Indonesia: Two government officials sign Islamist petition to block church building, violation of Indonesian constitution

Tuesday, November 8, 2022 | Tag Cloud Tags: , ,

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by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) – In an apparent violation of Indonesia’s constitutional protection of religious freedom, two local officials in Java Island joined forces with Islamist organizations to block the construction of a Christian church building, the Christian Post (CP) reports.

In their capacity as government officials in western Java Island’s Banten Province, the Mayor of Cilegon, Heldy Agustian, and his deputy, Sanuji Pentamarta, signed an Islamist petition in early September to prohibit the building of a church in Cilegon’s Grogol District, CP reports.

The Indonesian Ulema Council (Majelis Ulama Indonesia, or MUI), the country’s most senior body of Islamic scholars, was among those who initiated the petition.

The building at the heart of the contention was intended to house a congregation of the Protestant Christian Batak Church (Huria Kristen Batak Protestant, or HKBP). The fact that officials had joined the petition against its construction triggered concerns among Christians about government interference in religious freedom.

“This incident harms the 1945 Constitution, which guarantees equality of every citizen to adhere to a certain religion and to worship freely in accordance with their own religions,” Rev. Jerry Sumampow, spokesman for the Communion of Churches in Indonesia, said in a September 9 statement.

Agreeing with the Christians, Abd Rohim Ghazali of the Jakarta-based Maarif Institute for Culture and Humanity said in his own September 9 press statement that it was a violation of Indonesia’s constitution for a mayor and his deputy to take part in protesting the construction of a church building, CP reports.

Despite the religious freedom protections enshrined in its 1945 constitution, Indonesia ranks 28th on the US Open Doors World Watch List 2022 of the top 50 countries where Christians are persecuted.

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