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12/22/2019 Indonesia (International Christian Concern) – While Christmas will be celebrated widely at chapels and churches in the West, not so in West Sumatra, Indonesia.

According to BBC Indonesia, a number of Catholics in Dharmasraya, West Sumatra, will not celebrate Christmas together because of government’s regulation. After not being allowed to hold conventions and Christmas celebrations by the Nagari Sikabau Government (village level) at a temporary house of worship, around 30 Catholics in Jorong Kampung Baru, Nagari Sikabau, Dharmasraya Regency, West Sumatra, made the decision not to celebrate Christmas this year.

The Dharmasraya Regency Government has offered transportation so that they can hold services in churches in Sawahlunto City or other places, but the congregation has refused.

“Even though our hearts cry, we will obey. Just how long will the government treat us like that? Government […] said the people do not need to hold worship [service], maybe this is a test for us,” said Maradu Lubis, chairman of the Jorong Stasi Kampung Baru, told BBC News Indonesia.

In early December 2019, Maradu Lubis applied for permission to conduct worship and Christmas celebrations at a Catholic facility, in Kampung Baru. However, he did not get permission and was made aware of a letter of refusal from nearby residents from the previous two years, as the reason why they can’t celebrate there.

Head of Jorong Kampung Baru, M. Jumain, however, said that he did not forbid Catholics, Protestant Christians and Pentecostals from his village to celebrate Christmas.

“Please celebrate at their respective homes. If you want to celebrate Christmas together you can join in celebrating at the Rumbai River. There is a place of worship, the place is also not far away, only 30 minutes from here, or to the church in Sawahlunto, that’s 1, 2 hours from here,” he said.

Sudarto from PUSAKA, an organization that often advocates freedom of religion and belief in West Sumatra, says that practices of intolerance still occur frequently in the area.

For interviews, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: [email protected].