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c. 2000 Religion News Service Canterbury Is No Hogwarts (RNS) The authorities at Canterbury Cathedral have turned down a request from the Warner Bros. film company to use shots of the medieval building to portray Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for the movie it is making of J.K. Rowlings’ “Harry Potter” children’s book series. The fourth volume in the hugely popular series, reportedly to be called “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” is to be published July 8. Earlier this week, Amazon.com reported it had received more than 245,000 pre-orders for the book, which is expected to run 750 pages.

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c. 2000 Religion News Service Canterbury Is No Hogwarts (RNS) The authorities at Canterbury Cathedral have turned down a request from the Warner Bros. film company to use shots of the medieval building to portray Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for the movie it is making of J.K. Rowlings’ “Harry Potter” children’s book series. The fourth volume in the hugely popular series, reportedly to be called “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” is to be published July 8. Earlier this week, Amazon.com reported it had received more than 245,000 pre-orders for the book, which is expected to run 750 pages.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2000 Religion News Service National Council of Churches Cheers Elian’s U.S. Departure (RNS) Officials of the National Council of Churches, which long has supported the return of Elian Gonzalez to his homeland, are glad he has been permitted to fly to Cuba. “We are delighted that Elian Gonzalez is on his way home at last, in the company of his loving father,” the Rev. Robert W. Edgar, general secretary of the New York-based ecumenical agency, said in a statement Wednesday (June 28). The U.S. Supreme Court ended a seven-month custody fight over the boy by rejecting appeals by Elian’s Miami relatives who wanted him to stay in this country. His father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, who has lived with him in the United States for more than two months, wanted to return with him to Cuba.

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c. 2000 Religion News Service National Council of Churches Cheers Elian’s U.S. Departure (RNS) Officials of the National Council of Churches, which long has supported the return of Elian Gonzalez to his homeland, are glad he has been permitted to fly to Cuba. “We are delighted that Elian Gonzalez is on his way home at last, in the company of his loving father,” the Rev. Robert W. Edgar, general secretary of the New York-based ecumenical agency, said in a statement Wednesday (June 28). The U.S. Supreme Court ended a seven-month custody fight over the boy by rejecting appeals by Elian’s Miami relatives who wanted him to stay in this country. His father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, who has lived with him in the United States for more than two months, wanted to return with him to Cuba.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2000 Religion News Service Study: Lay Leaders Committed But Take Nonorthodox Biblical Views (RNS) A study of church lay leaders finds they are more committed to religious activities than other churchgoers but are often at odds with orthodox biblical understandings. The Barna Research Group study found that church leaders were more than twice as likely as others to attend church services and more than four times as likely to volunteer, attend Sunday school and take part in a faith-related small group during a typical week. These leaders also were more likely than other churchgoers to pray or have a personal devotional time during the week. Researchers found that 96 percent of lay leaders donated money to their church in the past year, compared to 48 percent of other adults.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2000 Religion News Service Study: Lay Leaders Committed But Take Nonorthodox Biblical Views (RNS) A study of church lay leaders finds they are more committed to religious activities than other churchgoers but are often at odds with orthodox biblical understandings. The Barna Research Group study found that church leaders were more than twice as likely as others to attend church services and more than four times as likely to volunteer, attend Sunday school and take part in a faith-related small group during a typical week. These leaders also were more likely than other churchgoers to pray or have a personal devotional time during the week. Researchers found that 96 percent of lay leaders donated money to their church in the past year, compared to 48 percent of other adults.

NEWS STORY: Presbyterian Meeting Opens Amid 81 Arrests

c. 2000 Religion News Service LONG BEACH, Calif. _ The nation’s largest Presbyterian body opened its 212th General Assembly here Saturday (June 24), and as more than a thousand people gathered for worship Sunday, the strains facing the denomination were sharply apparent. Eighty-one people were arrested protesting church policies on gays. Representatives of the 2.5 million-member Presbyterian Church (USA) are here through Saturday (July 1) for their annual meeting to set doctrine and policy.

