Friday, July 27, 2007

A 7-minute Video: Mandaeans Struggle to Keep Their Faith Alive

James Angelos, Mary Catherine Brouder, and Peter Cox have produced a video for News21 called "An Ancient Religion Endangered by Iraq War: Mandaeans Struggle To Keep Their Faith Alive".

Here is the link to the video. It is absolutely worth taking the time to view. I haven't been able to figure out how to make a direct stream to my blog, so to view it you will have to go to this link.

Dr. Charles Haberi of Rutgers is interviewed, along with several Mandaeans who are living in the States. There are several clips of baptisms of men, women, and children, and images of a Mandaean wedding. The point of the video is to show that the Mandaeans are scattered in a diaspora, and without help, they will not survive.

This is the written accompanying report from News21 about their conference held in Canada:

CAMBRIDGE, ONTARIO–It is one of the oldest religions in the world, predating Christianity. Mandaeans see John the Baptist as their greatest teacher and ritual baptisms are a staple of their faith. They speak a dialect of ancient Aramaic and are the only surviving Gnostic faith. Despite their antiquity, the Mandaean religion and people are in danger.

For two millennia, they've lived in Iraq. But since 2003, they've been leaving en masse, fleeing attacks by Islamic extremists who consider them infidels. Prior to the fighting, scholars estimate 60,000 Mandaeans lived in Iraq. Today there are fewer than 5,000. Most have fled to Syria and Jordan, among the nearly two million Iraqi refugees.

There are roughly 1,000 Mandaeans now living in North America, admitted as refugees during Saddam Hussein's reign. They are lobbying Congress to allow their Iraqi relatives to join them in the United States, where they hope to keep the their faith alive.

1 comment:

Jim Deardorff said...

If their sect is maintained only through blood lines (childbirth), with conversions into their group not allowed, it must be a very serious thing for any of them to defect. I wonder, therefore, if they impose any penalties upon those amongst them who do indicate they want to defect and are caught at it.