Saturday, September 23, 2017

Signs of hope for Iraqi Christians As White Christians in US decline

Signs of hope are emerging for Christians in Iraq forced to flee by the ISIS invasion.

Local clergy in Qaraqosh are driving their return to their homes through a Centre for Support and Encouragement to help families rebuild their property devastated by the militant group, according to World Watch Monitor.

A series of categories identifies those most in need and then money from grants can be directed towards their house's restoration.

Local priest Father George said: 'Some 50 people a day register at our centre to have their homes restored. More will come.'

Qaraqosh's Syriac Catholic Archbishop Yohanna Petros Mouche, told WWM: 'I am optimistic, yes, very optimistic.

'When you look around the villages you see that life is back again.'

In Qaraqosh the picture is relatively positive. Around 1,500 families – more than 20 per cent of the total Christian population before IS came – have now gone back.

But elsewhere in Iraq it is less hopeful. More than 50 per cent of Iraq's Christian population have left the country entirely, a report earlier this year found. Many more have fled to the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) which, depending on how the independence referendum goes on September 25, could become even more volatile.

Meanwhile, White Christians in the US are in the minority and declining, amid increasing ethnic diversity and growing numbers of people who identify as religiously unaffiliated, according to a new survey.

The poll from the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) found that just 43 per cent of Americans now identify as white and Christian. This is in contrast to 81 per cent of Americans identifying as white Christians in 1976.

Past surveys have detailed a decline among Catholics in the US.

But what is most striking about the new PRRI survey is that it shows a relatively recent decline among evangelicals – from 23 per cent to 17 per cent from 2006 to 2016.

'This report provides solid evidence of a new, second wave of white Christian decline that is occurring among white evangelical Protestants just over the last decade in the US,' said Robert P Jones, the PRRI's CEO and author of The End of White Christian America.

'Prior to 2008, white evangelical Protestants seemed to be exempt from the waves of demographic change and disaffiliation that were eroding the membership bases of white mainline Protestants and white Catholics. We now see that these waves simply crested later for white evangelical Protestants.'

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