Satan’s Chains


Sometimes, the church doesn’t really do itself any favours. Pat Robertson has gone on record as suggesting that the recent earthquake in Haiti was the result of Haiti having made a ‘pact with the Devil’ if he would free them from French domination, contrasting the abject poverty of the Haitians with the relative prosperity of the Dominican Republic next door. It was delivered with all seriousness, in the gently avuncular tones that are his stock-in-trade.

Oh dear. A few more little gems here from Uncle Pat for us to mull over. I couldn’t bring myself to actually publish the image. Click and you’ll see why.

It is, as it happens, a matter of record that some kind of ‘pact’ did in fact take place. Haiti became the first black republic to declare its independence in 1804, after a prolonged, bloody and desperate struggle. It is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and has been plagued by political violence – a history some explain with religious mythology. A satanic pact allegedly took place on August 14, 1791, during a meeting of slave leaders planning to launch their war for independence, resulting in the chains of Satan rather than those of the French.

 Haiti’s rough history very probably can be traced to rather more tangible threads which from the beginning have contributed to its instability. Haiti was forced to pay France over 100 million francs – a huge sum – over the decades under the Royal Ordinance of 1825 in which Charles X demanded restitution for the loss of France’s colony in exchange for diplomatic recognition. OK. Steal it first, then make them pay to take it back afterwards. Works for some…The problem for Haiti is that if it was a hell on earth under slavery, it was also so after the slave revolt. Enslaved Africans sent to Haiti to work under the lash and suddenly freed were hardly a model constituency for civil society and the cycle of plundering and autocracy within Haitian leadership has continued uninterrupted more or less ever since, including Papa Doc Duvalier, right up there with Joe Stalin and Saddam in the dictatorship stakes.

The religious right in the USA, guardians of morality, defenders of the faith and lordly dispensers, it would seem, of justice also, are themselves on morally shaky ground with such pronouncements. To describe Mr Robertson’s observations as ‘stupid’ is an understatement.

The image is of Haitians at prayer.