The government of Haiti has designated voodoo an officially sanctioned religion, but followers say it will take more than a government decree to unravel years of misunderstanding and persecution.
Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, in a recent executive order, called the religion "an essential part of national identity" and invited voodoo followers to register with the Ministry of Religious Affairs. After that, followers will be able to legally perform weddings, baptisms and other rituals.
"In spite of our contribution to Haitian culture, we are still misunderstood and despised," Philippe Castera, a voodoo priest, told the Associated Press.
Voodoo combines elements of African religion with Catholic spirituality. Voodoo teaches belief in a supreme God and holds that spirits can be summoned through gifts and offerings to bring ill will or good fortune to others. Popular beliefs about voodoo Kink it with witchcraft, but adherents deny the connection.
Despite its heavy presence in Caribbean culture, voodoo has often come under attack in Haiti. In the 1940s, a Catholic-led campaign destroyed many voodoo temples and ritual objects.--RNSBibliography for "Haiti makes voodoo an official religion - News - voodoo combines parts of African religion with Catholic spirituality and a belief in God - Brief Article"