Ethiopia Facts

Score:63/ 100
Persecution Type:Islamic oppression
Persecution Level:Very High
Main Religion:Christianity
Government:Federal republic
Leader:President Sahle-Work Zewde

Profile of Persecution

Violence 71%
Church Life 62%
National Life 65%
Community Life 63%
Family Life 55%
Private Life 60%

Christians denied resources

In Ethiopia, all Christian communities are targeted by radical Islamists—particularly where the Christian community is in the minority—but some denominations are more heavily targeted. In 2019, the country saw a rise in communal violence, which displaced millions of people. In some areas, Christians are denied access to community resources and/or are ostracized from society. In some regions, such as Ogaden, Islamic mobs have been known to attack churches.

How Christians are suffering

The persecution faced by Christians in Ethiopia often depends on where they live. For example, in urban areas and areas that are mainly Protestant, Christians who leave the Ethiopian Orthodox Church will face less serious consequences, although they may still face opposition from their families.

But in rural communities that are mainly made up of members of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Christians who choose to be part of another denomination are often ostracized or even attacked.

In rural communities that are mainly Muslim, Christians are often denied access to communal resources or even attacked by extremists. Christians from Muslim backgrounds face pressure from their families and communities.


On February 9, 2019, local Muslims in Alaba attacked 10 church buildings, destroying one and burning the property inside all the structures.

The political instability in the country has afforded some groups to target Christians and churches. As a result, six Christians were killed in Amhara, Oromia, and SNNP regional states.

Population and number of Christian statistics: Johnson T M and Zurlo G A, eds., World Christian Database (Leiden/Boston: Brill, accessed April 2019).


Pray for Ethiopia

  • Converts from Islam to Christianity are ostracized, harassed, denied access to communal resources and often denied family rights. Pray that the Lord will equip the church to offer Christians hope in these circumstances, to be ready to reach out with the gospel to their persecutors and to respond to persecution in a way that honors Christ.
  • The Ethiopian Orthodox Church (EOC) opposes the activities of evangelical Christians, whom they regard as followers of a Western religion threatening Ethiopian culture. Pray for a sense of unity among God’s people, that the EOC would stop oppressing evangelical believers and that a common sense of mission would take root among believers.
  • Christian in some areas experience hostility from some tribes who demand that Christians participate in tribal clashes. Pray that the church will be able to shun tribalism, and be ready to give an answer to all who may question them about their hope.

Stories from Ethiopia

March 6, 2020

A ‘living death’: How Christian women experience persecution

A new 2020 Open Doors in-depth report focusing on gendered persecution surfaces some disturbing realities for Christian women and girls in the top 50 countries where women are highly persecuted for their decision to follow Jesus. Read More


January 15, 2020

Every day, 8 Christians killed for their decision to follow Jesus

In-depth research for Open Doors' 2020 World Watch List shows that at least eight Christians, largely in Sub-Saharan Africa, die at the hands of persecutors (extremists, family members and state authorities) each day. Read More


May 21, 2019

In Africa, Christians Are in the Flames of Persecution—and On Fire for Jesus

Throughout sub-Saharan Africa, Christians are being held, feet to the flames, and told to deny Christ. Read More


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