In America, we trace our Christian heritage to before the founding of our nation, when European Christians sought a home free from religious persecution where they could practice their faith according to their own convictions. But in the Middle Eastern country of Iraq, Christianity has very old roots stemming from the 1st century A.D., even before the birth of Islam in early 600 A.D.
In spite of their roots, Iraqi Christian communities began to steadily decline after the birth of Islam, a decline which has continued throughout the past century. According to an article in the Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy, Christian populations in Iraq declined significantly between 1910 and 2010, falling from 6.3% to 1.4% of the population. And by 2025, that number is estimated to fall to .6%.
Since June 2014, ISIS has brought a particularly bloody decline to Iraqi Christian populations with an onslaught labeled as “genocide” by former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in 2016. The genocide has involved the murder of thousands of Christians, Yazidis and Shiite Muslims (other religious minority groups) under the control of ISIS. Thousands of families have been killed, taken hostage, kidnapped, and driven out of Iraq. Currently, there are only an estimated 200,000 Christians left in Iraq.
Speaking at a meeting about the future of Iraq’s Christians in September 2017, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin said the “conflicts and tensions of recent years represent a risk … for the survival of Christians”. He continued to point out that also at risk is the hope and “possibility that the Middle East can be a place of coexistence between peoples belonging to different religious and ethnic groups.” 
Where does the U.S. government stand on the issue of persecuted religious minorities in Iraq? At an advocacy summit in Washington, D.C., on October 25 of last year, Vice President Mike Pence said that America will “stand with those who suffer for their faith because that’s what Americans have always done (and) the common bond of our humanity demands a strong response.” He said also the United Nations has “too often failed to help the most vulnerable communities, especially religious minorities” and that the U.S. will take a stronger lead in directly guiding funds to help persecuted Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East. 
The Trump administration recently announced a renegotiated deal with the U.N. that purports to ensure that religious minorities will receive the U.N. assistance they were previously denied. This deal directs $55 million to the U.N. Development Program Funding Facility for Stabilization in Iraq for religious minority communities in the Nineveh Province of Iraq. However Nina Shea, international human-rights lawyer and Director for the Center for Religious Freedom at Hudson Institute, has little hope that these funds will actually reach the needy populations in Nineveh. In an article in The Christian Post, Shea cites the gross mismanagement of the UNDP and its deliberate marginalization of the “genocide that targeted Christian and Yezidi minorities for over the past two years”. Meanwhile, time lags on while thousands of families suffer in inadequate refugee living situations.
Over the next few months, Concerned Women for America will watch to see if and when the allotted resources are directed to help Christian and other religious minorities in Iraq rebuild their homes, families, and lives. Pray that God would help them heal and for the wisdom of our nation in providing support for them.
 Johnson, T and Zurlo, G. Ongoing Exodus: Tracking the Emigration of Christians from the Middle East. Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy, 2013-2014, Volume III. Population statistics are taken from a table created by the World Religion Database.