With Christians facing increased danger in the Middle East, a group known as the Knights of Columbus is launching a nationwide digital and television ad campaign to raise funds and awareness on their behalf.
"We must act and act quickly if Christianity is to survive in the Middle East," warned Knights of Columbus CEO Carl Anderson. "Three years after ISIS rolled through their country, these minority communities of Christians could face extinction without our help, and if they disappear, the chance for a pluralism and tolerance of minorities will be increasingly lost in that country."
The Knights will match up to $1 million in donations received by July 1, and 100 percent of the money raised will be used to aid Christian refugees in Iraq. The group has donated more than $12 million for Christian refugee relief since 2014, and focuses on helping communities often overlooked by the U.N. and U.S. government assistance.
The funds raised go towards providing Christian communities in Iraq with living needs like food, shelter, and education. They also help other religious minority groups threatened by ISIS, such as the Yazidis.
In addition to raising funds for Christian communities in Iraq, the group is also urging Congress to pass the "Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act of 2017," introduced by Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J.
The bill would ensure American aid dollars go towards providing "emergency relief to victims of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes in Iraq and Syria, to provide accountability for perpetrators of these crimes."
The Knights' commercial features a plea from Fr. Douglas Bazi, who heads the Mar Elia refugee center in Kurdistan and was previously captured and tortured by terrorists in Iraq because he is a Christian.
According to the Chaldean Catholic Archdiocese of Erbil, who overseas the largest Christian population in Iraq, the number of believers has fallen from as many as 1.5 million in 2003 to only about 200,000 today.
"We face a serious shortfall in the money needed just to cover the costs of providing food to the displaced Christians in our care," said Chaldean Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil said. "Having to decide between rebuilding homes and feeding the displaced is not a choice; it is a potential death sentence for our Christian communities."
Although Christian towns have been liberated in the country, people are still unable to return to their homes because there is not enough support for reconstruction or security.
To donate to the campaign, visit www.ChristiansatRisk.org or call 1-800-694-5713.