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 Religion in Ethiopia

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PostSubject: Religion in Ethiopia   Thu Nov 11, 2010 4:46 pm

According to the 2007 National Census, Christians make up 62.8% of the country's population (43.5% Ethiopian Orthodox, 19.3% other denominations), Muslims 33.9%, practitioners of traditional faiths 2.6%, and other religions 0.6%[1] This is in agreement with the updated CIA World Factbook, which states that Christianity is the most widely practiced religion in Ethiopia. According to the latest CIA factbook figure Muslims constitute 32.8% of the population.[114]

Orthodox Christianity has a long history in Ethiopia dating back to the first century, and is dominant in northern and central Ethiopia. Both Orthodox and Protestant Christianity have large representations in southern and western Ethiopia. A small ancient group of Jews, the Beta Israel, live in northwestern Ethiopia, though most emigrated to Israel in the last decades of the twentieth century as part of the rescue missions undertaken by the Israeli government, Operation Moses and Operation Solomon.[115] Some Israeli and Jewish scholars consider these Ethiopian Jews as a historical Lost Tribe of Israel.
This leather painting depicts Ethiopian Orthodox priests playing sistra and a drum.

The Kingdom of Aksum was one of the first nations to officially accept Christianity, when St. Frumentius of Tyre, called Fremnatos or Abba Selama ("Father of Peace") in Ethiopia, converted King Ezana during the fourth century AD. Many believe that the Gospel had entered Ethiopia even earlier, with the royal official described as being baptised by Philip the Evangelist in chapter eight of the Acts of the Apostles. (Acts 8:2639)

Today, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, part of Oriental Orthodoxy, is by far the largest denomination, though a number of Protestant (Pentay) churches and the Ethiopian Orthodox Tehadeso Church have recently gained ground. Since the eighteenth century there has existed a relatively small (uniate) Ethiopian Catholic Church in full communion with Rome, with adherents making up less than 1% of the total population.[1]
A traditional Ethiopian depiction of Jesus and Mary.

The name "Ethiopia" (Hebrew Kush) is mentioned in the Bible numerous times (thirty-seven times in the King James version). Abyssinia is also mentioned in the Qur'an and Hadith. While many Ethiopians claim that the Bible references of Kush apply to their own ancient civilization, pointing out that the Gihon river, a name for the Nile, is said to flow through the land, most non-Ethiopian scholars believe that the use of the term referred to the Kingdom of Kush in particular or Africa outside of Egypt in general. Some have argued[citation needed] that biblical Kush was a large part of land that included Northern Ethiopia, Eritrea and most of present day Sudan. The capital cities of biblical Kush were in Northern Sudan.

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