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Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 24, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 24, 2009

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:

  • Anglican Bishop Calls for Release of Iranian Converts
  • Cuban Government Charge Church Leaders with 'Criminal Activity'
  • Lao Soldiers Use Infant Girl for Target Practice
  • Sisters Who Chased Alleged Thief Still Chasing Him with Prayer

Anglican Bishop Calls for Release of Iranian Converts

Christian Today reports that an Anglican bishop has called on the president of Iran to release two female converts, adding his voice to growing international outcry. The Bishop of Rochester Dr. Michael Nazir-Ali is transitioning into work with the persecuted church worldwide. The two women, 27-year-old Maryam Rustampoor and 30-year-old Marzieh Amirizadeh, have been held since March 5 on apostasy charges. "Maryam and Marzieh are being held simply because they have changed their belief. The UN Declaration on Human Rights says people everywhere should be free to do this and the Iranian Constitution guarantees freedom of religion," Bishop Nazir-Ali was quoted as saying by The Times. The women have been told to recant and have refused once in court.

Cuban Government Charge Church Leaders with 'Criminal Activity'

ASSIST News Service reports that a church leader from a growing independent church movement in Cuba has been accused of criminal activity by the government. The charges came just one month after a pastor from the same group was sentenced to six years in prison. According to the UK-based human rights group, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), this follows the recent detention at least 60 pastors and leaders in May and June. "Alexi Perez has been in prison for over a month accused of illicit economic activity. Although the original charges against him have been dropped, he now faces a new charge of illegally receiving construction materials," said a CSW spokesperson. Other pastors have been threatened on charges of "social dangerousness."

Lao Soldiers Use Infant Girl for Target Practice

ASSIST News Service reports that human rights travesties continue in Laos, where soldiers used a two-month-old girl for target practice. Vaughn Vang, the Director of the Lao Hmong Human Rights Council, said, "We are told, by some of the Lao Hmong survivors of the recent military attacks in Laos, that the LPDR (Lao Peoples Democratic Republic) soldiers of the LPA (Lao Peoples Army) used the ... Lao Hmong girl, while she was still alive, for target practice ... once she was captured and tied up; they mutilated her little body and continued to fire their weapons, over and over ... until her head just eventually came off after so many bullets severed her head." Reports say eight children were captured and 26 Hmong and Laotian civilians were murdered during a series of four major attacks over the past month. Hmong Christians are often targeted to stifle "religious and political dissidents."

Sisters Who Chased Alleged Thief Still Chasing Him with Prayer

Catholic News Service reports that a 17-year-old man who Catholic sisters caught stealing now has the entire community of sisters praying for him. "I hope we get a chance to talk to him," said Sister Connie, the community's vicar who also works as the director of the Office of Consecrated Life for the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. "I would like to tell him that he was on our property not by accident, but by providence." Sister Connie and Sister Catarina da Silva noticed Cory D. Anderson cutting across their property shortly before 7 a.m. on Aug. 13, and took a car to investigate. The young man did not threaten them, but ran after they told him they were calling the police. Sister Catarina sprinted after him in her habit and caught up with him near the convent. "He wasn't a cross-country runner. He was completely out of breath," Sister Connie said.