World Watch Ranking: 39

What does persecution look like in Ethiopia?

Christianity may be the majority religion in Ethiopia, but the true situation is much more complicated. Christians living in certain areas and from certain backgrounds can lose everything for their faith.

People who convert to Christianity from Muslim backgrounds, particularly in the east and south east of the country, risk harsh mistreatment from their communities. Women face the threat of rape, forced marriage or (if married) divorce and separation from their children. In some areas, Islamic extremist mobs have attacked churches, taking advantage of a general rise in political violence. Christian converts can be threatened with death and are often forced to flee their homes.

There is also persecution for Christians who move from a traditional Ethiopian Orthodox Church (EOC) background to a Protestant or non-traditional denomination. Believers found to be going to other Christian meetings can be completely shunned by their families. It is thought that all major churches in Ethiopia have experienced government interference in appointing their leaders.

Parts of Ethiopia are tribal, and Christians in these areas are expected to take part in tribal conflict. Believers who refuse to participate may experience violent backlash from the community.

Who is most vulnerable to persecution?

In different parts of the country, people becoming Christians from Muslim backgrounds, or Protestants from EOC backgrounds are most at risk of discrimination and persecution.

Meet 'Ruth'

“If you are an evangelical Christian, they will know. They refuse to talk to you or even have any kind of relationship. Right now, my family doesn't talk to me at all.”

Ruth (22) converted to evangelical Christianity as a teenager; her family found her Bible and stopped supporting her

What has changed this year?

The pressure faced by Christians remains high, particularly in community and church life (for instance, more than 20 churches were attacked, damaged or looted last year). The political violence that has become rampant in Ethiopia has now become a full-blown civil war that has put the country as a whole at risk, but a peace agreement was reached in November 2022 and Ethiopia's Christians are praying that this is an end to the crisis in the country. Persecution is complex in the context of war, and in some instances, it isn't clear whether persecution is motivated by someone's faith, their ethnicity or another factor.

What does Open Doors do to help Christians in Ethiopia?

Open Doors works through the local church to strengthen Christians in Ethiopia with leadership and persecution survival training and economic empowerment projects.

How can you pray for Ethiopia?

  • Please pray for justice for Christians being denied their basic rights
  • Pray that new Christians facing strong disapproval and persecution would know God's presence
  • Pray for Open Doors' work to disciple believers and strengthen the church.
a prayer for Ethiopia

Lord Jesus, we pray for justice for those who have come to know You in Ethiopia. Please intervene to protect their rights and change the hearts of their families and neighbours. We pray that all the believers facing hostile situations will know your presence with them and keep hold of their joy. We pray You would equip those bravely taking the gospel to dangerous places. And we long to see different churches come to understand and love one another throughout Ethiopia. Amen.

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Map thumbnail
Persecution Level

Very High

Persecution Type
  • Christian denominational protectionism
  • Islamic oppression
  • Dictatorial paranoia
  • Clan oppression

Population of Christians
72,396,000 (59.9%)

Main Religion

Federal Parliamentary Republic

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali

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