WILLIAM E. CURRIE, 72, general director of American Messianic Fellowship (AMF) International from 1975 to 1989, died in July. Currie served as pastor of the Cicero (Ill.) Bible Church, and was an instructor at Moody Bible Institute. AMF, founded in 1887, focuses on international evangelism and developing relationships between Jewish and Christian communities.

THE THIRD U.S. CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS was evenly divided in the case of a New Jersey boy who was barred from reading a Bible story in public school. His mother plans to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. The 6–6 split lets stand a lower court ruling that the Medford Township school district did not violate the free-speech rights of Zachary Hood. Zachary was a first-grader at Haines Elementary School in Medford in 1996. His teacher, Grace Oliva, rewarded students for their reading skills by letting them choose stories to read aloud to the class. Zachary, who is Catholic, picked a story about Jacob and Esau from The Beginner's Bible: Timeless Children's Stories. Oliva told Zachary that reading the story would be inappropriate because of its religious content. She let him read it to her privately, but not in front of the class.

An overwhelming majority of Protestant pastors support CAPITAL PUNISHMENT and an even larger majority oppose physician-assisted suicide, according to a new poll. The survey of 518 Protestant pastors, conducted by Phoenix-based Ellison Research, showed that pastors support the death penalty 72–28 percent. Only about 15 percent of pastors feel strongly that the death penalty should be abolished. But a wide middle—about 37 percent—does not have strong feelings one way or the other about the death penalty. That figure shows how complicated the issue can be, said Ron Sellers, who conducted the survey. "Over one-third of all ministers didn't strongly support or oppose the death penalty," he said. "It may be that the death penalty isn't a clear-cut issue for many ministers, who may be struggling over conflicting feelings of the need for justice and punishment on one hand and the call to mercy and support for life on the other hand." The survey, conducted in May and June, had a margin of error of 4.3 percentage points.

PAX TV plans to present three new Christy movies in the coming season, building on the popularity of the novel by Catherine Marshall. The broadcast television network, owned by Paxson Communications Corp., has announced that Lauren Lee Smith has been cast as lead character Christy Huddleston in the upcoming movies. She has appeared in the Fox series Dark Angel and MTV's boy-band parody 2Gether. One movie will air in the fall, probably in November, and two other movies are scheduled to air as a miniseries early next year. Christy premiered as a TV movie in 1994 and aired for two seasons on CBS before it was canceled.

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