http://www.barnabasfund.org A group of Muslims staged angry protests outside a number of houses in Rancaekek Wetan village near Jakarta on Sunday December 12. More than 100 members of the Batak Christian Protestant Church (HKBP) were forced to leave as the mob, backed by police, surrounded their homes to protest against “unauthorized religious services”.
Local police chief Hendro Pandowo acknowledged that the situation in the village was tense. He said that the Christians did not have a permit to use the houses as places of worship, but the Muslims had obtained a permit to hold the protest. He added, “If the place was legally designated as a church, we’d provide security protection. Otherwise, we can’t do much as it’s against the law.” The Christians argue that they are forced to hold services inside their homes because local authorities have refused or ignored a number of requests to approve a place of worship for them.
The Christians appealed to President Yudhoyono for protection on 13 December; the congregation have been attacked a number of times as they have tried to meet for fellowship. In September, one of the church’s leaders was stabbed (see Prayer Focus Update, October 2010).
A number of other churches in Indonesia have also been subject to threats or actual violence. In December alone, explosive devices were found at four Christian buildings; only two of these detonated.
- Pray for protection for the congregation of HKBP church, who have said they will continue to worship in their houses, despite the recent protests.
- US President Barack Obama said in October that Indonesia was “a model of religious tolerance”. Pray that President Yudhoyono and the local authorities will uphold the religious freedoms enshrined in the country’s constitution and will strive to display religious tolerance, which was such a marked characteristic of Indonesia only a generation ago.