NEWS FEATURE: Couple Seeks to Teach Parents to Control Sports Rage

c. 2000 Religion News Service (UNDATED) The news shocked the nation: an irate father beat another father to death in front of the man’s children during an argument at a youth hockey game near Boston. But for coach and former professional athlete Jim Sundberg, the story of parental rage sparked by youth sports was not entirely foreign. “Sometimes parents just lose it during games _ I’ve seen it happen,” said Sundberg, a 16-year Major League baseball player who helped the Kansas City Royals snag the 1985 World Series title. “Sometimes it goes too far.” Observing such incidents first-hand, although none quite as extreme as the Boston incident, prompted Sundberg to team up with his wife Janet to write “How to Win at Sports Parenting” (Waterbrook Press), to teach parents effective parenting skills for youth sports.

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c. 2000 Religion News Service IRS Concedes Christian Coalition Was Tax-Exempt in 1990 (RNS) A Virginia district judge has ordered the Internal Revenue Service to refund taxes paid by the Christian Coalition in 1990 because the IRS has conceded that the organization was tax-exempt in that year. The decision on Tuesday (July 25) by U.S. District Judge Henry Morgan Jr. of Norfolk, Va., came within two weeks of the coalition receiving a refund for its $169.26 payment to the IRS. Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, a law firm that represented the coalition, called the decision a “major victory.” The law firm was founded by religious broadcaster Pat Robertson, who also founded the coalition. “Everything we asked for in the complaint, we obtained,” Sekulow said, referring to the suit filed against the IRS in February.

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c. 2000 Religion News Service IRS Concedes Christian Coalition Was Tax-Exempt in 1990 (RNS) A Virginia district judge has ordered the Internal Revenue Service to refund taxes paid by the Christian Coalition in 1990 because the IRS has conceded that the organization was tax-exempt in that year. The decision on Tuesday (July 25) by U.S. District Judge Henry Morgan Jr. of Norfolk, Va., came within two weeks of the coalition receiving a refund for its $169.26 payment to the IRS. Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, a law firm that represented the coalition, called the decision a “major victory.” The law firm was founded by religious broadcaster Pat Robertson, who also founded the coalition. “Everything we asked for in the complaint, we obtained,” Sekulow said, referring to the suit filed against the IRS in February.

NEWS STORY: Pagan Picnic Is a Stroll Through Time, Faiths

c. 2000 Religion News Service ST. LOUIS _ Jeffery and Dixie Gausling strolled through the park with their baby Kameron. All three were dressed in Celtic finery. While the couple were both raised Catholics in this city known for its Catholic heritage, the Gauslings are now more interested in ancient rituals.

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c. 2000 Religion News Service Several States Look to Copy Vermont’s Civil Unions Law (RNS) At least seven states are exploring laws that would create civil union benefits for gay and lesbian couples after Vermont became the first state to offer marriage-like rights to homosexual partners. Vermont’s law, which went into effect July 1, grants same-sex couples rights similar to marriage, such as property and inheritance benefits. Couples who receive a “civil union” license, however, do not receive any federal benefits, and the arrangement is not recognized in other states. Thirty-two states have passed laws banning same-sex unions.

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c. 2000 Religion News Service Several States Look to Copy Vermont’s Civil Unions Law (RNS) At least seven states are exploring laws that would create civil union benefits for gay and lesbian couples after Vermont became the first state to offer marriage-like rights to homosexual partners. Vermont’s law, which went into effect July 1, grants same-sex couples rights similar to marriage, such as property and inheritance benefits. Couples who receive a “civil union” license, however, do not receive any federal benefits, and the arrangement is not recognized in other states. Thirty-two states have passed laws banning same-sex unions.

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c. 2000 Religion News Service Pope Renews Call for Special Status for Jerusalem (RNS) Pope John Paul II has renewed his call for an internationally guaranteed special status for Jerusalem to preserve its holy sites and ensure full freedom of worship to Jews, Christians and Muslims alike. Addressing pilgrims gathered outside his summer residence at Castelgandolfo in the Alban Hills south of Rome on Sunday (July 23) for the midday Angelus prayer, the 80-year-old Roman Catholic pontiff said he is closely following the Middle East peace talks under way at Camp David, Md. “I want to accompany those negotiations, which are certainly not easy, with prayer and encouragement,” John Paul said. The pope said he hoped the talks were based on “respect for law and justice for all” and the desire to reach “a just and lasting peace,” and would take into consideration the “spiritual dimension” of Jerusalem.

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c. 2000 Religion News Service Pope Renews Call for Special Status for Jerusalem (RNS) Pope John Paul II has renewed his call for an internationally guaranteed special status for Jerusalem to preserve its holy sites and ensure full freedom of worship to Jews, Christians and Muslims alike. Addressing pilgrims gathered outside his summer residence at Castelgandolfo in the Alban Hills south of Rome on Sunday (July 23) for the midday Angelus prayer, the 80-year-old Roman Catholic pontiff said he is closely following the Middle East peace talks under way at Camp David, Md. “I want to accompany those negotiations, which are certainly not easy, with prayer and encouragement,” John Paul said. The pope said he hoped the talks were based on “respect for law and justice for all” and the desire to reach “a just and lasting peace,” and would take into consideration the “spiritual dimension” of Jerusalem.

