National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ)
NATIONAL CONFERENCE FOR COMMUNITY AND JUSTICE (NCCJ)
Formerly known as the National Conference for Christians and Jews—an organization founded in 1927 to promote cooperation in the social order between Jews and Christians—the National Conference for Community and Justice mirrors its heritage by broadening its mission to combat all forms of social bigotry. The new designation took effect in 1997. The old NCCJ was an attempt to counteract the religious intolerance that marked the 1920s in the U.S. In 1928 the presidential campaign, with its anti-Catholic prejudice, induced members of the Federal Council of Churches to form a committee that later became the National Conference of Christians and Jews. Judge and former Secretary of War Newton D. Baker, financier Roger Williams Straus, and Carlton J. H. Hayes, of Columbia University and a former ambassador to Spain, were the founding co-chairmen; Dr. Everett R. Clinchy was the first executive director.
Some members of the Catholic hierarchy, particularly Archbishop John T. McNicholas of Cincinnati, remained reticent during the 1930s and 1940s, following an interpretation of a letter of Pope Leo XIII that held that intercredal cooperation was a form of syncretism or religious indifferentism. Not all bishops saw the matter in these terms and Archbishop Edward Hanna of San Francisco publicly endorsed NCCJ. In its first decade, many priests, including J. Elliot Ross and T. Lawrason Riggs, worked vigorously on its behalf.
The NCCJ has never been an interfaith movement. As a civic organization of religiously motivated people, it promotes civic good will of all religious, ethnic, gender, and racial groups without compromise of religious beliefs. Its basic philosophy stems from the Judeo-Christian ethic of the equality of all people, while its technique is educational penetration of many heterogeneous groups to bring about better understanding and cooperation in matters of common social concern.
In the 1990s, NCCJ began to sponsor a nationally telecast discussion known as The National Conversation on Race, Ethnicity, and Culture, which became a model for civil conversation for issues such as the impact of race on public education and regional economic development, immigration, affirmative action, and welfare reform.
While headquartered in New York City, NCCJ has offices or affiliates in several dozen major U.S. cities where workshops and symposia are sponsored. Recent programs have included Seminarians Interacting, which brings future religious leaders into contact with one another to learn about their counterparts in other faith traditions. SI also includes Muslim students. Other educational work of the conference has been carried on primarily through up linked workshops and discussion groups.
Bibliography: j. e. pitt, Adventures in Brotherhood (New York 1955). e. r. clinchy, All in the Name of God (New York 1934). p. j. hayes, "J. Elliot Ross and the National Conference for Christians and Jews: A Catholic Contribution to Tolerance in America," Journal of Ecumenical Studies 37:3/4 (2000). c. e. silcox, "Protestant-Catholic-Jewish Relations: A Seminar at Columbia University," Religious Education 24 (1929) 207–249. c. silcox and g. m. fisher, Catholics, Jews, and Protestants: A Study of Relationships in the United States and Canada (repr. Westport, Conn. 1979). The NCCJ papers are located in the Social Welfare History Archive at the University of Minnesota.
[j. m. eagan/
p. j. hayes]