The Deaf Bible Society took a stand after Islamic State militants released a propaganda video in sign language in March. The organization, which seeks to make the Bible available worldwide, was working to make Christian resources more widely available to deaf individuals in the Middle East as a means to thwart their potential recruitment by the Islamic State, the Blaze reported Wednesday.
Access to the Bible should be a human right, the organization’s president, J.R. Bucklew, has said. Many deaf communities have been “put down by their societies,” he added, leading some of their members to be lured by recent videos from the Islamic State, also called ISIS, ISIL or IS. The Bible, he said, could counteract their propaganda targeting the deaf.
"They see something like the IS video and say, 'Wow, a regime that is actually going to give us something -- give us a place, give us stature, give us empowerment.' But it is a false empowerment. It is a temporary empowerment. It's temporary hope, and even then it is not true hope,” Bucklew said in an interview with the Christian Post.
ISIS released the video in question last March featuring two hearing- and speech-impaired traffic policemen exhorting European Muslims to join its ranks in Syria and Iraq. Experts have said the videos were an effort to represent ISIS as an open and nondiscriminatory group, even as its fighters have been accused of committing egregious human rights violations against detractors and minority religious groups.
— Shawn Moses (@moosemosesy) March 27, 2015
Translating the Bible into sign language is going to take some time, Bucklew said. The organization has yet to identify sign-language-literate individuals on the ground in the Middle East interested in helping in the translation process.
In order to launch the project, the Deaf Bible Society intends to produce a two-hour video in sign language highlighting the story of Jesus in the hope of attracting Christians in the Middle East who might be interested in helping. Once a team of supporters is established within the region, Bucklew estimated it could take three to five years before the sign-language Bible is released.
Though various text translations of the Bible are available in the Middle East, most of the world’s deaf population is functionally illiterate.