#38 in Christian persecution, Ethiopia

SCORE

65.76

REGION

Africa

PERSECUTION TYPE

Denominational protectionism

RELIGION

Christianity

PERSECUTION LEVEL

Very High

POPULATION

115,403,000

CHRISTIAN

69,234,000

GOVERNMENT

Federal parliamentary republic

LEADER

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed

PROFILE OF PERSECUTION

Violence 9.8/16.7

Church Life 12.3/16.7

National Life 10.3/16.7

Community Life 13.1/16.7

Family Life 10.3/16.7

Private Life 9.9/16.7

How the scoring worksDownload country dossier with in-depth research

What does persecution look like in Ethiopia?

In Ethiopia, it’s not just converts to Christianity from Islam who can face harsh mistreatment from their families and communities, it’s also those who join Protestant groups from the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (EOC).

In some places, Islamic extremist groups have attacked churches. Meanwhile, political violence in the country—focused largely around the conflict in Tigray—has also taken its toll on Christian communities, with many Christians killed and churches destroyed. The country has also been gravely affected by drought and plagues. All of these issues create uncertainty, making Christians a soft target.

Pressure can also come from the government. In areas where Muslims or Ethiopian Orthodox Christians are in the majority, local officials may oppose the growth of Protestant Christianity and refuse to grant permits for meetings and worship.

Meet “Roda”

Roda became a Christian after attending Bible studies. She boldly declared her new faith by wearing a necklace that had a cross on it. Once noticed, the persecution began, but Roda continues to bravely stand firm in her faith.

“From now on, I will bow down to the Messiah, the One who has saved me.”

What has changed this year?

Broadly speaking, pressure on Christians in Ethiopia has intensified, despite the country dropping two places on the World Watch List. Opposition has increased in family, church and community life. While there has been a drop in recorded incidents of violence, this must be understood in the context of ongoing conflicts—such as the fighting in Tigray—where it’s difficult to differentiate between faith and ethnic/political related attacks.

Who is most vulnerable to persecution?

The severity and form of persecution varies by region. For example, Christians in Amhara and Tigray are especially vulnerable to persecution from the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (EOC), whereas in places like Oromia, Afar and the Somali region persecution largely stems from Islamic extremists. The most severe cases of persecution tend to come in Gurage, Silte and Alaba, which are just south of the capital Addis Ababa.

What does Open Doors do to help?

Open Doors works through local partners to strengthen Christians in Ethiopia with leadership and persecution survival training, economic empowerment projects, livelihood skills training, and women’s and youth ministry.

Population statistic: Johnson T M and Zurlo G A, eds., World Christian Database (Leiden/Boston: Brill, accessed April 2021).

Pray for Ethiopia

  • Pray for wisdom and provision for the government as they lead a country greatly affected by war, drought, plagues and political instability.

  • Pray that Christians facing intense pressure to renounce their faith will have the strength to hold onto Jesus and trust Him for their futures.

  • Ask God to bless the ministry among women and youth—ask God to raise up more women and young people to strengthen the church.

Stories from Ethiopia

May 6, 2022

He lost his arm for following Jesus. So why is Abda so hopeful?

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January 18, 2021

13 Christians murdered for following Jesus—every day

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August 23, 2020

DENIED!—8 places where starving Christians are refused government relief

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