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                     Office of the Press Secretary
                      (Belfast, Northern Ireland)
For Immediate Release                                  December 13, 2000


Today I want to commend the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ) on its innovative efforts to further engage the faith community in racial reconciliation. NCCJ's Faith Leaders Initiative builds on my Initiative on Race, and the March 9 White House meeting where leaders of institutions of faith announced important new steps as they rededicated themselves to fight racism.

Today's Joint Statement on Racism, drafted and endorsed by a broad group of faith leaders, recognizes the important role of people of faith in fighting racism. It states: "Racism is a problem of the heart and an evil that must be eradicated from the institutional structures that shape our daily lives including our houses of worship." Those who affirm this statement and make its seven pledges will indeed be part of transforming our society to eradicate racism.

In addition, the directory of promising practices, guidelines for inter-religious forums, and list of 10 actions every individual can take to fight racism are significant contributions toward fulfilling our vision of One America.

Many groups and individuals have worked long and hard to develop the initiatives announced today. It will take many more groups and many more individuals to put these initiatives into action. When the National Conference for Community and Justice chose to continue the work of the Race Initiative within the faith community, I trusted this unique organization to bring new vision and extra vigor to that call. Today's announcement again attests to both its creativity and your commitment. It is only through work such as this that our nation will truly come to know both racial justice and racial reconciliation -- truly be One America.