The official religion of Haiti is Roman Catholicism.
The Roman Catholic Church gained official status in Haiti in 1860.
The 1950s and 1960s were difficult decades for the Catholic Church. Many people came to dislike the church because of its European focus. Between 1959 and 1961, President Duvalier forced the archbishop of Port-au-Prince, members of the Jesuit order and many priests out of the country. Relations with the church were restored in 1966 and the first Haitian-born archbishop was appointed in the country. In the 1980s the Catholic Church supported the need for basic human rights in Haiti.
Protestant missionary groups have been in Haiti since the
1800s. The Protestant denominations in Haiti include Baptist, Pentecostal, and
Presbyterian. There are also Seventh-Day Adventist and Mormon churches in Haiti,
as well as a community of Muslims.
Voodoo (vodou or voudun) originated with Africans who were enslaved by the French. The religion blends several West African religions. The slaves modified their beliefs and rituals based on the conditions they faced in the New World. Misunderstandings about Voodoo have given Haiti a reputation for witchcraft and zombies.
The Voodoo belief system emphasizes family spirits (louas) who are passed down by parents. The louas are believed to protect the families and help them with their daily problems. In return, families must "feed" the louas through ceremonies where food, drink and gifts are offered to the spirits.
There are many gods in Haitian Voodoo. Some of the most important
and powerful ones are Legba, the link between this world and the spirit world,
Agwé, protector of the sea and the people who make a living from the sea,
Ogoun, the warrior god, Damballah-Wèdo, lord of the rivers and
the sky, Erzulie, the goddess of love, and Baron-Samedi, the god of death
and guardian of the grave.
Voodoo took on characteristics of Roman Catholicism in colonial times, even though the Catholic Church opposed the practice. Slaves disguised their louas as saints. Today, many major Voodoo ceremonies coincide with Catholic celebrations. Most people who practise Voodoo do not see contradictions between Voodoo and Roman Catholicism. Some Catholic churches have even incorporated traditions such as drum music in their services. Many Protestant denominations, however, still actively oppose Voodoo.