Three Indonesian Churches Shut Down for “Administrative Reasons”
10/03/2018 Indonesia (International Christian Concern) – On September 27th officials in western village of Alam Barajo district closed 3 churches for “administrative reasons.” Indonesia ensures freedom of religion to all citizens in its constitution and therefore cannot close churches based on religious purposes. As a result, they have claimed administrative reasons, yet no official statement has been made on exactly what happened to cause the churches to need to close.
Prior to the last decade, Indonesia had a strong reputation of religious tolerance. Yet, over the last decade alone, there have been over 1,000 churches that closed as the Muslim community is pushing for stronger Islamic laws.
As a result of the church closures, The Communion of Churches in Indonesia (PGI) will be sending a legal team to aid the churches. Gomar Gultom, PGI General Secretary to said that they are planning to use a “cultural approach, rather than a legal approach.” Although it will take more time, she stated that “a legal process is [their] last resort.”
“There are thousands of other places of worship that don’t have permits, but continue to operate,” Gulton said. “I just can’t understand why they won’t let us have our churches. I can understand if [the local government] prohibited us from having the permits if we used the buildings for criminal activities, but we used them to praise God.”
The coordinator of the Islamic Anti-Discrimination Network, Aan Anshori, stated that “Islamic teaching seems to fail to understand that other religions, especially Christianity, need to be respected in a democratic country like Indonesia. But there’s a strong impression that other religions are considered enemies of Islam. It shows that there is something wrong in Islamic teaching and also in understanding the rights of all citizens, no matter what their religion.”
For interviews with Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: email@example.com.