As troubled Ethiopia’s military junta moves closer to Marxist ideology, Christians are encountering adversity. Meanwhile, despite difficulties of a different nature, a remarkable people’s movement in the Christian faith is growing in the southern part of the nation.
The National Democratic Revolution Program announced by Major Mengistu Haile-Mariam, first vice-chairman of the Provincial Military Administrative Council (PMAC), is being implemented to establish the Peoples Democratic Republic of Ethiopia as a socialist state. In a speech to the nation last April, the leader listed missionaries as the number-one source of imperialist infiltration in the past. Teachers were listed second. Later, a popular radio program alleged that Ethiopian teachers in church schools were really “black missionaries” exploiting the people.
Newspapers and radio broadcasts have increasingly named missionaries and churches as agents working against the interests of the state. Missionaries, pastors, and priests have been harangued by local “workers’ revolutionary forums” that hold indoctrination and self-criticism meetings. All organizations, including missions, must give their Ethiopian staff two hours per week off to attend these forums.
While much of the PMAC’s effort is aimed at breaking the stranglehold that Amharic landlords and the Orthodox Church had on the nation, the result has been a vacuum of power. Local committees have taken power to enforce their policies, even if they are contrary to PMAC directives. Students and peasants have taken the law into their own hands to settle grievances, real or imaginary.
Christians have also been infected with the revolutionary spirit of the day. For example, some students—whipped into hostility by a revolutionary—accused ...1
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