$25 Million for Security

Congress has approved $25 million to improve security at nonprofit institutions that could be "soft targets" for terrorism, including some churches and synagogues.

The $25 million will be available to nonprofit groups -- including schools, universities, theaters, hospitals and houses of worship -- that are deemed at risk by the Department of Homeland Security.

The House approved the money last week as part of a $32 billion Homeland Security funding bill, and the Senate passed the measure Monday.

Supporters of the provision originally asked for $100 million, with half the money for local police departments to beef up security in areas with large concentrations of high-risk targets.

House and Senate committees approved legislation that included the funding and a provision to address concerns about church-state separation, but the bills languished. The $25 million was a last-minute line item added to a spending bill legislators passed before taking a pre-election break.

-- Religion News Service

Theologian Gets Visa

A renowned Finnish theologian has returned to teach at California's Fuller Theological Seminary after being forced to leave the country in July because he did not qualify for a visa under controversial new regulations for religious professionals.

Veli-Matti Karkkainen, a scholar of Pentecostalism, is back at Fuller after spending several weeks in Finland, but his status as a potential permanent resident of the United States remains unsettled.

He returned to California on a visa that is good for three years, according to Christian Century magazine.

The case, which prompted a flood of e-mail to Karkkainen from educators and religious professionals around the world, stems from the interpretation of immigration rules imposed since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The visa guidelines require that foreign religious workers share the denominational affiliation of their institutions. The problem for Karkkainen arose because Fuller, a prominent evangelical seminary, does not have a formal denominational affiliation.

The government did not accept Karkkainen's qualifications, which include holding a master's degree from Fuller and two doctorates, and denied him permanent U.S. residency and an extension of a visa and a work permit.

While in Finland, Karkkainen, his wife and a daughter acquired permission to return to the United States on the more restrictive visa. A second daughter returned on a student visa.

-- Religion News Service

Rebuilding Museum

A Holocaust memorial museum in Terre Haute, Ind., established in 1995 and burned to the ground last year in what many believe was an act of hate, is rising again.

Groundbreaking for a new CANDLES Museum (Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Experiments Survivors) took place Monday after backers raised nearly $300,000 to rebuild the structure.

"It's a very simple design but very symbolic," museum founder and Holocaust survivor Eva Kor, 70, said before the ceremony. "I can't wait until I see the bricks going up."

The name refers to children who were subjected to medical experiments by Josef Mengele, Auschwitz's infamous "Death Angel." Kor and her identical twin sister, Miriam Mozes Zeiger, were among those children. Her sister died of cancer in 1993.

The museum was destroyed Nov. 18 in what investigators said was arson. On a portion that remained standing, someone wrote, "Remember Timmy McVeigh," a reference to the Oklahoma City bomber who was executed at the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute in 2001. No one has been charged in the blaze.

Kor said the new building will include symbolic reminders of the Holocaust and the fire. Burned drywall from the old museum and some charred books will be displayed so people will know that "this is the way hatred and prejudice look today."

The structure, scheduled for completion in February, will have six narrow windows near the entrance that look like candles and that symbolize the 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust. Eleven windows throughout the museum will represent the total of 11 million people killed in the Holocaust.

"It's very important that we remember all the victims," Kor said.

-- Associated Press