports of literal witch-hunts taking place against Vodouisants that may be partially instigated by the missionary groups handing out jerky and prayer. It gives an impression that Christian organizations and churches are glorying in natural devastation, so it can do the work that a post-Enlightenment secular Western culture will no longer allow them to do without repercussions.