Follow up question
Q: Does anyone actually believe Pat Robertson when he says that Haiti made a pact with the Devil?
A: Yes. And I’ve made them pasta salad.
Years ago, I was in the living room of a trailer interviewing the members of a church as they waited for burgers to cook on the grill. I was just learning how to get people to talk to me about God, and this was one of the moments in which I stumbled on the right question. I asked them to tell me about visible evidence and encounters with the devil. I asked this to a group of men, in their 50s, who considered themselves to be “prayer warriors.” I got stories of Haiti. The conversation was, I imagine, very much like listening to a group of former high school football stars retell their greatest moments on the field.
Below is the part of the piece in which I tell their stories as they told them:
Back at Martha’s, I helped Beth make a pasta salad while Martha formed hamburger patties. Don, Peter, and two other men were admiring Don’s new television. Martha leaned over and stage whispered, “See, Ace? Those men, they don’t do nothing.” Don grabbed a folding chair from the stack Martha had leaned up against the couch when she asked him to set up the table and chairs for lunch. “Alright, we’ll do it, OK? Martha, the grill isn’t even on yet.” I added my chopped carrots to the pasta spirals in the salad bowl, and grabbed a tomato.
When the grill was warming up and Beth and I had finished the salad, Martha kicked everyone but Beth out of the kitchen. She was just too crowded to think. I walked to the opposite end of the room – the kitchen and living room were two halves of one space, separated by a large kitchen island — and sat down on the couch opposite from Peter, Don and two other church members, Bill and Sally.
“So,” I said, wishing I had more delicate way to begin, “Have any of you seen the Devil aside from Peter?”
Peter sighed. Bill looked me straight in the eye. “I want you to understand something. If you start to get involved with spiritual powers and fighting the Devil, and you’re not a Prayer Warrior, then the Devil is gonna have a field day with you.”
“I just want to know about your experiences with Evil. Do you have any stories about fighting the Devil?”
Peter, Bill, and his wife, Sally, had spent two weeks in the Caribbean delivering the possessed from the Devil. In the United States, the Devil knew that he had to hide and work indirectly. I asked them for an example.
Peter replied, “Abortions, and Charles Manson. What makes a person like Charles Manson do what he did? To me the guy was possessed. The Devil opened him up somehow. Of course, drugs is one way to open a person up.”
“In Ted Bundy,’s interview with Dr. Dobson before he was executed – he said he was raised in a Christian home. They said ‘What happened?’ and in his testimony – I’ve watched the video – he said in his testimony when he went into soft porn and hard porn and I guess there’s something called ‘Police porn?’ Cops and murder scenes. When he got possessed, he felt like something emboldened him. He crossed the line and started murdering people.”
In Haiti, the Devil had more open souls. Voodoo and witchcraft were invitations for the Devil to invade a body. Bill and Peter started to tell stories about their time in Haiti. Bill began:
“I remember one time, this guy gave my wife a piece of wood, and we brought it back to the mission with us, to our room. All of a sudden, my wife starts turning against me. I figured there was a demon somewhere. So I applied the Blood of Jesus over the mantle…” A Born Again Christian is “washed in the Blood of Christ”, and “applying the Blood of Christ” is a prayer that is supposed to reveal or expel demonic presences. “Drinking the Blood of Christ” is having the Holy Spirit fill you.
“…And it came down, it was that piece of wood. We burnt it. We prayed over her you know, after. And her attitude changed completely.”
Peter’s face was red as he started his story: “I remember when I was preaching down there, and it was dark, and this guy flew down the aisle and he jumped and wrapped around my ankles.” Peter grabbed the invisible ankles in front of him. “And I was trained never to allow anything to distract you when you’re preaching. And so this guy jumps through and jumps and wraps around my legs, and I just kept preaching the message and he was wrapped around my ankles, and I felt him let go, and he started speaking. He wasn’t speaking English so I didn’t understand him but someone told me later that he was thanking me. The guy was into voodoo, and he had come to the meeting to disrupt the meeting and put a curse on the meeting because we were taking away his business. But then when I started preaching something happened and he jumped forward, and POW! The Spirit come out of him.” Peter leaned back in his chair.
It was Bill’s turn to tell the next story.
“We were in Costa Rica in a Christian home, and this guy’s daughter was handicapped, and we were praying for her, and there was a voodoo doctor next door to her. And the head woman, Betina, from Times Square Church, said to him, ‘In the name of Jesus I command you to flee!’ and BOOM! He was gone. He was putting a curse on the girl.”
Peter and Bill had to go flip the burgers, so I went back to the kitchen with Sally.
While watching that clip of Pat Robertson react to the Haiti Earthquakes, I remembered these interviews. It’s not the idea of the Devil in Haiti that’s shocking, to me. Maybe it still is to you, and that’s OK. It probably should be. Here’s what gets me: the nerve of talking about it on (kind of) national television while people are dying, suffering, and mourning. It’s a distinct lack of compassion that seems to go hand-in-hand with Evangelical fame addicts.
Via Boingboing, here’s an article about the plight of Haiti before the earthquake.