by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) – While Christians in Ethiopia were already subject to persecution, they have seen intensified attacks against them amid the extreme violence of the current conflict between the Ethiopian government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), International Christian Concern reports.
Notably, the rise in persecution against Christians in Ethiopia has been occurring even though Christianity is still the main religion in the country. Fifty-nine percent of Ethiopians are Christian (42 percent Orthodox and 27 percent evangelical). “Christianity has been the predominant religion in Ethiopia dating back to biblical times with the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church originating in the first century,” Dr. Linda Burkle explains in a report for ICC. “Ethiopia, also known as Cush, was one of the first countries mentioned in the Bible.”
Moreover, Burkle adds: “Judaism was practiced for centuries and continues to be today. Modern-day Ethiopian Jews, referred to as Beta Yisrael, live in the Tigray region, where most of the violence occurs. Along with Christians, they have experienced much persecution.”
Nevertheless, Islam has risen in the country and now accounts for almost 40 percent of Ethiopia’s population, and it also accounts for most of the violent persecution against Orthodox and Evangelical Christians. Despite Ethiopia’s tolerant past, Burkle notes, the conditions for Christians have changed. “Recently, the central government has failed to condemn violence against the church and seems unable or unwilling to effectively intervene,” Burkle said. In addition, Burkle explains: “Because of the government’s special relationship with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, other denominations— especially evangelicals and Pentecostal Protestants—are persecuted by the state and by the Orthodox Church.”
According to ICC, the recent increased persecution has caused Ethiopia to go up from 39th last year to 36th on the Open Doors Watch List of countries that persecute Christians.