NEWS FEATURE: Historic Temple Mount at Heart of Peace Talks

c. 2000 Religion News Service JERUSALEM _ The gold-plated roof of Jerusalem’s Dome of the Rock blazes under the summer sun as Muslim worshippers gather for noontime prayer on a broad esplanade around the Islamic shrine, perched on a hill that dominates the skyline above Jerusalem’s Old City. A few dozen feet below the eighth century mosque compound, pious Jews touch and kiss the giant, bleached stones of the Western Wall, the retaining wall of the biblical-era Temple, which stood two millenniums ago on the site of the Dome and its companion Al Aksa Mosque. The dispute over these 35 acres of sacred rock stands at the heart of the political debate now raging between Israelis and Palestinians at Camp David over the future status of Jerusalem. Indeed, it could be said that almost the entire fate of the peace talks rests upon the site that the Bible calls “my holy hilltop.” Both Jews and Muslims pray to the same God.

NEWS FEATURE: Historic Temple Mount at Heart of Peace Talks

c. 2000 Religion News Service JERUSALEM _ The gold-plated roof of Jerusalem’s Dome of the Rock blazes under the summer sun as Muslim worshippers gather for noontime prayer on a broad esplanade around the Islamic shrine, perched on a hill that dominates the skyline above Jerusalem’s Old City. A few dozen feet below the eighth century mosque compound, pious Jews touch and kiss the giant, bleached stones of the Western Wall, the retaining wall of the biblical-era Temple, which stood two millenniums ago on the site of the Dome and its companion Al Aksa Mosque. The dispute over these 35 acres of sacred rock stands at the heart of the political debate now raging between Israelis and Palestinians at Camp David over the future status of Jerusalem. Indeed, it could be said that almost the entire fate of the peace talks rests upon the site that the Bible calls “my holy hilltop.” Both Jews and Muslims pray to the same God.

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c. 2000 Religion News Service Sexual Abstinence Advocates Barred From Chicago Schools (RNS) A group advocating sexual abstinence and linked to the Unification Church has been barred from presenting its curriculum in Chicago public schools. School administrators learned the Pure Love Alliance had presented the curriculum in sex education classes without proper approval, The Washington Post reported. The alliance said it presented its abstinence program in 61 Chicago schools during the last school year with consent of local teachers. It also made presentations in Alabama, Los Angeles and Miami.

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c. 2000 Religion News Service Sexual Abstinence Advocates Barred From Chicago Schools (RNS) A group advocating sexual abstinence and linked to the Unification Church has been barred from presenting its curriculum in Chicago public schools. School administrators learned the Pure Love Alliance had presented the curriculum in sex education classes without proper approval, The Washington Post reported. The alliance said it presented its abstinence program in 61 Chicago schools during the last school year with consent of local teachers. It also made presentations in Alabama, Los Angeles and Miami.

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c. 2000 Religion News Service Orthodox and Catholic Leaders End Meeting Without Agreement (RNS) Orthodox and Catholic leaders ended a summit in western Maryland on Wednesday (July 19) without agreement on theological issues that have divided the two churches for almost 1,000 years. Forty-six delegates from the Orthodox and Catholic churches wrapped up 10 days of talks at Mount St. Mary’s College and Seminary in Emmitsburg at the first summit to be held in the United States since talks first began in 1980. While failing to reach agreement, both sides said they left with a better understanding of the issues that have divided the two churches since the Great Schism of 1054.

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c. 2000 Religion News Service Orthodox and Catholic Leaders End Meeting Without Agreement (RNS) Orthodox and Catholic leaders ended a summit in western Maryland on Wednesday (July 19) without agreement on theological issues that have divided the two churches for almost 1,000 years. Forty-six delegates from the Orthodox and Catholic churches wrapped up 10 days of talks at Mount St. Mary’s College and Seminary in Emmitsburg at the first summit to be held in the United States since talks first began in 1980. While failing to reach agreement, both sides said they left with a better understanding of the issues that have divided the two churches since the Great Schism of 1054.

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c. 2000 Religion News Service Western United Methodists Protest Church Policy Against Gays (RNS) United Methodist churches in the western United States have approved a statement calling for the full inclusion of gays and lesbians in the church, echoing a declaration by churches in New England that protested the church’s decisions to ban same-sex unions and gay ordination. Meeting in Casper, Wyo., last week (July 12-15), delegates from United Methodist churches in 12 western states vowed to work for the “full participation at all levels in the life of the church and society” for gays and lesbians. The 8.4 million-member church met in Cleveland in May for its quadrennial General Conference meeting, where prohibitions against same-sex unions and gay ordination were upheld. A statement calling the practice of homosexuality “incompatible with Christian teaching” was also reaffirmed.