Indonesia (MNN) — Many Christians across Indonesia face religious persecution that is embedded in the culture and legal system.
A month ago, protestors forced New Testament Christian Church in Central Java, Indonesia to close. Police soon arrived, and while the service was allowed to finish, authorities ultimately forced the church to stop all Christians activities.
Floyd Brobbel, CEO of Voice of the Martyrs Canada says, “Probably the police were called in by people in the community to take their side in the situation. There seems to be some law in place that [says] the community doesn’t approve of a church building or any religious building.”
The future for these shuttered churches
Will this church or any of the many closed churches ever be able to reopen? Brobbel says the churches do have legal advocates. But he isn’t aware of any cases that have been brought before the courts yet.
But just because the churches have been closed doesn’t mean the Christians aren’t still being the Church. Brobbel says, “I think in many cases they will still continue to meet, they may meet at homes. They may meet in smaller groups, praying and getting together. But we’ve also heard that even those that that meet in homes, if there’s too many people meeting, that they get pressure and harassed as well.”
Clearly Indonesian Christians face a persecution that is embedded in Indonesian society and the legal system. “This is an interesting aspect of persecution,” says Brobbel, “in that it’s not always violent. It’s not always [what] that we typically view as persecution. Sometimes it’s using legal pressure or administrative pressure to really restrict or squeeze Christians or other religious minorities from worshiping freely from worshiping together.”
How can you help?
Brobbel encourages Christians to advocate for their brothers and sisters in Indonesia. He says, “We have to keep in mind that Christianity, both Protestants and Catholics, make up 10% of the population. That’s close to 26 million people that are being affected by this discrimination.”
Some areas of Indonesia face this kind of pressure, while other regions experience more freedom. Brobbel says that freedom needs to extend to all Indonesia. “We also need to ask that these authorities would not bend to the demands of radicalism in any form that creates religious divides and intolerance. But that they would embrace the other religious minorities (and Christians would fall into that group) really allowing them to worship freely and gather together freely.”
Pray that Indonesian Christians would have freedom to worship Jesus throughout the whole country.
Christians church in Indonesia. (image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)