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Indonesia: Church denied building permit after protest from Islamic group

There is a small community of about 2,500 Orthodox Christians in Indonesia. Get information about Holy Orthodoxy in Indonesia here.

For previous ChristianPersecution.com coverage of the persecution of Christians in Indonesia, see here.

“Indonesian Christians decry stalled church project,” by Katharina Reny Lestari, UCA News, September 9, 2022:

The denial of building permit to a Protestant church in Cilegon city in Indonesia’s westernmost province of Banten goes against the spirit of religious moderation, Christian leaders say.

The Communion of Churches in Indonesia (PGI) criticized the refusal of permit for the construction of a church by the Batak Society Christian Church (HKBP) Maranatha in Geram village.

“This incident harms the 1945 Constitution, which guarantees equality of every citizen to adhere to a certain religion and to worship freely in accordance to their own religions,” Reverend Jeirry Sumampow, a spokesman of PGI, said in a statement on Sept. 9.

He said the politics of identity had become worse and was threatening religious tolerance. “It is sad to see that there are still groups of people who hurt their brothers and sisters,” he added.

The opposition to the church came from a group of Muslims calling themselves the Committee of Local Wisdom Savior in Cilegon. They staged a protest on Sept. 7 demanding denial of permission based on then Serang district head’s 1975 decree providing for the closure of Christian places of worship in the area.

They later met with Cilegon Mayor Helldy Agustian in his office and pressured him to sign on the dotted line. A video of the incident went viral on social media.

Reverend Hotman T.M. Marbun from HKBP Maranatha told UCA News that the concerned authorities had refused to give approval despite the church building committee abiding by a 2006 joint ministerial decree, which had revised earlier regulations on the places of worship.

“But we have not received any response until now,” he said while adding that the congregation really needed a church building….

Bonar Tigor Naipospos, deputy chairman of the Jakarta-based Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace, said Islamist groups in the city have been trying to promote Sharia law dating back to the Banten sultanate in the province dating back to the sixteenth century.

“That is why they think there must be no other religion or tradition besides Islam,” he told UCA News….

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