Church congregation continues amid protest
Tifa Asrianti , The Jakarta Post , Bekasi | Mon, 03/10/2008 1:20 AM | Headlines
Five churches in North Bekasi held Sunday services from Permata Jijau Permai housing estate despite a rumor members of the Cooperating Bureau of Mosques and Praying Rooms (Musholla) would stage large protests against their efforts.
Police officers were seen patrolling the housing estate, where the protesters were expected, but no such gathering occurred.
The five churches included the Indonesian Bethel Church of Shalom, the Indonesian Bethel Church of Maranatha, the Indonesian Christian Protestant Church, the Indonesian Pentecostal Church and the Javanese Christian Church.
Various obstacles put up by protesters have seen church organizations in the area unable to build permanent buildings and so they operate out of makeshift shophouses.
Edward Butar-butar from the Bekasi Christian Family Forum said there were nine other churches in the Permata Hijau Permai real estate but threats seemed to be focused on five churches at the shophouses block.
The cooperating bureau organizing the protests made complaints to local authorities about the churches and their operations last year.
Tensions escalated after Dec. 16, 2007, when hundreds of people entered a church during Mass and forced the congregation to stop the service.
Following the December protests, the Javanese Christian Church moved to Taman Kebalen estate.
Four churches stayed despite further protests.
Elizabeth Suria, church secretary at the Shalom church, said her congregation had been faced with a number of incidents including garbage being dumped at their church entrance and protesters blocking congregation members from entering their building.
“So far, there has been no physical abuse, but we couldn’t perform mass,” she said.
One protester interviewed said “his people” did not want to interrupt religious activity, but wanted “legal certainty about the building’s usage”.
“They are using shophouses as houses of worship,” Yos said.
“I think it is against the regulation.”
In response to the opposition, Elizabeth said the shophouses they used as churches belonged to them, and they had a legal right to use them for whatever purpose.
Edward Butar-butar said the Christian congregations had to use shophouses for services because it was difficult to build churches there.
He said the Indonesian Christian Protestant Church and St. Clara church, a Catholic church in a neighboring real estate, had experienced problems with their land, construction funds and construction permits.
“Some people objected to the construction plan and as a result the church has never been built,” Edward told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.
Bekasi municipality council member and member of the Peace and Welfare Party (PDS) Jonni S. Batubara said construction of a Batak church in Tanggul, North Bekasi, was stopped last year after people protested against it.
Another council member and faction head of the Justice Welfare Party (PKS), Wahyu Prihantono said the problem was related to miss-communication between churchgoers and the people.
“Performing a religious activity is a human right,” Wahyu said.
“To prevent the opposition, we should strengthen the role of FKUB (Bekasi’s Interfaith Communication Forum).”
In 2006, the government issued a two-minister regulation stipulating a church permit should include at least 90 churchgoers, have support from 60 local residents, be legalized by the local authorities, and receive a recommendation from the head of the municipality’s religious office and one from the FKUB.
Comments (19) | Post comment A | A | A | | | | | | Stephanie (not verified) — Thu, 03/20/2008 – 9:32pm
Disgusting. Muslims the world over threatening, killing, rioting…and then act as is they are the victims or they have a right to act in such a way towards ALL non-Muslim…from Hindus in India, to Buddhists in Thailand, to Christians in Indonesia and Nigeria, and on and on the list goes.
And to the Muslims who say this is not Islamic behavior…that is a lie…in the dhimma (sort of an agreement for jews and christians in order for them to live, but live as despised second-class citizens, if you could call them ‘citizens’, more like a way for Muslims to take their money and shit on them) in the dhimma Christians are not allowed to build new churches!!!!!! And Indonesian Muslims are just following Islamic laws here.
Ihsan (not verified) — Wed, 03/19/2008 – 9:27am
I am personally embarrassed for the actions taken by my fellow muslims in Bekasi. They are truly not following the true teachings of our prophet and the Quran, which does actually realize the different religions, and thus the need for tolerance. We should just let other people worship according to their beliefs, and not protest against them.
I suspect that most of those protesters don’t really know about the true teachings of Islam, and I strongly believe that there are fundamental figures behind the protests, who don’t respect tolerance, and thus preach other people into believing that what they are currently doing is the right thing to do.
Shame on you for misleading other people to do intolerant acts against our fellow Indonesians.
The Reader (not verified) — Wed, 03/19/2008 – 3:53am
Indonesia never change, just try to find new ways to press Christian. Very obvious, it’s very hard (if it’s not impossible!) to build a church, no building allowed to Christians to gather and worship the Lord, too many permit to obtain, all just excuses and another words to press/pressure Christians. The same scenario doesn’t apply if you want to built a mosque. I learned that more than 20 years ago, and still the same, sweet talk about openness, same rights, same treatment. Well…… BS!!! Government still corrupt, and definitely no religious freedom for Christians there!!
Erlin sitinjak (not verified) — Tue, 03/18/2008 – 11:11am
When will Indonesian people be able to apply the first principle of the Republic of Indonesia? We should have been ashamed over the fact that there are still particular parties in this country who cannot express their freedom of worship due to our false interpretation and appreciation over the religious values. why don’t we just let them worship and pray according to their belief? I dare say that God never command you to interfere other’s belief or even to question the legacy of the building they use to worship.
The Reader (not verified) — Mon, 03/17/2008 – 12:37pm
indonesia claims to be a muslim country. If that is really true, and if they truelly follow the Quran and the Sunnah as they say. Then they should not stop people from other religions from practising their faith. Islam gives them that right. Quran tells us that their is no compulsion in religion. Show me where Prophet Muhammed (SAAW) ever stopped or stood in the way of any christian or jew from practising their faith. Shame on the muslims of Indonesia. Go back and study your religion the right way. May Allah (SWT) guide you all back to the right way and away from the corrupt and twisted way.Amin.
The Reader (not verified) — Tue, 03/11/2008 – 3:30am
its against the very foundation of our beloved republic not to allowed others to practiced theirs,wake up Indonesia,how long can we go on like this,its a shame really!
Jose mendez (not verified) — Tue, 03/11/2008 – 2:08am
Indonesian goverment set bad example before international comunnity, special before western comunnity because do little or nothing for let christian people built new churches, put lot ridicules excuses for delay or approved constructions churches permits, at same time let muslims people interfiere,attack or bother christian people, Indonesian police do almost nothing to stop muslim behavior. Dont expect muslim people special indonesian be treat nice or fair in other countries since indonesian muslim people is no nice with other religiones, special christians.
Im muslim in america and dont like be treat unfair for my own people. Is time Indonesia goverment take appropiate steps for made real changes in this matter. Here in America people look indonesia right violationes.
A. Anands (not verified) — Tue, 03/11/2008 – 1:51am
It is the Christans human right to build their churches for worship. The same rules must apply for all religions. The Indonesian government must allow Christans to build their churches just like other religions are allowed to build their houses for worship.
The Reader (not verified) — Mon, 03/10/2008 – 2:09am
So, why the governement doesnt give a permit to build a church?? I heard they have freedom of religion in Indonesia, so christians are supposed to have the same rights as he people of “other religions” who can build their own houses of worship without all the fuzz. (…).
Why bothering a religious meeting? Ofcourse it’s obvious christians start to have church meetings going on in shops, if they are not allowed to build a church. So…it’s time to work out the national motto: Bhinneka Tunggal Ika or Unity in Diversity…