Indonesia Pledges To Facilitate Church After Outcry

Wednesday, April 12, 2023 | Tag Cloud Tags: , ,

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By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News

JAKARTA (Worthy News) – Indonesia’s government says it will facilitate a place of worship for Protestant Christians in West Java after the forced closure of their church by authorities provoked an international outcry.

Indonesia’s Ministry of Religion pledged to help arrange a location for the Simalungun Protestant Christian Church (GKPS) in the Purwakarta Regency region of West Java.

Authorities said they closed the GKPS building in Purwakarta’s Cigelam Village, in Babakan Cikao District, as it was “misused for two years” for worship “not licensed” by authorities.

Rights groups claimed the closure ahead of Easter was done to avoid tensions with Muslims in the area as part of a crackdown on churches in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim nation.

However, a Christian with close knowledge of the situation expressed hope to Worthy News that “now everything is clear.”

Local leaders confirmed they had been instructed by Indonesia’s Minister of Religion Yaqut Cholil Qoumas to ensure GKPS activities.

In a statement quoted by Indonesia’s news agency ANTARA, the GKPS thanked the area’s regent and local armed forces for facilitating its church activities on Good Friday.


“Thank you for the facilitation that has been given to us. So that there is a recommendation from the regent that GKPS Purwakarta can worship at the Armed Sadang Purwakarta Regiment today,” added GKPS Purwakarta Chairman Krisdian Saragih.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether the statement was made under duress.

However, ANTARA, which has historical ties to the government, reported that the “Purwakarta GKPS congregation is also allowed to use the [local army’s] room until they obtain a permit for a place of worship.”

“We thank the Ministry of Religion, the Regent of Purwakarta, for all the efforts. Thank you, thank you to all parties, the police, the military commander, and the head of the regiment,” the GKPS chairman was quoted as saying.

The developments came after advocacy groups such as International Christian Concern and Open Doors expressed concern about church closures in Indonesia.

“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,” Open Doors said.

“In some regions of Indonesia, non-traditional churches struggle to get permission for church buildings, with the authorities often ignoring their paperwork.”

Islamic-majority Indonesia ranks 33rd on the annual Open Doors World Watch List of 50 countries where it says Christians are persecuted.

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