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Ethiopia: Is the Orthodox church losing ground?

Arefe of Addis Journal comments on the decrease in the number of Orthodox Christians, traditionally the dominant church in Ethiopia, in the new census of the country. And, drawing on Professor Medhane Tadesse's essay, “Religion, Peace and the Future of Ethiopia”, he analyses the reasons for this decrease.

20 comments

  • thomas

    If one considers the history of christianity both in the west and in ethiopia, it has been changing with time and prevalent situations. chriatianity started as a single religion and it was not divided into orthodox, catholic or protestant until the third century. due to some major heresies and internal differences it first divided into orthodox(in the east) and catholic(in the west), later in the 16th century the protestant movement grow out of the catholic christianity. and all these divisions and different manifestations of the christian religion we see now are the result of the historical developments. but in all this they share the same scriptures, traditions and creeds. now they may vary in terms of their styles, language and the way they do spirituality, but that doesn´t make them more truthful or more right. they all belong to the same root. there are too many common things between these religions than their differences. in fact they are not enemies to each other. the most challenging thing in all these great religions of christianity is not their difference but the underlying ideology of exclusivity and narrow-mindedness of the leaders who are causing all the conflicts and wars among their followers. the authors of this article (prof. medhane) is not serving the truth of the religions but is feeding more to the problems caused by those leaders. his analysis of the religious atmosphere of our country is more driven by fear than tolerance. he ignored the very special relationship between islam and christianity, that most of our population enjoys. go to wollo and see how people of the two religions coexist and live peacefully for centuries. in fact the truth is for a long time our society has been able to neutralise the radical elements of islam and christianity and culturally modify them for peaceful coexistence. why this truth is discarded just to entertain the fear-driven story of this article? as the saying goes like ‘ when the elephants fight it is the grass that suffers’, the masses of ethiopia are dearly paying the price for all the mess caused by the so called leaders of these religions. those leaders are willing to kill in the name of the truth.it doesn’t matter whether the orthodox, or chatolic or protestant or even islam claim to have the truth, if this truth doesn’t have respect for the very life of human beings, it is not worth of following. let’s stop seeing each other as enemies- we have other enemies we should fight together. secularism, atheism, consumerism. but the biggest enemy is within-the exclusivity, radicalism or fundamentalism are the real threats and the real enemies of our faiths. look how they are eroding the basic beliefs we hold and are destroying the good and worthy virtues in our life, especially in our country. i think most of the people in our country are innocent believers who don’t hold any evil or harm against their fellow neighbours regardless of their religious backgrounds. we should spend our energy and resource on combating those enemies than fighting each other and competing for followers. god bless us all!

  • Gezahegn Bezabeh

    As a member of the orthodox church naturally I feel sad about the erosion of our faithful.

    The erosion can be attributed to a number of factors as some of them explained by pro.Medhane.

    I am not theologically-aware to explain the Biblical prophecy of the erosion with chapter and verse but with my nodding acquiantance with the Bible it is one sign of the second-coming of Christ.

    With due respect to some mainstream writers who porbably for the sake of political correctness avoid dealing with the matter bluntly I take a departure to shed some light to curious minds.

    We,Orthodox christians trace our christianity to the Ethiopian Eunuch Acts8:26-40.Our christian ancestors gave a refuge to the persecuted followers of early Islam.

    In our long history there were incidents of religious conflicts that threatned the very existance of our nation like the legendary “Yodiy gudit”,Mohamed the left and the conversion to Catholicism of Susnios to name the salient ones.

    We live in an era we call information age given the avalanche of information we get exposed in the course of life it is no wonder we form different opinions religion is no exception.

    I am second to none to value unity among diversity but I can not help exposing the manipulative tactics of evangelical churches that brainwash gullible folks by tailoring their message or meeting their material needs.For your information it is not Ethiopia-specific a term has already been coined to explain such a phenomenon “Rice Christian”.

    Religion is one optional dimension of life our country needless to say has other socio-ecomomic challenges that afflict our people regardless of religious affiliations in the midist of this religious duties have paved in to insignificance the preoccupation of our people is making ends meet.

    Christianity is a missionary religion it is the obligation of every christian to profess Christ in words and deeds in the light of this I have no objection to the zeal of evangelicals except the fact that why the converted unless there are ulterior motives.

