Nobel peace prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu said the Bible is the greatest weapon in the fight against injustice during a church conference on social justice.
"There's nothing more radical, nothing more revolutionary, nothing more subversive against injustice and oppression than the Bible," the South African archbishop said Saturday at London megachurch Jesus House For All Nations, according to co-sponsor Tearfund.
To the crowd of more than 800 U.K. church leaders, Tutu declared that the Bible has revolutionary power to free the poor as he drew from his experiences in apartheid-dominated South Africa.
"If you want to keep people subjugated, the last thing you place in their hands is a Bible," he said.
During the one-day "Who Is My Neighbor" event, churches were challenged to be the hands, feet, eyes and ears of Jesus in the fight against local and global poverty, with special emphasis on HIV.
Christian AIDS activist Lynne Hybels of the Chicago-area megachurch Willow Creek Community Church encouraged churches to be more engaged in the HIV/AIDS battle.
She said her awakening to the issue of HIV/AIDS while visiting Uganda was her "second conversion."
During her visit to Africa, she said she was forced to decide whether to give in to the hopelessness of the pandemic or to take positive action. She chose the latter and began to speak in public about the injustices of the AIDS crisis.
Hybels urged church leaders at the event to teach their congregations the values of compassion and justice.
In addition to Hybels and her husband Bill, who leads Willow Creek, megachurch leaders Kay and Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church are the other prominent church figures spearheading the effort to get churches around the world more involved in the AIDS crisis.
At the first Global Summit on AIDS and the Church at Saddleback Church in 2005, Lynne and Bill Hybels were key speakers and joined the Warren's on stage to call the Church to move away from condemning HIV-infected people and toward caring for them.
More than 33 million people worldwide have HIV, the virus which can lead to AIDS, according to the latest U.N. report. Over 2 million people have died of AIDS this year alone – including 330,000 children.