Friday News Roundup: A bit of all that

NEWSIn case you were preoccupied with the names Obama and Nobel this week, here are some interesting stories you might have missed.

Iranians around the US are demanding religious freedom in their home country. In Washington DC, 1400 people gathered to hear Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran, and Shohreh Aghdashloo, Academy Award-nominated actress for “House of Sand and Fog,” speak about the suffering of religious minorities in Iran. In Los Angeles, comedian Rainn Wilson hosted a concert with international artists and religious leaders to bring attention to human rights issues.

Saudi Arabia’s, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology is taking hits from clerics for giving female students freedoms such as co-ed classes, driving a car and the option not to wear a face veil. One cleric said, “When men mix with women, their hearts burn, and they will be diverted from their main goal,” which he said is “education.” Many students disagree (The Washington Post reports).

Sikhs are angry with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for vetoing a bill that would require law enforcement officials to learn about Sikhs, specifically a ceremonial dagger called a kirpan considered a central article of faith. The kirpan is one of five articles of faith carried by Sikhs and reminds them to protect the weak and promote justice. The Sikh Coalition will consider reintroducing the bill next session.

In Massachusetts, state reps are looking at legislation that would give students specific rights of religious expression, such as allowing students to engage in prayer or a moment of silence in public ceremonies and extracurricular groups. Legislators hope that the bill will define students’ rights and protect schools from lawsuits.

In Chicago, a chaplain explains the importance faith healing in his hospital, saying, “The doctors and nurses focus on the physical. We focus on everything that’s not physical.” He trains his staff to keep an open mind with each patient and ditch any agenda they may have. The Wausau Daily Herald weighs in the Wisconsin law behind faith healing.

And a few other stories to check out:

A Pakistani university bans kissing, Brits talk religion over beers and Jews court Hispanic evangelicals.