Fr. Daniel Byantoro: Muslim harassment of Christians in Indonesia is increasing. Below I have included a newsletter that catalogs the level and extent of recent trouble the Christians of Indonesia has had either from Muslim activists or the state. We need your prayers and your support to preach the Gospel of Christ and build the Orthodox Church of Indonesia.
From Theophilus Bela
At the end of May this year I have sent you a list of churches under attack in Indonesia until that time. The number at that time was 30 churches.
Now I have updated the figures and also I give comments on churches which have been attacked for several times.
Thank you very much for your kind attention and please pray for Christians in Indonesia. I have added the summary of the situation about attacks on Christian churches since the birth of our country 1945 and I also give you a list of related articles and books for your kind reference.
- “Huria Kristen Batak Protestan” Church or Batak Protestant Christian Church in Pesanggrahan, Depok.
- In March 2009 the Lord Mayor of the city of Depok, near capital city of Jakarta had revoked the building licence of the church. The church authority brought the case to the State Administrative Court in the provincial capital city of West Java, Bandung and the church has won the case. But the Lord Mayor of the Islamist “Justice and Prosperous Party” makes an appeal to the court.We lerarnt in these days that the construction works of the church have been just resumed but under heavy protection of the police. “Huria Kristen Batak Protestan” Church or Batak Protestant Christian Church in Parung Panjang, Bogor, West Java. In July 21st 2009 was destroyed by the local authority of Bogor. The church authority brought their case to the National Commission on Human Rights on the next day.
- “Gereja Katolik Stasi Santa Maria” or Saint Mary Catholic Parish Church in Purwakarta in the province of West Java was told by the local authority to stop the building of the church in October 2009. The parish has got already the building licence from the local authority and has started with the building works of the church. Then the radical Muslim mob demonstrated against the local authority and asked the local authority to stop the building works of the church. Because the local authority was afraid of the radical Muslim mob the local authority revoked the building license of the church. The local bishop of Bandung had set up a lawyers team who brought the case to the State Administrative Court in the provincial capital city of West Java, Bandung and the church won the case. In the middle of last month the court again declared the church as the winner after the local regent made an appeal. Now the church can go on with building activities.
- “Huria Kristen Batak Protestan” Church or Batak Protestant Christian Church in Jakabaring, Palembang, in the province of South Sumatera was forced by the local authority on June 6th,2009 to close down its services.
- “Gereja Kristen Jawa” Church or Java Christian Church in Solo, in the province of Middle Java was disturbed by the radical Muslim mob during its social activities during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadhan in September 2009. In the social activities the church served cheap meals for poor Muslims during their fasting month of Ramadhan.
- “Huria Kristen Batak Protestan” Church or Batak Protestant Christian Church at Jalan Bogor, Jakarta Selatan in the capital city of Jakarta got a bomb threat on October 4th, 2009.
- “Bethel Indonesia” Church or Indonesia Bethel Church in North Bekasi in the province of West Java got a bomb threat on October 3rd, 2009.
- “Gereja Kristen Pasundan” Church or Pasundan Christian Church in Ciranjang, Cianjur in the province of West Java had difficulties in obtaining a building licence for its church. I was informed by a friend in Bandung on January 24th, 2010
- “Gereja Kristen Indonesia” Church or Indonesia Christian Church in Ciranjang, Cianjur in the province of West Java had difficulties in obtaining a building licence for its church. I was informed by a friend in Bandung on January 24th, 2010.
- “Gereja Kristen Sumatera Bagian Selatan” Church or The South Sumatera Christian Church in Lampung, South Sumatera.
- was stoned by strangers on June 5th, 2009.
- “Huria Kristen Batak Protestan” Church or Batak Protestant Christian Church in Simpang Murai, Dumai on the island of Sumatera was forcefully destroyed by the local authorities on March 18th, 2009.
- “Gereja Katolik Santo Johannes Baptista” Church or Catholic Parish church of Saint John Baptist in Parung, Bogor in the province of West Java. The parish was prohibited to celebrate Easter in 2008. During the last Christmas the parishioners were forced to celebrate Christmas in a nearby government building and not in their own premise. The church was also disturbed during the last Easter Season and again the parishioners were not allowed to celebrate the holy mass on Accession Day of Christ on Thursday, May 13th, 2010 on their premise. The parish has more than 3,000 betherns. It is already long time ago that the church made application to get a building licence to build their own church. In 2005 the local authorities had refused to issue a building permit for the church. There is a radical cleric from the local Muslim Ulama council who is always against the church.
