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08/09/2023 Indonesia (International Christian Concern) – An Indonesian church in East Jakarta has gone viral on social media because of pressure to shut down from government authorities and the local Muslim-majority community. 

Christians and churches in Indonesia often face persecution through the denial of building permits. The Indonesian Constitution technically guarantees legal protections for minority religions such as Christianity, but local governments frequently make it difficult for churches to obtain building permits and church closures are common. 

Indonesia is a majority-Muslim country, and communities where Christians want to build churches are often not receptive to Christianity. Residents can lobby local governments to revoke the building permit or to refuse to grant it.  

The church in East Jakarta is facing many of these barriers. The congregation purchased the church building in 2008 and immediately set about getting a permit to operate. Congregants lobbied the local government unsuccessfully for years, only obtaining an official permit to operate as a church in 2018. 

Congregants worshipped for two years before services were suspended due to COVID-19. In February 2023, church leaders sought another permit to hold services again. The local authorities did not immediately reply, so the church met anyway. This went on for several weeks, until the church received a statement threatening to refuse their permit to hold worship services for good if they continued to meet ‘illegally.” 

On March 20, 2023, authorities sealed the church building without notifying anyone. Some church members responded by creating a viral video on the situation – prompting authorities to reopen the church but still not grant a permit for worship. 

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