In early 1996, federal officials detected a sharp rise in the number of reported attacks on our nation's houses of worship, especially African American churches in the South. This trend troubled communities, challenged law enforcement agencies, and stirred the nation's conscience. In June 1996, President Clinton formed the National Church Arson Task Force ("NCATF" or "Task Force"), made the investigation of these fires a top priority of federal law enforcement, and called on all Americans to come together in a spirit of respect and reconciliation. The President directed his Administration to implement a strategy to (1) identify and prosecute the arsonists; (2) help communities rebuild the burned houses of worship; and (3) offer assistance in preventing more fires. Working with state and local law enforcement and private groups, federal officials achieved great success on these fronts. Significantly, many Americans came together as a result of these arsons, often independent of the federal effort, to lend assistance in many ways.