NEWS STORY: Presbyterian Meeting Opens Amid 81 Arrests

c. 2000 Religion News Service LONG BEACH, Calif. _ The nation’s largest Presbyterian body opened its 212th General Assembly here Saturday (June 24), and as more than a thousand people gathered for worship Sunday, the strains facing the denomination were sharply apparent. Eighty-one people were arrested protesting church policies on gays. Representatives of the 2.5 million-member Presbyterian Church (USA) are here through Saturday (July 1) for their annual meeting to set doctrine and policy.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2000 Religion News Service Tutu Urges End to Death Penalty in the United States (RNS) Two days after the controversial execution of a Texas prisoner, retired Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu has called on the United States to end capital punishment. At a news conference Saturday (June 24) preceding his receipt of an honorary doctorate from the University of Nevada at Reno, Tutu said not all of those who have been executed were guilty of the crimes for which they died. “I don’t want a moratorium on the death penalty,” said Tutu, whose work to end apartheid in South Africa earned him a Nobel Peace Prize in 1994. “I want the abolition of it.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2000 Religion News Service Tutu Urges End to Death Penalty in the United States (RNS) Two days after the controversial execution of a Texas prisoner, retired Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu has called on the United States to end capital punishment. At a news conference Saturday (June 24) preceding his receipt of an honorary doctorate from the University of Nevada at Reno, Tutu said not all of those who have been executed were guilty of the crimes for which they died. “I don’t want a moratorium on the death penalty,” said Tutu, whose work to end apartheid in South Africa earned him a Nobel Peace Prize in 1994. “I want the abolition of it.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2000 Religion News Service Vatican, Helped by Strong Dollar, Reports $5 Million Surplus (RNS) Helped by a strong dollar and contributions from Roman Catholic dioceses worldwide, the Holy See finished 1999 with a surplus of more than $5 million despite heavy spending for the Jubilee Holy Year 2000, the Vatican reported Friday (June 23). “I am happy to report that in 1999, for the seventh consecutive year, the Consolidated Financial Statement of the Holy See closed with a net gain,” Archbishop Sergio Sebastiani, president of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, told a Vatican news conference. “Thanks to God, it is not in the red.” Total costs were 348,500 billion lire while total revenues were 358,225 billion lire for a net surplus of 9,725 billion lire, which is equal to $5,046,000 at the end-of-the-year exchange rate of 1,927.4 lire to the dollar, he said. The financial statement covered the costs and revenues of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, which controls management of most of the offices of the Roman Curia, the church’s central administrative bodies; the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, which oversees missionary work; the Apostolic Chamber, which administers the church between popes; Vatican Radio; the Vatican press and newspaper L’Osservatore Romano; and the Vatican Television Center.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2000 Religion News Service Vatican, Helped by Strong Dollar, Reports $5 Million Surplus (RNS) Helped by a strong dollar and contributions from Roman Catholic dioceses worldwide, the Holy See finished 1999 with a surplus of more than $5 million despite heavy spending for the Jubilee Holy Year 2000, the Vatican reported Friday (June 23). “I am happy to report that in 1999, for the seventh consecutive year, the Consolidated Financial Statement of the Holy See closed with a net gain,” Archbishop Sergio Sebastiani, president of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, told a Vatican news conference. “Thanks to God, it is not in the red.” Total costs were 348,500 billion lire while total revenues were 358,225 billion lire for a net surplus of 9,725 billion lire, which is equal to $5,046,000 at the end-of-the-year exchange rate of 1,927.4 lire to the dollar, he said. The financial statement covered the costs and revenues of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, which controls management of most of the offices of the Roman Curia, the church’s central administrative bodies; the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, which oversees missionary work; the Apostolic Chamber, which administers the church between popes; Vatican Radio; the Vatican press and newspaper L’Osservatore Romano; and the Vatican Television Center.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2000 Religion News Service Baptist Radio Program to Air Controversial Falwell Interview (RNS) The host of a Southern Baptist agency’s radio program says a recent interview with the Rev. Jerry Falwell that includes comments about the upcoming presidential election will be aired despite concerns voiced by a group advocating church-state separation. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said the “For Faith & Family” radio broadcast featuring Falwell is scheduled to air in early July. According to Baptist news services, Falwell urged the defeat of Vice President Al Gore, the presumed Democratic candidate, in the November election. “The American people, I think, sense something right now _ that we are about to lose America,” Falwell said.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2000 Religion News Service Baptist Radio Program to Air Controversial Falwell Interview (RNS) The host of a Southern Baptist agency’s radio program says a recent interview with the Rev. Jerry Falwell that includes comments about the upcoming presidential election will be aired despite concerns voiced by a group advocating church-state separation. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said the “For Faith & Family” radio broadcast featuring Falwell is scheduled to air in early July. According to Baptist news services, Falwell urged the defeat of Vice President Al Gore, the presumed Democratic candidate, in the November election. “The American people, I think, sense something right now _ that we are about to lose America,” Falwell said.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2000 Religion News Service Dalai Lama Asks for U.S. Help in Talks With China (RNS) The Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, said Tuesday (June 20) he is willing to discuss the future of Tibet with Chinese leaders and wants the U.S. Congress to help create a dialogue. The Dalai Lama was in Washington for meetings with President Clinton and Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Clinton and National Security Adviser Sandy Berger reiterated their support for the Dalai Lama and political and religious freedom in Tibet. Relations between the Dalai Lama and Chinese officials have been frosty for decades, ever since the Dalai Lama fled Tibet in 1959 following a failed revolt against Chinese rule.