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article imagePat Robertson on history, reality, the Devil and God

By Bart B. Van Bockstaele     Jan 19, 2010 in Science
Pat Robertson, friend of dictators and war criminals, Christian preacher and influential personality, recently made a few astonishing claims on his programme "The 700 Club". I look at these claims and see if there is any truth to them.
Robertson claimed that the Haitians were "under the heel of the French" and that this had something to do with Napoleon III. He also said that the Haitians made a pact to the devil and that the devil agreed and that they then freed themselves from the French.
It is indeed true that they were colonised by the French. However, Napoleon III has nothing whatsoever to do with this. The Haitians declared independence in 1804, 4 years before Napoleon III was born. In 1825, when Napoleon III was 17 years old, King Charles X wanted to retake the colony, but settled for a payment instead.
After the Haitians kicked the French out, they have been hit by one thing after another, they are desperately poor, said Robertson. That is true, but he fails to mention that their being taken as slaves, their presence on Haiti, and their treatment by the French wasn't too pleasant either.
He then said that the Island of Hispanola (actually, it is Hispaniola) is one island. It is indeed true that Hispaniola is an island. He also says that it is cut down the middle, Haiti on one side, the Dominican Republic on the other. That's not entirely correct. The split is actually more to the West than he suggests. Furthermore, Haiti has only about 36% of the area of Hispaniola.
Robertson then says that the Dominican Republic is prosperous, healthy, full of resorts and more while Haiti is in desperate poverty. It is true that there are resorts in the Dominican Republic, but Robertson fails to mention that these are for the use of foreign tourists and that the vast majority of Dominicans who go there do so to do hard, often dirty and badly paid work, not to mingle with the customers.
Furthermore, about 42% of the population of the Dominican Republic lives below the poverty line and the GDP is substantially less than one fifth of that of the US. Robertson also fails to mention that the country is getting support from, among others, the American military who are helping them to construct facilities, and who are giving educational and medical support.
Robertson says that the Haitians should turn to god. It turns out that 80% of the Haitian population is Roman Catholic, and 16% is Protestant. That leaves a mere 4% for all other religions and atheism. In the Dominican Republic, 95% of the people are Roman Catholic, leaving 5% for Protestantism, other religions and atheism. Therefore, Robertson seems to be suggesting that more Haitians should turn away from Protestantism to become Roman Catholics, and that this will make them more prosperous.
However, the facts don't bear this out. 51.3% of the US population is Protestant, 23.9% is Catholic. Yet, the US is more prosperous than Haiti, and more prosperous than the Dominican Republic. There is no linear relationship here.
Robertson also says that "out of this tragedy, I'm optimistic that something good may come." From an objective standpoint, it is impossible to go wrong with this, since anything at all may always come.
Pat Robertson majored in history at Washington and Lee university. Yet, he got most facts wrong. This is not an opinion article, but an analysis of facts. I can therefore not claim that the Haitians did not make this pact to the devil, since this is unverifiable by any and all known scientific means of inquiry. However, given that most of the verifiable facts Robertson advances are demonstrably wrong, logic dictates that we should look upon the unverifiable parts with healthy suspicion.
Regardless of what we may or may not think of Pat Robertson, the objective conclusion must be that he is not a man whose words should be accepted without further investigation.
More about Pat robertson, Devil god religion, Haiti earthquake napoleon
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