Now, Religion in the News, a report and comment on religious trends and events being covered by the media. This week’s item is from the New York Times, November 30, 2003, with the headline, “Dr. Voodoo—New Orleans: Last year, doctors told a 41-year-old New York woman who had been bedridden with meningitis and other ailments that she should prepare for the worst. Rather than resign herself to her fate, she boarded a train to New Orleans (her illness does not permit her to fly) and made an offering at the tomb of Marie Laveau, the Voodoo Queen who died in 1881 but has reemerged as the center of a far-reaching religious movement. Her image hangs in many shops here, where voodoo charms and amulets are sold.
“After what she called a nearly complete recovery, the woman, who asked to be identified only as ‘Jackie,’ recently made another trip to Laveau’s tomb to close the circle. ‘If you believe there are spiritual forces with great power,’ she said, “this is definitely a place to come.’
“Tour guides say Laveau’s grave at St. Louis’ number one cemetery near the French Quarter has become one of the most visited graves in the United States. Chris Grant, officer manager for New Orleans Spirit Tours, said his company took about 12,000 people to the grave each year. Multiply that by a dozen companies, and then at least double that total to include people who go on their own, and you’ve got a quarter of a million people per year, he said. ‘It’s nonstop, 24 hours a day,’ said Sally Ann Glassman, who studied voodoo in Haiti in the 1990s and later published a book about it. ‘I get people from all walks of life—from street people, to professors, to psychiatrists, to political leaders. They aren’t looking for hexes or charms to make someone’s nose fall off. It’s something much more basic. They turn to voodoo because there’s an increasing desperation in our culture for spiritual meaning and direction.’”
Tom: Wow! A quarter of a million people, among them psychiatrists, college professors, political leaders. Dave, this is—is this the third millennium? Or aren’t we an advanced, modern, intelligent, technologically advanced society? This is voodoo!
Dave: But man is an incurably religious being. He can’t escape it, because there is a spiritual side to his nature, and physical things don’t satisfy, so he’s longing for some…as it says, “There’s an increasing desperation in our culture for spiritual meaning and direction.” Now the “spiritual meaning and direction”—why are you going to get that from voodoo? Why are you going to get that from this voodoo queen who died in 1881? She couldn’t keep herself alive, and she certainly didn’t resurrect.
What about Jesus Christ, who died for our sins, paid the full penalty, and His sacrifice was accepted by the Father, and He rose again. And He comes to live in those who open their hearts to Him. You want spiritual direction? Go to the Bible. We can prove the Bible with prophecy. I mean, there are so many proofs—archaeological evidences, historical evidences, and prophetic proof of prophecies centuries or even thousands of years that beforehand have been fulfilled. The whole world has witnessed it.
What does this voodoo queen have to offer? Well, people want control of their own destiny. They don’t want to submit to God. They don’t want to believe in Christ because He made some rather definitive statements, narrow-minded statements: “I am the way, the truth, the life; no man comes to the Father but by me.” He said, “Except you believe that I am [that I’m God], you will die in your sins, and where I go, you cannot come.”
Now that’s a little bit harsh, some people think. This is very much like what we were talking about in the first segment, Tom. Something that appeals to people. And look here, here’s a—this is not proof. This lady got better. We would have to have more experiments. We would have to have a multiplied people going there with serious illness, and they all get better without exception.
And you know, it’s like Lourdes, in France, the Catholic shrine. They don’t all get better. Maybe a few get better, and that does not prove that there is any relationship between their improvement and the visit to these places.
Tom: Yeah, we’re also aware, Dave, that in demonic healing—and nobody’s denying that—Satan was able to put boils on Job, so, if he had that ability, he could certainly take them away. But there’s a tradeoff, which is what we’ve found. Some people give up something, and what they get puts them in a far worse position. Now, Dave, I have one question that I think is almost ironic. Why is it that people are not interested in being accountable to God? They do not want to be accountable to God, but they’re willing to put themselves into bondage to these kinds of things. And there is bondage—it’s incredible, and it’s obvious, in many cases.
Dave: Well, Tom, they don’t know they’re going to be in bondage. They want an answer to their prayer. They want their will. It’s not “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done,” but “my kingdom come, my will be done.” Tom, why is it that—this is New Orleans we’re talking about now. It is the most Catholic city in America, and it is the most voodoo-ish city—the most occult city—in America. Because, as you know, there is a mixture, and that again is what we were talking about—the ecumenism. You go to Haiti—this lady was trained in Haiti—they have a saying in Haiti: “It’s 95 percent Catholic and 110 percent Vodoun!” And there is a mixture. And this is what people want. You know, it may not be God’s will to heal you. And if I want what I want, Satan may very well be able to give it to me in order to draw me after him. Now I’ve got a voodoo queen who answers my prayers, who gives me what I want. I don’t need God. Maybe I have some shallow belief in God, but I’m not looking to Him.
And, Tom, you know, you were raised a Catholic. There are probably 1,000 times, at least, more prayers to Mary—so-called Mary—than there are to Jesus Christ. Prayers to Mary to bless? So Satan has many ways of turning people from submission to God’s will to other means of getting what they want.
Tom: Yeah. Dave, as you know, last month, that is, November, we did an article, “Spirits of the Lie.” And if anybody’s interested in the subject and concerned about it, we recommend you get our free newsletter. You can…Gary will give you some information a little bit later on how to get The Berean Call, our newsletter.