    Personally,I am lucky enough to be taught my faith so that I can defend my faith and practices Biblicly but that does not seem to be the case for many of my co-religionists,then the main culprit for such massive conversion is Biblical illiteracy from Orthodox perspective.

    It is comforting to know that we have a kind of movment aiming at reversing the trend slowly but surely.It is an uphill battle but surmountable.

    Like anybody else on a regular basis I come in to contact some evalgelicals who do not recogize me as a christian and question my belife system my life style does not allow me to answer all their questions but humbly refer them to the EOC website where they find answers from orthodox perspective.

    Regarding the so-called wahabists they do not represent Islam and we should not allow them to capitalize on our people.

    This is a spontaneous response to contrubute to the discussion.

    Gezahegn Bezabeh
    Houston,Tx

  • ethiopian

    the problem is ethiopia is the governments politics which leads hate aganst the orthodox believers. This means that the majorty of tigrai, amhara and half oromos are orthodox christians, however the governments ethnic politic deepens in to the religion level. Therefore, i blame the ethiopian government silly, backward divide and rule politic which affects the frastration on their faith.

    However, the orthodox church will survive,!

  • I certainly concerned about this report which is always what happen to our ortodx church to move forward with our true,the first and only relign who preach old and new testament with 81 chapter of the bible including the lost bibles for the rest of the worled. I believe that it is shame for our church leaders who are always disagree on their resposibily to be the the leaders of modern and 21th cencery christinans and arn’t willing to use all the techenology to reach the christinans.

  • aaron whitman

    hei Gezahegn Bezabeh

    i agree i think this whole issuse is based on the second comming of christ, so this is the last centry the world will see.

  • amanuel

    I blame our religious fathers and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church adminstrartion for our our realion’s weakness. Because if they can’t stand together,understand each other you can’t expect will do so. I believe they forget the path they came form and the promise they make. But I am still faithful that our church will stand still and pass this crisis like it did in the many pasts.

    May God Bless Ethiopia.
    Amanuel
    San Diego

  • wondu sammy

    besme ab bewold bemenfis kidus ande amlac enamenalen,our orthodox religion faith was the biggest gift from the almighty egziabeher to keep our unity, pride,respect,tradition…,i am not surprised to see this sad news,this was the very reason facsist selato musolinni killed our hero and church father ABUNA PETROS,ABUNA PETROS was trying to defend our faith and country,and now weyane is doing what facsist selato musolinni was dreamed to ethiopia and ethiopians,even our bible say in last days or the second coming of yesus kirstos(amanuel) our orthodox faith will be very smaller than it was,my god loving ethiopians i need to say some thing important to all of us,when a religion is pure and old you don’t have to push and drag nobody you just have to teach them and let them investigate and decide,this excist only in orthodox faith correct me if i am wrong,we can learn from history, vatican(roman empire) and muslims desroyed many orthodox churchs and killed millions in; africa(israelite people),armania,serbia,soria,jordan,iraq,russia,palastine,lebanos,egypt…,we ethiopians are the only strongest and oldest orthodox country in the world today and weyane is trying to change that in order to destroye our unity and tradition,but i garantee you my people before weyane dream come true our almighty egziabeher will intervene,current event in the horn of africa(east ethiopia coastline)is sign for his second arrival look the news today and learn how many powerfull nations sending their war ships to this area and please read rai esayas chapter 18,1-17 you will understand what will happen in the very near future,egziabeher yemesgen kibru yesfa god bless you all.

  • aaron whitman

    yes the orthodox church survived communism it survived islam and it will servive anything!

  • Eyob

    Orthodox is the firt and ORIGINAL Church, the catholic, protestant, pentecoastal were fabricated much later. The reason why some gullible folks are betraying their religion is that, weyane led by meles zenawi allowed foreign groups to freely roam in Ethiopia, unlike previous governments who protected Ethiopia. I remember in the early 1990s how gullible folks were dragged to pentecoastal, some were drawn for economic reasons and some fall for the manipulative pentecoastal agents. Wahabism also was introduced right after meles zenawi took office, meles zenawi is responsible for letting foreign groups assault the ancient/Original Orthodox Church. Unity is from God, division is from the devil, today especialy in the western world, so many groups who claim to be Christian church are fabriacted. If the priests of this so-called churches are interested in teaching the original word of God, why create so many division? Why change Gods word to fit their personal agenda?

  • wondu

    god is the father and ethiopia is the mother we are their children,s

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