Alex Constantine - December 7, 2007
Let There Be Light!
An Exposure of Fundamentalist Christian Involvement in Cultural Genocide - Wycliffe Bible Translators and the Summer Institute of Linguistics
Wycliffe Bible Translators (WBT) are a fundamentalist, millenarianist missionary organization who have a long history of using their belief in the doctrines of original sin, and the damnation of all unconverted people to justify any behavior. Together with other groups such as the New Tribes Mission, they have embarked on a quest called Vision 2025, to evangelize to every last uncontacted society on earth, largely because they believe that in doing so they will bring about the second coming of Christ and the end of the earth. Because their interpretation of Christianity encourages obedience to Authority and justifies acquisition of material wealth, they have enough financial support to make a go of it, particularly from people connected to corporations and governments that have interests in the natural resources where these tribal societies live.
The Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) presents itself as a scientific organization focusing on previously unwritten and untranslated languages.
They have a number of programs and schools at which they teach people how to translate these languages. One of these programs operates out of Northwest Christian College in Eugene, a program that the University of Oregon will give students credit for.
SIL and WBT are the Same Organization.
Both have their roots in Camp Wycliffe, which was founded in 1934 to train missionaries in linguistics to facilitate their work with indigenous peoples, primarily in the Americas.
In 1942, Wycliffe alumni incorporated as two separate organizations, WBT and SIL, as a clever way to get around laws banning missionaries from working in countries including Mexico. It is a ruse that has continued to serve them quite well. WBT remains in the U.S. as the fundraising and recruiting wing, emphasizing the religious aspect of their operations, while SIL arranges fieldwork and deals with governments, and gives the venture a veneer of scientific legitimacy.
SIL and WBT have historically tried to deny their connection, until 1953 when they were outed by, of all people, the Catholic Church. Since then they have tried to explain it with statements like "SIL and WBT are the same people, but it is a question of two corporations dedicated to different things." Tidy, but logically somewhat dubious.
Evangelical ethnocide is defined as the stigmatization, demonization and ridicule of beliefs rites and symbols of indigenous cultures while glorifying missionaries own world and own culture as the only path.
By entering, uninvited, into a society and attempting to foist an alien system of beliefs and morality on them, all missionaries engage in ethnocidal behavior. By identifying godliness with capitalism and the American way of life, WBT/SIL carry out this process to a particularly fanatical extreme.
Their focus on societies with little or no previous contact with the industrialized world make them especially dangerous. Arriving in the bush in flying machines bearing penicillin and metal tools, they can easily present themselves as messengers from a society and religion where all of lifes problems have been solved by the grace of their god. They provide no context with which to understand and analyze the price of development. Furthermore, by entering and building airstrips in previously impassably remote areas, they blaze the trail for governments, the military, and corporate interests.
This is, of course, fundamental to their purpose. WBT/SIL have been accused of scientific and political infiltration and espionage; control of foreign territory; violation of sovereignty; being a religious trans-national corporation; conspiracy with the CIA; detection and extraction of strategic materials; clandestine landing strips; intrigue; sterilization without consent, and much more. Although many of these allegations remain unproven, some things, such as SILs collaboration with the CIA in counter insurgency in Latin America and in South East Asia during the Vietnam War, as well as their cozy relationship with numerous dictatorships, and the funds they receive from both the CIA and western multinationals are quite well documented. They get away with this, in your town and around the world because there is very little known about what they do.
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