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Bible college bombing

"Bible college bombing" Continued...

Issue: "Medical care circus," Feb. 25, 2012

School ties

The New York State Senate on Feb. 6 voted 52-7 for a bill that would allow religious organizations to use public schools in the state.

The bill would block New York City's move to ban religious organizations from using public schools as houses of worship, a ban that affects more than 60 churches and that was scheduled to take effect after Feb. 12 services. Last week, advocates of the bill were waiting to see whether Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver will permit the bill before the Assembly, despite his own misgivings. "I think the way the Senate is taking it up, it's seriously flawed," Silver told The New York Times. "It would open up the schools to anybody. It might include the Ku Klux Klan."

But Bill Devlin, a Manhattan pastor who has worked locally to overturn the ban, says that argument is a red herring. He pointed to the past 30 years during which no such organization has ever tried to use the schools. "They're dealing in hypotheticals," he said.

Many of the affected churches have served poor communities for decades and, unable to afford commercial rent, may have to leave the city if the ban survives. Influential pastor Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church urged the state to intervene. "It is my conviction that those churches housed in schools are invaluable assets to the neighborhoods that they serve," he said in a statement. "... [L]et them be those good neighbors."

Egypt-U.S. row

U.S. relations with Egypt grew more strained as Egyptian officials announced criminal charges against 19 Americans working for nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in Cairo. Thirteen of the 19 Americans charged live outside Egypt. Those living in Egypt include Sam LaHood, director of the International Republican Institute and the son of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

The charges came as part of an Egyptian investigation into pro-democracy groups that monitor elections and offer training to candidates. Officials accuse 43 employees of a handful of NGOs of operating the groups without government licenses and spending foreign funds without Egyptian permission. Four of the NGOs receive partial funding from the U.S. government, but the groups say their work is nonpartisan and transparent, challenging Egyptian suspicion that the organizations are fomenting rebellion against the ruling party. U.S. officials say the charges jeopardize U.S. aid to the Egyptian military: The United States gives Egypt $1.3 billion annually.

Mexico missionaries

When Shawn Casias on Jan. 31 entered his parents' remote home just outside Monterrey, Mexico, he discovered the dead body of his 67-year-old mother, Wanda Casias, with an electrical cord wrapped around her neck. Searchers five hours later found the body of his father, John Casias, 76, in a building on their property.

John and Wanda Casias were Monterrey-area missionaries for three decades-fiercely dedicated to the First Fundamentalist Independent Baptist Church they established. Their children remember Wanda saying, "We were called to Mexico. They are our people."

Monterrey is a magnet for two of the most active drug cartels, Zetas and Gulf-but John and Wanda Casias were so secure in their faith they were willing to risk living there. Son John Casias said: "If my parents were here right now ... they would say, 'Pray for those who murdered us.'"

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