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9/6/10 Indonesia (JakartaPost) – The congregation of the Indonesian Christian Church (GKI) in Taman Yasmin, Bogor, West Java, on Sunday broke the padlock of their unfinished church and prayed together on the construction site in protest of the Bogor municipal administration’s decision to seal the church indefinitely.

“No one can revoke our constitutional right to worship. We have obtained all the required permits to build the church,” said Jayadi Damanik, a member of the congregation’s legal team.

The site was sealed by officers of the Bogor Public Order Agency. It was the second time the administration had ordered the site’s closure since March, when it succumbed to the demands of angry residents. The ban was briefly lifted on Aug. 27, but reinstated the following day.

Jayadi said the congregation’s disregard of the ruling was backed by Bogor Police chief detective Adj. Comr. Indra Gunawan, who issued an official letter to the church, stating the administration’s actions denying the church’s right to worship were against the law.

Jayadi then led as many as 120 congregation members to the site, where the deputy general secretary of the GKI’s Jakarta synod, Rev. Arliyanus Larosa, led a prayer. Earlier in the day, the congregation held their Sunday service on plastic stools in front of the locked church.

Rev. Sondang Simanjuntak from the Paledang District Huria Batak Christian Protestant (HKBP) church in Bogor led the Sunday service from an “emergency” lectern with a simple wooden cross wrapped in a white ribbon. The same ribbons were distributed to congregation members and other bystanders.

A banner was hung at the mass, addressing Muslim residents currently undertaking their fast during Ramadan.

“We are forced to hold our service on the sidewalk. Don’t let this discourage you. God will still hear us,” Rev. Sondang said, delivering his sermon on decisions, choice and family matters.

Legislator Eva Kusuma Sundari, who was among the congregation’s members attending the service, condemned the administration’s ruling.

“It’s ironic that Muslims are celebrating their holy month peacefully while other religious congregations have no freedom to worship,” she said, adding that authorities were not supposed to prohibit people from worshipping.

Eva added that her party was fighting for the freedom to worship by forming a team to help mediate the problem, as well as bringing the matter to the House of Representatives.

Rev. Arliyanus Larosa said his office had used every available legal avenue to ensure the Taman Yasmin congregation’s right to worship.

Meanwhile, M. Subhi Azhari from the Wahid Institute said maintaining religious freedom was the responsibility of all religions.

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