03/04/2021 Indonesia (International Christian Concern) – Indonesian Christians are calling on the government to scrap or revise Islamic religious textbooks that allude to the Bible, saying religious studies in schools should not touch on doctrine but focus on moral values to avoid misunderstandings.
According to UCA News, Reverend Gomar Gultom, chairman of the Communion of Churches in Indonesia (PGI), said the national ecumenical body has written to the minister of religious affairs, who is in charge of religious textbooks for junior and senior high schools, to work with the Ministry of Education and Culture, the publisher, to resolve the issue.
“Dogmatic religious lessons in the public sphere will only create segregation and can even create enmity. That is why religious education in the form of teachings should be carried out in a private space, such as among families and in houses of worship — not in schools,” Gultom said in a statement on March 1.
In an Islamic textbook for senior high school students, it mentions the Bible having “undergone changes and revisions by human hands,” different from the original Gospel that was revealed by God to the Prophet Isa, the name for Jesus among Muslims.
The textbook also criticizes the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The Gospel of Barnabas is also mentioned in the book, which is used by Muslims to claim that Jesus predicted the advent of Muhammad.
Gultom told UCA News, “When the state formulates a religious education curriculum by incorporating religious dogma or teachings, it is moving into theology, something that is very absurd.”
Father Vinsensius Darmin Mbula, chairman of the National Council of Catholic Education, said religious textbooks should focus on universal values and be careful about things that can trigger conflict.
The newly appointed Religious Minister, Yaqut Cholil Qoumas, responded by saying that he had formed a team to review that particular book.
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