The New Prime Minister’s Faith
A Look at Oneness Pentecostalism in Ethiopia
Keywords:Pentecostalism, politics, Oneness, Apostolic Church
For the first time in Ethiopia’s history, the head of state is not a member of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, but a Protestant. Moreover, Hailemariam Desalegn, who was sworn into the office of the prime minister following Meles Zenawi’s death in the summer of 2012, is a Pentecostal, and more significantly a Oneness Pentecostal, belonging to the Apostolic Church of Ethiopia – a church which in the past has been ostracized by Orthodox, mainline Evangelicals and Pentecostals alike, because of its rejection of the dogma of the Trinity. This recent transition of power thereby highlights an interesting part of Ethiopia’s increasing religious diversity, which to date has hardly been addressed. Briefly sketching the background of Oneness Pentecostalism in the USA, this paper focuses on the history of the Apostolic Church of Ethiopia as well as its present relations to other churches. It also takes a look at Hailemariam’s relationship with his church and discusses possible implications of his ascendency for religious politics in Ethiopia.
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