Indonesia: Government authorities continue to shut down churches

Monday, April 10, 2023 | Tag Cloud

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by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) – Amid an ongoing spate of government-sponsored church closures in Indonesia, the Purwakarta Simalungun Protestant Christian Church (GKPS) was forced to give up worshiping and building a sanctuary in Cigelam Village because the Purwakarta Regency Government in West Java refused to issue the requisite permit and de facto shut the church down, International Christian Concern (ICC) reports. 

Although its constitution provides for religious freedom, Islamic-majority Indonesia ranks 33rd on the US Open Doors World Watch List 2023 of the top 50 countries where Christians are persecuted. “If a church is seen to be preaching and spreading the gospel, they soon run into opposition from Islamic extremist groups, especially in rural areas,” the Open Doors international Christian advocacy group explains in a website statement. “In some regions of Indonesia, non-traditional churches struggle to get permission for church buildings, with the authorities often ignoring their paperwork.”

The Regent of Purwakarta, Anne Ratna Mustika, is understood to have shut down the GKPS church right before Easter to avoid trouble with the surrounding Islamic community, ICC reports. 

The Regent told the GKPS congregation they should worship in a different building that was too far away for many of the church members to reach, ICC said.

“Unfortunately, even though the Indonesian Constitution technically guarantees legal protections for minority religions such as Christianity, local governments frequently make it difficult for churches to obtain building permits and church closures are a common occurrence,” ICC said in its report.


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