To help focus its work, the National Council of Churches periodically selects priority issues that are of particular importance in society and for people of faith. These priorities become the focus of time and resources for NCC staff, Convening Tables, Governing Board, and other appropriate NCC bodies. There is no limit to the amount of time devoted to a particular priority, but it can range anywhere from 1-5+ years.
Since at least the 1970s, the U.S. criminal justice system has been based on the harsh punishment of individuals, especially in relation to crimes where drugs are involved. Today the U.S. has the highest per capita incarceration rate in the world, with 743 per 100,00 people incarcerated for a total prison and jail population of over 2 million people. Those imprisoned are disproportionately people of color (African American, Latino, etc.).
Today there is a growing movement to reverse this trend. Through legislation, pretrial diversion, education, re-entry work, and many other ways the faith community has already worked closely for decades in the area of criminal justice. Taking this experience into account and working with our brothers and sisters in historic African American churches, the NCC will seek to lessen the racial disparities in the criminal justice system and encourage a focus on restoration of formerly incarcerated people and empowerment of persons of color to interrupt the cradle to prison pipeline.
Interreligious Relations with a Focus on Peace
The world’s many faiths play a crucial and significant role in building peace in their societies. This is true both on a global level and in local communities. Interreligious relationships build bridges of understanding between peoples in an increasingly interconnected world. These connections are vital as we seek to understand one another and find mutually beneficial ways to support one another.
There are many settings for Interreligious peace work. Within the U.S., partnerships between Christians, Jews, and Muslims helps reduce suspicion and anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic sentiment in society in a post 9/11 world. As Asia continues to grow understanding religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, and others becomes increasingly important in working together to address the conflicts and disparities present in those parts of the world. NCC will seek to strengthen its current relationships and build new ones in joint efforts to work together for peace.