There is so much here in this long essay about the controversial Pentecostal preachers of Haiti and the traditional Vodou practices:
I asked [the pastor] whether he had founded Shalom to combat Vodou in the country, and he shook his head. “Vodou is not the enemy of Shalom,” he said. “Vodou is on its side, and Shalom, as a Protestant church, stays on its own side.” He talked about choice and religious freedom, and I was surprised by his words, given the strength of the church’s anti-Vodou messages during services. So how did he feel about Vodouisants attending Shalom? “Many of them come here,” he replied. “Many of them are converted.” When the two spiritual forces are compared side by side, like competing products on a shelf, he believes most people would choose Jesus.
“My dream was to become a big businessman in Haiti,” he said. “I wanted to use the McDonald’s model, because I had a nice restaurant on Route Delmas.” The restaurant’s name was Shalom.
The author clearly has her preferences and biases, but I felt like she managed to give a balanced view of a very complex subject. The marketing of religion, the blurred lines between Prosperity Gospel teaching and a view of Jesus’ all-sufficiency and provision that many people want and need to hear, and the complicated relationships between prominent pastors and politics. It’s all here!
Matthew Loftus teaches and practices Family Medicine in Baltimore and East Africa. His work has been featured in Christianity Today, Comment, & First Things and he is a regular contributor for Christ and Pop Culture. You can learn more about his work and writing at www.MatthewAndMaggie.org