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Issue: "Locking up the big guns," Aug. 12, 2000

A new curriculum that encourages Georgia teachers to promote "respect for the creator" is drawing criticism that it violates the separation of church and state. People for the American Way may sue over the language, which is included as one of 27 traits that schools must encourage as part of a character curriculum that takes effect this year. Among the other traits: courage, patriotism, citizenship, honesty, fairness, kindness, tolerance, punctuality, and cleanliness.

Washington, D.C., Mayor Anthony Williams refused to sign a bill to require employer-provided health plans in the capital to pay for contraceptives. He said he would not approve any contraceptives bill that lacks an opt-out clause for church or other employers opposed to birth control on religious or moral grounds. The measure passed a 13-0 city council vote, but any attempts at a "conscience clause" were shut down.

Several Roman Catholic churches in the Philadelphia archdiocese will shut down their lotteries amid questions about their legality. State law allows fraternal and charitable groups to raise money with specified small games of chance that offer limited prizes. Lotteries, however, are not among those games. Lawyers for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia are reviewing the lotteries, used by some parishes to fund parish or school expenses. One suburban church takes in about $168,000 each year from its lottery. Prosecutors said they have never received a complaint about church lotteries.

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A group of Georgia teenagers allegedly made counterfeit money on a computer in their high-school drafting class and passed hundreds of dollars in fake bills around town, with the help of an adult named Michael Cheatwood. Police said Mr. Cheatwood and four Haralson County High School students made about 200 bills-in $1, $5, $10, and $20 denominations-on the final days of the school year and distributed about 50 of the bills at businesses. According to a police report, a school custodian told police that she saw the students making the bills and reported it to their teacher, "and he only smiled." The fake bills were confirmed with a special pen that when marked on a counterfeit bill shows brown in color. The suspects were charged with felony forgery.

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