This weekend was a national time of prayer and fasting lasting from Thursday through today. When we showed up in church this morning, it was already full of people who had been there since 6am. They were late starting the regular service because the congregation wanted to pray longer. That’s right, we spent an hour in prayer and worship before the service even started.
One thing struck Leslie and I both as particularly interesting. The pastor kept repeating one thing: that we needed to pray against corruption in the government. He said that senators sell drugs and deputies (congressmen) sell drugs (both true). The literal Creole was that they were “in” drugs, but the meaning was that they were “in” the drug trade. He even said that Preval sold drugs, which is probably not true but it’s common knowledge that one of his close friends is in that business and immune to prosecution.
For the purpose of getting this post finished, I’ll just state that corruption in Haiti’s government is universal and the government is beneath contempt by the citizenry at this point in time.
I had an email waiting for me when I came home from church with a paper attached that was written by a Haitian man and passed on to me by a friend. The man’s name is Dieumeme Noelliste and if anyone would like to read the full paper let me know and I’ll email it to you. Here’s a quote:
For Haitian Protestantism, when it comes to the relationship between the church and the state, the watchword and bedrock principle is apoliticalism. In an exhaustive study entitled Le Protestantisme Dans la Societe Haitienne, sociologist-theologian Charles Poisset Romain has shown that for the majority of Protestants of all stripes, the church should have no say in things political except praying for those in authority. Through meticulous empirical research, Poisset has demonstrated that this Protestant desertion of the political domain is due to the erection of a rigid dichotomy between the spiritual and the temporal, the hereafter and the now, the church and the world. The gospel is believed to hold sway in the first set of realities, but is said to be persona non grata in the second.3 The net consequence of this stance is the abandonment of the political domain to its own devices. It contributed to the emergence of a public square bereft of evangelical witness and prophetic challenge.
In places where rigorous systems of checks and balances exist, this withdrawal from the political arena would not be catastrophic. But in a country such as Haiti where these things were nonexistent until very recently, the absence of a rigorous gospel critique meant absolute power and total lack of accountability on the part of powers that be.4 This absence of accountability, not the country’s economic status, is what explains the nonexistence of the most basic structure of services for the society in general and the poor in particular. All suffer from such reprehensible neglect, but the poor suffer even more dearly.
In other news, Clean Water for Haiti delivered 342 filters into the disaster zone in the 30 day period following the quake. 235 was our previous 1 month record. We’ve been working a lot of extra hours and days but now is the time when everyone on Haiti needs to be doing what we can, and we do filters!