Authorities Evict 10-Year-Old Church for 'Noise Pollution'

A church in central Ethiopia.
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 neighbors 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.

Similar tensions

There is concern that these measures are part of a concerted effort to discourage Christian activity in Oromia state, the birthplace of President Abiye Ahmed. Leaders say they also fear that if these government actions are successful, it might encourage Muslims in other communities in Oromia to initiate similar complaints. As of the 2007 census, the state was about 51 percent Christian (17.7% Protestant, 30.4% Orthodox) and 47.6% Muslim.

There have been tensions in the region before. In June last year, 20 Christians were killed in the city of Goba. Although some observers blamed sympathizers of the Tigray People's Liberation Front, an armed liberation movement, a local source said it took place after Christians opposed the installation of a monument for a prominent Muslim leader in the area. And some locals pinned the blame on the government, saying it was warning Christians against opposing similar moves in future.

"Similar tensions are bubbling under the surface in other parts of Oromia", the source said. "We have even heard of places where Muslims had asked Christians to vacate the area. And though this call is veiled as ethnic rivalry by some media and observers, it is at its very core a religious matter".


It's not only the state's Protestant churches that face problems. Some Ethiopian Orthodox churches have reported an increase in difficulties, World Watch Monitor was told. In Woliso, 120km southwest of Addis Ababa, authorities are reported to have confiscated church land and handed it to followers of the increasingly powerful Wakefeta African Traditional Religion.

Ethiopia law promises freedom of religion, but the country is 28th on the Open Doors' 2019 World Watch List of countries where it is most difficult to live as a Christian.

Protestant communities in the country face challenges from fanatical elements in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, and, where ethnicity and Islam are interconnected, Christians can experience hostility from family and community.

This article originally appeared on World Watch Monitor. Reprinted with permission.

Listen to the podcast for an interview with Open Doors' David Curry.

To contact us or to submit an article, click here.

Get Charisma's best content delivered right to your inbox! Never miss a big news story again. Click here to subscribe to the Charisma News newsletter.

Five ways to deepen your relationship with God, increase your faith and save money!

  • Deepen Your Relationship with God with a FREE eCourse: Click Here to view all of our free e-Courses. Favorite topics include Fear, Forgiveness, Holy Spirit, Supernatural, and How to Hear God.
  • Super Discounts and Close-Out Specials: Click Here to view all our bundles and close-out specials and save up to 86%! Prayer, Holy Spirit, Anointing, the Supernatural and more.
  • God Wants to Anoint Women Now: Rise up and enter the anointing of Deborah, Anna, Esther, Ruth and Hannah. You were called to go higher. Click Here to learn more.
  • Change Your Atmosphere and Circumstances Through Prayer! John Eckhardt's prayer bundle gives you six powerful books to help you pray and change any situation. Click Here.
  • HUGE Bible Sale!: Click Here to save up to 50% off a great selection of Bibles. Plus, get a free gift with each order!

Subscription Special: Subscribe to Charisma for Only $24.97 and get a free gift. With your subscription, you'll receive Born For Significance by best-selling author Bill Johnson. View Offer

Attention Pastors and Leaders: Leadership training and development are crucial for success. Enroll in a FREE 1-hour leadership mini-course by Dr. Mark Rutland. View Details

Charisma News - Informing believers with news from a Spirit-filled perspective