Becky and I were looking for some notable quotes about Bible translation and the importance of the Bible for our website – hughandbecky.org I was visiting WycliffeUSA’s website and I noticed a quote from Bishop Desmond Tutu.
If you want to keep people subjugated, the last thing you place in their hands is a Bible. There’s nothing more radical, nothing more revolutionary, nothing more subversive against injustice and oppression than the Bible.
—Archbishop Desmond Tutu
I wasn’t quite sure who this fellow was – I mean he could have been Desmond from Lost for all I knew. But alas no, he was Desmond Tutu. A really influential activist who is generally well respected among world leaders.
But the thing with quotes is that they can mean what every the quoter wants them to mean when they are removed from their original context. In the context of the WycliffeUSA’s page where this quote was found, it makes sense as it is positioned as an appeal to people who might be interested in giving to Wycliffe through the Federal Government’s matching donation program.
However, I wonder does it make sense to use the quote at all? Here is the reason – Does using the quote in some way put the organization WycliffeUSA in a position where it equally is endorsing Desmond Tutu? This is an interesting situation given the reported position that Desmond Tutu, also a world recognized church elder, has on homosexuality. (Specifically, Desmond Tutu is pro gay rights by having an anti-discrimination of gays position, granted these two points of view not be the same thing depending on where in the world one is viewing the situation from and what the social/cultural attitudes are surrounding LGBT issues in the ego society.) The interesting position is that WycliffeUSA takes an anti-LGBT postion, as many christian conservative organizations do.
The question of inference I think is one where perhaps Desmond Tutu is a better diplomat and politician than conservative christian Bible expositor (as others from South Africa point out).
But in terms of orignal context, it is still interesting that WycliffeUSA, wants to be known by this quote, because it was not a reflection directly of or on them – the only connection is, well the Bible.