Q. I have been hearing about the Coptic Christian persecution in Egypt. I was wondering if you could tell me more about the Coptic church’s history and beliefs.
A. Coptic means Egyptian so Coptic Christians are Egyptian Christians, although the Coptic church has been exported into many countries around the world. They trace their origin to John Mark, author of the Gospel of Mark, who according to their history went to Alexandria, Egypt sometime around 42 AD and after a time became the first bishop of the Coptic Christian church. He was killed there in 68 AD by the Romans.
The Coptic church is one of the oldest orthodox Christian communities in the Middle East. They believe in the deity as well as humanity of Jesus, and practice a religion similar to other orthodox groups, with sacraments, a liturgy, and feast days. Copts have the most rigorous schedule of fasting of any Christian community, observing some form of fast on 210 days of the 365 day calendar.