Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
Timothy R. Landry
My paper compares Haitian Vodou and Mormonism to address why over twenty-four-thousand Haitians have converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since the 1980s. It might sound strange to compare these two religions, considering that Mormonism was founded by a white farmer from the United States during America’s Early Republic and Haitian Vodou was born from the oppression of African slaves during the years of Spanish and French colonization. Yet Mormonism continues to grow in popularity among Haitians. Scholars have not yet fully explored why people of African descent whose cultural background is rooted in Vodou are drawn to a religion with a troubling past that includes institutionalized racism. To address this question, I argue that Haitian Vodou and Mormonism share various cultural and religious similarities, also Haitians perceive Mormonism as a means of social mobility. Interviews with Haitian converts and scholarly research show that both religions have a common past of suffering. The persecutions of early members of the LDS church, however, cannot be compared to slavery. Yet the ways these two religious communities have used and continue to use their religion to endure oppression is similar. Furthermore, Haitian Vodou and Mormonism revere and value spirits and ancestors through rituals and genealogical work. Moreover, conversion to Mormonism had, and continues to have, an impact on Haitians’ lives by providing an opportunity to connect with the United States which is considered a status symbol of social mobility.
Freeman, Catherine S., "Drum Rhythms and Golden Scriptures: Reasons for Mormon Conversion within Haiti’s Culture of Vodou". Senior Theses, Trinity College, Hartford, CT 2021.
Trinity College Digital Repository, https://digitalrepository.trincoll.edu/theses/892