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Religion Today Summaries - Nov. 16, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Nov. 16, 2009

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

  • Obama Asked to Press for Religious Rights in China
  • Iran: Worldwide Attention May Keep Two Converts Alive
  • Vatican Looks to Heavens for Signs of Alien Life
  • China: Expelled Student Invited Back to School

Obama Asked to Press for Religious Rights in China

Religion News Service reports that human rights groups have asked President Obama to press for religious freedom for Chinese people and Tibetans as he travels through Asia this week. "We urge you to raise critical issues of religious freedom and the rule of law with Chinese officials, seek meetings with prominent human rights defenders and repressed religious leaders, and make a strong public statement about the importance of human rights to the future of U.S.-China relations," wrote Leonard Leo, chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, in a Nov. 10 letter to Obama. The International Campaign on Tibet also wrote Obama, urging him to help coordinate a meeting between Tibetan leader Dalai Lama and Chinese President Hu Jintao.

Iran: Worldwide Attention May Keep Two Converts Alive

Mission News Network reports that two female converts held in Tehran's Evin prison may benefit from Iran's controversial nuclear program. The country's nuclear stance has earned international attention, and that attention may be keeping Maryam Rustampoor and Marzieh Amirizadeh alive. The women, who converted from Islam, were jailed in March and have repeatedly been told to recant. Carl Moeller with Open Doors says, "This is a highly problematic case for them because if they treat these women inhumanely and the world watches, the whole world will call Iran for what it is--a horrible regime. If they let them go, or in some way are seen internally as being soft on this, they're going to face a domestic backlash. So it's really a difficult situation." 

Vatican Looks to Heavens for Signs of Alien Life

The Associated Press reports that the Vatican doesn't believe in aliens - but it hasn't ruled them out yet. "The questions of life's origins and of whether life exists elsewhere in the universe are very suitable and deserve serious consideration," said the Rev. Jose Gabriel Funes, an astronomer and director of the Vatican Observatory. Funes welcomed 30 scientists to last week's conference on the subject, which explored "whether sentient life forms exist on other worlds." At the conference's end on Tuesday, he said, "Both science and religion posit life as a special outcome of a vast and mostly inhospitable universe... There is a rich middle ground for dialogue between the practitioners of astrobiology and those who seek to understand the meaning of our existence in a biological universe."

China: Expelled Student Invited Back to School

Voice of the Martyrs reports that Chen Le, a 17-year-old high school student who was expelled from school because of his Christian faith, was invited on October 29 to return to school, according to a report from the China Aid Association. On October 28, the Party Secretary of the High School Division and several other party members and instructors from the Huashan Middle School visited Chen Le at his home and politely invited him to return to his studies. The Party Secretary was reportedly deeply concerned by international pressure caused by the expulsion.