Census, Religion, and Ethiopians
By Mitiku Adisu
The report also says,
The Christian population rose to more than 46 million, or 62 percent of the population, up from 32.7 million in 1994. The census highlights a decrease in the number of Orthodox Christians, traditionally the dominant church in Ethiopia. They now comprise 43.5 percent of the population, as against just over 50 percent in 1994. The erosion is mainly due to the rising influence of Pentecostal churches in the country. Membership of Protestant churches as a whole has increased from 5.4 million to 13.7 million.
What is interesting in the above statement is the choice of the word "erosion" to explain decline in membership in the Orthodox church. Why people are not part of a church community or prefer one over the other is not always easy to pinpoint. However, there are few observable factors that could have contributed to the decrease or increase in membership:
1. Some among the Orthodox laity may attend church without ever becoming members;
2.There has been a huge rift within the Orthodox community itself over the politicization of the offices;
3. Ethiopia is a very young population [nearly 70 percent are 30 years of age and under] which would require the ancient church to preach the Word of God in a language the new generation could understand;
4. It could also be that a type of syncretism [where there are evident overlaps with non-Christian religions] has resulted in falling from the faith and/or switching allegiances;
5. Ethnicization of politics could have also resulted in ethnicization of religion or in some cases resurgence of non-Christian religions;
6. Depth of poverty, massive unemployment, unrealizable consumption habits, high-risk behaviors, illiteracy, diversity of languages and cultures without a strong cohesive center have one way or another affected the way people relate to one another or exchange information.
In the end, this is a commendable job in that planners will have some data to work from. What is missing in all such reporting is, however, an underlying fact of faith that Christians of all stripes share: that is, the Christ Child born in a Bethlehem manger, who died on a cross on Golgotha and was buried and rose from the dead to ascend into Heaven, whose return will be declared with the voice of the archangel and who will judge the living and the dead and establish his eternal kingdom where there will be no more tears or pain or sorrow.
You may want to see an earlier post here.