ICC has been following the situation in Indonesia , as churches are now faced with stricter regulations in finding a place to worship. And many churches that are already in existence are being closed by authorities because they do not comply with the law.
Indonesian Churches Alarmed at Forced Church Closings
By Lucille Talusan
To read the full story, click here: Indonesian Churches Alarmed at Forced Church Closings
WEST JAVA, Indonesia – In one town in Indonesia , local officials recently shut down eight Christian house churches.
One of them had operated for 30 years. One of the pastors says Muslims are afraid that some of their fellow believers will be converted to Christianity.
The local government officials who ordered the closure of the house churches based their action on a ministerial decree issued in 1969. It states that all religious groups must apply for permits before establishing places of worship, which means that a house cannot be used as a church.
Pastor Simon Timorason, coordinator for the Christian churches in the area, says it is very difficult, in fact, nearly impossible for churches to be issued permits in majority-Muslim communities.
As a result, only 10 percent of the churches have permits.
Timorason also says another hindrance to getting a permit is the huge amount of money churches need to pay.
“There is a lot of bureaucracy, and before he signs the application, we need to pay each official as high as 100 Million Rupiah for big churches in the city,” Timorason explained.
That is the equivalent of $10,400 U.S. dollars.
One Pentecostal church was granted a building permit, but its construction was stopped by local officials after they found out that the church building was going to be higher than the mosque. According to them, this was not allowed.
But Pastor Viki, head pastor of the Padalarang Pentecostal Church , said there is no such regulation in Indonesian law.
“My personal opinion, said Pastor Viki, is perhaps it’s jealousy of the people to the Christian community. We cannot build something that is big and tall. We are granted permission but we need to keep it low and small.”
Pastor Viki believes that in God’s perfect time, they will still be able to complete their three-story building.
To continue reading, click here: Indonesian Churches Alarmed at Forced Church Closings