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Creationist school wins in California

Education officials in California have formally acknowledged the right of a private school to teach the biblical account of creation as factual as long as teachers also give information on evolution. The acknowledgement came as part of a settlement between Bill Honig, superintendent of public instruction in California, and the Institute for Creation Research in Santee, Calif. The settlement resulted in a declaratory judgment in U.S. District Court in San Diego in favor of the institute, which teaches science from a fundamentalist Christian perspective. The settlement means that the school can continue to operate and that California education officials have acknowledged that they have no authority over its curriculum content except as otherwise provided by law. The institute got permission from the state Board of Education in 1981 to operate a graduate school of science. Its program, which offers master's degrees in biology, geology, physics and science education, has been accredited by an agency that accredits fundamentalist Christian institutions. The agency is called the Transnational Association of Christian Schools.

Baptists balk at IRS

charity reporting plan

Officials of the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs, a lobbying organization in Washington that represents nine Baptist groups, have sharply criticized a proposal requiring churches to report some contributions to the Internal Revenue Service. The proposal calls for churches to report contributions by people who give more than $500 annually. Such a requirement "would be awfully burdensome for big and small churches alike," said J. Brent Walker, associate general counsel at the Baptist Joint Committee in Washington. "Any member who gives as little as $10 a week will hit the $500 figure. Multiply that by the millions of church members and you've got a monumental mass of red tape." The measure is part of the Bush administration's fiscal 1993 budget plan and is aimed at helping the IRS detect fraudulent tax deductions by individuals. The Rev. James M. Dunn, executive director of the Baptist agency, described the proposal as "yet another ill-informed attempt of government officials who apparently have no depth of understanding regarding the dangers of church-state entanglement."

A first for Muslims

WASHINGTON _ For the first time, a Muslim on Feb. 6 gave the invocation opening the day's proceedings of the U.S. Senate. Imam Wallace Mohammed asked God's blessing on America and its political leaders and prayed that "we Americans understand better our brothers and sisters around the world."

Female deacons halted

A civil court has halted plans by a bishop in the Anglican Church of Australia to ordain the church's first female priests. Bishop Owen Dowling of Canberra and Goulburn had scheduled the ordination of 11 female deacons to take place during ceremonies at Saint Saviour's Cathedral in Goulburn. But just two days before the ceremony, the Sydney Supreme Court issued an injunction prohibiting the ordination. However, Archbishop Peter Carnley of Perth is reportedly intent on carrying out plans to ordain 10 female deacons March 7 despite the court action.

Unity in baptism

Some churches baptize only adults, others baptize infants, but church leaders in Connecticut believe their denominations have enough in common to formally recognize all baptisms as legitimate. To demonstrate that, the Christian Conference of Connecticut _ which includes Protestant, Orthodox and Catholic representation _ has developed an interdenominational baptismal certificate that is being hailed as a major step in ecumenical cooperation and a down-to-earth sign of unity among Christians.

Lesbian sides drawn

An upcoming trial over a lesbian's right to become a pastor in Rochester, N.Y., is likely to be decided on a narrow point of Presbyterian law, but it is prompting broader questions about rights of homosexuals in the church. Both supporters and opponents of the lesbian minister, the Rev. Jane Spahr, are busy building war chests to pay for a full-blown courtroom drama. It is expected to begin in March or April and cost each side about $30,000 in legal fees.

_ Compiled from news services to the Times

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