Here's an interesting photo essay by photographer Max Becherer on the Mandaeans in Iraq. The Mandaeans are a small religious sect in Southern Iraq and Iran, who espouse an ancient belief resembling that of Gnosticism and that of the Parsis. They are also known as Christians of St. John, among other names.
The customs of Mandaeans indicate early Christian, and possibly pre-Christian, origin. Their system of astrology resembles those of ancient Babylonia and the cults of the Magi. Although some of their practices were influenced by Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, they reject all three. St. John the Baptist is honored by the Mandaeans since their main ritual is frequent baptism. It seems that the Mandaeans are currently being discriminated against in Iraq, and forced to leave their homes.
Max Becherer is a freelance photojournalist, represented by Polaris Images since 2004, dedicated to covering international news and the Middle East. He is published in Time Magazine, the New York Times and a variety of other newspapers. Since working with Polaris, Becherer has covered Africa and the war in Iraq. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Photojournalism from California's San Jose State University in 2000.
Here's Max Becherer's The Mandaeans