Church in Ethiopia Forced to Close and Congregants Told to Leave by Authorities as Government Increases Pressure on Christian Community

A church in central Ethiopia. | World Watch Monitor

An evangelical church in central Ethiopia has been ordered to vacate its building, 10 years after it started meeting there, and churches elsewhere in the region say pressure is increasing on them too.

The Mekane Yesus Evangelical Church in the town of Robe in Bale zone, about 400km southeast of the capital Addis Ababa, was ordered by the Oromia Regional State Authorities to leave its premises within 30 days. Church meetings with local officials so far have not changed their mind.

The eviction letter, dated 15 May and signed by the mayor, Birhanu Dadi Tafesse, said the church’s neighbours had complained of noise. They claimed the Christians attending the meeting were not from the area, and that the building was not suitable for worship services. “Based on the consensus we have reached in the committee formed, you have to look for another place and leave the current place within 30 days,” the letter said.

“This is really a surprising move,” a source, unnamed for security reasons, told World Watch Monitor. “If noise is the problem, Protestant churches cannot be the first to be accused of sound pollution. Other religious institutions use much more powerful sound systems all over the country. Noise from mosques and Ethiopian Orthodox churches can be heard throughout the day and even at night. This decision is nothing other than a display of animosity towards Protestant churches in the region.”

The source said the congregation secured the building from a private owner 10 years ago, and had been using it without incident.

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SOURCE: Christian Post; World Watch Monitor