- During the years of French and Spanish colonial rule, Roman Catholicism became the dominant religion in Haiti. However, West African religion remained a strong influence among the descendants of African slaves who make up almost the entire population. These religions reemerged as voodoo (Vodun) at the end of the 18th century. The revolt that led to independence in 1804 was started at a voodoo ceremony held in 1791. At various times, the Catholic Church has launched anti-voodoo campaigns; the last, in 1941-42, led to the destruction of a number of voodoo worship sites. Since the 1960s, the Catholic Church has attempted to arrive at some accommodation with voodoo.Protestantism was initially brought to Haiti by British Methodists who first visited in 1807, attracted by the growing community of English-speaking blacks who had migrated to Haiti after siding with the British during the American Revolution. The Methodists are remembered for their literacy work. The wave of American Protestant and FREE CHuRCH missionaries began in 1823 with the arrival of the American Baptists and the African Methodist Episcopal Church. They were joined later in the century by the Church of God (Anderson,Indiana) and the Seventh-day Adventist Church. In 1861, a group of African Americans set up the independent Eglise Orthodoxe Apostolique Haitian, which early in the next century would formally affiliate with the Episcopal Church in the United States.A new surge of Protestantism accompanied the American occupation (1915-34). The most important new churches to establish work during this period were the Church of God of Prophecy and its parent body, the Church of God (Cleve-land,Tennessee). Together, they introduced Pen-tecostalism in the early 1930s; it has shown spectacular growth. The Assemblies of God and the two Churches of God together have in excess of 300,000 adherents. Baptists have had some success as well, represented by the several associations of Baptist congregations affiliated with the Baptist Convention of Haiti, the Baptist Mission of Haiti, and the Baptist Mission of South Haiti.At least 200 different Protestant groups are operating in Haiti today, including a number of small indigenous churches. There is no national council of churches in Haiti, and no Haitian-based church is a member of the World Council of Churches, though several churches whose international headquarters are located in other countries are members. Some of the more conservative groups have formed the Council of Evangelical Churches of Haiti, which is affiliated with the World Evangelical Alliance.See also Caribbean.Further reading:■ E J. Conway, Pentecostalism in the Context of Haitian Religion and Health Practice (Washington, D.C.: American University, Ph.D. diss., 1978)■ L. Griffiths, History of Methodism in Haiti (Port-au-Prince: Imprimerie Methodiste, 1991)■ I. T. Heneise, A History of Baptist Work in Haiti (Rochester, N.Y.: Colgate Rochester Divinity School, D.Min. thesis, 1974)■ E. A. Jeanty, La Christianisme en Haiti (Port-au-Prince: Librairie de la Presse Evangélique, 1990)■ H. A. Johnson, The Growing Church in Haiti (Coral Gables, Fla.: West Indies Mission, 1970).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.