Measuring Christian-Voodoo Syncretism in some Haitian Christian Churches in the North of Haiti

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ABSTRACT

This study created a method for measuring the presence of Christian-voodoo syncretism in three Protestant denominations in the north of Haiti. Estimates of voodoo practice among Christians have ranged from 50% to 75%, although it is unclear how these percentages were derived. The researcher created a Voodoo-Protestant Scale (VPS), which tests for the presence of fourteen Christian-voodoo syncretistic practices and fifteen Christian-voodoo syncretistic beliefs. The VPS was written and administered in Creole, but the study contains an English translation. A scoring system for the VPS is also explained in Chapter Three, in which four points are counted for ‘strongly agree’ and two points are counted for ‘agree’ responses to syncretistic practice questions (PQs), and two points are counted for ‘agree’ responses syncretistic belief questions (BQs). Zero points were counted for ‘neutral’, ‘disagree’ or ‘strongly disagree’. The VPS therefore had scores that ranged from zero to 88. The VPS allowed the researcher to make determinations about the extent of syncretism within the population (the percentage of the participants) as well as the depth of syncretism for each participant (the VPS score itself). The VPS was administered to 218 individuals who attended churches in the Church of God, Baptist, and Evangelical denominations in four urban areas (Milot, Plaine du Nord, Cap-Haitian Petite-Anse and Vaudreuil) and in three rural areas (Grand Bassin, La Jeune, and Maliarette). First, with respect to extent, the researcher discovered that 212 of 218 participants evidenced some syncretism of some kind (97%) only 6 of 218 showed no trace of Christian-voodoo syncretism. Second, with respect to depth, the researcher discovered that 84 of 218 (39%) evidenced low syncretism (VPS scores from 1-14), 94 of 218 (43%) evidenced intermediate-level syncretism (VPS scores from 15-30), 25 of 218 (11%) evidenced high syncretism (VPS scores from 31-48), and 9 of 218 (4%) evidenced super-high levels (VPS scores from 50-88). Thus, these results offer a more nuanced picture of Christian-voodoo syncretism in Haiti. The study concludes with recommendations for church leaders.

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