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Ethiopia-Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity

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Ethiopia Index


Worshipers dressed in whiteshammas attend a service at Holy Trinity Cathedral i Addis Ababa.
Courtesy World Vision (Bruce Brander)

John Markakis has remarked of Ethiopia that "the dominant element in this culture and its major distinguishing feature is the Christian religion." Yet almost all of the analysis of Orthodox Christianity as practiced by Ethiopians has focused on the Amhara and Tigray. The meaning of that religion for the Oromo and others is not clear. For some Oromo who achieved significant political power in Amhara kingdoms in the eighteenth century and after, adherence to Christianity seemed to be motivated by nothing more than expediency.

By the mid-twentieth century, some educated Amhara and Tigray had developed skepticism, not so much of doctrine-- although that also occurred--as of the church's political and economic role. They had developed similar feelings toward the clergy, most of whom were poorly educated. Nevertheless, the effects of the church's disestablishment and of the continuing social upheaval and political repression impelled many Ethiopians to turn to religion for solace.

Data as of 1991

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