Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World

by Tracy Kidder
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According to Kidder in Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World, what religions are dominant in Haiti?

According to Kidder in Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World, the religions that are dominant in Haiti are Roman Catholicism and Voodoo. As Kidder tells us, not every Haitian peasant practices Voodoo, but almost everyone, regardless of their religion, believes in the reality of maji, or sorcery.

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Most people in Haiti subscribe to Roman Catholicism, a legacy of French colonialism. Yet a large number of people, especially those among the peasant population, practice Voodoo, a folk religion that has its roots in ancient African traditions.

Although Roman Catholicism and Voodoo don't appear to have an awful lot in common, most Haitians have no problem combining both religions as part of their spiritual lives. Indeed, as Kidder informs us, although not every Haitian peasant practices Voodoo, virtually everyone, be they Catholic or Protestant, believes in the reality of maji, or sorcery.

The widespread belief in sorcery means that people are quick to attribute sickness to the casting of evil spells. That's why those who live in the area surrounding Cange see Dr. Paul Farmer as a kind of Voodoo priest able to deal with the forces of maji.

One local peasant says that God has given everyone a gift and that Dr. Farmer's gift is healing. One of his former patients even gets up at a public meeting and loudly declares that Dr. Farmer is a god. Such is the powerful effect that the good doctor—Dokte Paul, as he's known in Haiti—and his remarkable medical skills have had on the local population.

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