- “Gereja Katolik Santo Albertus” Church or Catholic Parish church Saint Albert in Taman Harapan Indah, Bekasi in the province of West Java was attacked on December 17th, 2009. The Muslim attackers brought with them gasoline but the police was on time to prevent them burning down the church.
- “Huria Kristen Batak Protestan Filadefiia” Church or Batak Christian Protestant Church in Tambun,Bekasi, West Java.
- was disturbed by radical Muslim mob on the very Christmas day, December 25th, 2009. Later on the local authorities have closed down the church and the Christians have to do their Sunday services on the street near their closed premise. The church brought the case to the State Administrative court in Bandung, West Jawa and on September 2nd, 2010 the church won the case.
- “Gereja Kristen Baptist Jakarta” Church or Baptist Christian Church of Jakarta in Tangerang, Banten, West Java with its young pastor Rev. Bedali Hulu. It is already for years that the church gets troubles from the local authorities and from the radical mobs in their neighbourhood. Only on Christmas day, December 25th, 2009 the church got a special permit from the police to celebrate Christmas on their premise. Now the church is not allowed to do their Sunday services on their premise. Recently Rev. Bedali Hulu got a life threat by phone and I asked the to police for help.
- A Pentecostal Church in Temanggung, Middle Java Province was burnt down by radical mob on Sunday, December 6th, 2009. I got the news from a Christian website.
- “Huria Kristen Batak Protestan” Church in Pondok Timur, Bekasi, West Java Province was threatened by local authorities to be closed down on January 5th, 2010. In July the authorities have sealed the church so that the congregation had to do their Sunday service on a land owned by the church in Ciketing, Bekasi. But in the last months the church was attacked by radical Muslims almost every Sunday. The latest dramatic attack was on Sunday, September, 12th in the morning when the congregation members were on their way to the empty land Ciketing for Sunday service. The attackers came on motor cycles and stabbed an elder of the congregation on the stomach and wounded his heart 3cm. The elder name is Mr. Sihombing, 50 year old. The lady pastor of the church Rev. Luspida Simanjuntak was beaten on her head and back. Now Mr. Sihombing and Pastor Rev. Luspida Simanjuntak are still in hospital and the condition of Mr. Sihombing is still critical. The police has brought 10 people on custody blamed for the attack.
- “Gereja City Blessing” Church or City Blessing Church in Karawaci, Tangerang, Banten, West Java got a threat from a radical mob on January 10th, 2010.
- “Huria Kristen Batak Protestan” Church or Batak Protestant Christian Church in Sibuhun,Tapanuli Selatan, North Sumatera Province was burnt down by fanatic Muslims on January 22nd, 2010 after their Friday prayer in a nearby mosque. The house of the pastor was also burnt down.
- “Gereja Pantekosta di Indonesia” Church or Pentecostal Church in Indonesia in Sibuhun,Tapanuli Selatan, North Sumatera Province was burnt down by fanatic Muslims on the same day like the church of number 19.
- “Gereja Pemberita Injil” Church or Evangelical Mission Church in Tambora, Jakarta got difficulties with its permit because of a demonstration staged by the radical Muslim group of the “Front of Muslim Defenders” or FPI in November 2009.
- “Gereja Bethel Indonesia” Church or Indonesia Bethel Church with the name “Kairos” in Duren Sawit, Jakarta was attacked by a radical Muslim mob of 200 people on Sunday, February 14th, 2010.
- “Gereja Protestan Indonesia Barat” Church or Western Indonesia Protestant Church with the name “Galilea” in Taman Galaxi, Bekasi, West Java Province was attacked by radical Muslim organizations on Monday, February 15th, 2010. The mob also closed down the church and put their flags on top of the structure of church building The building works of the church are not yet finished. The pastor of the church is Rev. M. Tetelepta.
- “Kapela Katolik Stasi Capar” or Catholic chapel in Capar, Cirebon, West Java Province was threatened by a group of radical Muslims who called their group “Muslim Reform Movement” on February 18th, 2010.
