In this version of the Friday Roundup, we begin on a note of hope.

In cities across the nation, people came together to silently remember Michael Brown, the Missouri teen whose shooting death sparked a wave of unrest.

Video courtesy of USA Today

Calm returns

In Brown’s hometown of Ferguson, the unrest of previous nights seemed to have ended. And the name of the officer who shot the teen was released.

President Obama weighed in, saying many Americans “have been deeply disturbed” by images of clashes between police and protesters. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., went further, condemning the presence of military vehicles and heavily armed police.

“Ferguson reminds us that American society has a long way to go in healing old hatreds,” wrote Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention.

If you’re not angry and grieved about what has been going on in Ferguson, then you simply aren’t paying attention, writes evangelical blogger Sarah Bessey. And she’s Canadian.

Conflict rages on

Iraq’s Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki agreed to step down, and the nation’s top cleric approved of his successor. Meanwhile, it’s not clear that the crisis with Iraq’s minority Christian and Yazidi minorities is over.

British PM David Cameron is prepared to supply weapons directly to Kurdish forces fighting militants from the Islamic State in northern Iraq. And hundreds of hardline extremists in Indonesia have begun to openly pledge allegiance to the Islamic State.

Linguistic emergency

Foreign Policy has an interesting story about what it calls a “linguistic emergency of historic proportions,” namely the destruction of Aramaic, the language of Jesus, in Christian Iraq.

 “After a century of expulsions and persecutions, can spoken Aramaic survive without its homeland on the Nineveh plains? Between assimilation and dispersion, the challenges of maintaining the language in diaspora will be immense, even if speakers remain in Erbil.”

Faith coerced by the Uzi

As a Baptist, Bill Leonard of Wake Forest University writes that the persecution of religious minorities in Iraq ought to be a wake-up call.

 “Might we recommit ourselves to resisting all efforts to coerce faith, whether instituted by governments or privileged religious majorities? Faith coerced by the Uzi, the culture or the courts is no real faith. In this we Baptists have a great lineage, evident in British historian Edward Underhill’s observation that “a distinguishing … trait” of the early Baptists was their claim, “for the church and for the conscience, of freedom from all human control.”

Photo of a Kia compact car.

A Kia compact car, made in Korea.Darren Brode /">courtesy Shutterstock

A compact approach

Pope Francis started his five-day visit to South Korea by riding inside a compact Kia hatchback. He also took a high-speed train from Seoul to the central city of Daejeon, where Catholic youths have been meeting for the Asian version of World Youth Day. In his homily, Francis urged the youth to renounce materialism.


Two Amish girls were abducted from their family’s roadside farm stand about 150 miles northwest of Albany. But the girls showed up Thursday in Richville, a town some 30 miles away, after the abductors dropped them off.


Leonard Fein, a veteran Jewish activist and writer, has died at 80. Fein was the founder of Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger and of the National Jewish Coalition for Literacy.

Pare down

Megachurch pastor Bill Hybels has a new book, “Simplify: Ten Practices to Unclutter Your Soul” (Tyndale, Aug. 19), focused on helping people take a hard look at their life choices.

Mental heath 101

The death of beloved comedian Robin Williams has heightened awareness of suicide and its relationship to mental health problems. But many African-American churches quietly began educating members on the issue well before the Oscar winner’s death, writes Adelle M. Banks.


The embattled Mars Hill Church canceled its annual Resurgence conference late on Thursday, scuttling an event that brings big name preachers to the Seattle area. Can anyone say “Mark Driscoll”?

Taking a second look

British Christian musician Vicky Beeching has come out as gay. She tells our own Jonathan Merritt:

“All I want to do is play whatever small part I can to help people rethink their beliefs around sexuality; to stir people to reexamine doctrines that need a second look. “

Sounds like what we do here at RNS: taking a second look at religion.  Be sure to sign up below and reexamine what you thought you knew from the world of religion on Monday.

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