Ancient and Fading Iraqi Group Settles In Massachusetts

Around 150 Iraqi refugees have made a home in Worcester Mass. after years of persecution in Iraq.

The refugees are members of a faith known as Mandaeanism. It's a religion that views John the Baptist as its great teacher and doesn't recognize Jesus as the Messiah. It has only around 70,000 members left in the world.

While the refugees feel safer in the U.S., they worry that their tiny, ancient religion is facing extinction. They lack a permanent priest or proper place of worship for the next generation.

A Mandaean doctor and U.S. citizen who has helped bring dozens of Mandaean refugees to Massachusetts says the effort is "saving the people but killing the faith."

Since 2007, about 1,200 Iraqi Mandaean refugees have been resettled in the United States, according to the U.S. State Department.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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