Seven Protestant Churches Close in Indonesia Due to Islamic Pressure

Thursday, June 5, 2014

JAKARTA, INDONESIA (Worthy News)-- Under pressure from Islamic extremist movements authorities in West Java, have ordered the closure of seven Protestant churches for 'alleged irregularities in building permits' according to AsiaNews.

The process for building a church in Indonesia is quite complicated and may take up to ten years to obtain all the permits required by law. Once a property is acquired, churches must obtain permission from a number of residents as well as the local group for Interfaith dialogue. Even is permission is granted, "unspecified reasons" can oftentimes come into play which lead officials to block building projects.

Rev. Oferlin Hai, president of Church of People's Synod, told Asia News, that the alleged lack of building permits - a 2006 law - led to the seizure of the buildings. He points out, however, that the sites have been used by the community, "well before the norm became law".

“We no longer have a place of worship to come together and pray", says the pastor, who adds that some of the faithful "have moved to other places for security reasons".

The world's most populous Muslim nation, Indonesia has seen a sharp rise in the number of attacks against its minorities, especially Christians. Although the Indonesian constitution provides for freedom of religion, minority communities have been the victims of violence and abuse; in December 2013, at least five Christian places of worship had to shut down due to pressure from local Islamists.