Indonesia sees increased Church closures, elections approach

By January 15, 2014
Photo by Open Doors Ministry

(Photo by Open Doors)

Indonesia (MNN) — A nation spread over 17,000 islands is bound to be diverse. Even when it comes to religious tolerance–or non-tolerance.

Open Doors USA issued an overview of the increasing pressure against Christians and some Muslim minority groups.

Once renowned for its model democracy and tolerant principles, Indonesia has, in many areas, been led by extra-government forces. These, namely, are Muslim extremist groups.

In 1945, the country gained independence. According to Open Doors, founding father President Sukarno introduced the “Pancasila,” an ideology made up of five parts: belief in the one and only God, a just and civilized humanity, the unity of the country, democracy guided by inner wisdom, and social justice.

Those tolerant principles are now in jeopardy. Open Doors explains that while Muslim extremist parties receive low votes during elections, they still have an impact on both national and local governments. They operate by causing fear and shaping public opinion.

In effect, there has been a rise in Church closures in recent years. Often times, it is local or regional government giving in to the pressure and fear caused by these extremist groups that cause the churches to close.

Indonesia is #47 on the 2014 World Watch List issued by Open Doors. While in some places Christians can practice their religion with little opposition, other places find Christian rights infringed.

One example of extremist groups exerting their power over the government is the closing of GKI Yasmin Church in Bogor. A Supreme Court ruling about the rights of Christians meant nothing as the local government closed the Church according to the desires of many extremist groups.

Open Doors highlights many areas in which you can pray. July 2014 marks the national elections. Christians are praying for peace leading up to that time, as well as for godly people to be appointed into presidential and prominent offices.

Pray also for those being persecuted under false charges because of their beliefs. Pray that the hearts of their persecutors would be softened, and that those who convert to Christianity will have a positive influence on their Muslim families. Pray for Churches attempting to get a permit, and for those that are in danger of closing.

You can support Open Doors here.

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