Voodoo is a name for several religious practices derived from West African Voodoo. The original West African Voodoo is a polytheistic religion called Vodon (also spelled Vodun, Voudoun, Vodou, Vaudoux, Vodoun or Voudou). This religion honors a god with a dual nature, both masculine and feminine, and spirits that rule nature as well as spirits in rocks, rivers, trees, etc. These spirits are the vodon or vudu. This form of Voodoo also includes animal sacrifices and ancestor worship.
Voodoo in Haiti and Louisiana (as well as in Haitian communities in Miami and New York City) is derived from West African Voodoo but blended with the superficial aspects of Roman Catholicism. This came about when slaves were brought to the New World and pressured to convert to Roman Catholicism. They mixed West African Voodoo with Roman Catholicism, thus forming an underground type of Voodoo found in Latin America, Cuba, Haiti, and Louisiana. In Cuba, this blend is usually called Santeria; in Brazil, it is Candomble (other terms may be used as well). In Haitian Voodoo, worship is directed to the loa, deities who serve the one god. The loa became associated with Catholic saints.
Louisiana Voodoo has a strong emphasis on belief in spirits that supervise everything. Slaves changed the African names of these spirits to the names of Catholic saints as part of the blending of West African Voodoo with Roman Catholicism. Women in Louisiana Voodoo who presided over rituals and ceremonies and used charms and magical potions became known as Voodoo Queens. The most well-known Voodoo Queen was Marie Laveau of New Orleans who also considered herself a devout Catholic. Because of this, further syncretization between Voodoo and Roman Catholicism ensued.
Because it is based primarily on oral tradition, Voodoo can vary from person to person. There is belief in one god, called Bondye, but this god is remote and is not active in daily life. Voodoo worshipers connect with the spirits through singing, ecstatic dancing in which the worshipers invite the spirits to “ride” them, and the use of snakes. Additionally, there are special diets, ceremonies, rituals, spell casting, potions, and talismans and amulets (charms) for healing and aiding followers.
Voodoo involves the worship of spirits and occult practices such as divination (fortunetelling) and sorcery. These practices are strongly condemned by God throughout the Bible, such as in Deuteronomy 18:9-13, where God forbids consulting anyone who practices “divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead” (also see Leviticus 19:26, 31, 20:6; 2 Kings 17:17; Acts 19:18-19; Revelation 21:8, 22:15).
The god of Voodoo is not the biblical God but a remote god who is not involved with humanity or nature. The worship of the Voodoo spirits is the worship of false gods, and as such is condemned throughout the Bible. Not only is Voodoo a religion that is incompatible with Christianity, but its practices and beliefs are against God’s Word. Moreover, the occult practices of Voodoo are dangerous because they open people up for the influence of demons.
By blending polytheistic spirit worship with a superficial form of Christianity, Voodoo has effectively denied the primacy of Jesus Christ and His atoning work on the cross and the need for redemption solely through faith in Christ. Voodoo, therefore, is incompatible with God’s Word in three ways: the true God is not worshiped, Jesus is secondary to the spirits, and occult practices prevail.