Christians attend church, despite attacks in Malaysia

By January 19, 2010

Malaysia (MNN) — Malaysians continue to be in shock in the aftermath of attacks on churches in that multicultural country. An eleventh Christian church was hit by vandals January 16–the Grace Global Prayer Baptist Church in the city of Semabarna. Church leaders have called the police, who drew up a report and launched an investigation.

All of the attacks are believed to be prompted by a Dec. 31 court ruling allowing a Catholic newspaper to use the Arabic word "Allah" to refer to God in its Malay-language section.

President of Open Doors USA Carl Moeller is shocked by the violence. "Malaysia is not on our World Watch List of worst countries around the world for persecution."

Moeller says, "Traditionally in Malaysia, Muslims, Buddhists, Christians and Hindus have gotten along fairly well with very little overt hostility or any problems between each other. They have more of a model of religious tolerance than anything else."

According to Malaysians, they have been shocked by the religious violence.

A Christian worker in Malaysia we'll call "David" says there is good news. "Every single political party in the county has come out condemning the attacks. This includes the ruling party that has been drumming up the issue in the first place."

Moeller agrees. "We're confident, along with the Christian community, that the government will snap into action and pursue these people to the fullest extent of the law. The real question remains: 'Is this a negative trend toward more extremism and more violence against Christians?'"

David doesn't believe church attendance has been affected in any way. "Christians, by and large, were not intimidated from going to church, and church attendance was pretty much normal." However, he thinks they have a long way to go before the issue is resolved.

Moeller says in other countries, this type of violence pushes people to Christ. "The majority population, which is not extremist, begins to ask questions like: 'Why are they persecuting these people? They've lived among us for centuries. What is the nature of their faith?' And in seeking answers to those questions, often they find the reality of Jesus Christ to change their lives."

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