It was weird watching CNN this morning and hearing the anchor report that “the Haitians were counting on their voodoo faith to pull them thru. Voodoo isn’t the way its portrayed in the movies.” Really?
Well, it's not all zombies and voodoo dolls, and that's about the only way I've seen it portayed in movies. Haitian voodo is really West African vodun, the animist religion of the Yorubas, with a glaze of Roman Catholicism over the top in that many of the African gods have been renamed after Catholic saints. They believe in one God, Bondye (after the French "Bon Dieu"--Good God), but he is distant and doesn't involve himself in earthly matters, so the people pray to the "loas," the African spirits/saints. During rituals, sometimes people will fall into ecstatic trances and "channel" one of these spirits, rather like some Christian sects will speak in tongues.
It's also a very community-based religion as well, emphasizing family and charity. What the movies tend to concentrate on is the Bokors, or sorcerors, who are considered evil by mainstream voodoo.
The kernel of truth that lies behind Robertson's statement is that in 1791, there was allegedly a voodoo ceremony in which the spirit of Ezili Dantor (associated with the Virgin Mary) possessed a priestess, leading the others attending to pledge their loyalty to the uprising against the French.
But they use ‘good’ voodoo....