Iraqi Christians are considered to be some of the oldest continuous Christian communities in existence in the modern world. Christianity in Iraq dates to the 1st Century. While many Christians struggled in the years following the Arab Islamic conquest after about 750 AD, native scholars, priests, and doctors enjoyed widespread integration and freedom of worship in Iraq. However, from the 13th Century through today, Christians have suffered both religious and ethnic persecution. Recently, Iraq has seen a troubling reduction in its Christian citizens. In Iraq, the pre-2003 Christian population may have been as high as 1.5 million, or 5% of the population. By 2013, after the Iraqi War, it is estimated that the number had dropped to less than 450,000. For those Christians in Iraq today, struggling to maintain their families, communities and faith traditions in face of the barbarity and brutality of ISIS, the situation is dire. (Excerpt from www.standwithiraqichristians.org )
The Rev. Christopher Bishop, is the Rector of St. Martin’s Chuich in Radnor, Pennsylvania and Executive Director of Stand With Iraqi Christians, an organization offering friendship and material support to Christians throughout Iraq currently living as displaced persons in Erbil, the capital of Kurdistan in northern Iraq. Rev. Bishop spoke to AE Live about efforts by his organization and others to help Iraqi Christians overcome the current crisis.