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Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity



Many Rastafarians feel a close link between their own religious tradition and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, since
Emperor Haile Selassie himself was an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian. In the Amharic language, the Church is called the Ethiopian Orthodox 'Tewahido Bete Christian' ('United Church').

Orthodox Christianity is a very old and long established tradition. It has always been the dominant Church in the eastern part of Christendom, and often places a stronger emphasis on mysticism and monasticism than is found in the west. It claims to preserve in its doctrines the true and undistorted teachings of Jesus Christ, in contrast with numerous confused and fragmented modern denominations.

Some typical features of Orthodox worship are the use of incense, the chanting of prayers and verses from the Scriptures, and the veneration of icons depicting holy figures and saints. The walls inside an Orthodox chapel may be literally covered with hundreds of beautiful glowing icons. This gives a very special but austere atmosphere. The priest who takes the service typically stands facing the same direction as the congregation behind him, since he is seen as 'leading' the congregation in worship, rather than simply preaching to them. The Eastern Church also celebrates festivals such as Christmas and Easter at slightly different times compared with the Western Church.

Branches of the Orthodox Church include the Russian, Greek, Armenian, Egyptian Coptic, and Syrian churches as well as the Ethiopian Orthodox, which is thought by some to be the oldest. (Not all Eastern churches consider themselves part of Orthodoxy, but instead may belong to Roman Catholicism.)

Orthodoxy is the state religion in
Ethiopia. More than half the population is Orthodox Christian. There is an unusual emphasis on some aspects of Old Testament (Judaic) practices and rituals, such as dietary laws and a Saturday Sabbath.

Although Christianity is the predominant religion in Ethiopia, Islam and Judaism are also well represented.

For more information about the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, try the following links:
http://sellassie.ourfamily.com/culture/church.html
Yahoo! Group -
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/EthiopianChristianity/



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