The level of freedom Christians have in Ethiopia depends on where you live and what kind of Christian you are. The country is one of the world’s oldest majority-Christian countries, but most of these believers belong to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (EOC), which can itself persecute Christians who leave the EOC for other denominations.
Families and communities who are part of the EOC may pressure (or mistreat) a Christian who has chosen a non-traditional Christian expression. Because the EOC has many supporters in the government, converts also risk pressure from state officials.
However, the most overt forms of persecution happen in areas dominated by Islam. In these regions, converts to Christianity can face social ostracism and church attacks by Islamic militants. Families and communities may pressure converts and use violence against them to recant and return to Islam.
Finally, the ongoing conflict in Ethiopia has shown how vulnerable Christians truly are. Though the infamous fighting in Oromia and Amhara seems to lack a religious dimension, yet, Christians are killed in some circumstances.
“We were thrown out of our home. So, I took my children and left. [My in-laws] called me worthless, an infidel. They told me that nobody loved me and that there was nowhere for me to go.”
Worke (name changed), a believer in Ethiopia who was raised as a Muslim.
What does Open Doors do to help?
Open Doors works through the local church to strengthen Christians in Ethiopia with leadership, persecution survival training and economic empowerment projects.