JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Black and white leaders of 90 of South Africa's Christian churches, concluding their first conference in nearly 30 years, joined Friday to reject apartheid as a sin and confess their own role in fostering segregation.
The action was largely a symbolic gesture because each of the participating denominations, including the Dutch Reformed Church, has made similar statements individually in recent years.
The white branch of the Dutch Reformed Church, whose 1.5 million members represent nearly 40% of all white South Africans, for years played an important role in justifying the ruling National Party's racial segregation policies.
But, in a historic declaration in 1986, it acknowledged that apartheid is a mistake and that racism is a sin.
The final communique from the weeklong church conference in Rustenburg, northwest of Johannesburg, also recommended that the government remove all apartheid laws, establish a transitional government, return land taken from blacks and arrange an affirmative action program for blacks.