From the Worldwide Faith News archives


Date 22 May 1996 17:42:03

National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.
Contact: Carol J. Fouke, NCC, 212-870-2252

57NCC5/22/96                 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

 NEW YORK, May 22 ---- The epidemic of
firebombing and other attacks on churches, most of
them Black congregations, is a "national disaster
and a national disgrace," the National Council of
Churches' policy-setting Executive Board said today.
"These are human-made, unnatural disasters," the
Rev. Dr. Mac Charles Jones told the Board in his
report on the NCC-led effort to investigate the
attacks on Black churches and to provide spiritual,
legal and material support to stop the attacks and
rebuild the churches.

 Dr. Jones, the NCC's Director for Racial
Justice and Pastor of St. Stephen's Baptist Church
in Kansas City, Mo., and colleagues have been
visiting affected churches since early March.  The
Center for Constitutional Rights, New York, and
Center for Democratic Renewal, Atlanta, are partners
with the NCC in the effort.

 The Board's response included a letter to the
U.S. House Judiciary Committee, which held hearings
yesterday on the attacks on churches.  The NCC
submitted written testimony after its request to
offer oral testimony was denied.  The Board noted
that the NCC's investigative work has collected
"information not otherwise available to Congress,"
and asked for a meeting with the House Judiciary
Committee and top officials of the U.S. Justice and
Treasury departments.  The Board also invited
Committee members to travel with the NCC to sites of
church destruction.

 The NCC 53-member Executive Board is made up of
delegates from the NCC's 33 Protestant and Orthodox
member denominations, which have a combined
constituency of 53 million people.  The Board
carries major responsibility for program
coordination, organizational management and
financial oversight.

 In other actions, the Board unanimously opposed
proposed legislation that would enable states to
deny public education to children of undocumented
immigrants, asserting that education is a basic
right for all children living in our society, and
pressed the U. S. government to meet its financial
commitments to the United Nations.  It also urged
the U.S. government to use its full diplomatic
capability in support for democracy in Nigeria and
to identify and impose selective, but not
comprehensive, sanctions "to encourage a swift
return to democracy by the military regime."  "Small
sanctions," such as targetting the bank accounts of
regime members, would help put pressure on this
"small group of people standing in the way of the
democratic process, said NCC Africa Office Director
Willis Logan.  Nigerian church leaders advise that
broad-based sanctions would hurt the wrong people,
Nigeria's poor.


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