- “Gereja Kristen Indonesia” Church or Indonesia Christian Church in Taman Yasmin, Bogor, West Java Province was attacked by radical Muslim groups on March 18th, 2010. Later on the church was also closed down by the local authorities. Now the church has to do its Sunday service on the street outside its premise. Aljazeera International TV-broadcasting company has made a news report on the church on May 11th, 2010 under the title “Indonesian Christians under attack”. Until now the church is closed down by the Lord Mayor of Bogor.
- “Huria Kristen Batak Protestan” Church or Batak Protestant Christian Church in Karawang, West Java Province was closed down by the police on January 24th, 2010 due to protests by radical Muslim mob. But with the help of the local Lord Mayor the church could be reopened again on March 3rd, 2010.
- “Gereja Katolik Stasi Santa Maria Immaculata” or Catholic parish church Saint Mary Immaculate in Kali Deras, West Jakarta was in building process. The church has already got the building licence. But a radical Muslim cleric closed the access road to the job site of the church on March 12th, 2010. The police did nothing against it. Until now the building activities of the church have not been resumed yet.
- “Wisma BPK Penabur” or the education center of the Christian Educational Body “Penabur” or the “Seeders” in Cibereum, Cisarua, Bogor, West Java Province was burnt down by radical Muslims on April 27th, 2010 at 19.00 h. 2 cars and 7 houses for the workers were also burnt down.
- “Sekolah Katolik Santo Bellarminus” or Catholic School Saint Bellarminus in Jatibening, Bekasi, West Java Province.
- was attacked by radical Muslim mob on Wednesday, May 7th, 2010. The windows of the school were broken down. The police had avoided another attack on Thursday, May 8th, 2010.
- “Gereja Kristen Jawa” Church or Java Christian Church in Sukorejo, Kendal, Middle Java Province was put on fire at night before Easter April 4th, 2010. But the pastor told me that the neighbours have helped put down the fire and only the front part of his church was hit by the fire. On the following Sundays the pastor can use again his church for Sunday service as usual.
- A place of Catholic pilgrimage to adore Holy Mary in desa Jati Mulya, Rangkas Bitung, Lebak, Banten (West Java) was closed by local authorities because of protests by the local Muslims. In April 2010 a team of the church met the local authorities to ask them to open again the place of the pilgrimage.
- On Monday, July 19th, 2010 a Pentecostal church in Jalan Raya Naragong, Desa Limus Nunggal, Bogor, West Java was completely destroyed by the local authorities.
- The Batak Protestant Church in Binanga, Sipirok, Desa Siboris, Kecamatan Barumun Tengah, Padang Lawas, North Sumatera province was forced by local authorities to stop its activities on July 30th, 2010.
- The Batak Protestant Church in Desa Gajah Sakti, Kecamatan Bandar Pulau, Asahan, North Sumatra province.
- was attacked by radical Muslims on August 20th, 2010 in the evening.
- The Catholic Retreat center “Wisma Semadi Klender” in the Eastern district of the capital city of Jakarta.
- got a special message from the local authorities in July 2010 that there should be no holy mass again on Sunday on its premise. The pastor of the center was told by the local authorities that there were some radical Muslim organizations behind the protest. I have asked the help from the police and the problem was solved. The holy mass on Sunday can be held again as usual. The center was built by the Archdiocese of Jakarta in the late 1960-es and every Sunday there is a holy mass for the Catholics in the neighbourhood.
- The Catholic parish church “Alleluya” in Tanah Grogot, Kabupaten Pasir, East Kalimanatan province in Archdiocese of Samarinda was attacked by unknown people on September 11th, 2010 in the evening. Some windows of the church were broken down. The police is still running after the attackers.
This is the revised list of the churches which got troubles until September 2010. I must admit that my list is not yet complete because I got reports from Bandung, West Java that there are other churches having problems in their area. Recently I got also an alarming news from the National Council of Churches that there were about 10 Christian churches in Mojokerto, East Java province got troubles from the local authorities. On June 20th, 2010 I got reports that there were three Protestant churches in a place called Tembilahan, Riau province (near Singapore) forced by local authorities to close down their activities.
To give you a complete picture about the attacks on Christian churches in Indonesia I will give you the following summary about the situation:
From the time of the birth of our country 1945 until the present day there are already 1,200 (one thousand two hundred) cases of churches burnt down or the licence revoked by local authorities or attacked by radical Muslims of the country. During the time of our first President Sukarno from 1945 until 1967 there were ONLY 2 (two) churches burnt down by the radical Muslims and it happened in the provinces controlled by Muslim rebel army.
