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Local Church's petition denied, apology to Anabaptists, reward for AIDS work, and bankrupt tithing.

The Texas Supreme Court denied a petition to review the $136 million lawsuit filed by the Local Church and Living Stream Ministry against Harvest House Publishers and authors John Weldon and John Ankerberg. In January 2006, a Texas Court of Appeals rejected the libel suit regarding Weldon and Ankerberg's description of the Local Church as a cult in their Encyclopedia of Cults and New Religions.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) apologized in November on behalf of forebears who persecuted Anabaptists. Martin Luther and other 16th-century reformers argued that civil authorities should punish Anabaptists. The 1530 Augsburg Confession, a landmark Lutheran text, condemned Anabaptists for saying children could be saved without baptism. But the ELCA Church Council said the condemnation does not apply to today's Mennonite Church USA. The council expressed hope that the apology will strengthen bonds between Lutherans and modern-day Anabaptists.

World Vision and the Willow Creek Association will award a total of $100,000 to three churches for their contributions to the global fight against HIV/AIDS. Any orthodox Christian church worldwide may apply for the Courageous Leadership Award. Ministries should show measurable results and work in hard-hit areas with few resources. The deadline for applications is March 31, 2007. The winner will be announced in August.

• The U.S. House of Representatives voted in December to allow debtors in Chapter 13 bankruptcy to tithe. The bill responds to a New York court's August ruling that a 2005 federal bankruptcy reform bill bars middle-income debtors from making charitable contributions. The Senate previously passed the bill, and President Bush is expected to ...

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