There a no certain statistics about the faiths of Haitians in New York City. We have sorted through various scholarly, religious organization and community estimates to arrive at our figures. We are also continuing to interview Haitian religious leaders about the attendance at their religious sites. We welcome any additional information.
A majority of NYC Haitians identify with the Roman Catholic Church. The Catholic church with the largest Haitian attendance is Saint Joachim & Saint Anne Roman Catholic Church in Brooklyn. This church is a center for 21 Haitian Catholic charismatic groups scattered around Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island.
The Protestant churches officially count a 100 churches, and there a number of uncounted ones. They probably make up about 20-25% of the Haitian community in New York City. In comparison the Haitian community in Miami, Florida is majority Protestant.
People who identify with vodou make up about 30% of the population.
In Haiti and the Haitian diaspora, the proportion of Haitians who are Protestants is growing. Vodou is declining among Haitians, in part due to Protestant missionaries and to Catholic revival movements like the Charismatic movement.
From the country of Haiti we have somewhat more certain figures about religion:
Roman Catholics 55% 2003 (UN survey)
Evangelical/Pentecostal Protestants 33% 2010 (estimate)
20% 2003 (UN Survey)
3% 1940 (estimate)
Vodou 50% (estimate)
Also see website Operationworld.com
Haitian Religious Chronology
1493 Columbus’ second voyage to Santo Domingo, or, as he named it, Hispaniola, brings
Dominican priests. Followed by Jesuits, Franciscans and Capuchins. The first Jew
to settle in Haiti, Luis de Torres, arrived in 1492 as Christopher Columbus’s interpreter.
1750-1790 Formation of Vodou
1787 Pierre Toussaint comes as slave to NYC. Raised funds for the original St. Patrick’s
Cathedral on Mott and Prince Streets. Cardinal O’Connor moved Toussaint’s grave to
the crypt inside St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue.
1791-1804 Haitian Revolution launched with Bwa Kayiman Vodou ceremony, Aug. 13–14, 1791
and presided over by a slave and voudou priest named Boukman.
Notable independence leader: Toussaint Louverture
1807 English Wesleyan Mission
1816 Quaker evangelism by Stephen Grellet & John Hancock
1823 A freed slave Thomas Paul from New Hampshire is first Baptist missionary to Haiti
1829 Haitian Mother Lange started with her own money the first school for Black children in
the United States in 1819. She founded the first religious congregation for women of
color, the Oblate Sisters of Providence, “ in 1829. In 1991 she was proposed for
sainthood in the Roman Catholic Church.
1861 Establishment of Episcopal Church of Haiti by 110 African-American immigrants.
1879 Seventh-day Adventists begin.
1889 Frederick Douglass is U.S. Minister and Consul General to Haiti
1890s Nationalist Louis Joseph Janvier promotes Protestant vision for Haiti
1915-1934 U.S. occupies Haiti
1920 Muslims from Morocco settle in Haiti
1920s-1930s Pentecostals arise
1931 Church of God of Prophecy Mission
1934 Church of God World Missions (Cleveland, TN)
1940s Independent Pentecostals in the hills around Miragoane; later join Assembly of God
1941-1943 Forced closure of Pentecostal churches
1945 Haitian Assembly of God starts
1948 Haitian Nazarene Church starts
1950 Haitian Salvation Army starts
1966 Haitian Mennonite Church starts
1969 Haitian Church of God starts
1957-1986 Pro-vodou Duvalier dictatorship & impoverishment of Haiti. Extreme poverty rose from
46% in 1976 to 81% in 1985.
1980 Haitian Lutheran Church starts
1987 Boyce Bible Center established & directed by Dr. Jean-Baptiste (Southern Baptist
1965 Establishment of , Baptist Church of the French Language/Eglise Baptiste d’Expression
Francaise (Southern Baptist) of Brooklyn. 2010: Pastor Jean-Baptiste Thomas, 4000
1975 Father Joseph Malagreca, “baptized in the Holy Spirit,” starts ministry to Catholic
Haitians in Brooklyn.
