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President Clinton's one American Meeting with Religious Leaders

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The Briefing Room

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release March 9, 2000


Today, President Clinton will meet with a broad group of American religious leaders to discuss their efforts to mobilize the faith community around the President’s goal of building One America. In September 1998, the President enlisted Sanford Cloud, President and CEO of the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ), to continue the work of the President’s Initiative on Race within the religious community.

Today’s meeting provides an opportunity for religious leaders who have participated in this effort to announce new commitments and programs they are undertaking as a result of the President’s call to action. The meeting is one of several the President is hosting to mobilize important segments of American society towards the goals of his Initiative on Race. Last July, the President met with leaders of the legal profession. And he plans to host corporate leaders from across the nation in the near future.


The National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ):
Founded over 70 years ago, NCCJ is an organization dedicated to fighting bias, bigotry and racism and promoting understanding and respect. The group serves communities in 65 different regions located in 35 different states through work with youth, educators, business and community leaders and others.

NCCJ will continue its leadership and work with this group of religious leaders. They will organize follow-up meetings with faith leaders; work with other leaders to create a booklet of theological underpinnings, from various faiths, naming racism a sin; and work with other faiths to address race issues in their own institutions. Recognizing the importance of grassroots and follow-up work, NCCJ will hold a forum in the spring/summer of 2001 to share information on their efforts and to seek commitments from more faith leaders for this historic collaboration.

The Interfaith Alliance (TIA):
Founded in 1994, the Interfaith Alliance is a national grassroots organization with a membership of 75,000 drawn from over 50 faith traditions and denominations with local alliances in 109 communities in 36 states.

The Interfaith Alliance will work with 30 racially and religiously diverse seminaries to create a curriculum for teaching tomorrow’s religious leaders about diversity and racism to prepare them to pass those teachings on to their congregants. They intend to present the curriculum to the over 300 mainline seminaries across the country -- reaching over 63,000 students. In addition, TIA plans to host a series of summits on race and religion in 20 communities across the country over the next two years.

The United Methodist Church:
The United Methodist Church pledges to provide unprecedented new commitments and resources to anti-racism consultation and training for its 43,000 churches, 36,000 pastors, and 8.5 million members. They will initiate an Acts of Repentance for Reconciliation for Racism Project and spend an additional $1.3 million to expand their anti-racism consultation, publications and training over the next four years. In addition, the Church will increase its support for 11 historically black colleges by $5 million, from $40-$45 million -- and begin a $300 million endowment for those colleges.

The Rabbinical Council of America:
The Council created a policy statement on racism and prejudice especially for today’s meeting. They have designated May 6, 2000 as the Sabbath on which they will begin this "One Humanity" project.

During the year-long project, they will urge their rabbinic leaders to:

Speak openly about racism and reconciliation;
Create new programs of outreach to the poor and homeless;
Establish youth activities for all ethnic and social groups to interact;
Reach across racial and social lines and have substantive educational programs for adults in areas of common interest;
Share facilities with different groups for social and recreational activities.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church:
The Church is developing its first strategic plan for achieving racial harmony within its diverse, almost 1 million-person denomination. In response to the President’s call for One America, the Adventists held their first summit on race relations in 1999. As a result, they are working to develop and implement a comprehensive plan to eliminate all policies and practices which directly or indirectly disadvantage people of color and women, and to ensure an inclusive and racially harmonious denomination.

The Christian Methodist Episcopal Church (CME):
With over 2,300 churches around the nation, the CME Church pledges to work with a variety of churches that have historically been divided by issues of race and intolerance. CME will also seek racial justice through increasing economic opportunity by holding computer literacy training sessions for individuals to increase their job prospects.

The Reform Jewish Movement:
Over the last half-century, the Reform Jewish Movement has actively worked to bridge the gap of racial understanding through its policies, programs, and publications, working within its own denomination and with the African-American community. In response to the President’s call for One America, the Movement commits to initiating a substantial and systematic plan to reach out to additional communities, including the Asian, Latino, and Native American populations and a broader spectrum of faith communities.

The Baha’is of The United States:
With over 110,000 members in the United States, the Baha’is have responded to the President’s call for One America by creating programs, videos and TV spots which are designed to reach households across the country with positive messages of spiritual solutions to social problems. The programs emphasize the importance of multicultural groups working together. The first video, "The Power of Race Unity," will be on cable TV channels during the month of March 2000.

The Interfaith Center of New York’s World Movement for Nonviolence Program:
The Center has alliances with schools, communities and organizations in over 140 cities across America. The have committed to convening 50 inter-religious forums on racism this year and plan to eventually extend this program to schools across the country.

The Tree of Peace Society:
A Native American organization that promotes peace and justice, the Tree of Peace Society works with other grassroots organizations across the nation. The Society emphasizes that all living things must be treated with sensitivity and respect. In response to the President’s call for One America, the Society will open a world center to promote personal development, environmental justice, and the study of peace in Rossie, NY.

American Muslim Council of Las Vegas:
In response to the President’s call for One America, the American Muslim Council will expand its programs to train and educate young people on issues of race.

Indianapolis’ "Celebration of Hope"
The Second Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis began its "Celebration of Hope" program in 1994 with one church and one synagogue. Today, there are 47 congregations participating. "Celebration of Hope" will expand its youth programs throughout the community, including its first youth service day May 26 involving young people from each congregation. And in 2001, they will inaugurate their first interracial children’s choir.

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