by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) - Churches in Muslim-majority Indonesia face continual opposition and, on March 23, Islamist protestors refused to allow the Huria Kristen Batak Protestant to hold a planned worship service at its shophouse in Bandung, West Java, International Christian Concern (ICC) reports.
While Indonesian law technically allows religious pluralism, churches continually struggle to obtain required building permits from the government, and congregations cannot meet legally without such a license, ICC reports.
A video taken on March 23 shows a group of radical Muslims surrounding the Huria Kristen Batak church, holding a sign saying: “Stop the illegal HKBP worship plan at the Maris Square shophouse!!! Or we will act.” The church has been trying to get a permit from the government since 1999, ICC said.
“Too often, churches in Muslim-majority Indonesia are unfairly subjected to Indonesia’s religious harmony laws, which require several conditions be met to worship legally; these conditions are often subject to the consent of reluctant Muslim majorities,” Gina Goh, International Christian Concern regional manager for Southeast Asia said in the ICC report.
“Even if they manage to obtain the necessary IMB permit, the existence of such religious harmony laws empowers activists and extremists with legal tools to disrupt the social order and create a new challenge to one’s right to worship, as local governments are unwilling to risk public unrest,” she said.
“If Indonesia truly honors Pancasila, the nation’s core ideology to promote pluralism, Jakarta needs to ensure that one religion cannot strip the rights of another,” Goh added.
Indonesia ranks 28th on the US Open Doors Watch List 2022 of the top 50 countries where Christians are persecuted.