Quotations by Tutu, Desmond


Isn’t it desperately sad that, at a time when we face formidable problems — poverty, HIV/AIDS, conflict — that the Anglican Communion can invest so much energy on disagreements about human sexuality? A communion that used to boast that one of its distinctive characteristics was something called comprehensiveness, that our communion, the Anglican Church, included just about everybody. Even if you had the most weird theology you could come in, you were allowed. And now we, who used to be held up in admiration by many because of this inclusiveness, are now spending time working out how we can excommunicate one another. God looks on and God weeps. God weeps.

Desmond Tutu (b. 1931) South African cleric, Archbishop of Cape Town, Nobel Laureate
“And God Smiles,” sermon at All Saints Church, Pasadena, California (6 Nov 2005)
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This family has no outsiders. Everyone is an insider. When Jesus said, “I, if I am lifted up, will draw …” Did he say, “I will draw some”? “I will draw some, and tough luck for the others”? He said, “I, if I be lifted up, will draw all.” All! All! All! — Black, white, yellow; rich, poor; clever, not so clever; beautiful, not so beautiful. All! All! It is radical. All! Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, Bush — all! All! All are to be held in this incredible embrace. Gay, lesbian, so-called “straight;” all! All! All are to be held in the incredible embrace of the love that won’t let us go.

Desmond Tutu (b. 1931) South African cleric, Archbishop of Cape Town, Nobel Laureate
“And God Smiles,” Sermon, All Saints Church, Pasadena, California (6 Nov 2005)

The Bible passage referenced is John 12:32.
Added on 17-Oct-11 | Last updated 6-Jan-16
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History, like beauty, depends largely on the beholder, so when you read that, for example, David Livingstone discovered the Victoria Falls, you might be forgiven for thinking that there was nobody around the Falls until Livingstone arrived on the scene.

Desmond Tutu (b. 1931) South African cleric, Archbishop of Cape Town, Nobel Laureate
“Fortieth Anniversary of the Republic,” speech (1981)

See Richard Cumberland.
Added on 28-Nov-11 | Last updated 14-Jan-15
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If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.

Desmond Tutu (b. 1931) South African cleric, Archbishop of Cape Town, Nobel Laureate
(Attributed)
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Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.

Tutu - little bits of good - wist_info quote

Desmond Tutu (b. 1931) South African cleric, Archbishop of Cape Town, Nobel Laureate
(Attributed)
Added on 22-Apr-16 | Last updated 22-Apr-16
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A jealous person is doubly unhappy — over what he has, which is judged inferior, and over what he has not, which is judged superior. Such a person is doubly removed from knowing the true blessing of creation.

Desmond Tutu (b. 1931) South African cleric, Archbishop of Cape Town, Nobel Laureate
An African Prayer Book
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I can’t for the life of me imagine that God will say, “I will punish you because you are black, you should have been white; I will punish you because you are a woman, you should have been a man; I will punish you because you are homosexual, you ought to have been heterosexual.” I can’t for the life of me believe that is how God sees things.

Desmond Tutu (b. 1931) South African cleric, Archbishop of Cape Town, Nobel Laureate
For the Bible Tells Me So [film-maker Daniel Karslake] (2007)

Video clip.
Added on 17-Jan-12 | Last updated 9-Mar-12
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We may be surprised at the people we find in heaven. God has a soft spot for sinners. His standards are quite low.

Desmond Tutu (b. 1931) South African cleric, Archbishop of Cape Town, Nobel Laureate
Sunday Times (15 Apr 2001)
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Good is stronger than evil; love is stronger than hate; light is stronger than darkness; life is stronger than death. Victory is ours, through him who loves us.

Desmond Tutu (b. 1931) South African cleric, Archbishop of Cape Town, Nobel Laureate
The Rainbow People of God (1994)
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I am not interested in picking up crumbs of compassion thrown from the table of someone who considers himself my master. I want the full menu of rights.

Desmond Tutu (b. 1931) South African cleric, Archbishop of Cape Town, Nobel Laureate
Today, NBC TV (9 Jan 1985)
Added on 3-Oct-11 | Last updated 3-Oct-11
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A person is a person because he recognizes others as persons.

Desmond Tutu (b. 1931) South African cleric, Archbishop of Cape Town, Nobel Laureate
Address, On Installation as Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town (7 Sep 1986)
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I do not preach a social gospel; I preach the Gospel, period. The gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is concerned for the whole person. When people were hungry, Jesus didn’t say, “Now, is that political, or social?” He said, “I feed you.” … If people wish to say, “God’s writ does not run in the political sphere,” I want to ask, “Whose does?”

Desmond Tutu (b. 1931) South African cleric, Archbishop of Cape Town, Nobel Laureate
Interview with Rafael Suarez, Jr., Worldview (Dec 1984)
Added on 13-Feb-09 | Last updated 13-Feb-09
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If God, as they say, is homophobic, I wouldn’t worship that God.

Desmond Tutu (b. 1931) South African cleric, Archbishop of Cape Town, Nobel Laureate
Interview, BBC Radio 4 (18 Nov 2007)
Added on 26-Dec-11 | Last updated 26-Dec-11
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When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said “Let us pray.” We closed our eyes. When we opened them, we had the Bible and they had the land.

Desmond Tutu (b. 1931) South African cleric, Archbishop of Cape Town, Nobel Laureate
Quoted in Steven Gish, Desmond Tutu: A Biography (2004)

Tutu has used this joke often, though it is not original to him.
Added on 31-Oct-11 | Last updated 31-Oct-11
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Freedom and liberty lose out by default because good people are not vigilant.

Desmond Tutu (b. 1931) South African cleric, Archbishop of Cape Town, Nobel Laureate
Speech (Nov 1984), Hope and Suffering (1985)
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Injustice and oppression will never prevail. Those who are powerful have to remember the litmus test that God gives to the powerful: what is your treatment of the poor, the hungry, the voiceless? And on the basis of that, God passes judgment.

Desmond Tutu (b. 1931) South African cleric, Archbishop of Cape Town, Nobel Laureate
Speech, Boston (2002)

Full text.
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Sometimes you want to whisper in God’s ear, “God, we know you are in charge, but why don’t you make it slightly more obvious?”

Desmond Tutu (b. 1931) South African cleric, Archbishop of Cape Town, Nobel Laureate
Wallenberg Lecture, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (29 Oct 2009)
Added on 12-Dec-11 | Last updated 22-Apr-16
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