—Six months late, President Clinton on April 29 named the final three members to the nine-member National Gambling Impact Study Commission, including Nevada Gambling Control Board Chair Bill Bible. With Bible's appointment, National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling Executive Director Tom Grey says the panel has a triumvirate of "mouthpieces for big Las Vegas casinos." The commission also includes Terrence Lanni, chief executive of MGM Grand in Las Vegas, and John Wilhelm, who represents casino workers through the International Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union. Lanni was appointed by House Speaker Newt Gingrich, while Wilhelm was named by House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt. Yet the panel, which has two years to study the issue before submitting a report to Congress, also includes conservative evangelicals James Dobson and Kay Cole James, who will chair the panel (CT, Jan. 6, 1997, p. 58).
—The Ohio District Court of Appeals ruled 3 to 0 on May 1 that the nation's first voucher program to include religious schools (CT, Oct. 28, 1996, p. 90) is unconstitutional because it "provides direct and substantial non-neutral government aid to sectarian schools." Americans United for Separation of Church and State had opposed the program in Cleveland, which gave low-income parents $2,500 to cover tuition costs at 53 private schools, about 80 percent of them religious. The ruling is being appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court.
—Pastor Eugene F. Rivers III has announced plans to expand the Ten-Point Plan he started in Boston (CT, Feb. 5, 1996, p. 14) to become Operation 2006, a national coalition of African-American pastors hoping to fight urban crime and violence. The program includes provisions to use African-American church buildings as around-the-clock sanctuaries for youth wanting to escape gang life, drug abuse, and sexual violence. The group aims to mobilize one thousand churches in 40 locations.
—The Reformed Church in America (RCA) will vote a second time on a constitutional amendment to the denomination's Book of Church Order requiring all ministers and congregations to reaffirm annually that salvation is in Christ alone. In a vote by the RCA's 46 regional bodies that ended in April, 23 approved the proposal, short of the necessary two-thirds for passage (CT, May 19, 1997, p. 59). However, the words by grace had inadvertently been omitted from the booklet sent to each region, prompting the call for another vote.
—Word Publishing of Dallas will move by the end of summer to Nashville where parent company Thomas Nelson Publishing has its headquarters. Word is hoping that most of its 30 employees will relocate. Nelson purchased Word from Capital Cities/abc in 1992 and sold its music division for $120 million earlier this year to Gaylord Entertainment Company. Thomas Nelson shares sold for a year-low of 9 1/8 on the New York Stock Exchange at the time of the announcement.
—A Washington Superior Court judge ruled on April 28 that Clark County violated the Washington State constitution and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act by threatening to close Open Door Baptist Church for zoning violations. The county had tried to force the church to obtain a conditional use permit and pay $5,500 in nonrefundable fees before worshiping in their building (CT, April 28, 1997, p. 76). The ruling enables the church to sue for civil damages.
—Roy Peterson on June 1 succeeded Hyatt Moore as executive director of Wycliffe Bible Translators USA in Huntington Beach, California. Peterson, 42, has been director of the Central American branch of Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL), Wycliffe's sister organization. Peterson has been with the ministry since 1986. Moore is now with Canada SIL.
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