During the first years of the rule of our second President Suharto from 1967 till 1969 there were only 10 (ten) churches burnt down or attacked in the country. But in 1969 the governemnt issued the edict of two Ministers namely the Minister of Religious Affairs and the Minister of Interior Affairs to regulate the building permit of the churches and after that time on the number of the churches being attacked or burnt down increased dramatically. The figure reached 460 cases at the time President Suharto resigned from his office 1998. From that time on until today we have around 700 cases of the burning down or attacks on churches. From the time of the fall of our second President Suharto 1998 we have a democratic system in our country but the figure of attacks on churches does not fade away. The government tried to improve this bleak situation by issuing another edict of both Ministers of Religious and Interior Affairs in 2006. But the fate of the churches does not improve at all by the new edict. Many people even say that it is the silly edict of both Ministers is the main cause of the attacks on Christian churches.
But large scale attacks on churches as it happened more than ten years ago do not happen again now a days. In those days there were 10 (ten) or 20 (twenty) churches were burnt down on a single Sunday. A pastor and his family members were burnt to death in his church in Situbondo, a town in East Java province in 1996. There were also reports about looting at the Christian houses and reports about rape and sexual harrashment in those days. These large scale attacks on Christians do not happen again now a days but now the attacks on churches happen only sporadically.
In 2007 I noted 100 cases of attacks and in 2008 the figure went down to only 40 cases and until October 2009 I have noted only 8 cases of attacks on Christian churches.
But with the attack on Sint Albert Catholic parish church on December 17th, 2009 the figure of cases went up again
The list above gives you a picture about the present situation of the attacks on Christian churches in our country.
Please pray for us.
President of Jakarta Christian Communication Forum
Secretary General of Indonesian Committee of Religions for Peace
Ambassador for Peace
Graha Bethel, 2nd Floor
Jalan Ahmad Yani kav. 65
Facebook Theophilus Bela
- Theophilus Bela, Mengkritik Politik Luar Negeri Bush (Criticizing the Foreign Policy of President George Bush), in Richard Daulay, Dimata Para Sahabat (a farewell book to Rev. Richard Daulay by his friends), BPK Gunung Mulia publishing house, Jakarta, 2010, pages 88 – 91 Rev. Dr. Richard Daulay was the Secretary General of Indonesian Council of Churches.
- Theophilus Bela, The Future of Inter-Religious Relations in Indonesia: Assesments from a Non-Muslim Viewpoint, Konrad Adenauer Foundation, ed., Jakarta, 2004, pages 163-169.
- Theophilus Bela, Peace Making Efforts in Indonesia, in Asian Conference of Religions for Peace 7th General Assembly, Peace Making in Asia, 17 – 21 October 2008 and published in Manila, Philippines, 2010, pages 130 – 135.
- Theophilus Bela, Promoting Human Rights and Responsibilities, presented to One Humanity, Many Faiths, Interfaith Summit for Peace & Harmony in Australia and Asia Pacific Region, Brisbane, Australia, February 18 – 21, 2009.
- Paul Tahalele and Thomas Santoso, The Church and Human Rights in Indonesia, Surabaya, 1997, 250 pages.
- Theodor Kampschulte, Human Rights in Indonesia Religious Freedom and Violence, Missio, Aachen Germany, 2002, 32 pages.
- Hannah Beech, Salvation Armies, Evangelical Christianity is booming in Asia. But in Muslim- majority Indonesia, the struggle for souls is tense, an article in TIME Magazine, dated April 26, 2010, pages 36 – 40.
To get more reports about attacks on Christians in Indonesia please open the website of our English newspapers The Jakarta Post www.thejakartapost.com and then please write my name Theophilus Bela and my shortened name Theo Bela and you will find my interviews about the topics. Please also read the website our other English newspaper The Jakarta Globe www.thejakartaglobe.com then write my name Theophilus Bela and you will get my interviesw about the attacks on Christians in this country.
I will also advise you to write my name Theophilus Bela in www.yahoo.com and www.google.com and please click “Search” you will find some of my statements or writings on the attacks on Christians and some of them are in English language
If you want to update your information of the attacks on Christians in Indonesia please open the website of our two English newspapers mentioned above.
Thank you very much for your very kind attention and may I whish you all.
God bless you all.