Presbyterian Church in America mission to Haiti
1985 Haitian state officially recognizes Protestantism
First mosque in Haiti
1986 Elim Fellowship World Missions of New York starts branch in Haiti
1991 Father Malagreca becomes pastor of Satin Joachim & Saint Anne Roman Catholic
1990 Dec Father Jean Bertrand Aristide elected President, ousted in October, 1991.
1997 Abner Louima brutalized by rogue NYC police officers. Attends Fishers of Men Church,
2003 Haitian state officially recognizes Vodou.
2005 Evangelical Pastor Chavannes Jeune runs for President of Haiti (4th Place with 6% of the
2010 Jan 1 27.0 earthquake, 230,000 dead, 1 million homeless
Further reading about Haitian religions
Compiled by Bob Corbett with additions by Elizabeth McAlister, Leslie G. Desmangles, Glen Ingrham, and Tony Carnes.
Brodwin, Paul. 1991. Political Contests and Moral Claims: Religious Pluralism and Healing in a Haitian Village. Ph.D Dissertation, Harvard University.
Belany, Ephren. 1998. L'iglise protestante d'Haiti en question. Port-au-Prince: Imprimerie Media-text.
Brodwin, Paul. 1996. Medicine and morality in Haiti. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
Pentecostalism in translation: Religion and the production of community in the Haitian diaspora. 2003. American Ethnologist 30, no. 1: 85-101.
Brown, Karen McCarthy. 1991. Mama Lola: A vodou priestess in Brooklyn. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Melvin Butler. 2008. "The Weapons of Our Warfare: Music, Positionality, and Transcendence Among Haitian Pentecostals" Caribbean Studies. Special Issue: Interrogating Caribbean Music: Power, Dialogue, and Transcendence. Volume 36:2, pp. 23-64.
Conway, Frederick. 1978. Pentacostalism in the Context of Haitian Religion and Health Practice. Ph.D. dissertation, American University, Washington DC.
Greene, Anne. 1993. The Catholic church in Haiti: Political and social change. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press.
Griffiths, Leslie. 1991. History of Methodism in Haiti. Imprimerie Methodiste.
Hurbon, Laennec ed. 1989. Le Phenomene religieux dans la Caraibe: Guadeloupe, Guyane, Haiti. Montreal: Les Editions du CIDIHCA.
Jeanty, Edner A. 1989. Le Christianisme en Haiti. Port-au-Prince: La Presse Evangelique.
Lain, Clinton Eugene. 1998. Church growth and evangelism in Haiti: Needs, problems, and methods. D.Miss. diss., Asbury Theological Seminary.
Louis, Andre Jeantil. 1998. Catholicism, Protestantism, and a model of effective ministry in the context of voodoo in Haiti. D.Min., Fuller Theological Seminary.
Metraux, Alfred. Vodou et Protestantisme Alfred Metraux. 1958 Oct-Dec. Revue de l'Histoire des Relgions, Vol 144, No 2, pp 198-216. Chambers comments: Discusses Voodoo and Protestantism in the Marbial Valley.
McAlister, Elizabeth. 2002. Rara! Vodou, Power, and Performance in Haiti and its Diaspora. Los Angeles and Berkeley: University of California Press.
McAlister, Elizabeth. 1998. "Madonna of 115th St. Revisited: Vodou and Haitian Catholicism in the Age of Transnationalism," in S. Warner, ed., Gatherings in Diaspora. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
Margarita A. Mooney. 2009. Faith Makes Us Live: Surviving and Thriving in the Haitian Diaspora. Berkeley, California: University of California Press .
Michel, Claudine, and Patrick Bellegarde-Smith, Eds. 2006. Invisible Powers: Vodou in Haitian Life and Culture. New York, Palgrave Macmillan.
Pressoir, Catts. La protestantisme Haitien (Haitian Protestantism). 1945. P-au-P: Imprimerie de la Societe Biblique et des Livres Religieux d'Haiti, Vol 1; P-au-P, Imprimerie du Seminaire Adventiste, 1977, Vol 2;
Charles-Poisset Romain. 1985. Le Protestantism Dans La Societe Haitienne, Impremerie Henri Deschamps.
Tekle Mariam Woldimikael. 1989. Becoming Black American: Haitians and American Institutions in Evanston, Illinois. New York: AMS Press.